Debbie’s No-Bake Cookies

no bake cookiesEveryone loves a good No-Bake Cookie. And whats not to love, healthy oats, chocolate and peanut butter, not to mention they don’t need to bake in the oven. Fastest and best cookie ever! This is my friend Debbie’s cookie recipe and ever since she gave it to me I have never looked for any other version. They really are perfect. I am still unsure which oat I like better, old fashioned or quick cooking! They both have their own distinct qualities. I do tend to use old fashioned the most because they are healthier for you. I like them super peanut buttery too, so I usually add more peanut butter and use chunky style. I also used this recipe to make an everything cookie. I added, almond butter, cocoa nibs and tons of different nuts, craisins, and chocolate chips. They are super healthy, energy boosting and really good and Brian loves them. I will eventually post the recipe for them.

No Bake Cookies

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
mix and bring to a boil, boil until thick just a few minutes, Remove from heat.
add:
3 c. oats
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
stir and drop by rounded spoonfuls on to wax paper.
cool completely.

Stuffed Clams

clam shellsThese go along with my love of miniature foods. During the summer we eat a lot of Steamers and Mussels. I always bring out a bowl of hot water and as we eat, the shells go into the water. Then I tediously wash each shell and save them. I know that sounds a little obsessive compulsive, but I just love serving platters of stuffed clams at gatherings. They make such a splash and are so good. You don’t need silverware, its like eating an oyster on the half shell, which by the way, I love! So, I will give you the plain version, and the kicked up version, make the one you prefer or make both. This is the kind of recipe where using the Roasted Garlic Butter would be excellent. You do not need the clam or mussel shells, you can make little mounds and bake them. Earlier, I did a post on Asian Spoons, I said I would be posting a great use for them that is an elegant appetizer. This was one of the recipes to which I was referring to.

STUFFED CLAMS
preheat oven to 400 degrees ~ bake 8 minutes
serve immediately

2 slices of raw bacon, chopped in small pieces
1/8 c. chopped green peppers
1/8 c/ chopped onions or shallots
1/2 stick butter
cook over med to med high heat until bacon is fully cooked and onions and peppers are tender
Add:
3-4 cloves chopped fresh garlic
cook 1 minute
Add:
1 handful of chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp honey
1-10 oz. can whole baby clams in juice, drained and juice reserved (I like CENTO brand)
1-5 oz. can chopped clams w/ juice
3/4 c. progresso Italian bread crumbs
1/2 c. crushed Ritz cracker crumbs
1/2 to 1 whole fresh squeezed lemon, add as much as you like
1/4 tsp hungarian paprika and/or tobasco sauce 3-4 shakes
Stir all ingredients together, add the reserved clam juice if necessary. Add as much more as needed to make a nice stuffing.

clam stuffing
Turn off heat… Taste and add salt if needed.
Stuff the clam shells or make small mounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake and serve! It will depend on the size of the clam shells, how many you get. If they are on the small size you will get about 30 or more.

clam spoons

A little Fancier Version…
This version will allow you to use less stuffing in each one and will give you more.
1 Tub of fresh Baby Spinach
Saute on med high heat, fresh spinach in olive oil, salt and pepper until wilted and soft. Turn off heat.
1 small container crumbled Goat Cheese, slices of swiss cheese or mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cut into shreds. Basically whatever you like for cheese use.
On top of each mound before going into the oven, put a small amount of spinach and top with cheese, bake and set on an asian spoon to serve or serve in the clam and mussel shells.

