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!)