Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

To say I have an obsession with chocolate and peppermint may be an understatement. Christmas time brings this obsession out in me and kicks it up a notch! I especially love Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark and Trader Joe's chocolate-covered, peppermint JoJos. And I have a stash of dark chocolate, mint truffle Hershey kisses in my pantry for emergencies (you know, when the JoJos are gone). So when I found this chocolate cookie recipe, I knew I had to put my own spin on it by using mint chips instead of M&Ms. I'm sure these are fabulous with the M&Ms and they would be so cute and festive with the red and green ones right now, but I prefer the mint.
This is another one of Mel's great recipes over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Here is the link to the original recipe.
This particular day I made a double batch. I split the dough into two bowls and put white chocolate chips in one half and the mint in the other. I took the mint ones to a church party and Nate took the white chocolate ones to a work party and both were a big hit! I really love the mint chips from Nestle because they have dark chocolate chips mixed in with the green mint ones making them perfect for these cookies and a perfect snack straight out of the bag.

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into eight pieces
  • 3/4 cup mint chocolate chips, M&Ms, or your favorite flavor baking chip
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, place the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and the butter. Microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir. Microwave again for one minute at 50% power and stir well. If the chocolate is not fully melted, continue microwaving in 30 second intervals at 50% power until the chocolate and butter are well combined (don’t overheat the chocolate or it can seize and turn hard and unusable). Let the mixture cool slightly, about 2-3 minutes until it is at room temperature or just slightly warm (but not hot).
  3. In a large bowl (or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer), combine the chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Gradually mix in flour mixture on low speed. Fold in mint chips with a wooden spoon.
  4. Drop dough onto lightly greased baking sheets by tablespoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. If desired, place a few chips on top of the cookie dough balls (even perched slightly on the rounded sides). Bake the cookies until they have slightly flattened and there are a few cracks on the surface, about 13-14 minutes. The cookies will still be soft. Let the cookies sit for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dark Chocolate-covered Potato Chips

Have you tried these??? If not, get over to Target pronto! They are seasonal and won't be around for long. Yummmm!!! They also come in milk chocolate if that's more your thing.
*Warning, you may eat the whole bag on the drive home without realizing what you have done. Simply hide the evidence at the bottom of the outside garbage and move on with your day. No one ever has to know.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Easy Skillet Mac n Cheese

I'm back! Did you miss me? If this is your first time here, welcome! I'm pretty sure the only people who read this are relatives and old room mates. If that's you then know that I miss you. Come visit Idaho. It's beautiful and I promise there will be yummy food involved! If you don't fall into one of those two categories, then whoopee!!! I am truly excited and humbled to have you visit me here.

Since my last post I have transitioned from being a mom to one cute toddler, into a mom of a precocious, picky pre-schooler (say that 5 times fast), an adventurous, strong-willed 3-year-old, and a happy, easy-going baby. The blog has transitioned too. Where I used to post 3 times a week, I will shoot for once a week on a good week. Rather than posting strictly recipes, I will add in some musings on food and mommyhood, an occasional tip that I found helps my picky eater, a restaurant review or two, recommendations when I have a new food obsession, and maybe even a give away or two. Now that introductions are out of the way, let's get down to business.

As a mom of 3, macaroni and cheese is a staple in our house. My husband and I both grew up on the blue box and there is a constant supply in our pantry. However, I try to reserve the blue box for special occasions. You know, babysitters, when daddy's out of town, dad's turn to cook, important stuff! Pasta is one dinner that everyone in my family can agree on, especially my pickiest child. So a good homemade macaroni and cheese is an important part of my repertoire.

This one comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. The link to the original recipe can be found here. I made this recipe with a little trepidation because my picky child tends to reject foods that she's "not used to" or "looks different" than what she has had before. I am glad to say that she gobbled this up and all of the ingredients were real pronounceable foods! Another thing that I love about this recipe is that it is truly a one-pot meal. I have found that many so-called one-pot meals are only called such because everything ends up in one pot in the end, but there are about a zillion pots to get you to that point. With this one it is all done in one pan. That means less dishes, and less dishes makes a happy mama.

I made it as written and it was delicious, but I think it would be equally delicious with all cheddar rather than a mix. I used pre-shredded Monterey Jack and shredded the cheddar myself. Cheddar does not melt as well when it comes pre-shredded.

I made this super fancy and served it with applesauce and baby carrots with ranch. (I like to eat the applesauce and mac n cheese on the same spoonful. Does anyone else do that? Oh, just me? Well, you should try it.) You could stir in some thawed, frozen peas and diced ham to make it more entree-like, but I knew there was no way my kids would go for that.

Note: You will need a 12 inch, non-stick skillet

Easy Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni--I used whole grain and no one was the wiser
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks (optional--I omitted it and thought it was great without)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
  2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (The whole grain pasta soaks up more water, so I needed close to half a cup extra. I drizzled water on after stirring in each handful of cheese). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.  
  4. I would say this serves 4-6 people, depending if they are adults or little people. My family of 4 (well 4 with teeth) ate it for dinner with enough left for my husband to take for lunch the next day. Score!
Proof that she ate it willingly and was excited about it! Hooray!
(Don't mind the excited photobomber in the background. Hehehe!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Easy Apple Dumplings

Do you remember the dessert list I was working on completing last fall? I compiled a list of about 15-20 desserts that I wanted to attempt to make. Apple dumplings were on the list, but I could never get myself to make them because I wasn't really sure how to core an apple without slicing it and without using a special tool. Then I stumbled across this recipe from my favorite girls over at and this method could not be simpler and they were utterly addicting. I made a half batch for four of us, thinking that 2 per person would be sufficient, but I am still cursing from not having made the whole batch.

