Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

This recipe has been haunting me since Nie posted about them almost a month ago. These cookies are chewy and rich and chocolatey, and also quite pretty.

They're fun to make, too. You get to roll them in powdered sugar before baking them. So pretty!

And the dough is almost as addicting as the finished product.

Be careful, this stuff is dangerous.

What? Oh no, that was already there. Yep.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

2 cups sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup hershey's cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Add cocoa; blend well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder & salt; add to cocoa mixture blending well. Cover; chill for 2 hours. Heat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on wire rack.

Makes 4 dozen. (I halved this!)

Recipe from the beautiful Stephanie Nielson at Cuisine Nie.


Creme Brulee French Toast

Perfect for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast, this dish is very easy and is prepared the night before so all you have to do in the morning is bake it. I hopped out of bed to put it in, then got back in bed while it baked. It made for a decadent breakfast in bed, and my husband loved waking up to the amazing smell of cinnamon and sugar! It smells absolutely ridiculous coming out of the oven. So so good. The bottom of the toast gets nice and caramelized. Since I'm a sugar junkie I served this with a small drizzle of maple syrup, but it would be great on its own, too.

Creme Brulee French Toast

1 stick unsalted butter (I'm sure salted would be okay too, but I always buy unsalted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbs corn syrup
1 loaf French bread, preferably a few days old
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half (you could probably just use milk, if needed)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

In a small saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Cut thick slices (about 3/4 to 1 inch) from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit. Use as many slices as will fit in the dish. In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set bread mixture on counter during preheating. Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes. To serve, flip bread slices over so caramelized side is on top.

I think mine looks more dry than yours might, because I sliced my bread 1-inch thick and it absorbed more of the egg mixture. If you slice it thinner it might end up having more of the puffy eggy mixture on top. Just FYI. Also, this is obviously easily halved and prepared in an 8x8 pan, as you can see.

Recipe adapted from The Food Network.


Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

The picture doesn't do this dinner justice. The flavor combinations in this baked pasta dish are fantastic! A gorgeous tomato cream sauce is paired with fontina cheese, fresh spinach and the intense flavor of the sausage to make an amazing taste. You may substitute pork or turkey sausage for the chicken, and mozzarella for the fontina, if those ingredients are too hard to find. I'm sure the result would still taste great. Martha's recipe called for precooked, smoked sausage, but I used regular chicken sausage and cooked it myself before adding it. My changes are noted below.

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound rigatoni
10 ounces baby spinach
12 ounces chicken sausage (4 links), cooked and diced
9 ounces fontina cheese, 5 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 4 ounces coarsely grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. (The sauce looks gorgeous just after adding the cream. Mmm!)

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot.

Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into 9x13 (3-quart) baking dish. (Alternately, see Martha's directions for how to freeze half for later.) Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Original recipe from Martha Stewart, referenced at My Kitchen Cafe.


Shrimp Po' Boys

Another meal idea from Klane that I wouldn't have thought to make, but that turned out awesome! We really loved the cajun seasoning on the fried shrimp. We'll say we made this Louisiana inspired recipe in honor of Mardi Gras, which is today. :)

Shrimp Po' Boys

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, deveined
1/2 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
4 soft club rolls or sub rolls, split
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
8 pieces lettuce
1 lemon cut into wedges
Tartar sauce

Preheat 1-inch of oil in a deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat.

Beat egg and milk together. Pull tails off shrimp. Salt shrimp then soak in milk batter. Mix together the flour, cornmeal and cajun seasoning on the plate. Using tongs, remove a few shrimp at a time and coat in breading. Add breaded shrimp to the hot oil and fry them a couple minutes, until firm and deeply golden all over.

Spread tartar sauce on rolls. Put lettuce, tomato and shrimp on rolls, squeeze lemon juice over shrimp.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.

French Bread

My mom's french bread recipe is so simple, and it produces a wonderfully light, yummy bread. If you've never made bread before, I think a simple french bread is a good place to start. (I say that and this is the only yeast bread I've ever made. But I imagine it's true.)

