Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Posted by: Maggie

Fudge is one of those desserts that has always scared me.  All that candy thermometer/soft ball nonsense, plus the very high probability that one misstep will result in a ruined dessert and wasted ingredients, has caused me to never attempt fudge making before.

When I saw this super easy recipe on How Sweet It Is I knew my fear of fudge would soon be but a distant memory. Not only does this recipe not require a candy thermometer, it is cooked in the microwave and comes together in 3 minutes flat.

I'm bringing this into work later today - I hope my coworkers like it as much as I do! (For those of who noticed the time this was posted, yeah, yeah, I get to work insanely late.  I'm sooo not a morning person and am insanely lucky to have a flexible schedule.)

If you're planning on doing any kind of Christmas dessert platter this year, this would be a great addition to it - I always associate fudge with Christmas for some reason. 

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 T water

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, and nuke for 30 seconds on full power.  Stir, and microwave for 30 more seconds.  Mixture will probably be smooth at this point, but if it's not continue microwaving in 30 second increments until it is.  Pour mixture into a foil lined 8-inch square baking dish, and refrigerate until solid.  Mine took about 60 minutes to be hard enough to cut.

12/20/12 [UPDATE]: I now make this in an 8x4 loaf pan to get thicker fudge. You may need to refrigerate it a bit longer. The photo shows fudge made in an 8x8 pan. 

Makes 16 pieces


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey and Brie Sandwich

Posted by: Maggie

This sandwich barely even merits a post, but I thought I'd add it in case you're looking for a different way to finish up the last of your Thanksgiving turkey.   It was delicious, and half of it made for a very filling Saturday night dinner.  I think that if you wanted a sweeter twist on this sandwich, omitting the honey mustard and spreading the bread with leftover cranberry sauce would be fabulous as well.

What you'll need for one very large sandwich:

1 demi-baguette
Honey Mustard dressing (I'm a big fan of the Ken's brand)
Leftover turkey
Several slices brie
Salt and pepper

Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, and spread with a thin layer of honey mustard.  Layer the turkey and brie, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top with the other baguette half.  Open mouth wide, and try not to eat the entire scrumptious thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Posted by: Maggie

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all stuffed yourselves silly with delicious food and had a great time with whoever you spent the day with.

Annie and I (and our 18 year old sister Emma) spent Thursday at our Dad's place where we had a traditional dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread casserole, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberries, rolls, and "heavenly hash." For those of you not familiar with heavenly hash, it's what some families call "ambrosia." To me, that just sounds like a cleaning product, so I prefer the alternate name.  It's basically a combination of sour cream, whipped cream, marshmallows, pineapple, and shredded coconut.  It's awesome, trust me.

Annie made pumpkin pie bars for dessert, and I made the cornbread casserole and sweet potatoes.  Unfortunately, in our eagerness to sit down to dinner I quickly snapped what turned out to be very poor photos of both those dishes.  I'll probably make both of those recipes again this winter, so I'll wait to post them when I have a decent photo. 

Friday morning we had a delicious brunch at my Mom's place.  She made baked french toast, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and sausage gravy, egg casserole (it was almost like a quiche but without crust), and an amazing cranberry coffee cake.  I'm a huge fan of breakfast food so this was right up my alley.  It was my Mom's first time making sausage gravy and it turned out awesome.  After I recover from the two massive meals I ate on Thursday and Friday I'll definitely be getting the recipe to make for Jeff and post it here! 

Also, since no good brunch is complete without cocktails, we had bloody mary's and mimosas.  No, I was not drinking both of these at once...how dare you suggest such a thing.  *Ahem*

 I hope you all enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend!  Check back soon for new recipes!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted by: Maggie

Mmmm...is there anything more delicious than the chocolate and peanut butter combination? Peanut butter is quickly catching up with A Bitchin' Kitchen's other favorite ingredient - pumpkin.  (See here, here, here, and here.)

I've made these cookies many times before, but when I baked them last week for coworkers it was my first chance to photograph and blog about them.  I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and it's originally found in the Magnolia Bakery cookbook.  I first heard about Magnolia Bakery from the Sex and the City episode where Miranda and Carrie go there for cupcakes (probably the same time the rest of the show's non-Manhattanite fans heard about it.)

Honestly, I haven't heard the most positive reviews of their cupcakes, but their peanut butter cookie recipe is awesome.  I know whenever my most health conscious co-workers come back for thirds and fourths that I dun-good.

There won't be a new post tomorrow since Annie and I will both be traveling to New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  We're going to be making some Thanksgiving side dishes together, and will be blogging about it when we're back!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and peanut butter until fluffy.  Beat in the sugar until smooth.  Add in the egg and beat well.  Beat in the milk and vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture in batches, and beat until fully incorporated. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Chill dough for 30-60 minutes.  After dough has chilled, roll into walnut sized balls, and roll around in the extra sugar.  Place on baking sheet, and using your finger or an offset spatula slightly flatten the top of each cookie.  Bake for about 8 minutes - the originally recipe said 10-12, but mine were done far before that.