clams spinach

Roasted Garlic Butter & Garlic Cheese Bread

roasted garlicI would classify myself as a hardcore garlic lover. I would also have to classify my daughter Courtney the same. She might even be a little more hardcore. We fell in love with roasted garlic the first time we went to Disneyworld and ate a place called “The Portobello Yacht Club. Since then the name has changed. It was in downtown Disney, Brian and I and the kids were served this head of roasted garlic, a bottle of olive oil and fresh ground salt and pepper to dip our really good crusty bread into. The waiter poured a little olive oil into a small dish, popped a few cloves of garlic out, sprinkled salt and pepper and said now dip your bread and taste it,  It was heavenly. I went back to Maine determined that we needed to find a way to get this on our menu. So, I decided to turn it into a spread, because I felt there was too much involved the way they did it, and I didn’t want to overwhelm anybody. It turned out really well, but feel free to do it without the butter. Sometimes I roast the garlic and mash it into some softened butter and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on and then eat it. The butter just makes it so much richer. This is good to have on hand because you can use the butter in place of oil or butter when making things like shrimp scampi or anything savory that would call for butter or oil. It really just adds a whole other dimension of flavor to any dish. It’s absolutely fantastic when making cheesy garlic bread. Some people make it in a foil packet, but I like to use a glass covered dish. They do sell little garlic ceramic covered dishes but they only hold 1 head of garlic. I like to roast 4 heads at a time, they stay perfectly fine in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It’s a nice item to have on hand all the time.
roasted garlic butter

ROASTED GARLIC BUTTER
Preheat oven to 375 degrees ~ bake for 45 minutes

4 heads garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. water

Cut the head of garlic by cutting 1/3 of the way down from the top of the stem. Don’t throw the top out, there is still pieces of good garlic in the top, that can be roasted just for a shorter time.
Place the cut heads into the dish cut side up along with the tops. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil on each head, and sprinkle salt and pepper on each head. Don’t worry about measuring, extra oil wont hurt anything. After all heads are prepared, put a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of the dish. This will create steam and help to cook the garlic. Bake covered for 30 minutes, remove the tops and put back into the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cloves should be soft and creamy when you remove them from the oven. Check them by inserting a knife into the cloves, it should slide easily in. Add more time if necessary. Cool completely.

To make the butter…

2 sticks sweet cream salted Butter, room temp and easily whipped (if you need to microwave them, only do about 7 seconds, you don’t want it melted)
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 heads and 2 tops garlic, squeeze out every clove of garlic

Beat with an electric mixer.
Reserve the other two heads of garlic in your fridge for later usage.
Spread on toasted crusty bread. Yummy!

cheese breadROASTED GARLIC CHEESE BREAD
preheat oven to 400 degrees
spread roasted garlic butter on to a baguette generously
top with shredded mozzarella cheese
bake until bubbly and golden, about 7-10 minutes

It’s good to be back!

I had been out of commission for a while on the blog for several reasons. We have been remodeling one of our apartments. So for the past 3 weeks, I have been painting ceilings, woodwork and walls, in every room. I am excited that the apartment is almost done. I would like to think that tomorrow I will have it wrapped up. I have recieved some help from Brian here and there, which has improved my mood greatly. I’m gonna give it a good cleaning, remove all the supplies and then lastly, the people are coming to refinish all the hardwood floors. and the stairs will get carpeted.

In between all of that, it’s tax season and I had had to prepare all of the paperwork for our business and personal. Every day this week I have opened up my email, only to find another list the accountant needs. Third packet going out Monday. And, I still had to work at my job. Can you say Stress! I think I need a vacation…

On top of all that, this blog crashed twice. So every time I found a few minutes to post, it was usually unavailable. Thats why today, I have hit it hard. Thank God for my son, and google message.

So hopefully, I am winding down and will get a chance to make all the things you all have been requesting. This week I am hoping to make Roasted Garlic Butter, No Bake Cookies, Stuffed Clams, and Lasagna. I guess we’ll see. Have a great weekend everyone! And, thanks again for the overwhelming support.

Allison

Beef and Queso Burritos

ground beefOur family is big on mexican food. At our restaurant there was a lot of mexican food being served. Pollo Fundido, Machaca Fundido, Chicken Nachos, Beef Nachos, Beef Burritos, Chicken Burritos and of course, Spin Dip, which I have already posted. Today I am going to tell you how to make a Beef Burrito that is easy and delicious. Serve it with Spanish rice or refried beans. I made 10 of these last week for our business. They are easy to microwave for a quick lunch. I’m certain they would freeze well also. It really baffles me why the frozen burritos sold in the store never taste good. We have tried every brand and they all stink. It’s not that hard to make a good tasting burrito. So, now I make my own. I use whole wheat tortillas for myself, but I make the white flour tortillas for everyone else. The whole wheat ones are just as good in my opinion.10 burritos