Mom's French Bread

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
7-8 cups all-purpose white flour

Mix warm water, oil, and sugar in a large bowl to dissolve. Mix in yeast and salt. Slowly, cup by cup, beat in flour, making sure it's all incorporated before you add the next cup. It will take about 7-8 cups of flour. Add enough to make a dough that's not too sticky and not too firm. If you don't have a mixer, you'll have to knead in the last cups on a greased countertop. The key is to not let the dough get lumpy or clumpy, keep it smooth. Cover and let rest 10-20 minutes to get a little air in it so it's easy to work with. Shape and roll the dough into a mini loaf, keeping in mind it will double in length and width. It should be about four times as long as it is wide. Spray a baking sheet and lay dough on it, spray the top of dough with cooking spray. Use a serrated knife to make diagonal slices on top of bread. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle seasonings on top (sesame seeds, parmesan, suddenly salad, etc). Let it rise for 20 minutes, until doubled in size. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 10-20 more minutes, until top of bread is nice and golden.

Makes one large loaf of bread.

Broiled Reuben Sandwiches

This is more an idea than a recipe. But the picture sure turned out pretty! I asked my husband for meal ideas this week and he came up with some great ones! I should ask Klane for input more often. I would've never thought to make these, but they were fantastic, quick and so flavorful!

Broiled Rueben Sandwiches

Rye bread, sliced
Thousand Island dressing
Swiss cheese slices
Corned beef, sliced

Pile everything on one slice of bread on a baking sheet and set open-faced sandwiches and extra slices under the broiler until cheese melts and bread is toasted. Top sandwiches with toased bread, flip sandwiches over and put back under the brolier until the other side is toasted. (I suppose these could also be grilled.) Yum!


Chicken, Spinach and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

I wasn't sure what to call this recipe. I mean, besides "really really amazingly creamy and delicious". I'm not sure exactly how I made it either, but it was so good I have to at least try to share it. This pasta dish turned out just how I hoped, creamy but still light, with a hint of lemon taste. The farfalle looks so pretty, and I liked the colors of the white sauce, green spinach and red tomatoes. It was a really pretty dish and seemed just perfect for Valentine's Day dinner. My husband said this might be his favorite pasta dish I've ever made.

This was very loosely based off a couple similar recipes, and very heavily based on what I had in my fridge that I needed to use. I used this recipe and this recipe from My Kitchen Cafe as references for lemon cream pasta type dishes. I kept pouring in a little more milk or a little more lemon juice or a little more cheese, till I got the desired consistency and taste. The amounts below are approximations but I think they're fairly close. Here goes...

Chicken, Spinach and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

1 lb pasta (farfalle, rotini or penne would all work)
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 1 clove if you're using fresh)
lemon pepper
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp white flour
2 Tbs-1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (okay, so I used bottled. shredded would be better I'm sure)
1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high, add garlic, stir over heat 1 min until fragrant. Add chicken breasts and season with lemon pepper to taste. Cook chicken through, lightly browning each side. When cooked, transfer to cutting board and cut into bite size strips or cubes.

Return pan with cooking juices to stove over medium heat. Add cream, milk and flour and whisk well to dissolve flour. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly. Add more milk if necessary to reach desired thickness. Add lemon juice to taste, stirring and tasting after adding a little at a time. (I really didn't want to overdo it on the lemon taste.) Simmer and stir 5 minutes over medium/med-high. Add parmesan to taste, stir to melt. Add frozen spinach and diced chicken, stir everythink till heated through, a minute or two. Add pasta and stir it all together. You may not use all the pasta, just add enough so you have the right amount of sauce. Serve with tomatoes sprinkled on top.

Happy Valentine's Day!


These breadsticks are so simple to make, but you'd never know because they are equal parts beautiful and delicious! (Maybe baking in a cube of melted butter has something to do with the incredible taste... hmmm...) My mom has been telling me about these breadsticks for the longest time, because she knew I'd love how easy they are to make. I should've made them sooner! Klane and I loved them. They take about an hour from start to finish, but I think that's quick enough for a weeknight dinner. Make these, they're so delicious and the perfect addition to a pasta or salad to make a great meal.

