Saturday, December 8, 2007

004: Easy Holiday Cookies

Been invited to one too many cookie exchanges? Try this unique recipe for some ooh's and ahh's.

Chocolate Mint Cake Mix Cookies

1 box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup mint chips, like Hickory Farms Meltaway Mints (I use about half their bag, which is probably more than 1 cup!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix half the cake mix, softened butter, and eggs until creamy. Stir in remaining cake mix. (You may need to add 1-2 tbsp water if batter is too stiff to mix.) Mix in mint chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are set. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, October 19, 2007

003: My oven is weird.

I don't know what's wrong with my oven. My cake is perfectly done on one side, but the other side has this big raw patch on the top. It's cooked in stoneware, so it's not a problem with the pan!

Guess we'll see how it turns out in the end!

I'm making pumpkin spice cake, by the way. Really easy. Add one can of pumpkin to a spice cake mix, and omit the water. I actually added about 1/2 cup water to mine, but it really didn't need it. Bake according to package directions.

It works well if your oven cooks properly. I made pumpkin cakes like these last year! Here's some pictures:

Little pumpkins!
And more little pumpkins!

Those were made in mini bundt pans and frosted with tinted cream cheese frosting. The stems are twisted Tootsie Rolls. So cute!

Monday, October 1, 2007

002: New use for Ramen

Anyone ever tried making stir-fry with ramen noodles? It actually turns out really good! You can do it with just about any flavor noodles, plus any meats and veggies you want to use. You'll need a pretty big skillet (probably 12") or a wok to make this.

1. Cut the meat into thin strips, season with two packets from ramen packs, then stir-fry quickly, remove from heat and keep warm
2. Stir-fry any veggies you want, such as thin-cut carrots, broccoli, beansprouts, water chestnuts, snow peas - until crisp-tender
3. Add 4 packs ramen noodles, plus the other two seasoning packets, plus 4 cups water. Nestle the ramen blocks down into the water, and cover the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes or until noodles are soft
4. Add the meat back in, and stir everything up to break up the noodles and absorb the extra water. Cook a few more minutes until the meat's heated through.

And now you have a noodle skillet stir-fry!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

001: Try Something New

Being a consultant for a popular kitchen supply company, I see all sorts of recipes come and go in popularity. One of the new recipes this season was for "Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie," which didn't sound good to me at all. Jalapeño peppers and apricot jelly on cheese? No way! But I decided to try it out, and it was incredibly good. Just goes to show that a new or unusual recipe isn't always going to be what you expect.

Here's a copy of the recipe for anyone who might like to try it themselves:

Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 4-inch round (8 ounces) Brie cheese with rind, room temperature
1 loaf (16 ounces) French baguette
Vegetable oil or Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coarsely chop pecans and finely chop jalapeño. Combine jalapeño and preserves; mix well.

Cut Brie in half horizontally using a sharp knife. Place one half of Brie, cut side up, onto center of the Large Round Stone (from Pampered Chef, or you can use a cookie sheet). Spread half of the apricot mixture evenly over bottom half of Brie. Top with half of the pecans and remaining half of Brie, cut side up. Spread remaining apricot mixture over Brie; sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Using a bread knife, cut baguette on a bias into twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange baguette slices around Brie; spray with oil using the Pampered Chef Kitchen Spritzer (or use olive oil or butter-flavor cooking spray). Bake 8-10 minutes or until baguette slices are golden brown and Brie begins to soften. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

Nutrients per serving: Calories 230, Total Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrate 38 g, Protein 6 g, Sodium 400 mg, Fiber 2 g

Remember to always wear plastic gloves when working with jalapeño peppers. The juice from the peppers can create a burning sensation on the skin. Also, you can increase or decrease the "heat" of this recipe by leaving the seeds in the jalapeño or scraping them out before chopping.

For a simple garnish, slice a jalapeño pepper in half lengthwise. Brush cut surface with apricot jam. Place next to Brie before baking.