Beef Burritos

10 Large Flour Tortillas
2 lbs of ground Beef or Bison
1 jar of queso dip or make your own
cheddar cheese freshly shredded
1 small can of chopped green chilies
1 can of Eden Brand Caribbean Rice and Beans
1 pkg of simply Organic Spicy taco or southwest taco seasoning

Fry the ground beef in a skillet until crumbles and cooked
add green chilies
add pkg of taco seasoning
add rice and beans
stir well and turn off heat

southwestern taco carribbean rice and beansburrito not rolled

Lay a warmed (I usually zap it in microwave for a few seconds) tortilla on the counter. Take 1 heaping tablespoon of cold queso dip, spread it onto the tortilla in a 1″ wide by 3″ long rectangle. place a scoop of hamburger on top of the queso dip, and a small handful of shredded cheddar on top of the hamburger. Fold up the burrito and wrap in parchment paper. When ready to serve, warm through in the microwave, probably for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Serve on a plate with a side of rice and beans or chips and salsa.gooey burrito

Mini Chicken Pies w/ crumb topping

chicken piesThese Chicken Pies are so cute and fun to serve.They can be eaten like finger food, no dish or forknecessary. I made them today for a service I attended for my good friend Lisa’s father who passed. They were an easy but delicious addition to the menu. I have been seeing these little chicken pies all over Pinterest. So, I bought this awesome pan, called a whoopie pie pan by Wilton, and made these pies. I will most likely never use this pan for whoopie pies, but I can think of several ways that I would use it. The indentation in the pan is absolutely perfect for any kind of filled pie, savory or sweet. I told you I was a fanatic for pans and mini items. I took the easy way out and bought an already cooked Rotisserie chicken and pulled all the meat off. Well actually, I made my husband do that, in exchange he got to go fishing. While he pulled the chicken I made a gravy and prepared the potatoes and carrots. We did all of this the night before I made the pies and just kept it in the refrigerator until morning. Then I made 2 batches of homemade pie crust and baked them. I made four different versions before I settled on one. You can go the extra mile and make the lattice top, but it was more work than I was willing to do. I can also guarantee if I had heavy cream in the house, the gravy would have been a chickeny creamy sauce, but it was a lot less fattening this way.

                              chix pie cut view         chix pie: pan

Chicken Pies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees ~ Bake for 16-18 minutes ~ makes 24 mini pies

1 Rotisserie already cooked Chicken, picked and shredded. All bones removed. Or 4 cups of cooked chicken meat.

1/3 cup sliced celery, thin
1/4 cup chopped onions or shallots
3 tbsp olive oil

In a 5 to 6 quart pot, saute the celery and onions until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add 6 Cups Chicken Stock to the veggies, bring to a simmering boil
Add 1 1/2 c. sliced fresh carrots, boil until cooked and remove from the simmering water with a slotted spoon. Do not dump out this chicken stock.
Place the cooked carrots, celery and onions in a large bowl
Add 2 c. of diced (1/2 ” diced) potatoes into the simmering chicken stock, cook and remove from the pot again with a slotted spoon, saving the stock. Add the cooked potatoes to the bowl with the carrots.
Add 1 cup of frozen peas
Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Add the chicken and stir all together
1/2 tsp black pepper
Set aside

Now you have a pot of chicken stock that we are going to thicken and make a gravy out of using a roux. But first taste it and make sure it is flavorful. If it isn’t strong enough add 1 tsp of Better than Bouillon Chicken Base. Add what you need to reach the flavor you are happy with.

Roux
1 stick of butter melted
8 tbsp flour
stir together in a fry pan on med heat, cook for a couple minutes, turn off heat

While the stock is simmering on medium heat, add half of the roux and whisk in. Let cook for a minute while whisking, continue adding the roux until the consistency of the gravy is thickened.
You want the gravy a little thicker than usual, because you don’t want your chicken pies to bubble over. Now add the gravy to the chicken, and vegetable mixture. Stir gently, taste, add salt if necessary. Set in refrigerator while making the pie crust. If you don’t want to make the Pie crust, buy it all made.

