Pecan Cookies — For Nut Lovers Only

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 30-11-2009

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Last night I was in the mood for baking. I picked a random recipe from the Magnificent Cookies Cookbook by Kathryn L. Ramsay. I chose the pecan cookies recipes, and set to work baking. Since so many recipes from this cook book that I have tried have ended up too crumbly or dry, I decided to add an extra egg to this recipe.  I used ground pecans in the cookies rather then pecan chunks that the recipe called for (only because there were not enough pecans left). I did however place a full or part of a pecan on top of each cookie before baking. This turned out to be a nice touch both in taste and appearance.

The cookies turned out really well. They have a lovely almond flavor, and the pecan on the top is a tasty bonus. The cookies are soft, jus the way I like them. The only crunch in the cookie is the pecan on top.

Here is my adapted recipe.

Pecan Cookies

1 cup olive oil margarine
½ cup not packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp pure almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup ground pecans
about 30-40 pecans (shelled) whole or pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl add the margarine, and sugars. Cream. Add the eggs, and almond extract. Cream until blended. Add all the remaining ingredients (except the whole pecans or pecan pieces). Beat until smooth.  Form cookies by making balls and flattening them. Add pecans to the top of each cookie before baking. Bake for about 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Enjoy.

The cookies before baking

The cookies before baking

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My First Stir Fry

Filed Under (Supper) by Lisa on 29-11-2009

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The last couple days I have been feeling a bit like I am getting a cold. I also haven’t been sleeping well, for no particular reason.

Last night my parents were at a Christmas party so I was on my own for dinner. I really didn’t feel like making anything. I was planning on just picking up something like soup and a sandwich from Tim Hortens. However, my boyfriend convinced me that I shouldn’t be going out when I don’t feel well. Consequently I ended up making myself something at home. I rummaged around the kitchen trying to decide what to make, and finally concluded that I would make rice.

I like rice, but I am particular in the way it is made. The rice I grew up with was always very mushy and moist. That is not the type of rice I like. My boyfriend introduced me to real rice! Aside from rice I have had at Asian restaurant’s, my boyfriend makes the best rice I have ever had! He uses a rice cooker, and doesn’t make any precise measurements when cooking it. His rice is not moist at all. It is soft, and almost crunchy. He usually makes it into fried rice. He has made it for me in a few different forms, but my favorite  is the fried rice he makes with eggs.

To make my rice I used my rice cooker. It turned out well but could have been a tiny bit less moist (still it was miles less moist then my parents rice).

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To go with my rice I made a very random stir fry, with sauce. This was my first time ever making any kind of stir fry. I went out on a limb and made the whole thing with out a recipe ( I was inspired by myovenhatesme’s recent post on her rice dinner).

My stir fry turned out to be fabulous! I used only the ingredients that were in the house.  It seemed very random and risky to just added random amounts of ingredients but it turned out well, so it was a worthwhile experiment. Here is my recipe.

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Honey Garlic Stir Fry

4 cups water
2 cups uncooked rice

soya sauce
honey garlic BBQ sauce
organic ketchup
a couple dashes Tabasco sauce
a few shakes Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 cup water (aprox)
several shakes garlic powder
salt
ground black pepper
basil
parsley
½ medium sized package extra lean ground beef
3-4 carrots
cauliflower
red pepper
2 Stalks celery
2 white onions
1 garlic clove

Cook rice with water. Set aside. Prepare all vegetables. Brown ground beef. Add the onions and garlic clove. Season with spices and herbs. Cook until the onions are tender. Add the rest of the vegetables, and cook for several minutes. In a bowl add the soya sauce, bbq sauce, ketchup, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, water and garlic powder. Stir. Add the sauce to the vegetables and cook for 10-15 minutes. Serve over hot rice.


Spicy Shrimp Alfredo Penne

Filed Under (Pasta, Supper) by Lisa on 26-11-2009

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I have always been a big fan of Alfredo sauce. Until last night I had never had it anywhere except restaurants. I decided that needed to change. I found a recipe for Peppered Shrimp Alfredo at allrecipes.com It sounded delicious, and had 125 reviews most of which were positive. Many reviewers said it was better quality then anything they had ever had in a restaurant.  That sold me on the recipe, so it was off to the kitchen to test it out.

