Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Homemade Oreos

This has got to be one of my most favorite desserts of all time - and one of the easiest too!

I remember being 10 years old - sitting in a classroom in my green dress - and my teacher walked in carrying these . . . .

Oreos. And not just any oreos, but homemade oreos and they were still warm! I tell you, little chocoholic me was in heaven.

Being that I'm a big girl now, I have grown-up tastes, so I've changed these up just a wee bit.

Have you ever noticed how much vanilla you go through? Let's face it, I buy mine in bulk at Costco, because they sell the real stuff {ie. vanilla extract, NOT vanilla flavoring} and it's way cheaper than buying the real stuff at the grocery store and I seem to go through it faster than the county fair. I love vanilla. It's the head honcho of flavorings. We live in a vanilla flavored world. Vanilla flavored cookies, vanilla flavored cakes, vanilla flavored ice cream . . .{I covered the basic food groups, right?} So, in essence, vanilla has just become . . . dare i say . . . blah? No, not blah. but it almost has no 'flavor' simply because that's what our palette is used to. BUT, what if we changed that? I'm not saying nix the vanilla out of your pantry all-together, but for this recipe, I highly recommend that you do. Oreo's have cream filling. Instead of using vanilla extract, I use almond. I swear you'll have a Ratatouille moment. The notes of almond flavored cream cheese filling with a softened chocolate cookie will make your palette do a happy dance. Trust me. But before you go running to your local grocery store to grab some, let me give you a hint - DON'T. Just like getting ripped off with vanilla extract at the grocery store, you will also get ripped off with almond extract. Let me save you a few bucks {literally} and direct you to the cake decorating aisle of your local craft store. There, amongst all the colorings and flavorings, you will find a cute little bottle of clear almond extract for a measly $2 (as opposed $8 at the grocery) and it smells like heaven.{ok, ok, I'll get off my soap box now}

I seriously can't get enough of these. They're so easy to whip up and then . . . suddenly . . . a little mouse finds its way into your kitchen and they're GONE . *sniff* {ok, fine . . . i ate them}

So I crafted up an ingenious solution. Less is more! {wait, what? Less chocolate is not more chocolate. I know. Let me explain} Instead of making 1-1/2-inch balls of dough like the recipe calls for, I pull out my my trusty mini cookie scoop!
{photo from pampered chef}

It's actually probably meant for truffle balls or something, but seriously, who doesn't like mini cookies? I found my baby scooper at Gygi's (they don't sell it online - sorry), but I believe that Pampered Chef sells them too. Now, instead of like 2 dozen oreos {totally not enough}, we have tons and tons more! Alright, maybe not tons, but it seems to make them last longer . . . or maybe it just helps you justify eating two instead of one. haha. Ü Either way . . . More cookies!

Using your scoop, dish out your cookies onto a large cookie sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes. Once the cookies are cool, frost them up! Don't forget that these babies need to be refrigerated. I've found that after they've sat in a tupperware in the fridge for a few hours, the cookies get super soft and perfectly chewy - so, while patience is difficult, it is a also a virtue. Ü

You can also dress up your cookies if you think they're feeling a little naked - Color the frosting; dip them in {more} chocolate; roll them in nuts; dip them in chocolate AND roll them in nuts Ü . . . you get the picture. ENJOY!

Homemade Oreos

2 (18.25 ounce) packages devil's food cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup shortening

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients together and scoop 3/4-inch rolls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool.

Once cool, put a generous helping of cream cheese frosting between two cookies - bottom sides together.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring (optional)
chopped almonds (optional)

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar. 

Store cookies in a tupperware in the refrigerator.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ah, the change in the seasons.