Easy Apple Dumplings
2 medium Granny Smith apples
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
cinnamon (for sprinkling)
12 oz. (1 can) Mountain Dew or Sprite. I used Sprite, but was only able to find it in a larger bottle unless I wanted to buy a six-pack (which I didn't). Whatever form you buy your soda in, just remember that 12 oz. is 1 1/2 cups.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Peel apples and cut into 8ths. I used a vegetable peeler then my apple corer/slicer which just so happens to cut the apple into 8 equal slices. You can, of course, core and slice the apple with a just a knife if you need to.
Open a can of crescent roll dough and carefully separate the dough along the perforations. Place 1/8 of an apple on one segment of dough and then roll/wrap the apple in the dough. (This is where you may need to get a little creative and do a bit of patchwork. Just make sure the apple is sealed inside the dough.) Place in the prepared pan and repeat with remaining apples and dough. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add sugar and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour butter/sugar mixture over the apples, then pour the soda, on top of everything. Sprinkle the pan with cinnamon and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some of the sauce poured on top. If you make the whole batch, plan on sharing. If you make a half batch, I'm sure you can handle it on your own. Your hips might not appreciate it, but your tastebuds will!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fail-Proof French Bread

This bread totally and completely lives up to its name. I followed the directions and was ready to start the kneading process, when I realized that my pregnant brain had forgotten to add the yeast! I added it then, thinking all was lost and it still turned out delicious, light on the inside and crusty on the outside, and was so simple! This bread will be making more appearances at our house for sure. Thank you Heather from for sharing this one!

*Note: you do need a good stand mixer for this one. I was fortunate to finally get my Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday last year. This recipe has very specific instructions that contribute to the light texture and I just don't think it would turn out the same if it was mixed or kneaded by hand.

Fail-proof French Bread
1/2 cup warm water
2 TB yeast
Mix and dissolve, set aside.

2 cups hot water
3 TB sugar
1 TB salt
1/3 cup oil
Put in mixer, dissolve.
Add yeast mixture and 3 cups flour. Beat well.

Add 3 more cups flour. Using the dough hook attachment, beat well to form a soft dough. Don't worry if the dough is more soft than normal bread dough.
Let rest 10 minutes. Stir batter down, let rest 10 minutes. Repeat process of stirring dough, followed by 10 minutes of rest until it has been done a total of 5 times. (If you are the forgetful type, like yours truly, put 5 pieces of tape on the edge of your counter top. Each time your timer goes off to indicate the end of 10 minutes of rest, remove a piece of tape until all the tape is gone.)
Turn dough onto floured board and knead only enough to coat dough with flour. Divide into 2 portions. Toll each portion into a 9x12 inch rectangle. Roll up jelly roll style, omitting the air bubbles. Arrange lengthwise on a greased cookie sheet.

Brush tops with a beaten egg while (optional). Slash 3 times diagonally on each loaf.
Cover, let rise until doubles, about 30 min. Bake at 400 for 35 min.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beef and Bean Chimichangas

After a much needed, long vacation visiting both families, seeing Yosemite National Park and welcoming my brother home from 2 years in Argentina, I am back to the blogging world. I made these before our trip when my brother-in-law and his wife were visiting. I was pleasantly surprised with the simplicity and deliciousness of these. And, of course, I always love a good Mexican recipe. Since these are not deep fried like most chimichangas, they are relatively healthy. Serve these with a little guacamole, sour cream, and salsa for dipping and some fresh fruit on the side for an easy week night meal.

This recipe comes from
Beef and Bean Chimichangas
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 can of chili beans, drained
  • large flour tortillas
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • guacamole, sour cream, and salsa for dippinga
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break up the meat into crumbles. Add the onion and garlic as well as the seasonings then cook until beef is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add the drained can of chili beans to the beef mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • Heat another skillet coated in cooking spray over medium heat. Heat the tortillas in paper towels in the microwave for 20 seconds so they are soft and pliable. Layer the tortilla with some cheese then some beef mixture. Fold in the sides and roll into a burrito, making sure the ends are closed. Place seam side down in the hot skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and slightly crispy. Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Enjoy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spring Pasta

I love to buy whatever produce is in season and find the best ways to use it all up. I have actually been surprised by the quality of produce I've been able to find here in Colorado. This pasta was the result of a fridge full of fresh spring vegetables. You can substitute almost and veggies you like. And if you leave out the chicken you can even make this vegetarian. I love this fast, fresh, healthy, weeknight meal.
Spring Pasta
about 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. whole wheat pasta

-Put a big pot of salted water onto boil. And cook pasta according to package directions. While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, start the sauce.
-Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces and saute in the olive oil until no longer pink in the middle. Season with salt and pepper while the chicken is cooking.
-About half-way through cooking the chicken, add the onion and cook until translucent.
-Add the garlic when the onions are almost done.
-Add the zucchini and cook until tender.
-At this point you can add whatever other vegetables you want. I added half a jar of chopped artichoke hearts that were in my fridge waiting to be eaten and a few chopped sundried tomatoes as well.
-Add the tomatoes, and cook just until a little soft.
-Drain the pasta and add the chicken and veggie mixture to the hot pasta.
-Toss together with a generous amount of parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.
-If the pasta seems too dry you can add a little more olive oil.
Saute the chicken, onion, and garlic,
Add in the zucchini,
Then add the tomatoes and other veggies,
Toss with the pasta and Parmesan cheese,
And serve!