I had never cooked with shrimp or prawns before, so I used precooked medium/large frozen shrimp.

I changed the original recipe slightly. I used white mushrooms instead of Portobello, parmesan cheese instead of Romano, and I added 1 ½ cups of baby spinach since it needed to be used up.

I did get a bit carried away with the cayenne pepper, misreading the 1 tsp of cayenne that the recipe called for instead thinking it said to taste. It was spicy but not too spicy and the garlic bread neutralized it a bit.

The penne turned out fabulous! This is one recipe I will be making again. I agree completely with the recipe reviewers, this recipe is way better then anything similar I have had in a restaurant.

I served the penne with green salad and garlic bread.

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Do you have a favorite Alfredo recipe?


Zesty Beef Chili

Filed Under (Supper) by Lisa on 24-11-2009

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Yesterday afternoon was another cold rainy day. I was in the mood for something warm, and homey for dinner. I decided on chili. I used my recipe for turkey chili, and altered it slightly since chives are not in season here, and we had some edame beans that needed to be used up. Here is my new recipe for beef chili.

Zesty Beef Chili
Takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to make (max)

Oil
Medium sized package of extra lean ground beef
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano flakes
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp chipotle pepper
1 tsp salt plus a few extra shakes
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 packages of vegetable bouillon prepared according to package
1 medium white onion
1 red pepper
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves minced
1 fresh tomato
1 medium zucchini
1 cup frozen corn
398 ml brown beans
156 ml tomato paste
A few peas
Some edame beans
About ¼ cup medium salsa
1 (7 oz can chopped green Chile peppers)
1 cup light sour cream
Large bowl grated cheddar cheese
Multi grain tortilla chips

Heat the oil in large pot on medium heat. Place the ground beef in the pot and cook until brown. Add all the spices, herbs, and onion and cook for a few minutes. While this is cooking prepare all the vegetables including chili peppers. Set aside. Prepare the 2 packages of vegetable bouillon according to package. Add to pot. Now add all the vegetables. Stir occasionally. Now add the tomato paste (with a little extra water I used about 1.5 cups of extra water), salsa, and beans. Boil for 5-10 minutes (the longer the better). Then add the sour cream and simmer for min 15 minutes. Serve with broken up multi grain tortilla chips, and cheddar cheese.
Enjoy

The chili was a household hit. It’s Mexican flavors really warm you up.

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Do you have a favorite chili recipe? What foods do you eat to warm up on a cold day?


Double Chocolate Cookies

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 23-11-2009

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–Soft chocolatey goodness–

That is the only way I can describe the cookies that I made recently. They were the perfect soft texture that I yearn for in every cookie. The chocolate glaze really took these cookies to a whole new level of greatness.

The recipe that I used came from the Magnificent Cookies Cookbook by Katheryn L. Ramsay. I changed the recipe quite a bit to suit my needs. I reduced the sugar in half only using ½ cup brown sugar and using no white sugar (when the recipe called for ½ cup white sugar as well). However I did use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the unsweetened chocolate that the recipe said to use. I thought that the chocolate chips would make up for the reduced sugar. The reduction was okay, since the cookies did turn out to be amazing, however I would add a little bit more sugar next time I make them (perhaps ¼ cup white sugar).

I added 1 tsp kahlua to this recipe which was not called for. I think it was a great addition, and next time I make these cookies I’ll probably add at least 2 tsp because I think increasing the intensity of that flavor will make these cookies to die for.

Here my adapted recipe

Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup olive oil margarine
½ cup not packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp kahlua
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup skim milk

Glaze
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt margarine, and 2 oz chocolate chips in a large sauce pan on low heat. When everything is melted and blended remove from heat. Stir in the sugar. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and kahlua and mix well. In a large bowl add the four, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Mix well. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and blend until smooth. The dough will be fairly thin (compared to many kinds of cookie dough) and smooth and shiny. Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes. Cool on rack.