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and throats are scratching everywhere you look. Ü Well, at least they are at my house. I seem to be coming down with a little bit of a cold and nothing sounds better right now than a large bowl of hot, homemade, healthy chicken noodle soup. This recipe is SO easy - I promise. And it tastes way better than something you might pour out of a can. I also like to use fresh herbs tied in a bouqet garni* so that I don't have little herbs floating in my soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T flour
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh sage
8 C chicken stock
2 1/2 C wide egg noodles, uncooked
1-2 whole chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
Place your mirepoix** and olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Saute until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir to soak up excess oil (the flour helps to thicken up the sauce a little). Slowly stir in chicken stock. *Tie rosemary, thyme, and sage in a bundle and place in pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the pot comes to a boil, add the egg noodles and cook as per instructions (usually about 10 minutes). Once the noodles are done, add the cooked chicken, return pot to a boil and then enjoy!!

Yield: 6 servings
Time: ~ 1 hour

** the magic word of the day!
Mirepoix (mîr-pwä'): is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and, in this case, garlic. Traditionally, the ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chocolate Fondue


My name is Katrina.

and I'm a chocoholic. *sniffle*
Seriously though - I love chocolate. In my old house, I had a saying up on the wall in the kitchen that read "Given enough chocolate, I could rule the world"
This 'no sugar' diet has put a wedge in me and chocolate's relationship. It's very love/hate right now.

But this . . . (and a chocolate and almond covered ice cream bar from Costco . . . and a snickers . . . and maybe a Milka bar . . . oh, and Kinder Eggs) . . . this I can't resist:

Chocolate Fondue

1 tsp butter
1 C miniature marshmallows
1/3 C whipping cream
6 oz. chocolate chips
2 Tbsp milk

Rub a small fondue pot or miniature crock pot with butter. Place chocolate chips, marshmallows, and milk in the fondue pot. Cover and heat, stirring every 15 minutes until melted and smooth. Gradually add whipping cream. Cover and heating for 30 minutes.

Gather up all your girlfriends or send the kids away have a candlelit dessert with hubby for Valentine's Day. Serve with everything.
Strawberries, bananas, apples, french bread, pound cake, marshmallows, macaroons, pretzels, ladyfingers, brownies . . . the list could go on forever.

{Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of delectable fondue that will disappear in about 10 minutes}

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pear and Raspberry Pastry

For some reason, the thought of pears and raspberries together make angels sing in my head. Ü No idea why really - I've never eaten a pear/raspberry something before, but they just GO together, you know? Like peanut butter and jelly. So i just so happened to have both pears and raspberries floating around in my kitchen the other day and i knew that i needed to make something out of them . . . like a tart or something. So I went hunting and found this:

the pictures alone had me drooling, and the recipe that followed made it even more appealing. So simple. So easy. So Yummy. The hint of ginger combined with the soft cooked pears, the sweetness of raspberries and the slight crunch and flakiness of the pastry was so cool and refreshing and yet was also intensified with the warmth {no, I couldn't wait for it to cool down, although after having it warm from the oven, i'm not sure that i'll eat it any other way now Ü} Can anyone tell I was in heaven yet?

I would show you a picture of how mine turned out (they were pretty darn cute Ü) but I'm afraid that all that's left of them are finger-licked dishes in the sink. {bummer - i know. I even went back to Costco to buy more raspberries so I could make more, but alas, the raspberries were gone.}

But I'll still tell you my version anyway, cause it's cooler Ü (ok, not really, but i was too lazy to make pie crust)

Pear and Raspberry Pastries

3 large pears, peeled and cubed
1 C raspberries
3 T sugar {YES! only THREE tablespoons! I was super excited about that Ü}
2 T cornstarch
1/2 t ginger (can't skip this ingredient - it is a must!}
Juice of half a lemon
1 sheet puff pastry {found in the freezer section by all the pies}

Roll out puff pastry and place in 10-inch pie plate, 3 medium-sized or 6 individual-sized ramekins {I used 3 medium-sized ones because it gave me an excuse to use my square pie dishes Ü}

Place pears and raspberries in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Add to pears and raspberries and mix. Add lemon juice and mix. Dish out equal portions onto pastry and bake at 400 F for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Best served warm.