Cool the cookies on the sheet for a minute, and transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Cook Roasted Asparagus

How to Cook Roasted Asparagus

Posted by: Maggie

I feel a little silly posting this recipe, but back when I first started to cook I seriously had no idea how to do very basic things in the kitchen.  When I tried to cook stuff for myself, I literally googled things like "how to bake a potato" and "how to hard boil an egg." If you haven't spent a lot of time in the kitchen, really how are you supposed to know how long and at what temperature to cook some simple items? 

Hopefully this will be useful to someone just beginning to cook, who is looking for a delicious and healthy way to prepare asparagus.  This would also make a great Thanksgiving side dish, to balance out some of the heavier sides like candied sweet potatoes and stuffing.

What you'll need:

1 bunch of asparagus (washed and dried thoroughly, with ends snapped off - bend the spear in the middle until it snaps easily, about 2-3 inches above bottom)
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toss with your hands to coat.  Generously season with kosher salt and pepper, and stick in the oven for 10 minutes.

The spears are delicious served hot, or cold from the fridge.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted by: Annie

If you want to make new friends at work- MAKE THESE COOKIES! Or if you want someone to do something for you - MAKE THESE COOKIES. Or if you want a present- MAKE THESE COOKIES (they really really are THAT good), and totally worthy of the of caps lock usage. To quote my roommate Dana on her experience (eating the batter!), "It was so good I swear it like warmed up in my mouth."

And also, do I need to point out... they use one of A Bitchin' Kitchen's favorite ingredients- pumpkin! (original recipe found here- I played with the spices a bit because I did not have ginger, and I also used half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips)

What you will need:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl beat the butter until smooth. Add in the sugars, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then add in the vanilla, and pumpkin. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Add in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by tablespoons and bake for 15- 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks and then devour.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Minestrone

Posted by: Annie

Another perfect dish for fall! This recipe was a hit with my roommates and we plan to devour the leftovers throughout this week as an easy weeknight meal.

What you will need:
2 whole zucchini (cubed)
2 whole butternut squash (cubed)
8 oz white mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 additional tablespoons olive oil
2 whole carrots, sliced
1 medium onion diced
3 stalks celery, sliced (leave the leaves on!- say that three times fast)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh green beans (cut)
2 cups medium pasta shells (uncooked)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together zucchini, squash, mushrooms and olive oil and a dash of salt. Spread out the vegetables on two baking sheets and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes. (Remove when the veggies look brown and toasty!)

In a large pot heat the olive oil and add carrots, onions, celery and cook for three minutes. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Next, add in the cannelini and green beans. Cook on low for five minutes. Stir in the pasta and cook for another five minutes. Mix in the tomatoes and cook for another five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in the roasted vegetables at the end. Stir and bring the soup to a simmer. Ladle into dishes, top with Parmesan cheese and serve!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Posted by: Maggie

I have always adored peanut butter.  One of my earliest memories is standing on a chair mixing peanut butter and sugar in a bowl in my family's old house in Long Branch, NJ.  I wasn't cooking - I mainly just remember getting in trouble for making a mess.  Probably in my 4 year old brain I thought that peanut butter = good, peanut butter and sugar = more gooder.

Now that I'm 26, I no longer mix peanut butter and sugar, but I do enjoy peanut butter slathered on a banana quite frequently for breakfast.  This bread combines those amazing flavors, and just gets better with the addition of chocolate. 

This comes from Visions of Sugar Plum - one of my favorite sources for yummy and original recipes.

Here's what you'll need:

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini-chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips
2 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
3/4 creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9-inch loaf pan - tap the pan over the sink to get rid of excess flour.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips to combine; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together banana and peanut butter on medium speed until creamy.  Beat in sugars until creamy (about a minute), and beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, and beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk until well combined (about two minutes).

Add half the batter to a medium bowl, and beat in cocoa powder until combined.  Alternate spoonfuls of banana batter and chocolate batter into the prepared pan.  The original directions said to swirl a knife through the pan to marble the batters (I forgot to do this).  Sprinkle the top with additional peanut butter and chocolate chips, if desired.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until bread pulls away from edges of pan, is risen and golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Cool on a rack for 1 hour, and remove from pan to cool completely prior to slicing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Caramelized Onion Horseradish Dip

Posted by: Maggie

I have been wanting to make this dip from Vanilla Sugar's blog for quite a while now, but it kept getting pushed to the back burner for one reason or another.  Now, after devouring almost half the batch of dip I made, I could kick myself for putting it off this long.  I've always dipped my sweet potato fries in ketchup or mayonnaise, but neither of those on their own provided the exact taste I was looking for.  This dip is perfect, and best of all doesn't overpower the delicious taste of the fry itself. 

