I have a picky eater in my home. I'm sure you can relate. Many of us moms are blessed with that one kid who gags at the slightest scent of vegetable. The one who can smell spinach from three houses away. The one who lives off of McDonald's chicken nuggets, Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, and peanut and butter jelly sandwiches.
My picky eater is nine years old, and I have slowly been attempting to wean her out of her "Gross, I'm not eating that" stage. Keep in mind, this is the same child whom I recently took for sushi and her favorite item was the Spam/Tamago Nigiri, so clearly there is no accounting for tastes. But I refuse to go through life making two separate meals for a household of only three people, and I just don't see letting her continue to graze her way through life as a healthy option. So I have been on a mission to find some yummy alternatives.
So far one of our mutually favorite options has been my Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings. Tasty enough so that I neither have to threaten her nor bribe her to eat it; easy enough so that I don't mind cooking it. I grew up on Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings, and it remains one of my favorites to this day.
In my opinion, the best crockpot meals are cheap, filling, healthy, and you can basically just dump the ingredients into the pot and turn it on. This one checks off all of those boxes. Protein (chicken), veggies (carrots), carbs (Dumplings), and a yummy sauce.
I start with lean, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Throw in a bag of baby carrots, a couple of cans of cream of chicken soup, some chicken broth, and seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Dump, set, go. (Use a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner for virtually no clean up.) You could even sneak in some other veggies, maybe broccoli or peas, but I'm not ready to press my luck just yet. Cook on high 5 to 6 hours.
About one hour before serving, use a fork to shred your chicken. It should fall apart fairly easily. Start your dumplings. There are two options for the dumplings. Option one- pop open a can of refrigerated homestyle biscuits, tear into pieces, toss them in. Option two- make the dumplings from scratch. Don't be scared. Option two takes maybe an additional 20 minutes.
For homemade Buttermilk dumplings:
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Chilled, Unsalted Butter
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 cup Buttermilk
Pinch of Salt
In a large bowl, Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut butter into flour mixture with a fork or pastry cutter. If you don't mind some extra clean up, use your food processor for this part. Make sure to mix the. buttermilk in by hand though. Mix in buttermilk just until combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Dust counter with flour and form a dough ball. Use rolling pin to roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut square shaped dumplings. Lightly toss dumplings with a bit more flour. (The flour will keep dumplings from sticking together and help thicken up sauce.) Drop and mix in a few dumplings at a time. Cook about 30-45 minutes more, or until dumplings are no longer doughy. Serve and enjoy.
Easy. Delicious. What more could you ask for? Except maybe the Cleaning Fairy to visit.
Introducing you to my next installment of my obsession with Biscoff Cookie Butter- a cookie butter layered cheesecake. Please note that as much as I cook and bake, I am still thoroughly intimidated by cheesecakes. I have a not-entirely-irrational fear of all that can, and usually will, go wrong. Soggy crusts, sunken middles, cracks, dry and tasteless cheesecakes. But, as my husband will tell you, I am extremely stubborn in the face of a challenge and will keep trying until I get it right. So I proudly present to you my latest recipe:
Seriously, isn't it beautiful? No sunken middles, no cracks, just a sweet, creamy confection of perfection. So how did I accomplish this feat? Lots of trial and error so that you, my readers, could learn from my mistakes.
Cheesecakes, unlike cookies, are a bit more of an exact science. You must start with all of your ingredients at room temperature, which means a fair bit of planning ahead. If your cream cheese isn't at room temperature you will never get that smooth and creamy texture you're after. And, unfortunately, "cheating" to bring it to temperature faster just doesn't yield the same results. So clear some room on your counter for your cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, cookie butter, etc. I recommend leaving everything out for at least 30-45 minutes before starting the process.
In the meanwhile, you can get started on your graham cracker crust. Preheat your oven to 350*F. Line the bottom of a 9 inch Springform pan with a circle of parchment paper or lightly grease the bottom and sides. You can buy Graham Cracker Crumbs or make your own by throwing Graham Crackers in your food processor. Just make sure that they are finely and evenly ground. Combine your crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix in melted butter just until combined. Then press into the bottom of your pan and halfway up the sides. Using the bottom of a small glass helps insure the crust is evenly spread across the pan and helps create a nice smooth finish. Then bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Now that your cream cheese is room temperature and softened, beat together the cream cheese and sugar with your hand mixer on medium speed until fluffy. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add in eggs and vanilla, beating on low just until combined. Then add in your room temperature sour cream and beat on low until smooth.
Hi, my name is Heidi and I'm addicted to carbs. Thank God for the metabolism He blessed me with because, honestly, my diet is probably 50% carbs, 30% sweets, 10% wine/soda/coffee, and 10% fruits/vegetables. Don't hate me.
Having an intense love affair with carbs I have a certain weakness for fresh baked bread. I adore my bread machine, but sometimes I just wanna get my hands dirty and do it all myself. However, since I'm also a busy mom, I would like to do it with minimal time and effort which brings me to this fabulous recipe from King Arthur for quick and easy sourdough.
My Number One Tip is always proof your yeast before starting. More than once I have baked bread that turned out like a brick and figured out later it was because my yeast had gone bad. How disappointing. The loafs were totally unsuitable for eating, but I may have accidentally tapped an unused talent for brick making. To avoid making a similar discovery, just add a pinch of yeast and dissolve in 1/3 cup warm water and add a pinch of sugar. Let sit for about 10 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly. Once the yeast is proofed, move on to prepping your starter. Since I planned to bake this bread early the next morning I whipped up my starter just before heading to bed for the night, and the timing was perfect. (I do have my own "aged" sourdough that I keep in the fridge and "feed" about once a month, which is a great route if you're planning to bake a lot of sourdough. Sourdough starter can be used in breads, muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc.)
One of my goals for 2018 was to get our family budget under control. As the family member in charge of any shopping that doesn't involve my birthday gift, my Valentine's Day gift, or my Christmas gift, I have no-one but myself to blame for our overinflated budget. I decided to start by slashing our grocery budget, because Heaven forbid I should cut into my weekly Target trips or the hubby's beer budget. And this is how I found myself facing the challenge of two large containers of blueberries (2 for 1 at Target) that were about to turn. Food waste is a pretty big problem in our household, and I was determined not to lose this battle with the fruit drawer. And one can only drink so many smoothies, so I began the hunt for an amazing blueberry muffin recipe.
Sometimes Pinterest can be my worst enemy when it comes to searching for new recipes.In this case, however, the very first muffin recipe photo that caught my eye was accompanied by a 5 star rating and 1300 reviews. I baked a dozen of these babies Friday night. My husband and I ate them all in three days. We did not share them with my picky nine year old, who prefers the muffins made from a box. Pfftt. (You can search this recipe yourself under Jordan Marsh's Blueberry Muffins, or just get it here, since you're already here anyway.) This recipe has been featured in The New York Times more than once, so it must be good. Right?
First thing's first: this is definitely more of a hybrid of a cupcake and a muffin. So if you're a Muffin Purist, if such a thing exists, then be warned. More sugar, more butter, less eggs. Everything my little southern heart (and tastebuds) could desire.
This recipe is so easy, but of course I have a few tips to make it even easier. Make sure all of your ingredients (except the milk) are at room temperature when you get started. I also find that beating each egg individually before adding them to the batter one at a time helps keep the resulting muffins fluffy and light.
When it comes to vanilla, fresh vanilla bean is amazing. I order mine through Beanilla.com. Their assortment is unbelievable. I honestly had no idea that there were so many flavor variations in Vanilla. They also make this Vanilla Bean Paste that I've been using in all of my baked goods lately. A little goes a long way, and I love seeing those little specks of vanilla bean. When you're adding your vanilla, try experimenting with a bit of almond extract or a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper, more complex flavor.
I'm back! I sincerely hope your 2018 is off to a better start than mine. Our past two weekends have had some exciting moments to say the least.
Most of you have probably heard about Hawaii's missile scare on Saturday. Nothing like waking up to a text from Hawaii's Civil Defense telling you that North Korea has launched nukes at your little set of islands in the middle of the Pacific. For 38 tense minutes we didn't know whether we were going to live or die. That's right, it took 38 minutes for them to confirm that someone hit the wrong message button. Now, on the bright side we all have a much better idea of what to do should such a catastrophe ever truly occur. Furthermore, that time when my husband and I were still dating and he tried to break up with me via text no longer holds the top spot as my most memorable text message.
The week prior I had taken off from blogging to nurse my shoulder following an injury, and now I am learning to be ambidextrous, which I have heard also helps make you smarter. (Let's hope so.) I was hiking on the beautiful West side of Maui with my daughter and some friends when I lost my balance. Now, I still haven't decided if this next part illustrates how klutzy I am or how old I'm getting. Either way, I did not actually fall. I merely whipped my right arm into the air (because I was cradling my camera in my left arm) to maintain my balance and felt something go SNAP. It only hurt for a moment, but the next morning I was in agony and couldn't move it.
This post is a day late due to some unfortunate New Year's Day superstitions. You see- I'm a southerner by birth, and we take our superstitions very seriously. For instance, it is considered good luck if the first person to cross the threshold of your home in the New Year is a man, and even better luck if he's tall, dark, and handsome, and bearing gifts. (Actually, I guess thats good luck anytime.) Yesterday I actually chased one of my daughter's friends away from the door (squawking like a maniac) so that her father could come inside first. Then I spent the next five minutes apologizing for scaring her and for being rude. This must be why Mama Chapman always had one of her sons on standby each New Year's morning- to avoid such an awkward situation.
We southerners also believe that whatever you spend New Year's Day doing will set the tone for the entire year. Spend the day cooking and cleaning, and you'll be trapped in the kitchen all year long. Spend the day slaving away at work, and good luck taking a vacation this year. So I spent the day eating, drinking, and sleeping. (I wish. Fingers crossed.)
Anyhow, I'm here today to make it up to you with a delicious and easy pie recipe. I swear this pie taste just like a giant Nestle Tollhouse Cookie, fresh from the oven. It's so good, in fact, that I've already blown my New Year's resolution to eat healthier thanks to the three slices I've already downed.
This pie recipe is so amazingly easy. No tricks or tips needed. You can pretty much just dump all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, give them a quick spin with a spoon, and dump the batter into the pie crust. Throw it in the oven and take a quick nap, then enjoy all of your hard work. But DON'T tell your family how easy it is to make. Let them think you've been sweating away in the kitchen to bake them a gourmet dessert.
Now if you really wanted to get fancy and creative, there are tons of possibilities. You could make a pie crust from scratch. Or even try it in a graham cracker pie crust. The nuts are optional, but I love to add Pecans or Walnuts for a little extra taste and texture . I also love to use a Vanilla Bean Paste instead of vanilla extract. The paste is more intense in flavor, and I love the little speckles of vanilla bean. (Beanilla makes an awesome paste.) Try different flavor chocolate chips- dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter chips. Make this recipe your own!
Normally I like my cookies to be a bit undercooked, but that's not the goal with this pie. You want the pie to be fully cooked and set, otherwise it will collapse into a puddle of chocolatey mush when you cut it to serve. The pie is done with its golden brown on top, and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, not counting the melted chocolate chips.
Set the pie on a wire rack to cool for about half an hour before serving (remember all of my burned tongue warnings). Serve while still slightly warm. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel (it is amazing with my Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel, link to recipe below), chocolate sauce, or whatever tickles your fancy.
That's all there is to it. See, I told you it was easy. Don't forget to let me know how delicious your pie turns out.
Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce http://www.iriegirlcookies.com/script/so-much-bourbon
Hoping everyone is surviving the Holidays, by whatever means necessary. As someone without too many vices, my survival depends on Sweets, lots and lots of sweets. I haven't fully come to terms yet with the fact that I live somewhere with perpetually warm weather, so my body still craves and hoards food as if it is going into hibernation. I baked several batches of cookies over the past week, but they were all shipped to the Mainland as gifts, much to the chagrin of my ever-patient family. Seriously, they were pretty miffed when they came home looking for cookies only to be told I'd boxed them all and shipped them all away. So I whipped up a fresh batch of cookies today.
This is a super easy recipe, with not many ingredients, but there are a few secrets to these yummy M & M cookies. For starters, I don't use actual M & M's. Instead I prefer the Dark Chocolate M & M Baking Bits, which my beloved Target carries right there in the same aisle with the chocolate chips. The flavor of the Baking Bits is a richer, less sweet chocolate-perfect if you're a fan of dark chocolate. Regular M & M's will work just fine, but try the Baking Bits if you can find them.
Like most recipes, this one works best if your ingredients are room temperature before you get started. However, I am very impatient, and I'm not always the best planner, so I've found a few shortcuts that work for me. For the butter-fill a glass with very hot water and let the water heat the glass. Then dump the water and place the glass over your stick of butter until it's softened. You'll know your butter is the right temp. when you can easily press a finger into it, leaving behind an imprint. You can always throw your butter into the microwave for a few seconds, but my cookies always turn out greasy when I do that.
