French pressed coffee and Lofthouse cookies

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Although I have never tried the Lofthouse cookies at the grocery, I seem to pass by the table of them every time I visit the store.  They seem to be such a popular cookie.  I happened to find the recipe for them on centercutcook.com , along with the best frosting recipe for cookies around.  This frosting recipe is perfect for cookies as it is soft and creamy, and seems to begin to harden almost immediately.  In fact, I was icing the cookies and decided to wait to apply my sprinkles, and when I had finished just over two dozen cookies; the first batch was already too hard to allow the sprinkles to catch onto the tops.  Wow.  That is wonderful.

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I chose to color the icing pink for Easter, but any color would work.  It only takes a dot of gel food color to tint the icing, so make certain not too use too much.  More can always be added when mixing.  I used a stand mixer for the cookie dough, but a hand mixer for the icing.  I also allowed the cookies to cool at least 2 hours before decorating.

 

Dough ingredients

1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter softened to room temp, 2 eggs at room temperature, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Frosting ingredients

2 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 cup butter softened to room temp and food color of choice.   Sprinkles as desired.

To make the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a stand mixer, add butter and sugar.  Mix well and then add sour cream, eggs and vanilla.  In another bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to stand mixer and incorporate.

Using a large cookie scoop, scoop out cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet.  The recipe makes just over 2 dozen cookies.  Leave 1-2 inches between the cookies and slightly flatten the cookies with an offset spatula before baking.  Bake for 12 minutes and remove from oven.  The cookies will not look browned.  I used the convection cooking option on my oven for even baking.

Remove from the baking sheets to cool well before icing.  When cooled, prepare the frosting ingredients starting with creaming the butter first with a hand mixer.  Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix.  Then finally, add in the vanilla and milk.  At the end, tint with a dab of food color and mix well with the hand mixer.  Frost and add sprinkles if desired.

The cookies look just likes the ones in the store.  My husband says they taste the same as well.  I prefer to make my own, since this recipe is super simple.

In fact, the icing recipe will be my new “go to” recipe for other cookie decorating. Serve with a great cup of French pressed coffee.

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I found this amazing Stainless Steel coffee press by Francois and Mimi.  The finish is mirror-like and the pot is super sturdy and heavy.  I love the vintage feel of the press and the wonderful performance.  This pot seem to keep the four cups of coffee warm for over one hour.  It holds 34 ounces and has a drip proof spout. Clean up is so easy with the stainless steel finish.

 

I made my coffee and waited 3-4 minutes for brew time, and loved the taste.  With a bit of whipped cream, and a tasty cookie–my afternoon break was simply splendid yesterday.

For more information on the vintage design stainless coffee press, follow this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U84S5XC

#FrenchPress

 

 

 

 

Using a chef’s fork

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Here is one of my newest kitchen tools.

The steel chef’s fork is that tool required for moving whole chickens, roasts or other large pieces of meat from the cooking pan to the carving board.

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It is sturdy, well-made and the perfect size for these tasks. I am happy to be able to use this large fork, instead of balancing a smaller fork in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other. This tool is not flimsy.

It is nicely designed to do the work for you, and not cause any anguish during the delicate transfer. The fork has great control and is made for stability. The three stainless tongs are SO MUCH better than just two, which is the common design. The width of the fork helps with holding heavier meats. The length of the tongs seems to be just perfect for these tasks. The handle has a comfortable grip.

I used the fork yesterday to move my chicken into the pan prior to cooking, as well as to remove from the pan after the cooking process was complete.

This tool would be perfect for the smoker. Since it does not have a long handle, I would not recommend for the barbecue.

Overall, it has a great design and is one of my newer kitchen tools.

For more information, please follow this link:


Martha’s spinach dip 2.0

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Another March madness favorite has to be spinach dip.  I have posted on this blog in past years other versions of spinach and artichoke dips, but this one is super easy and from Martha Stewart.  She has updated the dip with ricotta cheese and even suggests that it can be made with other greens, such as kale or chard.

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I used the traditional box of frozen spinach, thawed, and it was delicious.

To make the dip:

Mix 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese with 1 cup frozen spinach which has been thawed.  Season to taste.  I used ground black pepper and a dash of sea salt.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 12 -15 minutes, or until the top is browned.

Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

Happiness comes with the right scoop

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People often tell me that they don’t enjoy cooking or being in the kitchen at all. Sometimes I think it is because they are busy people and just don’t have the time to relax and enjoy the process of making a nice meal.