2 double crust pie recipes. For pie Crust recipe click here.
or 2-3 boxes of already Pie crust 4 rolls. TIMESAVER: If you don’t want to mess with rolling out scraps, buy a 3rd box of pie crust.
In order to get 24 pies you will need to re-roll the pie crust scraps. Keep the scraps covered with a moist cloth so they do not dry out, until ready to roll out.

Topping
4 tsp melted butter
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 c. crushed ritz crackers

Cut 4 ” circles out of pie crust, place in pan
add 1/4 cup of chicken pie filling to each crust
sprinkle with buttered crumbs

Bake and enjoy!chix pies

Mixed Berry and Apple Pie

pie 2When we first opened TJs restaurant all the pies I made were with store bought pie crust. I couldn’t make pie crust to save my life. Enter Tracy, my friend, and waitress, who was by our side through our entire first 10 years, through thick and thin. She taught me to make pie crust and now I can do it with my eyes closed. I used to make 18 to 20 pie crusts for each holiday. I saved all of my dessert menus and look through them occasionally. I still can’t believe how many choices we used to have and how did I make all those desserts. Well, my mom helped a lot, she and I would sit down the week before the holiday and divide up the desserts. She was the cheesecake queen. I would say to her, okay, this week your gonna make the cheesecake this way. She would argue and resist, she didn’t like change. But, she always came through and it was always awesome.

Filling
1 c. Frozen raspberries
1/3 c. Frozen blackberries
1 c. Frozen blueberries
2/3 c. frozen strawberries cut in half
2 apples, peeled and cored and sliced
1 c. Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
Mix all of these items in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave for 2 minutes, stir and microwave for 2 more minutes.
Set aside

Pie crust
9″ plate

In a good sized bowl
2 c. All purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. Crisco
With a pastry blender cut crisco into the flour until resembles pea size crumbs
Add 6-7 tbsp ice cold water.
Stir until it forms a ball, divide in two balls, shape into two flat discs. Do not handle the dough for too long or will melt the butter.
Sprinkle flour onto countertop and dust the disc of dough with flour and begin rolling out into a circle. Transfer to the pie plate. The crust should hang over the edge of the plate by a half inch all the way around. If your pie crust has any holes or rips seal them well.

Pour the pie filling into the crust

Roll out the second disc.

Place on top of the pie filling, cut away any excess crust and fold the edge of the two crusts together and pinch. Cut slits or a hole in the middle of the top crust for the air to escape while cooking. Brush the top crust with egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30 minutes on 400 degrees, lower to 350 degrees if getting dark and cook for another 15 minutes. The crust will be puffed and golden when done.
Cool before cutting. Serve warm with ice cream.

Butterfly Cupcakes

cupcake filledThese little gems have been floating around my family since I was a child. My mom always made chocolate with sweetened real whipped cream. There are so many people who have a memory of these cupcakes. The first thing you do with them is pull a wing off, scoop up some cream with it and devour it. When I began making these cupcakes, they became evolved. Because, it’s what I do, I change things. Because I can, and so can you. The ones in the picture have fresh sweetened raspberries folded into the cream. I have made Black Forest butterflies, with cherry pie filling, fresh cream and wings. The powdered sugar on top is the crowning glory. Fill them any way you want and be creative. I plan on making a Piña Colada Butterfly cupcake. The white cupcake will be soaked with a sweet rum sauce, filled with coconut pudding and fresh cream, sprinkled with fresh coconut and powdered sugar. I want to hear about your creations! And please, for the love of god, do not use chemical whip, AKA Cool Whip!

