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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Browned Butter Sugar Cookies




I received the Baking Bites Cookbook in a giveaway about a year ago. I want to make just about every recipe in the book! I decided on these sugar cookies to take to a pool party this past summer. I had never made browned butter before, but I wanted to try it. (Probably the only thing I had ever eaten with browned butter was some lobster potstickers with a browned butter miso sauce from Roy's - so incredibly good.)

My mom said these were one of her favorite cookies! She had a similar positive reaction to Nicole's Mexican Chocolate Black Bottom Cupcakes, so I suspect my mom might love anything from this cookbook!

These cookies were chewy and had great flavor and texture. The original recipe uses half a vanilla bean in the melted butter mixture during the browning process. I don't have vanilla beans on hand and opted to skip it since they are pretty expensive. I'm sure the vanilla flavor would have been fantastic though, so if you have some on hand, try it and let me know! :)

Browned Butter Sugar Cookies

Yield: approximately 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Add butter to a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until butter begins to melt. Continue to cook butter until it has turned an amber color and smells toasty but not burnt. The butter will darken quickly once it begins to turn golden, so watch carefully.

3. Pour butter from the saucepan into a small bowl, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the cooled butter. Stir in flour mixture, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain.

6. Drop 1-inch balls onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the edges are set and just start to brown.

7. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Source: Adapted from the Baking Bites Cookbook

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries




With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought it was the perfect time to share this recipe for homemade chocolate-covered strawberries. The concept and method are simple, but people spend an inordinate amount of money on these at candy shops around Valentine's Day - why not make them at home!

I made these chocolate-covered strawberries for my sister's bridal shower last year. I had never made them before and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was and how good they tasted. Making them at home allows you to choose the type of chocolate you use and know exactly what's going into them. I love adding the white chocolate stripes (idea courtesy of Annie) - they make them look more elegant.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

*I'm not providing exact amounts because it varies greatly depending on how large the strawberries are and how much chocolate you like on them. Ina Garten recommends 6 ounces of dark chocolate for 12 large (long-stemmed) strawberries.

chocolate of choice (semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk) - bars or chips

For the white chocolate drizzle:
white chocolate chips
vegetable shortening or oil

1. Wash strawberries and dry well by allowing to air dry on a paper towel or using paper towels to gently pat dry.

2. To make tempered chocolate, chop the chocolate into pieces (or use chocolate chips) and place 3/4 of it in a small glass bowl in a microwave for 20 seconds exactly. Stir the chocolate and continue to microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.

3. Add the remaining 1/4 of the chocolate and stir until smooth. This will temper the chocolate to preserve texture and appearance.

4. Dip each strawberry into the tempered chocolate and place on a sheet pan covered with parchment or waxed paper. Refrigerate for 2 minutes to set.

5. To make the drizzle: Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave until just melted. Add a small amount (about 1/2 teaspoon) vegetable shortening or oil and stir until smooth. Transfer the white chocolate to a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag with the tip cut off. Drizzle white chocolate over each strawberry to make stripe design. In my experience, it's important to work quickly with white chocolate because it seizes up more quickly than regular chocolate.

6. Refrigerate strawberries until ready to serve. Best if eaten within 24 hours.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten

Happy Valentine's Day!!!



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps - Revisited



Just over a year ago I posted a P.F. Chang's copycat recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps, but I already feel it's time to revisit this recipe. First of all, this has become one of Bob and my favorite dinners, and we've adapted the recipe to suit our tastes and rewritten it in a more logical way. Second of all, I was never happy with the picture I took. I was using a new light box I had made and the coloring was off. Since getting my new camera, I decided to re-photograph these wraps, and I'm much happier with the outcome. These wraps are seriously delicious, and I highly recommend the recipe!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

For the wraps:
2 tablespoons Canola oil, divided
1 package (1 pound) ground chicken breast
1 can sliced water chestnuts, minced into the size of peas
2/3 cup mushrooms (I usually use 1 package fresh mushrooms), minced into the size of peas
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-6 iceberg or butter lettuce leaves

For the special sauce:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoons soy sauce (we use reduced sodium)
1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon hot mustard
1 teaspoon hot water
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

For the stir fry sauce:
4 tablespoons soy sauce (we use reduced sodium)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

*Before beginning recipe, have mushrooms and water chestnuts chopped, have stir fry sauce prepared.

1. Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, and sesame oil. Mix well and set aside until ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.

2. Bring 1 tablespoon oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Saute ground chicken until cooked through.

3. With the pan still on high heat, add the other tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic, onions, water chestnuts, and mushrooms to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes.

4. To complete the "special sauce," add your desired measurement of the mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to reach preferred spiciness.

5. Serve the chicken mixture in the lettuce cups and top with "special sauce" as desired.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Turkey Tacos


I found this recipe for ground beef tacos in my America's Test Kitchen Cookbook and decided to try substituting ground turkey for the beef. The only kind of ground turkey tacos I've made in the past have been with a store bought taco seasoning packet; in fact, I don't know that it ever occurred to me to make the filling from scratch! I am so glad we tried these because they are soooo good! The spices are perfect, and the mixture is so flavorful. Bob and I have made these probably 6 times in the last few months. They are one of the few dinners that I actually made while I was pregnant to keep in the freezer and have after the baby arrived - we were sure glad to have this dinner twice in those first weeks home with Ava, when simply taking a shower is an accomplishment for the day!

I typically use lean ground turkey exclusively (not the extra-lean) because I find it has more flavor and isn't as dry. I had Bob grocery shop for the ingredients for this recipe once, and he got the extra-lean by accident. We used it anyway, and these were still phenomenal! It ended up being serendipitous because now we know that we can use the healthier turkey and not compromise on the flavor!

Turkey Tacos

For the filling:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or corn oil
1 small onion, chopped small (about 2/3 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound ground turkey (lean or extra-lean)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)
Ground black pepper

Optional extras:
Hard or soft taco shells
Shredded cheese
Shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
Small tomatoes , chopped small
Sour cream
Minced fresh cilantro leaves
Hot sauce or bottled taco sauce

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.

2. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground turkey and cook, breaking meat up with a spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes.

4. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

Source: America's Test Kitchen Complete TV Show Cookbook

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