Thursday, December 31, 2009


While the brunt of the holiday madness may be over, there is definitely still time to squeeze in one more baked good before those New Years resolutions kick in.

I honestly haven't had a snickerdoodle for probably... well, years. Then all of a sudden I wake up one day and just have a craving for them. Strange, I tell you. So what is a kid to do with such a craving? Make them of course! :)

Based on this recipe from Allrecipes

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1-1/2 cups sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture slowly. Once well mixed, roll dough into balls (slightly smaller than a walnut).

Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper.

Bake about 8 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets to a cooling rack.

Makes: about 3 dozen

Most snickerdoodle recipes just call for vanilla extract, but I think adding the almond extract adds just that little bit extra which make these awesome! These are nice and chewy around the outside with that amazingly soft center. Let's just say these guys don't stick around very long.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 90Calories from fat 37
% Daily Value
Total Fat 4.1g6%
Saturated Fat 2.5g13%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 18mg6%
Sodium 69mg3%
Total Carbs 12.4g4%
Sugars 6.8g
Protein 1.0g
Vitamin A 3%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%Iron 2%

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

And now what you've all been waiting for. Or at least what I think one of the best part of the holidays is -- baked goods! Yay! Definitely by far the worst thing for your waistline but the best thing for your tastebuds.

Yes, at work people will bring in dips and chips to nibble on or maybe some doughnuts for breakfast but me? No, not me. I go for the cookie and brownie route. And they're definitely gone before lunch. Since I switched to working casual vs. full-time at work, most of my goodies have been disappearing to work with Adam. (Although I hear they disappear at about the same rate.) Needless to say, these little brownies followed suit.

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from: Annie's Eats

For the brownies:
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the cheesecake:
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Red food coloring (optional)

Line a 9-inch square baking dish with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Mist lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat, then beat in the 2/3 cup sugar. Mix in the eggs. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, and vanilla and mix just until smooth. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

To make the topping, in a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese, egg yolk, 5 tbsp. sugar and peppermint extract until smooth. Drop in large dollops evenly over the top of the brownie batter. Use a dull knife or spatula to swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter. (Definitley FAILED this portion.)

Bake for 35 minutes, or until the batter in the center of the pan is just set. Let cool completely, then lift out with the foil and peel away. Cut brownies into squares.

Makes: 16 bars

Since I know peppermint extract can be really strong, I only added 1/8 teaspoon to the cheesecake layer and it gave a very light and mild flavor. I'd say if you're looking for a more prominent peppermint flavor, go for the 1/4 teaspoon instead.

I can always tell when Adam really likes a dessert I've made -- that's when he likes to go back for more and more. With these, I think only about 3/4 of them actually made them to his work. Silly boy.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 225Calories from fat 125
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13.9g21%
Saturated Fat 8.5g43%
Cholesterol 68mg23%
Sodium 87mg4%
Total Carbs 23.5g8%
Dietary Fiber 0.8g3%
Sugars 18.9g
Protein 3.2g
Vitamin A 8%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3%Iron 5%

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pasta Alfredo

Alright, one more dinner recipe for you. Same as before, this one makes another quick and easy meal -- perfect so you can get back to baking those holiday goodies.

I found this gem also back in March off Macaroni and Cheesecake's site, although I made a few changes based on what I had around the house.

Pasta Alfredo
Adapted from: Kraft Foods

1/2 pound rotini or other medium pasta, uncooked
1-1/4 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 teaspoons flour
1/3 cup 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Boil pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, beat broth and flour in medium saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add cream cheese, Parmesan, Romano, nutmeg and peppers; cook 2 min. or until mixture comes to boil and thickens, stirring constantly.

Drain pasta; add pasta to the sauce; toss to coat. Garnish with any additional parsley or cheese if desired.

Serves: 4

Not too bad of a recipe for one that's supposed to be a "lightened" version of alfredo. The nutmeg gives the sauce a nice rounded "fall" flavor while the cayenne gives it a nice little kick (specially added for Adam). I'd definitely make it again when the mood for alfredo strikes.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 304Calories from fat 80
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.9g14%
Saturated Fat 5.2g26%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 25mg8%
Sodium 306mg13%
Total Carbs 45.1g15%
Dietary Fiber 2.2g9%
Sugars 1.6g
Protein 11.8g
Vitamin A 7%Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 7%Iron 17%

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pistachio Chicken Fingers

While I know that only 6 days are left until Christmas, and you're probably out looking for some amazing baked goods to wow some people with. Well, those will come -- eventually, but you know, you can't have bon bons and sugar cookies and peanut butter blossoms for every meal (well I suppose you could, if your body could handle that much sugar).

As we all know, I'm a huge fan of meals that are quick and easy to put together. Every once in a while I feel like getting fancy, but definitely not on the week nights, especially on nights I have class.

I actually marked this recipe back in March in my reader, and I can't believe I waited so long to make it. Confections of a Foodie Bride claims that it's super quick and easy to make -- basically your shake'n'bake chicken. And minus shelling the pistachios, she's absolutely right. But that's what I have a hubby for -- to shell my pistachios while I'm driving home from class. :)

Pistachio Chicken Fingers
Adapted from: Confections of a Foodie Bride

1 cup pistachios, shelled
Salt (if pistachios are unsalted)
Ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 package chicken tenders (from the fresh poultry department)

Preheat oven to 425. Run pistachios through the food processor for 15-20 seconds, until coarsely ground into small and medium-sized pieces. Pour nuts into a large baggie and season with salt and peppers. Drop chicken tenders, one at a time, into the baggie, seal, and shake until coated.

Place on a rack set in a baking sheet and bake until center temperature reaches 170 degrees, about 15 minutes.

So when I went to the grocery store to pick up the necessary items for this dish, I realized that apparently my nice individually wrapped frozen chicken breasts apparently disappear around Thanksgiving/Christmas -- presumably to make room for all those extra frozen turkeys. Oh yes, I'm THAT kid that buys the individually wrapped chicken. I just got sick of two regular sized chicken breasts and one huge one in a package (so long consistent cooking times), and then there's only 3 per package, who seriously just needs three? Give me either two or four and I'd be happy, but 3?

ANYWAY -- so I was missing my frozen chicken breasts. And I didn't want to buy 3 wacky sized fresh chicken breasts, so I opted for a more decent option of a package of chicken tenders. And I thought it turned out well. Two less forks and knives we had to wash after dinner.

When purchasing the pistachios I bought the smallest package I could find (maybe 10 ounces?) and it was almost the perfect amount. (It left just a few over for snacking purposes, excellent.)

Adam and I both liked the extra crunch and flavor the pistachios gave, and then Adam busted out Manzetti's Asian Ginger dressing to dip them in, and it made them SO.GOOD. (You can find that particular brand of dressing in the refrigerated portion of the produce department by the bagged salads.)

I will definitely be making these again. As soon as Adam forgets how much his fingernails hurt from shelling the pistachios.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 394Calories from fat 204
% Daily Value
Total Fat 22.6g35%
Saturated Fat 4.0g20%
Cholesterol 101mg34%
Sodium 134mg6%
Total Carbs 9.0g3%
Dietary Fiber 3.3g13%
Sugars 2.4g
Protein 39.4g
Vitamin A 6%Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 5%Iron 15%

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Mascarpone Filling

Since it's only 9 days until Christmas, it's about time to start busting out some baked goods! I'm not sure exactly what was the original inspiration behind this cake (or why I even thought to make one in the first place) but I'm definitely glad I had it!

I originally wanted to make a rolled cake, but none of chocolate cake recipes were really talking to me so I figured I just make one that sounded good, roll it, and see what happened. Well... that whole part didn't exactly turn out (or the chocolate buttercream frosting) so we just won't go there. However, the cake and filling were delicious.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Mascarpone Filling
From: Allrecipes & Original Recipe

For the cake:
2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 3 - 9 inch round cake pans. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

For the filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur

In a mixer, cream butter, cheese and liqueur. Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth.

Serves: 16

Even though the actual structure of the cake didn't really pan out, the actual cake it self turned out very moist. (Glad I took the pictures the night I made the cake -- it was definitely split all the way lengthwise the next morning!)Feel free to vary the amount of raspberry liquor used in the frosting depending how strong you want the flavor to be. Or I suppose you could always use raspberry extract, but where would the fun be in that?

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 510Calories from fat 191
% Daily Value
Total Fat 21.2g33%
Saturated Fat 12.9g65%
Cholesterol 100mg33%
Sodium 532mg22%
Total Carbs 76.3g25%
Dietary Fiber 2.4g9%
Sugars 57.7g
Protein 6.4g
Vitamin A 13%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 6%Iron 11%

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Linguine with Chicken, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

What? Another pasta post? After such a long absence that's the best I can do? As a matter of fact, yes, it is. Despite making such progress over the past year+ with making a menu at the beginning of each week so we don't play the "what's for dinner" game every night, we have fallen off that horse. Hard. And really have no desire to hop back on right away. Maybe that will change after finals, only until the beginning of January anyway -- when we start up evening right-over-dinner-time classes again.

Anyhoo..... Adam was super suspicious of this dish at first, after I told him artichokes were involved. The first question, of course, "Are you going to be offended if I pick the artichokes out?" Well lo and behold, guess who was sitting there not even half and hour later commenting how good dinner was and he was even eating the artichokes. Ha.

Linguine with Chicken, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted From: Confections of a Foodie Bride

1 pound linguine
2 chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness, sliced crosswise about 1/2"
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce can) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
1 (14.5 ounce can) diced tomatoes*
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken broth, more as needed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
2 Tbsp chopped basil, plus additional for garnish
1 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain (reserving 1/2 cup pasta water) and place in a large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauce pan until hot. Liberally salt and pepper the sides of the chicken and place in the pan to sear. Cook through, about 3-4 minutes each side. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil and butter to pan. Add onions and red pepper flakes to pan and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

Add chicken, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and diced tomatoes to the pan. Stir and cook for 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until heated through, and then remove from heat.

Pour sauce over the top of the pasta. Toss with the Parmesan, basil, and parsley until coated. Add a couple of splashes of pasta water - or if you forget to reserve it, some chicken broth - if you need to thin the sauce a bit.

*The recipe originally called for crushed tomatoes, but I could not find any that weren't in super huge cans.

Overall, not too bad of a dish, especially when it's the first time working with artichokes. I was unable to find diced artichokes, so if you find yourself in the same boat, just make sure you drain the whole ones very well (give 'em a nice squeeze or two over the sink for good measure) and then dice them.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 450Calories from fat 196
% Daily Value
Total Fat 21.8g34%
Saturated Fat 9.1g46%
Cholesterol 106mg35%
Sodium 545mg23%
Total Carbs 42.2g14%
Dietary Fiber 4.0g16%
Sugars 2.4g
Protein 22.9g
Vitamin A 21%Vitamin C 36%
Calcium 20%Iron 20%


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