Friday, October 28, 2011

Nutella Smooches

I saw these cookies on the food network and after a long week of thinking about them, I knew they were exactly what I wanted to eat in place of dinner tonight. When they were finally done and the perfect combination of chewy chocolate and hazelnut, I knew these were a keeper.

What you'll need:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Nutella
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange sprinkles, or orange sugar
1 (9-ounce) package of Hershey's kisses or mini kisses

How fabulous is this orange sugar I picked up from Target?!
Definitely bizarrely neon orange, but perfect for a little Halloween spirit.
This recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Rolls the balls in the sprinkles, pressing to adhere. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss, or 3 mini kisses in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Go crazy with the sprinkles--purple and orange make the perfect Halloween dessert.

Eat warm and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Margaret's Apricot Glazed Sausage and Parmesan Crusted Squash

Margaret makes delicious sounding food all of the time and she thankfully shared some of her amazing recipes with me.  These two sound perfect for a fall evening.

Apricot Glazed Sausage With Onion and Sage
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Chop a large yellow onion into 1/2" wedges, and place in the oil with 6 sausages - I used a low-fat chicken apple sausage. Let them cook until the sausages are browned and cooked through and the onions are translucent. 
Pour apricot nectar into the pan until the sausages are almost completely covered.  Add 10 sage leaves and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and let pot stay at a low simmer until the nectar has condensed into a thick syrup. The onion will caramelize, and the sausage will be extra juicy. 
Parmesan Crusted Butternut Squash:
Take 1 large butternut squash, peeled, and halved lengthwise. Cut into 1/2" slices. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt, pepper, rosemary on top. Pour a generous amount of parmesan on each slice, and bake at 400 until cooked through (Approx. 30 minutes) The parmesan should melt into a crust on top of the squash, and the squash should be soft and warm throughout. 
Eat together and enjoy!
Note: Both of these recipes are adapted from the Noble Pig's food blog. (I used butternut squash instead of acorn squash, and rosemary instead of thyme. In the sausage recipe, I used apricot instead of apple cider)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lisa's Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies :)

My friend Lisa shared this recipe with me and it looks absolutely amazing!  I can't wait to try them myself and I'm thinking this might be the perfect excuse to not finish my work tonight...

What you'll need (makes 2 dozen):
4 tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick)
⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup natural almond butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oats
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon in small bowl.
Melt butter in a large bowl on low on the stove.  Add the almond butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg and whisk until smooth.  Depending on the type of almond butter you use, you may find this is significantly easier with an electric mixer. 
Stir in flour mixture with a spatula.  Stir in the oats & chocolate chips.
Note that the dough does not hold together right off the bat and you will need to roll it a bit with your hands to get a good clump for baking.  Create balls a little smaller than a golf ball and place onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.   Bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown on the edges. 
The trick to keep these cookies from falling apart is to let them cool on the cookie sheet.  After five or so minutes, transfer to a paper towel and let them finish cooling.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Garlic Poached Chicken with Napa Cabbage and Rice Noodle Stir Fry

This is a perfect Sunday night meal--light enough to forgive the previous few meals you've eaten (Saturday night and Sunday brunch gluttony, usually) but delicious enough to be pseudo-comfort food.  It is also a perfect meal to make for yourself in a large batch for the week, and just as perfect to make a small portion for gals who live alone, like moi.

What you'll need: (serves 2)
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 head of napa cabbage
enough rice noodles to feed two people 
6 garlic cloves (3 chopped, 3 whole)
a splash of sherry or sake

For the sauce (simply combine in a bowl and whisk till incorporated):
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Begin by placing the chicken breasts in a small pot and filling it with water until it just covers the chicken.  Add a splash of sherry and put in 3 whole peeled garlic cloves.  Cover and heat until boiling, and then take off the heat and let it sit, covered for 10 minutes.  

After ten minutes, check to see if the chicken is cooked through by making a cut in the middle.  If it's not done, cover again for about 5 minutes.  When the chicken is done, it'll be really moist so take it out of the water and cover with aluminum foil to retain the heat/moisture while you cook the rest of the meal.  

When the chicken is cooked through, skim anything left in the water from the chicken and bring it back to a boil.  Put the rice noodles in and cook about 7 minutes until tender (or follow the instructions on the packaging if it says differently). While the rice is cooking, chop the cabbage into 1 inch pieces and clean thoroughly.  

Heat a wok or heavy skillet and add pam or a bit of vegetable oil and the 3 chopped garlic cloves.  When the garlic becomes fragrant, put the cabbage in and sear on high heat until tender crisp.  Put the noodles in with the sauce (just enough to cover everything) and heat through.  Shred the chicken with your fingers and throw it in at the very end just so it gets covered with the sauce. 
Eat with chopsticks and enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apple Butter

The first time I tried apple butter was when my friend, Rel, introduced it to me in college.  I had been missing out--apple butter is a sweet, tart, tangy and creamy concoction that tastes like fall in a jar and that, surprisingly, is made up of little else other than apples.  You can put it on toast, on sandwiches (recipe to come soon!) in yogurt or cottage cheese.  The recipe for apple butter is fairly easy but takes a really long time in the crockpot so be prepared to put it in early in the day, or leave it over night.  I enjoy my apple butter on the darker side, as the longer it cooks, the sweeter and creamier it becomes.  Mine took 12 hours overall!

What you'll need:
about 6 pounds of apples (ask your farmer's market for less sweet apples--I used a mix of granny smith, jonagold and gala)
1/4 cup sugar (optional and you can leave this out entirely if your apples are sweeter)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 crockpot

Start by peeling and coring all of your apples.  Cut them into chunks and pulse them in your food processor until they are almost pureed.  Then, put them all into the crockpot with the cinnamon and heat on high for 3 hours.  After 3 hours, put the mixture back into the food processor or a blender and blend until completely smooth.  Put back into the slow cooker and keep it on low for about 9 hours.  Stir occasionally.  
About an hour before the butter is done, taste the butter and add sugar if it isn't sweet enough.  When you've finished cooking, place in cute glass jars, close them, and let them cool down.  Put them straight into the fridge when they've cooled.  You can use an old jam jar or find some pretty jars at Home Goods, TJ Maxx or Amazon.  When you put a ribbon around it, it becomes a perfect fall gift.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crab Rangoons

MMMM fried wontons stuffed with crab, cream cheese and scallions.  I made these as a special treat for my friend who loves ordering crab rangoons in chinese restaurants but hasn't been able to find them here in New York.  Suggestions on where to find them, anyone?  Anyway, we enjoyed these while watching the Emmys and just after Modern Family had won it's fifth award, these were about all done.

What you'll need: (makes about 15-20 depending on how much filling you use)
Square wonton wrappers
8 ounces cream cheese
1 6 ounce can of white crab meat
2 scallions
Enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your pan, about 1/8 inch high
salt and pepper
A small bowl filled with water for wetting the wontons

Begin by mixing the crab, cream cheese and chopped scallions in a bowl. 
Put a rounded tablespoon in the middle of the wonton wrapper and wet the inside edge of the wrapper.  Press firmly down and make sure there are no holes because the filling will splatter in the hot oil.  Cover the filled wontons in a damp paper towel while you are working so they don't dry out.
Coat the bottom of your pan with the oil and heat until sizzling.  Place a few wrappers into the pan, but don't crowd  it.  Cook about 1 minute on each side, checking carefully that they aren't burning.  The wrappers should be crisp and golden.  Lay them on paper towels when done to absorb any extra oil. 
 Serve with sweet chili sauce or hoisin sauce to dip in and enjoy!