The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my favorite recipe for all things Chocolate Chip Cookie.  No doubt about it.  I’ve used the same recipe to make cookies, cookie bars, and even little cookie bowls!  I’ve never had a cookie recipe that is so multipurpose! choc3I don’t know what it is about Chocolate Chip Cookies, but they rule the roost in the dessert world.  If someone asked me what my favorite dessert was, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was Chocolate Chip Cookies.  BUT, for some reason, whenever I make them, the dough tastes so good that I can’t stop eating it.  It’s like the Chocolate Chip Cookies get into my brain!  Wait, here’s another good one: I wake up in the morning and I am feeling extra “good”, so when I make my coffee, I have it with almond milk and a little Stevia instead of loading it with creamer.  Good job, right?  Wrong.  My eyes are immediately drawn to the Chocolate Chip Cookies and I decide I’ll eat two of those for breakfast instead of real food.  WHAT?!  …Like I said, Chocolate Chip Cookies seem to dominate the {dessert} world.

They own me.choc5My Uncle Jim is the one who got me into these Chocolate Chip Cookies.  He lives in a small town in Northern Illinois and people know him as “The Cookie Man”.  I’ll never forget the time I went to his house and he showed me his ways.  Here are three things he taught me that affect how good (or bad, I guess) your cookies will turn out.  You have to have the perfect combination of white and brown sugar.  If you don’t, your cookies will flatten out or burn to a crisp.  Another helpful hint is to use instant vanilla pudding in the recipe.  It adds an all-around better taste than adding vanilla extract to your cookies.  Lastly, you need to beat in your eggs separately.  A lot of people overlook that step.  Don’t forget to mix them in separately!   choc8

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: About 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 3.5oz package instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. In a large bowl, cream softened butter, brown and white sugars, and vanilla pudding with mixer until smooth.
  3. Beat in one egg. Then, beat in second egg.
  4. In small bowl, measure 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Mix with fork.
  5. Add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture slowly and mix until combined.
  6. Mix in bag of chocolate chips by hand.
  7. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 1-2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 11-13 minutes until just barely golden for chewy cookies. (If you want crunchy cookies, cook until golden.)
  9. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to plate!
  10. ENJOY!

**Notes: This recipe is extremely versatile.  If you want to whip up a batch of cookies and store the rest in the fridge for later, go for it!  Just keep your dough covered.  The cookies are just as yummy if the dough is chilled.   Also, if you want to make cookie bars instead, just use a 9″x13″ pan and bake them until the tops are golden.  Those are divine.

 

 

 

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Nutter Butter Truffles

nutterbutter3When I was in college, my roommate crushed up some cookies, added cream cheese and then covered little scoops in white almond bark.  I have been tainted ever since.  End of story.

Truffles are habit-forming.  Literally.

hab·it–form·ing

adjective \ˈha-bət-ˌfȯr-miŋ\

: causing a strong need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something

:  inducing the formation of an addiction

Mmhm...check, and…check.  Truffles cause a need in my life.  My roommate made her truffles with Oreo cookies back in the day.  I took it a step further and tried it out with Nutter Butter cookies.  My oh my, the results were astounding.  nutterbutter4

Nutter Butter Truffles

  • Servings: Makes 25-35 truffles (varies by size)
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 16oz package of Nutter Butter cookies
  • 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 24 oz block of vanilla almond bark/vanilla coating
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • cocoa powder for garnish

What to do:

  1. Empty package of Nutter Butters into a food processor and pulse until cookies are ground up finely. (If you don’t have a food processor, just crush up the cookies inside a gallon-size Ziploc bag)
  2. Add the cream cheese and powdered sugar to processor and continue pulsing until thick dough is formed. (If using the Ziploc bag, just add cream cheese and powdered sugar to bag and knead it with your hands)
  3. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls (I wouldn’t go any larger) and place balls onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Freeze until firm (30 minutes-1 hour)
  5. Melt almond bark or candy coating per package instructions in the microwave.
  6. Dip frozen balls with a fork one at a time into almond bark, let excess run off, and place back onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet. (Because the inside is cold, they should harden quickly)
  7.  Transfer extra almond bark/candy coating and peanut butter to small Ziploc bag and knead until combined.
  8. Cut a VERY small opening in one corner of the bag, creating your own icing bag.
  9. Drizzle truffles in a zig-zag motion, or whichever pattern you please!  **Any plain truffles can be sprinkled with cocoa powder as well!**
  10. ENJOY!