So if you follow my Instagram then you already know that I recently made a batch of vanilla extract with Bourbon for an upcoming cookie recipe. What you may not know is that due to my inability to pass up a good sale, I bought a large bottle of Jim Beam rather than a small bottle, or even a couple of airplane bottles, for a recipe that required, at most, a cup or two. You may also not be aware that I don't drink. Although not for lack of trying. I'm just a cheap drunk, the first to pass out (or worse). And occasionally I've been known to have strange allergic reactions to booze, even to my favorite champagnes, wines, and vodkas. I know, total bummer, right? So this left me with quite a quandary: what to do with this three-quarters-full bottle of bourbon?
Facing a pantry recently stocked with Holiday baking supplies, my eyes alighted upon the brown sugar. I love a rich, decadent caramel sauce made with brown sugar. Any homemade caramel is amazing, but I especially love the depth of flavor you get with brown sugar.
Making Caramel Sauce can be intimidating. Never mind the danger of burns, (both a finger and a tongue were sacrificed to the Caramel Gods today) but at a certain point in the recipe you have to be able to sit back and let the caramel do its own thing, no stirring allowed. And let me tell you-passiveness is not my strong suit.
In making caramel there is also a very fine line between not done enough, which leads to an overly sweet, gritty caramel, and burned, which means you'll have to throw it out and start over. So before starting this recipe please be sure to read it all the way through at least twice, have everything on hand, and be ready to dedicate at least 45 minutes to an hour of your life to the process. It will be worth it in the end, I promise.
Everyone has a favorite Christmas movie, and there are so many to choose from. My personal favorite happens to be National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I find it amazingly relatable because I grew up in a very Griswald-ish family. But, for me, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas also rates pretty high on my list. After all, he's pretty relatable too. It isn't so much Christmas that he hates; it's the people. (This is so me!) And then there's also the nostalgia factor. After all, who among us hasn't teared up year after year when the Grinch's too-small heart grows. So this is why these cookies have become my go-to Christmas Cookie. These Green Velvet Grinch Cookies are delicious, and super cute. I get tons of requests for these cookies every year.
A few tips:
As usual, this recipe starts with softened butter. Lately I've been using Country Crock's new unsalted Buttery Sticks. They have been a lifesaver since I usually don't have the foresight to set out my butter ahead of time to soften. I often end up microwaving my butter to speed up the process, and then the butter and sugar don't cream like they should. These new Butter Sticks are made from Sunflower Oil, and they're ready to use straight out of the fridge. LOVE IT!
For the food coloring, I highly recommend using gel food coloring, and my favorite brand is Americolor. You can buy them on Amazon, and I promise you will never want to use any other food coloring again. The colors are always bright, vibrant, and true, and easy to blend. You don't have to use as many drops as regular food coloring to achieve your desired color, which means no yucky taste. I've used them in cookies, frostings, royal icing, and fondant with great success. They come in many different size sets. As you can see, I have the Student Kit. In this recipe I actually used a touch of teal to keep the color from becoming "muddy" because I was using melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder. Don't you just love last minute substitutions when you're out of an ingredient?
December 4th is National Cookie Day, and I could let the opportunity pass by without trying out a delicious new recipe: Marshmallow Stuffed S'mores.
I have tried all manner of S'mores-related recipe, and they have all been delicious. I mean, really, it is impossible to go wrong when combining graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. For starters I love camping and no camping trip is complete without a good, fire-roasted marshmallow s'more. Two summers ago I discovered Kraft Jet-Puffed Stackermallows, a flat square marshmallow designed for easier stacking. This was also around the same time we started experimenting with other chocolate options: Rolos, Reese's Cups, and Dove Sea Salt Caramels ranked as our favorites.
I have also made S'mores Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Meringue, S'mores Dip (the best mess-free way to enjoy the otherwise sticky treat), S'mores Chex Mix, and about a million other cookie recipes. And don't even get me started on Ben & Jerry's S'mores Ice Cream!
But this one is my new favorite, in part due to my secret ingredient: Graham Flour. Graham Flour was named after Sylvester Graham, whose teachings on dietary reform emphasized vegetarianism and eating whole-grain bread. It is similar to whole-wheat flour, and contains all of the wheat berry's elements- germ, endosperm, and bran. I love Bob's Red Mill Graham Flour (which should be able to find in your local Health Food store). It is very coarse, with a flavor that is slightly nutty and sweet.