The cookies before baking

The cookies before baking

The cookies after baking

The cookies after baking

Glaze

While the cookies are cooling melt the 3 oz chocolate chips, and the tbsp margarine in the sauce pan you used to make the chocolate mixture. Melt until smooth and blended. Remove from heat and add the tbsp milk. Stir vigorously for about 2 minutes. Spread the glaze on your cooled cookies. Let it set, and enjoy.

The finished cookie. Yum

The finished cookie. Yum

Almond Thimble Cookies

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 18-11-2009

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A few days ago I was browsing though one of our cookie recipe books (Magnificent Cookies by Kathryn L. Ramsay). I came across a recipe that struck my interest. It was for almond thimble cookies. I was interested in this recipe, for two reasons. First it was a jam cookie and I had never made any type of jam cookie before. Second this recipe called for almond extract. For years I use to think I was allergic to almond extract because of a reaction I had to something that may have been almond extract many years ago. I had since consumed pastries that did have almond extract in it, with no apparent reaction, so I figured it was safe to give baking with it a try.

I followed this recipe to the book.

The cookies tasted very yummy, but there were some issues with them. I suspected there would be problems with them once they were in the dough stage right before baking. The dough was way too crumbly. It stuck together (just barely), enough to roll the cookies into balls. However when I tried to use to thimble on them (as instructed) the cookies really crumbled when pressed. Consequently I ended up pressing the cookies lightly with my fingers instead, but that didn’t create enough of an indent to insert the jam properly after baking. I think using more egg and maybe more margarine too would solve this issue.

I’m not going to post the recipe yet, because this recipe does need some modifying. I will make this recipe again one day, since I love the taste, I just need to work on the texture.

Here is a photo.
Note the cookies should be twice as flat but because of the crumbliness I was not able to flatten them more

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Chicken and Cheese Baguette

Filed Under (Supper) by Lisa on 17-11-2009

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Yesterday was a cold and stormy day. I decided to have something warm out of the oven for dinner. I chose something simple, warm and comforting to make for dinner; chicken and cheese baguette. This entrée is a house hold favorite. The recipe is one of my mom’s creations.  I had never made a chicken and cheese baguette before, so this was also a new experience for me.

The chicken and cheese baguettes (I made two) turned out very well. They are soft, and delicious. Taste wise, they are similar to omelets with a twist.

Here is the recipe

Mom’s Chicken and Cheese Baguette

2 loaves fresh non-sliced French or Italian Bread
olive oil margarine
garlic powder
3 large chicken breasts (cut into small pieces)
salt
ground black pepper
rosemary
thyme
sage
2 cloves garlic (minced)
6 large eggs
grated light cheddar cheese
2 small onions (chopped)
2 stalks celery
1 red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut each loaf of bread lengthwise down the middle. Spread margarine on the inside of both loaves of bread. Sprinkle desired amount of garlic powder on the bread. Set aside. In a frying pan add the chicken breast. Add all the seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme) and fry until fully cooked. Add the garlic cloves (minced) and chopped onions to the chicken, and cook until they are browned. In a bowl place all the eggs. Wisk them smooth. Add the eggs to a separate frying pan (season them if desired). Cook them until scrambled. Now add the eggs and cheese to the frying pan with the vegetables. Stir until the cheese is melted and everything is well combined. Scoop the frying pan mixture into each loaf of bread. Close each loaf up and wrap each loaf in a separate sheet of aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-10 minutes. Serve warm.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 12-11-2009

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Lately I have been reading the Magnificent Cookies Cookbook by Kathryn L. Ramsay. I had my eye on the Giant Oatmeal Cookie recipe (on page 18) for quite some time. Two days ago I finally gave it a go.

I was a little hesitant to try this recipe because it seemed like it would make a massive mountain of cookie dough, and also the instructions say to bake 5 cookies at a time. If I was to make 5 cookies at a time I would be making cookies for hours, even if they are massive. The recipe says it makes 20 giant cookies.

I was intrigued by this recipe since it says to line the cookie sheets with aluminum foil (dull side up). I had never done this before when making cookies so I thought it would be interesting to try it and see what kind of result it produces.

I decided to start with making 5 giant cookies.