 

**Notes: Truffles should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and are best served chilled.  They tend to crack open if they get too warm. Have fun! nutterbutter1

Beer Bacon Chili

beerchili5Beer, bacon, and chili.  Three powerful words that tend to grab people’s taste buds on their own.  Put the beer and bacon INSIDE the chili, and you’ll have people knocking on your door for days!

This Beer Bacon Chili is chock-full of flavor.  It is the ultimate chunky chili and can satisfy the brawniest of appetites.  It is the perfect amount of food for a family.  There’s not so much that you’ll have to eat chili for a week, which is nice.  This is my go-to chili recipe.  The bacon gives the chili a bolder, more meaty flavor.  The beer shines through in the end.  This recipe can be made your own by adding additional spices or beans.  The flavors all marry each other incredibly well.  I’ve never been in a Chili Cookoff, but I’m confident that this chili recipe is one that would stand out in a crowd.  I hope you are as enthusiastic about it as I am 🙂beerchili9Earlier this week, it was sunny and 65 degrees.  It was incredibly nice, so I did what every other Coloradoan did– took my car to the car wash.  Then yesterday came. Yesterday was wet and snowy.  Two days of a spotless, shiny car ruined by wet, sloppy slop.  Mmhmm.  Fortunately, this chili did a great job pulling me out of my despair.  (I still might be a tiny bit bitter about it, might be.) But it really is a perfect cold weather, cheer-you-up kind of meal.beerchili8Yeah, baby.

Beer Bacon Chili

  • Servings: Serves 6 (easily doubled)
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 lbs. of ground beef or turkey, thawed (I used 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika
  • cayenne pepper (use up to 2 teaspoons if you want it spicy)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 14.5oz can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes, or crushed
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 bottle of your favorite beer (I used a seasonal Blue Moon from the fridge)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 14.5oz can of pinto beans, drained
  • variety of toppings for garnish: jalapenos, green peppers, white queso, cheese, sour cream, bacon bits

What to do:

  1. In a 6-quart stock pot, cook bacon pieces on high heat until brown.
  2. Add chopped onion to pot, cover with lid, and cook until onions on low/medium heat until they are clear.
  3. Uncover pan, add garlic, stir and cook for a minute or two.
  4. Turn stove to medium/high heat and add ground beef; breaking up with wooden spoon and stirring about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Cook for another minute.
  6. Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, and Worcestershire sauce to pot and bring mixture to boil.
  7.  Once boiling, turn stove to medium/low and cover pot halfway.  Set timer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes, drain beans and add to chili. Cook 10 more minutes, uncovered.
  9. Serve chili warm and top with whatever you’d like!

 

Notes** This chili is REALLY good right away, but even better reheated and eaten the day after.  Also, I apologize for not documenting step-by-step this time.  Chili isn’t pretty until it’s done 🙂beerchili4

Deep Dish Meatball Subs

meatballs1Mamma Mia! That’s a spicy meat-a-ball-uh!

Not really, though.  That was just to make you laugh.  This dish isn’t spicy at all.  (Sorry if I got your hopes up.)

I can come up with hundreds of words to describe this delectably tasty, meaty, cheesy, bubbly, mouth-watering, tempting, jaw-dropping recipe.  But spicy is not one of them.

So!  Meatballs, yes.  This recipe is a twist on the classic Meatball Sub sandwich.  I called it Deep Dish Meatball Subs because I felt like if I gave it a name that included the word “casserole”, it sounded like it had some kind of soup in it, and casseroles are generally associated with being boring and bland.  This dish is NOT bland or boring, I promise you.  It’s got biscuits that puff up in the pan, frozen meatballs that cook themselves in the oven, a can of sauce, and cheese all over it.  If you’ve ever loved a meatball sub sandwich, you will be downright dumbfounded when you get a bite of this effortless dinner dish.

