Monday, December 9, 2013
And now our theme of EASE has spread into cookie land.
It's getting to be that cookie time of year. People will be posting elaborate cream-crispie-delicate-shatters-candy-sprinkles-painted-by-professional-artists-made-of-chipped-gold-and-frosting cookies, and perhaps some other delicacies. Nothing wrong with that. But sometimes this time of year is also really really busy. (Or is it just me.) Sometimes there's an event that calls for a cookie and there aren't cookies lying about. Grocery stores make a killing off of this sort of thing because that's where we go when we need some quick holiday cookies for a dinner, church, or school event and we just don't have time to churn out one more home made creation. We buy either those ultra nasty cookies that come in plastic--the sugar cookies with the frosting and sprinkles. Ugh. (I really can't stand these things, so don't even try to defend them). Or we can get some type of pre-made dough, which is much better tasting, but still a little painfully tube-a-licious.
The following recipe is good for times when you need cookies fast. This can be just because you need cookies fast (because the chocolate crazed demons in your head say so). Or because there's an actual event for which they're necessary like the PTA luncheon.
They take two minutes to mix together. They taste delicious. They are chewy and soft. The Nutella prevents them from being 100% homemade, but then so do chocolate chips really (yeah, I'm making excuses, but if you want to be a Nutella hater, then fine--it'll be a lonely place). Speaking of Nutella-haters, I have always been a fan of Nutella, per se, but not always a fan of recipes that utilize Nutella. They just seem so cheatery--like putting ten gallons of colorful frosting on a cake--well, of course your child is going to pick that one. Nutella is similar--throw it into the title and half the world will pin it even if it's Nutella and Doodoo Casserole (um, please don't pin this under that caption). Also, it's not a whole food (though it can be homemade if you're not in a hurry), and it's just so...so indulgent. It used to be a seasonal item. You could get it around Christmas-time. And it was a little pricey. And came in smallish containers. Not anymore, my friends--for better or for worse. Now you can get it year-round, Sam's carries a bulk version, and there are knock-off versions to be found. This is great for chocolate-crazed demons, but it can be bad for our waistlines and just a little less special special. However, it is still good news for your time-crunched cookies.
These can be served plain and yummy or they can be dressed up with white frosting and sprinkles. Or used as cookie sandwiches.
And then maybe rolled in sprinkles or colored sugars (homemade if you wish) or crushed peppermint sticks. Or miniature figurines of Santa Claus encrusted in pearled sugar and gemstones. But you see that I stumble into crazy territory. Go there if you dare, but know that you don't have to.
adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Prep time: 2 minutes
Nutella (I used the Aldi knock off): 1.00, sugar: .10, flour: .10, egg: .10
1 C Nutella (or a knock off)
1/2 C sugar
1 C flour
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix ingredients together. Shape into 1 inch balls. Press down if you wish. (I didn't and they still worked out.). Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes (remember chocolate cookies don't always look done; don't burn them.)
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Does anyone else look at Pinterest these days and think the whole world has gone insane? I mean, if I see one more list of interesting, magical, and otherwise clinically insane things that one can do with their elves, I'm going to have to die of parental magic-impairment syndrome. That, or be convicted of it in a court of law. Recently, I saw a post about someone who did something like the elf (which at least has the excuse of coming at an over-the-top-magical time of year AND supposedly inducing your children to good works by watching over their wee shoulders). Except that it was with plastic dinosaurs. And not at Christmas. The dinosaurs would do all kinds of crazy things like make messes and get into trouble--whee. It's great to be a dinosaur. This post concluded with some comment about how they (the parents) were doing it to keep their children's imaginations alive. Back in my day, imagination meant that you--the child--took your plastic dinosaurs and played games with them. Now apparently it means that your parents do random things with them in the middle of the night (which include, but are not limited to getting into bowls of goop, which the parents--presumably--will at some point in the day have to clean up--it kind of blows my mind). But I've digressed.
My point is that my kids will obviously have to live through a magic-less childhood. Not only that, but I am also going to tell you how to cheat on dinner.