They looked especially tasty through the oven door:

Mom's Breadsticks

3 ½ cups flour
1 T. instant yeast
3 T. sugar
½ t. salt
1 ½ cups warm water
½ cup butter, melted

Mix first four ingredients in large bowl. Add warm water, mix to form a soft dough and let it raise in bowl for 20 min. Preheat oven to 375, melt butter in preheated oven on cookie sheet (half the butter if you want it less buttery). Take sheet out when butter is melted, let it cool a little. Roll out dough flat, cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide. Fold strips in half and twist the two halves together. Lay them out on cookie sheet, roll them in melted butter till covered. Sprinkle with seasonings as desired (possible toppings: suddenly salad, parmesan cheese, italian seasonings, dill, seasoning salt, etc). Let rise 20 minutes in pan. Bake for 15-20 min, until golden brown.

Recipe from my amazing mom.

Golden Treats

These are sort of like Rice Krispie treats meets s'mores. Melted marshmallows and chocolate mixed with Golden Grahams cereal makes for an irresistible combination. Beware: it's very difficult to stop eating these once you start.

S'mores Treats

1 16 oz. bag mini marshmallows
5 tablespoons butter
¼ c. corn syrup
1 ½ c. milk chocolate chips
1 box golden grahams (about 14 oz.)

Heat butter in large pot on medium until melted. Add marshmallows, corn syrup, and chocolate chips, stirring constantly until melted and gooey. Remove from heat. Quickly pour in box of Golden Grahams and evenly stir and combine. Spread in 9x13 inch pan and enjoy! You can also let them cool and cut into bars.

Recipe from my beautiful cousin, Dayna.

Flank Steak and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

These quesadillas were so good! The marinade for the meat created a unique flavor, and of course caramelized onions are always a yummy edition. Maybe our favorite part was serving it with fresh guacamole we made ourselves. So delish!

Okay, here is the deal. One of the things I love about cooking is that it's so much less expensive than eating out. I like to be frugal. So the $10 flank steak at the grocery store didn't look like the best choice to me when I made this recipe last week. Instead I went for a cheaper sirloin, marinated it, tenderized it and tried not to overcook it. Hence the reason my quesadillas didn't turn out as plump and delicious looking as the photo on For the Love of Cooking. The recipe still worked the way I made it but it would be a lot better with the flank steak, I'm sure.

Steak & Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

Flank Steak Marinade:

1 - 1 1/2 lbs of flank steak
⅓ cup vinegar
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons oregano
2 limes, juiced
4-5 cloves garlic minced

Caramelized Onions:

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ sweet yellow onion
Salt to taste

Other Ingredients:

Flour tortillas
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or monterey jack)

In a gallon size Ziploc bag, combine all marinade ingredients with flank steak and mix really well. Let marinate for at least 6 hours - overnight if you can.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add onions, cook for about 30 minutes or until caramelized. Season with salt and set aside.

Grill the flank steak to your liking. Let the meat rest before slicing in thin slices AGAINST the grain.

To prepare the quesadillas, take a little shredded cheese and sprinkle evenly over a flour tortilla. Place a few slices of flank steak over the cheese, add some caramelized onions and a little additional cheese. Place one more tortilla over the top to finish. Carefully place the quesadilla in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute. Slice with a pizza cutter into wedges. Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Homemade Guacamole

YUM. I made this and now I want to have this in my house all the time because it's so, so good. It's best fresh since it turns brown after a little while. I copied the recipe straight from For the Love of Cooking, because I think the way she explains everything in such detail is really great.


4 ripe (soft but not mushy to the touch) avocados
1/4 red onion, diced
3 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 small handful of chopped cilantro
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced finely (half if you want it less spicy)
Salt to taste
1-2 limes juiced to taste

Slice the avocados lengthwise around the seed. Gently hit blade of knife on the half of the avocado with the seed and twist - seed should come out easily. Either scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon or dice into segments in a crosshatch pattern and then remove with a spoon. Mix the remaining ingredients together with out smashing the avocado too much. Make sure to add the lime, it not only pops the flavor of the guacamole but it also keeps it from going brown. Serve with fresh tortilla chips or as a topping for any of your favorite Mexican dishes.