meatball3Want to know something?  That “Mamma Mia…!” quote is from an Alka Seltzer commercial from 1969.  I wasn’t even born in 1969.  In fact, my parents were still toddlers in 1969.  And yet, almost all of us know the “spicy meat-a-ball-uh” voice.  That just cracks me up.

meatball6This is one can of refrigerated Pillsbury Grands biscuits.  Just open the can and try not to get scared when it pops (hehe, gets me every stinkin’ time). Then you want to cut them into eighths like this!

meatball7After you combine the biscuits with the sauce, you have a pretty thin and seemingly sparse bottom layer.  Don’t worry, though.  I took the frozen meatballs and kinda filled in the gaps and added some extra ones here and there.  You can certainly make your own meatballs, but I am always shooting for fast and easy.  Of course…the more meatballs, the merrier!

IMG_5561Get some cheese-loaded action going and get that baby into the oven!

Deep Dish Meatball Subs

  • Servings: 6-8 generously
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Pillsbury Grands! refrigerated biscuits
  • 26 oz can of spaghetti sauce, your choice
  • 1 bag of frozen meatballs (found in the frozen appetizer section)
  • 8 oz bag shredded mozzarella cheese

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F) and grease a 9 x 13″ baking dish.
  2. Open can of biscuits and cut each biscuit into 8 pieces.
  3. Place cut biscuits into medium bowl and cover with half a can of spaghetti sauce (1 1/2-2 cups).
  4. Spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons of leftover sauce over bottom of greased baking dish.
  5. Pour biscuits into baking dish and spread into thin layer, covering bottom.
  6. Layer frozen meatballs on top of biscuits, filling in gaps.
  7. Sprinkle bag of cheese over top, liberally.
  8. Bake dish in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is golden.
  9. Serve warm with extra sauce on top, if you prefer.
  10. ENJOY!

 

And here’s the commercial with the “Spicy Meatball” guy, if you need a little laugh 🙂

 

Buffalo Pretzel Sticks

pretzel5Sooo…maybe I jinxed the Broncos.  That playoff game on Sunday was a big flop.

Football season is essentially over for Denver fans.

But, hey, good news…I heard the NFL still has a Superbowl even if your favorite team loses.  So that means there will still be a big game and they will still play the funny commercials on TV.  People still throw parties and they will still watch the halftime show…and if the halftime show is horrible, people ALWAYS flock to the kitchen to eat snacks.  You still need some good snack ideas!

That’s how my brain works.  You’ve been warned.  Sorry, not sorry.

I’ve got a recipe for Buffalo wing flavored pretzel sticks.  It is an appetizing snack recipe that you can whip up the day before the game and then set them out in front of the TV for all those football fanatics to munch on mindlessly.

pretzeluse

I am a big fan of Frank’s Red Hot sauce and all buffalo sauces in general.  I am a big wimp when it comes to eating spicy food and Red Hot is like the perfect amount of spicy and vinegar-y for my timid little taste buds.  Buffalo is my kind of hot…and I tend to get a little crazy with it.  This recipe is a mix of buffalo sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices you have in your cabinet that get drizzled over a bag of pretzel sticks.  Sounds good, eh?

Just a heads up, I do feel like these pretzels taste better a day after you make them because the flavor gets a chance to soak in a bit overnight.  Kind of like when you make Chex Mix…you trackin’?

pretzel4

Buffalo Pretzel Sticks

  • Servings: Serves a whole crowd
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup buffalo wing sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (OR 1 tablespoon of soy sauce + 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to substitute for 2 tablespoons Worcestershire)
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 15 oz bag of pretzel sticks

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F).
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter, buffalo sauce, and Worcestershire sauce over low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Add onion powder, garlic salt, seasoned salt, and cayenne pepper to saucepan and stir.
  4. Cook mixture for 5 minutes.
  5. Empty bag of pretzels into a large bowl.
  6. Drizzle pretzels with butter sauce mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  7. Place pretzels onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Flip and stir pretzels after every 10 minutes for 30 minutes.  (3 times)
  9. Serve next to fresh cut celery, carrots, and ranch dipping sauce, if you prefer.
  10. ENJOY!