Butterflies

Make Cupcakes any flavor, bake them according to the package directions. cool completely before filling…
1 c. of heavy cream or All purpose whipping cream, whipped
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 c. fresh raspberries, sweetened with 2 tsp sugar, let the sit and marinate before folding into the cream, or use pie filling and put cream on top of the filling.
powdered sugar in a sifter for sprinkling

Assemble the cupcakes

cupcake cut cupcakes
Cut the top of the cupcake, by angling your knife into the cupcake and cutting out a cone shape. Cut the cone in half. The deeper you cut into the cupcake the more room for filling. Turn the two cut sides down and these are your wings. Fill the cupcake with your filling and then place the wings on the cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. scatter a few fresh berries for looks.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo on Penne Pasta

chix:brocc alfredoThis is always a crowd pleaser. If you are looking to wow someone, this is it. The chicken can be replaced with shrimp or combined with shrimp. You can add mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, onions, carrots, and peppers. The thing to remember is sauté your veggies before adding the cream and cheese. Certain veggies cook faster than others. Same goes for chicken and shrimp. The chicken would need to cook quite a bit longer than the shrimp, so you wouldn’t want to start them together. An easy way would be to steam all your veggies ahead, and put them in at the end just to heat through. The other really tricky thing that goes on with Alfredo, is that it can break or separate. When this happens it looks like a clumpy oily mess. In the restaurant we would get busy and pans would get too hot and that’s when the problems arise. Don’t get the pan too hot. After the cream is added and is boiling gently, lower the heat to low or shut it off. The cheese will still thicken the cream. If by chance you accidentally, overheat, don’t worry. All that needs to happen is the sauce needs to cool and re-incorporate the butter by stirring. In the restaurant I would add an ice cube, whisk it in and it was perfect again.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
Serves two people

Place a pot for pasta on high, when boiling add pasta of your choice
When cooked, drain and keep pasta warm
While pasta is cooking, start your chicken.
1 large 4-6 oz chicken breast cut into strips or more if you like
2 oz (1/2 stick) melted butter
1/4 tsp parsley
1 tsp. lemon juice
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
In a sauté pan, on med high heat, cook the strips of chicken with butter, lemon, garlic and parsley until done.
Add:
1 cup heavy cream to the chicken
2-3 pinches salt and pepper
Bring to a boil
Add:
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese mixed with 2 tsp flour
Turn off heat and stir until thick.
Add hot steamed cooked veggies.
Pour over cooked penne pasta or your favorite pasta
Now grab a glass of Dreaming Tree Wine and Enjoy.

Alfredo Sauce

A lot of people like Alfredo sauce. It’s a tad bit unhealthy as we all know, but rather delicious! The one that I used to make at the restaurant was very fluffy and lighter than the average. There are a few reasons for that. Parmesan cheese can be very sharp in flavor and it’s difficult to use enough of it to thicken cream. To cut down on cost and to get better thickening ability, we add flour to the cheese. It actually makes for a milder flavor and allows the garlic to shine through. In a restaurant, you always have a large amount of bulk items ready to go. Staples, as they say. One of our staples was a big container of melted butter, seasoned lightly with lemon juice, and parsley.  This was used in everything that required butter. I would say the ratio is, 1/2 stick or 2 oz melted of butter to 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice and 1/4 tsp parsley, and always stir well before using. The next very important staple is Parmesan Cheese. Ratio: 1/2 cup parmesan cheese to 2 tsp all purpose flour, mix well. One more staple for this recipe, salt mixture…1 c. of sea salt with 1/2 tsp white pepper mixed well. You can use black pepper if you want, white pepper is much stronger so you can double the black pepper. For this double serving of alfredo you will only be using a pinch or two of the salt mixture. Okay now we are ready. This will be two servings.

Alfredo Sauce

In a Saute pan, place on burner on medium heat.
add:
2 oz. well mixed lemon butter mixture
1/2 tsp minced garlic or 2-3 cloves chopped
2 good pinches of salt and pepper mixture
1 cup heavy cream
simmer until hot…
add 1/2 cup or more of parmesan cheese mixture, add until you achieve the thickenss of the sauce you prefer
using a wire whip stir together. Turn off heat. Immediately, pour over hot cooked pasta.

Variation: Add any cooked vegetables you like such as broccoli or asparagus. Warm them before adding to the alfredo and fold them in at the last minute.