31 January 2012

Snowman Cookies


A picture of these cookies is one of the first things I "repinned" on Pinterest when I first joined back in August. I knew they would make the perfect preschool snack this winter.  The recipe originally came from the blog My Pretty Purse.


Snowman Cookies


Ingredients:
2 (4 oz.) bars Nestle Premier White chocolate
1 tbsp shortening
12 Nutter Butter cookies
12 orange Tic Tacs, ⅓ cut off
36 mini M&Ms
Black decorator gel icing


Directions:
Break the white chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl with the shortening.  Microwave on 70% power for 45 seconds.  Stir.  Microwave an additional 45 minutes if necessary.  Stir until smooth.


Dip cookies individually in melted chocolate using two forks to roll them around.  Use the forks to lift them out and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.


Once all the cookies have been dipped, place a cut-off Tic Tac on each one where the nose should be.  Then place 3 mini M&Ms on each one to make buttons.  Using a very light hand, draw eyes and a mouth on each cookie with the decorator icing.


Allow a couple of hours for them to set completely.  Even after setting, be careful with the eyes and mouth as the black icing may smudge.


Makes a dozen cookies.

Aren't they just the cutest things ever?  And they are incredibly easy to make.  I didn't have enough of the Nestle white chocolate to cover all the cookies I wanted to make, so I used some white melting candies for the remainder, but it didn't work as well.  It didn't coat it as smoothly, and I had trouble getting the black icing to stick to it.

I didn't change very much about the original recipe, except to specify quantities.  I used three mini M&Ms instead of two regular ones.  My snowmen only had brown, yellow, and blue buttons because I used the red and green M&Ms to make my candy covered chocolate dipped pretzel rods at Christmastime.

Apparently, there was a discussion in my daughter's class as they were eating these, whether they were cookies or candy.  Lena said, "I said they were cookies, but this other girl said they were candies."  I told her that they were both right, because they were cookies with candies on them.  She thought this was a genius answer and told me that she would be sure to relay this information to the other girl the next time she saw her.  I'm going to treasure these times she thinks my answers to her questions are genius, because I know it won't last forever!



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19 January 2012

Improv Challenge: Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce


Today is reveal day for the Improv Cooking Challenge.  The premise of this challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

Improv Challenge

This month, the two assigned ingredients were lemons and sour cream.  I figured most people would be choosing baked goods or dessert of some sort, so I wanted to do something savory.  I love pairing lemon with salmon, and it's so easy to make a sauce out of sour cream, so this was kind of a no-brainer for me.

Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
½ tsp grated lemon zest
2½ tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp honey
¼ tsp fresh ginger, grated
Olive oil
4 salmon fillets
Salt
Dried dill, for garnish

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and ginger.  Add olive oil to thin out to desired consistency.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil.  Season salmon lightly with salt and add to hot pan.  Cook until browned on one side, about 4 minutes.  Flip over and brown on other side.

Drizzle sauce over salmon fillets to serve.  Garnish with dill, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

This makes for a very easy, but elegant-looking dish.  I served it over a bed of sauteed escarole.  

Come back on the third Thursday of February to see what I have made with carrots and ginger.

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16 January 2012

Chocolate Banana Muffins



These are the muffins I made on Friday, which was a snow day here in Michigan.  They are very easy to put together and are the perfect weekend treat.  This recipe is directly from For the Love of Cooking. It was posted less than two weeks ago, but I couldn't wait to try it and then after I tasted it, I couldn't wait to share it with my readers.


Chocolate, Banana, and White Chocolate Chip Muffins


Ingredients:
3 very ripe bananas
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips


Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°.  Coat a muffin pan with baking spray.


Place the bananas in a large bowl; mash.  Add the oil, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until well combined.


In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the white chocolate chips.


Spoon the batter evenly into each muffin cup. 


Place into the oven and bake 22-25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.


Let the muffins cool on a rack. 


Makes 12-14 muffins.





Amanda at Fake Ginger chose to make this recipe when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in May 2012.  Click on the button below to check out her post!
Secret Recipe Club
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07 January 2012

Crazy Cooking Challenge: Mini Chicken Meatball Noodle Soup


Photobucket


It's time once again for the Crazy Cooking Challenge!  In this challenge, all the participants make and blog about the same dish each month.  Each blogger is to scour other blogs for the "ultimate" version of whatever that month's dish is.  The goal is to highlight and promote personal food blogs. This month's assigned dish was chicken noodle soup.  So we were to find the "ultimate chicken noodle soup" recipe, make it, and blog about it.

I found a recipe on Gina's Skinnytaste for Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup.  Even though her recipe called for turkey, I really liked the simplicity of it and it sounded just like what I had in mind.  So I started with that, and changed the turkey to chicken.  I felt like mixing things up a bit, so I made mini chicken meatballs instead of chunks of chicken breast.  I made mini meatballs for a soup I created last month, and they were so darn cute, I just had to make them again!  The only other thing I changed was to use spinach instead of the traditional celery.  I don't really like celery, but felt the soup still needed something green.  I've used spinach in soups before and I love it, so I went with that and it worked well.  Here's my adaptation.


Mini Chicken Meatball Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup carrots, sliced
¼ large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb. ground chicken
2 tbsp soft bread crumbs
½ tsp Italian seasoning (Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)
½ shallot, diced
¼ tsp salt
2 cups egg noodles
1 cup fresh spinach, torn

Directions:
Fill a large soup pot with chicken stock.  Add bay leaf, carrots, onion, and garlic and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. 

Meanwhile, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, shallot, and salt.  Form into 1 tsp sized meatballs.  Add them to the soup pot one by one, so they don’t stick together.  Stir.  Increase heat to high and add egg noodles and spinach.  Cook until noodles are soft and spinach is wilted.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary.  Remove bay leaf.

Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

This soup was a big hit.  My 19-month-old gobbled down every little bit!  I love how simple it is and how easily and fairly quickly it can be thrown together.  Admittedly, chicken noodle soup isn't my favorite soup, mostly because I find it kind of "blah", but using mini meatballs takes it up a notch in the "interesting" department.  


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