Here's how you make this sauce. You take your regular spaghetti sauce. And you add a block of cream cheese. You heat it and mix it and let it melt. The end. It tastes delicious. And fancy. And it's an excellent compliment for pasta with bacon, sweet sausage, seafood, or--my favorite--mushrooms (see above). Normal sauce is great and all, but it's just too acidic to go well with quite so many flavors. This can be part of a ten-minute meal, but it doesn't taste like it. I love that in a food.
Cheater Tomato Cream Sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
tomato sauce: 1.50, cream cheese: 1.00
1 can regular tomato sauce (or this delicious and easy homemade sauce)
1 8-oz block of cream cheese
Heat, mix, serve, eat.
PRINTABLE RECIPE--whatever--save yourself the paper; your elf probably made it into hundreds of tiny snowflakes anyway. He must be exhausted.
Monday, December 2, 2013
(another night-time picture--please forgive)
Gloria Gaynor (as in "I Will Survive") has just released a new book that is a compilation of essays of people who have survived various struggles. I happen to have written one of those essays. My essay is about seeing my mother a few months before she died of a brain tumor.
So if you're looking for an inspirational read, check it out. It's called We Will Survive. You can find it here.
The publicist for Ms. Gaynor's book asked the contributors if they had any blogs, etc. where they could promote the book. I'd be happy to, I said, but I just have a food blog. Well, lo and behold Gloria Gaynor eats; she even cooks. They sent me this recipe for me to include in the blog. I thought that was pretty cool.
The even better thing was that the recipe was yummy and easy. It can be made whole food style or pantry staples style. It can be made in the oven or in the crock pot. It is very adaptable, as I learned by having not quite the right ingredients for one thing and accidentally forgetting to add something else (that's how dinner rolls around here).
It's a perfect little recipe for putting dinner on the table through the craziness that can be December.
Chicken de la Gaynor
from Gloria Gaynor
prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
chicken: 4.00, cream of chicken soup: .50, mushrooms: .60, sour cream: .50, other: .30
2 lb chicken (Gloria recommends wings; I only had breasts, so that's what I used)
10 oz cream of chicken soup (I made my own chicken white sauce)
3 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (I had regular mushrooms, which I cooked in a bit of butter)
8 oz sour cream (okay--I managed to get that one right)
1/4 C whole milk
1/4 C cooking sherry (forgot; it was still delicious)
I cut my large chicken breasts into strips. You can just leave it at that and throw them in the oven with salt and pepper, but I like to brown mine in some olive oil or butter first. To do this: Heat olive oil in skillet, add breasts (with salt and pepper), and cook the breasts until they're browned. They don't need to be cooked through. They're going in the oven. (Note: You can totally skip all this browning and throw them in the oven, but I like to do this with chicken breasts because I think it adds more flavor).
Heat oven to 425. Throw breasts in the oven (you know in a pan and stuff).
While the chicken bakes, you're going to pour cream of chicken soup and sour cream in a pan and heat it. Then you'll add the milk, sherry, and mushrooms. When the chicken is just barely cooked through (20-40 minutes depending on how big your chunks of chicken are--I always just cut into the fattest one to check it). Pour soup mixture over chicken, return to oven, and cook fifteen more minutes.
We served it over rice with broccoli on the side and it was delicious. We ate all the chicken and the next day I just had sauce and mushrooms over rice, which was also delicious.
Crock Pot: I have not done this, but I am 99.9% sure it will work. Just throw everything in the crock. Eight hours on low; 4 on high. Done.
Homemade: You'll notice above that I was missing several canned ingredients. It wasn't a problem. For the cream of chicken soup, I made a simple white sauce. Here's how: Melt 2 Tbsp butter. Whisk in 2 Tbsp flour. Cook one minute. Whisk in 1 C milk and 1 tsp chicken granules (one cube bullion). Stir until it just starts to boil and thicken.
-For the mushrooms, just slice and cook in butter until they're lightly browned.