Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pumpkin Butter Cookies


It's been ages since I've actually participated in the Cookie Carnival, but this month I swore I was going to jump back in!  We were given the choice of two different cookie recipes (or both) but the one that I really wanted to try was the Apple Butter Cookies

But then, I was presented with a dilemma.  Do I use the apple butter I picked up at a local orchard, or the pumpkin butter that I found at World Market?  The pumpkin butter won out, this time. 

I mostly followed the recipe, although I used all-purpose flour instead of pastry flour.  The recipe calls for "fancy molasses" and I didn't really know the difference between types of molasses.  I'm not sure how reliable it is, but I found an explanation here and another here.  I didn't have any fancy molasses, and wasn't going to go on the hunt for any, at least not today.  I did, however, have plenty of unsulphured molasses in the cabinet, so that is what I used.  The recipe doesn't actually call for that much, so I'm not sure how much of a difference it would actually make.

Funny story about molasses.  When I was little, my grandmother always kept molasses on hand.  She would mix it with peanut butter and spread it on bread.  That was my peanut butter sandwich growing up (never had an actual PB&J with jelly until I was in college!).  Or, she would just pour the molasses on the bread and we'd eat that for a snack.  My grandfather and I had some interesting snacks back in the day!

Anyway, back to the cookies!  The pumpkin butter that I had already had cinnamon and other spices added to it, so I cut back on those a little bit in the recipe as well.  I really liked the way they turned out.  They are more muffin-like in texture and make a sticky cookie, so you'll want to be careful how you store them.  I want to try these again with the apple butter, and I've been wondering how it would be with a few oats added into the batter.  Or maybe some nuts sprinkled on top. 

For more info on the Cookie Carnival, hosted by Tami of Tami's Kitchen Table Talk, click here.  Everyone is welcome to join in!  She also does a round-up post each month so check that out too.

Enjoy!  :)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Mexican Chicken & Potato Casserole. And salsa!


Why look!  It's an actual blog post from me.  Shocking, I know.  No excuses or apologies.  It's just life!  :)

A couple of days ago I found a recipe on allrecipes.com and after reading through the comments, I got some ideas on how to adapt it.  This is my interpretation.  The original recipe can be found here.

I also made some salsa that night.  Some Pioneer Woman Restaurant Style Salsa, which I actually found through Good Life Eats.  Salsa, like most food, is very personal.  What works for me may not work for you.  But here's how I changed the recipe up to suit my family (and I may still tweak it a bit!).  Note:  I started with the adaptation of the recipe from Good Life Eats, except I used two cans of original Rotel. 

I mixed my salsa up in the blender.  If you want it slightly chunkier, I'd go for the food processor instead.  Next time, I will drain the cans of Rotel, and maybe the tomatoes too.  I left the seeds in the jalapeno (you can remove the seeds for a milder taste).  I added 1/2 of a serrano pepper and 1/2 of a habanero pepper (both had the seeds removed).  Blended it up, and then removed about 1/3 of that for the kiddos.  This was the mild version.  Sprout was eating it up like candy (that would be the 2 year old).  Even Munchkin was chowing down on it! 


Then I added the rest of the serrano and habanero peppers and finished blending.  This was for D and I.  It was good that night, but much better the next day.  This is one dish that is definitely better if you can prepare it at least a few hours early and refrigerate so the flavors can develop.  

Now, for the casserole recipe!

Mexican Chicken & Potato Casserole

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel)
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Mexican oregano
4 cups (about 1 pound) frozen southern style hash brown potatoes
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375'F.  Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, Rotel (with liquid), dried minced onion, and spices.  Stir in the potatoes, chicken and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.  Pour into prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and nicely browned. 

Notes:

*I prepared this in the morning, placed in the refrigerator, and then baked when we got home that evening.  It worked out very well.  I wouldn't prepare it more than a day in advance though, unless you were going to turn it into a freezer meal.

*Next time I am going to add 1 can of rinsed & drained pinto beans as well as a cup of frozen corn to make it heartier (although it was quite good as written!). 

*D suggested taking the leftovers, adding some scrambling egg and making a breakfast burrito with it.

Enjoy!  :)


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TWD: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses


This week, Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine chose Peanut Butter Crisscrosses to bake for Tuesdays with Dorie

I'm not sure why, but I don't often make peanut butter cookies.  Sprout will eat anything.  I think we've established that fact.  And although Munchkin likes peanut butter and cookies, he won't even try one.  Slight surprise there.

I really liked these.  It seemed that some bakers had their cookies turn out soft while others turned out crisp.  Mine were more on the crisp side.  Not biscotti hard, just nice and crisp.  I didn't add quite as many chopped peanuts as the recipe called for.  It was nice finding the occasional chunk without them being overwhelming. 

D even liked them, saying that he doesn't usually like peanut butter cookies but that these were good.  Leave it to Dorie -- she's become my baking go-to girl!  I must have made mine (much) smaller that Dorie does though, because while the recipe says it will yield 40 cookies, I got 72! 

Be sure to check out Jasmine's post for the recipe, and see what the other TWD Bakers did with this week's selection.

Enjoy!  :)