It was the perfect accompaniment to my lazy Sunday afternoon.  I made this dip in the morning, and after it had time to chill, I popped some Alexia's Spicy Sweet Potato Fries in the oven for 20 minutes,  and hunkered down with my delicious late lunch and the first Harry Potter movie for the next couple hours.

This dip is easily adapted to your own tastes - I made it with the amounts I've indicated below, and ended up adding about a tablespoon more each of mayo, sour cream, and horseradish.  I would have liked to include a larger quantity of the caramelized onions, but due to a burning incident I could only salvage one tablespoon of edible onions.  Feel free to add more!

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T horseradish
4 dashes of tabasco sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T pureed caramelized onions
Cayenne pepper and chili powder to taste (I started with a few shakes of each and worked my way up from there)

Mix everything together and chill for at least 3 hours.  Serve with sweet potato fries, or cut up vegetables.

Adapted from: Vanilla Sugar

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted by: Maggie

I have a confession to make.

I really only developed an interest in cooking and baking when I moved into my own apartment back in March 2008, and had my very own kitchen to use as I saw fit.  Before that, I was all about cookie and brownie mixes, and pasta and jarred sauce for dinner.  Back in early 2007, I was at my first job out of college,  and I decided to bring in a treat for my coworkers one day.

I bought a couple pouches of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, the kind where you just add an egg or two and vegetable oil, and raked in the compliments the next day at work as my coworkers devoured them.  As it tends to happen when someone bakes, early on that day one of the higher-ups at the office asked if the cookies were homemade.  I lied, "yes", and added "find a homemade recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies" to my mental to-do list.

At that time, my main impetus to find a homemade recipe was in the event that I got asked for the recipe I used - I wanted to be prepared to back up my blatant lie.

Now, it's over three and a half years later, and I've finally actually made these suckers from scratch.

Here's what you will need:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 T milk
2 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups chocolate chunks (or chips)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a large bowl until creamy.  Add in eggs, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Gradually beat in flour mixture until just incorporated.  Stir in oats, chocolate, and nuts.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, and drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes, or until brown around the edges and slightly undercooked in the middle (they will continue to cook once out of the oven).  Let cool on baking sheets for one minute, and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from: Very Best Baking

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

Posted by: Maggie

Remember the Beef Enchilada debacle where Jeff and I did not eat dinner until 8:50 p.m. one Friday evening? After that, I realized that I needed to have some more recipes in my arsenal with a quicker prep and cooking time, and save the more time consuming stuff for Saturdays and Sundays. I decided that Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp Scampi perfectly fit the bill, and was quite pleased with the results. 

Two reasons why I chose her recipe:

- Ina Garten's recipes always seem to get fabulous reviews on FoodNetwork.com (rightfully deserved)

- Her recipe didn't have wine in it (A lot of Shrimp Scampi recipes included wine, but Jeff isn't a fan, and I'd personally rather drink it than waste it on food.)

I served this with a big green salad that included red and orange peppers, red onion, cucumber, and croutons.  I love chopping vegetables, so this was way more fun for me than it probably should have been. I've been told it's uncouth to squirt blue cheese dressing directly into my mouth, so this was the perfect vehicle for eating it in a more ladylike fashion.

I also made some easy garlic bread, which I won't bother doing a separate post for.  Just slice up a loaf of Italian bread, and brush melted butter on one side.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, dried herbs of your choice (I think I used basil and oregano), and stick it under the broiler until brown.  There ya go, instant Texas Toast.  I love the frozen packaged kind as much as the next girl, but you can avoid some of the mystery ingredients if you do it yourself.

For dessert I picked up two mini cannoli from Whole Foods - not as good as the ones from Wegman's, but we still enjoyed them!

Here's what you'll need for the shrimp scampi:

Vegetable oil
1 T Salt, plus 1.5 t salt
3/4 lb linguine
3 T unsalted butter
2.5 T Olive Oil
1.5 T minced garlic (I used the jarred stuff, but if you have cloves it's about 4)
16-20 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, and dried
1/4 t pepper
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/8 t hot red pepper flakes
Extra olive oil
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling water, drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil, then add 1 T salt and the linguine.  Cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a large deep skillet, melt the butter and olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the shrimp, 1.5 teaspoons salt, and pepper, and saute for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently until shrimp are pink and opaque.  Remove from the heat and add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.  Toss to combine.

When pasta is done, drain the linguine and put it back in the pot.  Ina Garten's recipe didn't call for it, but I added about 1/3 cup of olive oil at this point because I didn't think the lemon butter sauce the shrimp cooked in would adequately coat the pasta.  You'll want to eyeball it to see if you need it - I prefer a more heavily sauced pasta. Add the shrimp and sauce and toss to combine. 

This was so good that Jeff and I ate almost all of it last night, but the original recipe says it serves 3.

Adapted from: FoodNetwork
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