Friday, May 30, 2008

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

After much anticipation the winning recipe for the last poll was Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies. Thanks to everyone who voted! I have added a new poll, one that is in honor of Martha. I picked 4 recipes from her cookie of the day section. You can look for the individual recipes here before you vote.



3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of small semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 (4.5 ounce) packages chocolate covered thin mints


In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted.

Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips until melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

I was so tempted to eat that right out of the pot right then and there...but I didn't.

Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the chocolate mixture.

Let the dough sit until it is room temperature then stir in the small semi sweet chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

I wanted to eat those little round chocolaty treats right then and there...but I didn't.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, be careful not to over bake.

When cookies come out of the oven, Press one mint wafer into the top of each cookie and let sit for 1 minute.

When the mint is softened, swirl with the back of a spoon or toothpick to make a pattern with the green filling of the mint wafer.

Ooooohhh look how pretty!!

Let cookies cool for about a half an hour. Now eat them!! I was I did!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Easy Pizza 101

I like dinner to be easy during the week. The BF and I work 9-5 Monday through Friday and usually after a long day of work, going to the gym and the commute on the train (where sometimes men with weird foot fetishes hit on you and try to follow you home) we just want a quick and easy dinner. The foot fetish thing really did happen to me, like yesterday. So I really enjoy pizza and my favorite is homemade. Pre-made pizza doughs are usually pretty good. I was really excited when I found ready-made whole wheat pizza dough at Trader Joe's. It's just a big wad of dough in a bag. It's the closest thing you can get to homemade without having to mix the dough yourself. We used regular tomato sauce and added seasoning along with a low-fat mozzarella cheese. I have found that when it come to low fat cheeses, Sargento seems to melt the best. For the topping we used little baby portabella mushrooms. They're so cute and yummy! Since mushrooms contain a lot of water we sauteéd them first to cook most of it out. We then sprinkled on some spices and baked at 400 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes and ta-da! Easy almost homemade pizza.

I think the foot fetish guy would approve.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Spice House

So my lovely neighbor recommended a great place to buy spices. It's called The Spice House and is located in the historic neighborhood of Old Town in Chicago along with a few other locations just outside the city. Being that I am a connoisseur of all things wonderful I decided to take a trip after all the great things she had to say about it. This could quite possibly become one of my favorite stores. Note: I said "one" of my favorite stores. My current and eternal favorite store is Illuminations. When I say eternal I mean eternal. I love their candles. Love. If they ever go out of business I'm quite sure I will have some sort of severe melt-down that will cause me to go through candle withdrawal and then I won't know what to do with myself for extended periods of time. I'm getting upset just thinking about it...Okay, Back to spices. They have such a great selection. The great thing about this store is that they have testers for all the spices so you can taste them if you so desire. I love that. You can't go to the grocery store and taste spices. The BF and I got a small selection of things to try out:

Madagascar Vanilla Beans
Whole Nutmeg
Dried Lavender
Southwestern Seasoning
Little Italy NY Style Herbs
Taco Seasoning

So far we have only tried the Taco Seasoning. It was amazing! It has such a unique taste that cannot be compared to any other taco seasoning that I've had. It's a definite must-try! I'm super excited about the vanilla beans. I'm going to make homemade vanilla extract. I got the recipe from my favorite blog here. It takes a couple of months to infuse so if I start now it will have plenty for all of my fall baking. I'm also really excited about the lavender. I'm going to use it for lemon cupcakes with lavender icing. I'm so excited about this store! Be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Banana Bread

I love this recipe!! It's my Mom's and it's delicious!


1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very very very ripe bananas mashed up

DIRECTIONS (super easy by the way...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl.

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla then add bananas. Slowly combine with dry ingredients and mix well. Line a 9 x 5 non-stick bread pan with parchment paper.

Use enough parchment paper so that it hangs over the outside of the bread pan. See photo above. This makes it really easy to remove the loaf and saves you from having to grease the pan. Bake for 50 minutes.

Many people add nuts to their banana bread, I however do not. I have a severe allergy to certain nuts. The kind of allergy where I need to stab myself with an epinephrine shot if a nut even looks at me. Cue the violins please....Seriously, many people prefer to have nuts in their banana bread so go ahead and add them if you want! Just don't invite me over if you do...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Banana Love

So the winner of the May recipe poll is.....Banana Bread! For those of you who don't know, when you make banana bread your bananas need to be ripe. Like, the outside is brown and you don't want to eat it kind of ripe. So this means I will need to venture to the grocery store today and buy the ripest of the ripe and let them sit for a few days. The longer they ripen the sweeter the the taste. Ooooh that sounds dirty! Now the banana bread recipe is special. "Why?" you ask, well it's my mother's recipe that may have been her mother's recipe. Which may have been her mother's recipe. Which would make it my great-grandmother's recipe. Or maybe my mom just made it up? I really don't know. So my mission is to make banana bread and find out where the recipe came from. I know the suspense will make ya'll crazaay! I will also be setting up a new poll with the recipe of the month for June. Stay tuned for some banana love.....