My 5 giant oatmeal raison cookies turned out very well. I used the aluminum foil on the cookie sheet as the recipe instructed. The cookies turned out nice and soft (just the way I like them) and slightly golden. Even once the cookies were totally cooled they remained soft.

1/2 of a giant cookie

1/2 of a giant cookie

the bottom of the giant cookie

the bottom of the giant cookie

For the remaining mountain of cookie dough I made small to medium sized cookies on an unlined non-stick cookie sheet. These cookies turned out much less soft, and more brown on the bottom.

top of small cookie

top of small cookie

bottom of small cookie

bottom of small cookie

I am not sure if the difference in the softness of the cookies was related to the size of the cookies or the aluminum foil lining the pan vs. not lining the pan.

Does anyone know what the purpose of lining a cookie sheet with aluminum foil is?

Here is the recipe I used adapted from the Magnificent Cookies Cookbook (page 18).
My only modification was with the sugar. I used  1.5 cups of brown sugar instead of one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar (I eliminated the white sugar).

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Oatmeal Raison Cookies

1 cup olive oil margarine
1 ½ cup not packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1 ½ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
3 cups baking oatmeal
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil (dull side up).

In a large bowl add the margarine, brown sugar, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients (except raisins). and beat until smooth. Add the raisins, and blend until they evenly distributed in the dough. If making the giant cookies use an ice cream scoop and place 5 cookies on your pre lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the foil (with the cookies) onto a cooking rack.

Overall I am happy with the way my cookies turned out but I prefer the giant ones to the smaller ones because they are softer.

Do you have a favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe?

Pizza Night Oh La La

Filed Under (Pizza, Supper) by Lisa on 10-11-2009

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A few nights ago I decided it was time for another divine pizza dinner. I had a lot of the ingredients  on hand already so it just seemed like a logical and yummy thing to make.

I used my mom’s fabulous crust recipe that you might remember from this post: Homemade Pizza My Favourite
Her recipe makes two large sized zesty thin crusts.

Here is a photo of the crust before baking.

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For the toppings I used: baby spinach, chicken breast (precooked), olives, red peppers, brown mushrooms, feta cheese, light mozzarella cheese, low fat marble cheese, and basil pesto sauce.

I varied the combination of toppings on each pizza.

Both pizza’s turned out very well, and all of it was gone within 12 hours. My dad who isn’t a big fan of olives loved both pizza’s and had a very generous portion.

Here are the pizza’s.

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What is your favorite pizza topping combo?

Baked Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes for Dinner

Filed Under (Supper) by Lisa on 07-11-2009

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Last night I was in the mood for a wholesome dinner. I decided to make pork chops. I followed a recipe I used before. You might remember it from this post Marinated Pork Chops for Dinner

The recipe comes from allrecipes.com . As mentioned in my pervious post, I loved this recipe, except I thought it didn’t make enough sauce. When I first made it a few months ago I had doubled the sauce recipe. This time I tippled the recipe for sauce (everything except the brown sugar which I used 3 tbsp). I also used way more carrots then when I made it the first time. I added red pepper as an experiment, and it was a worthwhile addition. Between tripling the sauce recipe, and adding way more vegetables then the first time I made baked pork chops, I ended up with a large amount of sauce. It was the perfect amount for my mountain of mashed potatoes.

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For my mashed potatoes I used 6 medium to large sized potatoes. I boiled the potatoes on high for 15 minutes. I thought that would be long enough,  but two of my very large potatoes were still quite hard and difficult to mash (although with enough effort they were eventually mashed). Next time I make mashed potatoes, I would either cut large potatoes into smaller pieces or cook them for at least 20 minutes.

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I made my own recipe for the mashed potatoes, and it turned out well, but I would have preferred them to be a bit more zesty.

Here is my recipe.

Cheese and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

About 6 medium to large potatoes (boiled and ready to mash)
To taste Garlic powder
To taste Black pepper
To taste Salt
2 tbsp Low fat cream cheese
1 cup Marble cheese
½-¾ cup Skim milk
2 tbsp Mayonnaise
2 tsp Dehydrated minced onion

Mash potatoes. Add all of the ingredients, and mix well. Use an electric mixer and blend until the potatoes are smooth and slightly fluffy. Serve warm.

Bon Appetit

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