Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pubbies: Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip, Pretzel, Bacon Cookies

I know, chocolate and butterscotch chips? Candied bacon and pretzels? Nonsense! But it's crazy good together. I called them Pubbies because they're macho cookies you could have with a glass of milk or a good pint of beer. My recipe calls for candied bacon. If you don't want to take that extra step, just use regular cooked (crisp) bacon. 

"A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men." 
-- Willy Wonka

Ingredients:
3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup broken mini pretzels 
1/2 cup candied, chopped bacon*
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

Directions:
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). On low speed, slowly add the beaten egg and vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture and beat until there are no more streaks of flour. Stir in the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, candied bacon and pretzels.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet; leave about 2 inches between. Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Cookies will stay light, they don't get dark golden brown. Cool for 3 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

*Candied Bacon: I cheat. I use a box of thick cut, precooked bacon. I put foil on a baking sheet, brush both sides with maple syrup and then sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top side and bake at 350F for 5-7 minutes, until brown sugar is bubbly and the bacon is glossy. Then cool and chop.

Monday, December 9, 2013

THE BEST SNICKERDOODLE COOKIES IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD

This recipe has been tested and proven using the scientific method and Valerie's Test Kitchen protocol. I have tried every Snickerdoodle recipe out there, from Betty Crocker to Ina to Martha to Pinterest. They always end up too hard, not cinnamony enough, too cakey, etc. One year, out of desperation and procrastination, I tried to dupe my friends by putting store bought sugar cookie dough in a bowl and using that. I was found out and my relentless friends, Mona and Denise, have never let me live it down.

I'm happy to say that this is it. After years of cookies fails, I've found Snickerdoodle perfection. Make these for your friends and family...and you're welcome. This one is for you, David Schott.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick Crisco Butter Flavored Baking Sticks
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

1.HEAT oven to 400°F.

2.COMBINE sugar, shortening, eggs, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended.

3.COMBINE flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Add gradually to shortening mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

4.COMBINE 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbs cinnamon in small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Pat down the ball, a bit.

5.BAKE 7 to 8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets. Place on cooling racks to cool completely.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

First, I tried Paula Deen's recipe. Then, Trisha Yearwood's. Then a neighbor's. Finally, I took what I liked from all three and a few others and made my own Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese recipe. That's the keeper.

Can I make awesome baked mac and cheese with a Bechamel and gruyere?
Yes. Do I always want that? No.


Ingredients
1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese soup
6 Tbs butter, melted
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder

1lb. (box) pasta (shells, rotini, radiatorre, etc.)
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup Italian blend cheese 

Directions
In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients EXCEPT the pasta and cheese. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Add the UNcooked pasta to the slow cooker. Pour the milk mixture over pasta, add the cheese and stir. Mixture will be soupy, but when the pasta cooks, it will absorb the fluid. 

Cook on low for 2 hours. Remove lid and stir. Cover and continue to cook on low for another 45-60 mins. Optional: before serving, top with toasted panko crumbs or crushed potato chips.