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Archive for February, 2009

I love trying new recipes. Last week I was feeling ambitious and made the Cook’s Illustrated The Best New Recipes macaroni and cheese recipe. It was good, but not my favorite. This winter, I’ve even made macaroni and cheese in the crock-pot because it was so easy. Again, it was OK, but not great.

This recipe is my favorite. It’s easy, delicious, and the munchkin loves it.

Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cups uncooked mini penne pasta (or other small pasta shape)
1 and 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
24 ounces cheddar cheese

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
2. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Transfer to a 13×9 inch pan and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes until golden and crusty.

Notes: I used reduced fat sour cream and cottage cheese and whole wheat pasta. This recipe makes a ton of food. I always cut the recipe in half when making it for the munchkin and I unless we are having people over to help us eat it.

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opt-valentines-day-candy-hWant to make some decadent cookies for Valentine’s Day? Then, these chewy, rich cookies are for you.

These cookies are amazing! They are for people who like chocolate and are definitely the best cookies that I have ever made. 

I made a practice batch Sunday, and my friends and neighbor who ate them, all loved them. They make a perfect, homemade Valentine’s Day present. 

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or expresso powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 and 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Begin with 1 minute of cooking time at 50% power. Stir after the minute. Continue cooking for one minute at a time and stirring until the chocolate is smooth. 

3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork. Sprinkle the coffee powder to dissolve and set aside.

4. With a hand mixer at medium speed, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds. The mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Then add the chocolate and beat until just combined, about 45 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer at slow speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix. Add 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir until incorporated. 

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 20 to 30 minutes. 

6. Adjust the racks to the upper- and lower- middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto the baking sheets with an ice cream or cookie scoop. Place the cookies about 1 and 1/2 inches apart. 

7. Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set and the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes on the sheets, slide the parchment paper onto the wire racks, and cool to room temperature. Cover cooled cookie sheets with parchment paper and repeat the baking process. 

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook – an awesome cookbook!

[Photo credit: Candy]

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baskets1

A few weeks ago, the munchkin and I went to the Franklin ParConservatory on a cold Sunday morning. It’s been difficult keeping her entertained inside this winter, and we hadn’t been there since the summer.

The Conservatory has a great exhibit right now called Bending Nature that she loved. Part of the exhibit is an interactive area for children. There are about six different activities for children, and the munchkin enjoyed all of them. Her favorite activity was recreating Dennis Oppenheim’s large sculptures. We spent about two hours there, and she had a blast. 

The exhibit will be at the Conservatory until March 29, 2009. For more information about the Conservatory, check out this post.

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These granola bars are good. We ate them for breakfast this morning. It was one of those mornings we needed something fast, and I made them last night.

I prefer to give my daughter homemade cookies and granola bars instead of store-made ones. That way I know what’s in them and how healthy they are.

These use store-bought cereals. I want to try making them with my home-made granola next time. I love the combination of chocolate and cranberries. Maybe next time I’ll add some coconut…

Homemade Granola Bars

1 and 1/4 cups muesli ceral, such as Alpen cereal (I used the no sugar variety)
1/4 cup Kashi 7 Whole Grain cereal or Grape-Nuts
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoon semi-sweet  chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey

In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Add the honey and mix well. Pour mixture into a 8-inch square baking dish coated with butter. Pat the mixture down evenly. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bars are golden bar. Cool on wire rack or in the refrigerator. Cut into squares when they are completely cool.

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