Another reason could be not having the proper tools, which seem to make the process easy and sometimes even fun.  Over the years I have collected many tools, some of which do the same thing.  As an example, I have several types of ice cream scoops.  Different engineers have decided the best way to scoop ice cream, whether it be to use an ice cream spade or different sizes of stainless steel scoops.

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Since manufacturers have changed the size of ice cream containers within the past few years, some of these scoops do not work as well as they may have in the past.  Recently, I was sent a stainless scoop to try and review for my blog.

And, I had a great first experience with this ice cream scoop design with rock hard ice cream. By warming the stainless portion in warm water, the scoop moves through the cold ice cream very easily.

My new scoop is well made and not flimsy. It is solid and built to last. The hand grip is padded for comfort and helps with the scooping process.

The size is perfect for a variety of ice cream products. It is neither too wide nor too long for ease of use with smaller ice cream containers, especially for my home-made ice cream container.

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Past ice cream scoops have had flaws (too flat, too wide, too long, too thick), but this product seems to have overcome all of them.  If you need to update your ice cream scoop, this might be the answer for you too.

For more information on this scoop, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PTSTST2

Easy slow cooker chicken wings

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March madness is here and everyone needs an easy recipe for entertaining all those men who get hungry while watching the games.

This recipe cooks in the slow cooker for 3 1/2 hours and then just needs to be broiled for 6 minutes in the oven prior to serving.  SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS.  Possibly the best wings recipe around.  AND, this recipe could be increased for a large crowd.  I used two packages of chicken drumettes with these ingredients.

Just increase the amount of sauce for a larger quantity of wings or drummies.

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To make this recipe:

In a large bowl, mix these ingredients:  1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried red onion.  Place the drummies in the slow cooker.  Pour the sauce over the wings.  Toss.

Cover and cook on low heat for 3 1/2 hours.  Meanwhile, mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water.  Stir into the slow cooker mixture during the last 15 minutes of cooking and increase the temperature to high.

Next, place the wings on a baking sheet covered with a silpat mat.  Broil for 6 minutes and then plate for serving as a great hot appetizer.  Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

Yum Yum Yum for March Madness this year.

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inspired by: damndelicious.net

Parmesan Mushrooms

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAre you looking for an easy side dish to serve with chicken, red meat or even fish?  This is one of those easy dishes that can be made in less than twenty minutes, and will be enjoyed by everyone.

A variety of mushrooms can be used and will change the flavor profile for this side dish.  By adding just the right amount of seasoning, these mushrooms become so much more than a mushroom saute.

Simply add lemon, thyme and Parmesan and enjoy how those flavors blend to make an excellent tasty dinner accompaniment.

To make the mushrooms:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using spray Pam, coat a ceramic dish to prepare for baking.  Slice one box of white mushrooms.  Mix together in a small bowl the following ingredients:  3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/4 cup grated Fresh Parmesan cheese, and salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Pour over the mushrooms and mix well.  Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until tender.

Serve as a side dish.

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Inspired by: damndelicious.net

7-up Pancakes

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Over the past 35 years, I have collected some wonderful cookbooks.  This has been a wonderful hobby that I have been able to share with my family.  They have had the benefit of trying many different types of recipes from different backgrounds and styles of cooking.  I have been able to make everything from elegant French cuisine to old-fashioned Southern cooking.  My collection has been enhanced in the past eight years since I haven’t been working as a nurse.  This extra time has allowed me to really concentrate on my love of cooking and using fresh ingredients from the garden in my dishes.

This recipe is one of those old-fashioned ones which is really tasty.  If you are tired of pancake mixes from the box and the market, this is an easy one that promises FLUFFY pancakes every single time.  The secret is substituting milk with 7-up.  I use diet 7-up and the pancakes are super light and delicious.

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Here is the recipe:  Mix these ingredients with a hand mixer and allow to stand for a few minutes while the griddle is heating up–  14 ounces of diet 7-up, 2 tablespoons sugar, 3 cups of Heart Smart Bisquick, and 2 eggs.

Before the pancakes are put onto the griddle, spread some canola oil onto the surface.

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I use a pancake dispenser which gives me great control for making certain shapes and sizes of pancakes.

 

I was practicing this week for Easter pancakes, so was able to form the ears and feet for my bunnies with this tool.  I saw a bunny pancake photo on Pinterest, so decided to try it with my favorite pancake recipe.  I used a bit of Fat-Free Redi-Whip for the tail and a bit of coconut.  With a couple of blueberries for the paws and a slice of banana, the bunny is very cute.

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For more information on the pancake dispenser, please follow this link: