Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies

I make no secret about the fact that nothing, and I repeat, nothing, compares to my love for my cake batter cookies. Since discovering them 3+ years ago they are pretty much the only cookies I make. However a few weeks ago, mid-snow storm, a craving for cookies hit and I just needed them. I remembered this recipe from Cassie's blog and decided to try them.

Well, delicious. Of course. As everything from Cassie's blog goes, I loved them. Will they replace my cake batter ones? No, but they are a good alternative. They are so soft and vanilla-y. Yum! I was out of chips (eeeek!) so I chopped up some chocolate to make the mix needed for these and the bigger chunks were kind of nice in here. I'd definitely make these again!

Source: Cassie Craves

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3.4 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and set aside.

2. Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add in pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slight golden and set. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Chicken Alfredo French Bread Pizzas

Growing up we had two kitchens in my house- one upstairs and one downstairs. From a very early age I took eating very seriously and had certain foods I just did not want to share. When one of those came into the house I would hide it in the downstairs freezer with hopes that nobody would notice. Stouffer's used to make these 4 cheese white french bread pizzas that I LOVED (and religiously hid downstairs). I tried looking for them recently and couldn't find them anywhere. I decided to make my own and, well, like anything, homemade trumps. These pizzas were totally delicious. John and I were huge fans. The creamy sauce went so well with the tomato and basil. The crisp bread was perfect. I love pizza in all forms but french bread will always be tops for me!

Source: Stephanie Cooks Original

1 loaf of french bread, cut in half lengthwise
Alfredo sauce (homemade or jarred)
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese
5 basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped

1- Preheat the oven, preferably with a pizza stone, to 425.
2- Cover the bread with a layer of alfredo sauce. Top with diced tomatoes and chicken.
3- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top.
4- Bake on the pizza stone until the cheese is melted, about 10-12 minutes.
5- Remove and top with basil. Using a sharp knife cut the pizza into individual servings and serve hot.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weeknight Tomato Balsamic Spaghetti

I've been going through spurts with my cooking lately. Some weeks I'm full of energy and whipping up meals, bothering to set up my lighting so I can take a decent picture, and enjoying myself in the kitchen. Other weeks I'm exhausted from being (almost) halfway through my pregnancy, parenting a 3 year old, and teaching 5th graders. Those weeks I rely on meals that "cook themselves" and this is one of them. As you can see I didn't even bother to set up my lighting- hence the picture being pretty meh... I literally held my bowl in one hand, snapped a picture with the other, then sat on the couch and ate this. So.. yeah. Some weeks are rough.

This pasta is so amazingly easy to make. The end result is very flavorful but the effort going in is minimal. John and I both loved this. I loved it so much I'm making it again this week. The week may not have even begun, but I can already tell it's going to be a barely-cooking week.

Source: Stephanie Cooks Original

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
Garlic salt
3 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup light cream
1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked

1- Preheat the oven to 400.
2- In a small oven safe baking dish toss the tomatoes with the oil. Season with garlic salt and pepper.
3- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tomatoes start to burst apart.
4- Carefully mash the tomatoes, breaking them apart and releasing their juices. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir well. Transfer the mixture to skillet.
5- Over low heat combine the tomato mixture with the cream. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
6- Add the cooked spaghetti, stir well. Allow to cook over low heat 2 minutes until the sauce coats the pasta.
7- Top with dried parsley and parmesan, if desired.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Panera Copy-Cat recipe)

The past two winters were so snowy that I almost feel like this is the winter that didn't happen. We've had one major snow storm and that's about it where I live. I'm not really complaining about this, but I do enjoy a good snow day as much as the next guy! A couple weeks ago we had our one and only snow storm and I decided to make tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch. Enter this soup.

This soup was delicious. It was creamy and rich (as it should be with the insane amount of cream in it) but it was also full of flavor. The recipe made a ton so I gave some to my neighbor, froze some, and we are some. I can't wait to defrost the other batch. This is my new staple recipe for tomato soup.

Source: Slightly adapted from  The Pinning Mama

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 14 oz can chicken broth {or 2 cups}
2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
15-20 Basil leaves, chopped

1- Combine the tomatoes, broth, and garlic bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes.
2- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sugar and butter and mix until they are dissolved, melted and well combined.
3- Very slowly pour in the heavy cream while simultaneously stirring until all the cream is combined and the soup is creamy. If you don't do it slowly it won't create the thick/creamy texture.
4- Stir in the basil. Let simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Crunchy Honey BBQ Shrimp

I'm the first to admit that I'm not above shortcuts in the kitchen. I love to cook but I hate dirtying 5,000 dishes so I often use shortcuts that allow me to take the semi-homemade approach to cooking. To some that makes me a bad food blogger, but to this working mom it makes me a genius.

Landon is a huge fan of shrimp. He will eat them just about anyway he's presented with them, but he definitely loves them breaded. One day at Costco I bought a two pound box of Seapak frozen breaded shrimp and it has been residing in my freezer ever since. I've been desperate to clear out some stuff in my freezer so I decided to whip up a "glaze"of a sauce for the shrimp and all I can say is YUM. This was a total winner in our house! Considering I still have a ton of these shrimp in the freezer I am sure I'll be making them again. Soon.

Source: Stephanie Cooks Original

3/4-1 pound breaded shrimp (homemade or frozen- your choice)
4 tbsp honey
4 tbsp BBQ sauce
Sesame seeds
Dried parsley

1- Cook the shrimp until they are almost done. Remove them from the oven.
2- In a small bowl combine the honey and BBQ sauce.
3- Using a brush, brush the sauce onto the shrimp. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
4- Remove from the oven again, flipping the shrimp and brushing the sauce on the other side. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
5- Sprinkle with parsley and sesame seeds. Serve hot.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Double Chocolate Cookies

I am so backlogged with recipes that when I made these cookies they were for my dear friend, Gina's, baby shower at work. She has since had the babies and they are one month old! So...yeah... I'm a little behind. What can I say!

These cookies were a total hit. I have to say, I've made a few versions of chocolate chocolate chip cookies but these take the #1 spot in my book. They were so soft and rich. They were almost likely pillowy brownie bites. I could go for some of these bad boys right now! I might have to make them again soon.

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms

1- Preheat the oven to 350.
2- Melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and stir until well combined.
3- Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well incorporated.
4- Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine until a dough forms.
5- Hold in the chocolate chips and M&Ms.
6- Scoop by the tablespoon onto baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

OMG Crockpot Chicken

As I've evolved as a cook I rely less and less on easy ingredients and focus on more real ingredients. With that said... this meal is the LEAST "real" meal I've made in a long time! There's tons of processed ingredients, it's full of sodium, and therefore delicious. This recipe was all the rage in an online community I'm in so I decided to try it. John loved it. I liked it. I felt like it was a little "fake" tasting, a little salty, but overall tasty. I ended up keeping it on warm for a long time so the sauce dried up a bit. Next time I wouldn't let it sit on "keep warm" for quite as long as I did. I saved the leftover chicken to turn into paninis which I think will be very tasty! If you're looking for a super easy crockpot meal, this is for you.

Source: Complete Recipes


2 lbs boneless skinless Chicken Breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 packet of dry Italian dressing
1 packet of dry ranch dressing
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese

1. Throw everything in the crockpot on low and cook 6-8 hours.
2.After about 4 hours of cooking I usually stir everything together- but if you're not home it's no big deal.
3. Just stir about 20 minutes before serving to really mix together the cream cheese and dressing packets.