**Pretzels taste most flavorful when baked a day prior to eating.  Bake and store in a sealed container overnight.

Chili Cream Cheese Dip

dipchoice4The Broncos are playing.  Literally.  Literally right now…like, this very second.

Like, I could jump in my car and hear the screaming fans.

Like, I am wearing my Broncos jersey.

Like, I am sitting in my living room typing on my computer with shades of orange and blue in the background.

Okay, I think you get it.

I am sitting here surrounded by family members who rallied together to watch the game with hopeful hearts and plates full of food.  Good ol’ greasy football food.  My dad threw some wings on the grill.  My mom sliced up some potatoes for homemade fries.  My sister rinsed off some veggies.  I offered to make dip (mainly because I had a secret weapon that would take me less than 5 minutes to make and then I could put my feet up with everyone else).

This Chili Cream Cheese Dip is the easiest dip I have ever made.  It is absolutely addicting and it only has two ingredients!dipchoicetwo

Chili Cream Cheese Dip

  • Servings: Makes about 3 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 15 oz can of your favorite chili (beans or no beans)

What to do:

  1. Put both ingredients into a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute.
  2. Stir mixture and put back into microwave for additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Serve dip with your favorite corn chips (Fritos).
  4. Enjoy!

 

dipchoiceone

 

 

 

Low Carb (No Flour) Pancakes

use thisHappy January!

My golly, 2014 was the fastest year yet.  I cannot believe it is 2-0-1-5 already.  I feel like I was just getting used to writing 2014 on paper, and now I’m having to figure out how to change a 14 into a 15 without looking like a fool.   

I’m looking forward to this year, though.  It is going to be a good one, I just know it.  I’m hoping by the end of 2015 to have this blog loaded with yummy recipes that people are dying to try, so stay with me!  I promise it will get better, I’m still figuring things out 🙂

So…yes…it is officially January.  Sigh…January.  The month of resolution writing and weight-loss goal making and redos and start overs and all those good intentions.  Like everyone else, when January comes around in my world, my body reminds me that I’ve been overindulging for a little too long.

January is when I start to switch back to a low(er)-carb lifestyle to wean myself off the crazy sugar-filled feeding frenzies I’ve become comfortable with.  January brings a fridge full of hot dogs, lunchmeat, vegetables, eggs, and cream cheese.  With that, I’ve gotta come up with meals that are satisfying, yet still low in carbs.  I recently discovered that you can make pancakes without any sort of flour!  These Low Carb Pancakes are a great way to tame your sweet tooth and bring variety to a low carb diet.  Even if you are not trying to eat fewer carbs, this pancake recipe is absolutely gluten-free and easy! Hope you love it!

goodThis is the texture/color you are shooting for after the pancake is flipped.  You should let it cook long enough that there isn’t any wet liquid on top when you go to flip it.  After flipping, cook for another minute just to heat it through.  Don’t cook it too long, though.  They burn pretty quick and taste like burnt eggs.  I don’t know if you’ve ever burnt your eggs, but it is disgusting.  Don’t do it.IMG_5173Little stack of yum!topI got back from a quick trip to San Francisco this week and if you have ever been to San Francisco, you might recognize some of the things on my yellow coffee cup 🙂 It’s my new favorite!

potentialI crushed that entire stack with ZERO shame my friends.  Pancakes with coffee is one of my favorite meals.

SO good.  So, so, very delectably darn good.

puppancakesSomeone else wanted to try them too!

Low Carb (No Flour) Pancakes

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 (4-inch) pancakes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • packet of stevia or sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

What to do:

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend all 4 ingredients together to create a thin batter mixture .
  2. Let batter sit until bubbles are settled (this helps pancakes cook properly)
  3. While waiting on bubbles, turn stove to low-medium heat and preheat pan.
  4. Grease pan with butter. (I greased after each pancake)
  5. Add small amount of mixture to create a 4-inch pancake (pancakes will be thin)
  6. Cook pancake for about two minutes, then flip.  (Pancakes are extremely delicate. I used a metal spatula.)
  7. Top pancake stack with butter and sugar-free syrup or add your own fruit!
  8. Enjoy!

 

Notes:  The good thing about eating low carb is that you don’t have to count calories!  The entire stack of pancakes has about 3 carbs total!