Chocolate Chunk Deep Dish Skillet Cookie

I first got the idea for this cookie the other night when I knew I wanted to bake but couldn’t decide what. I thought, maybe chocolate chip cookies, but I didn’t really want to make chocolate chip cookies… We’ve all been there, right?

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While I toyed around with making my go-to, tried-and-true choco chip cookie recipe (my husband’s favorite) I realized I didn’t have chocolate chips. Plus, my beautiful, new cast iron skillet we got for our wedding was calling my name. I’ve made cookie cakes before so figured an extra large cookie in a skillet would be doable. I wanted to use a specific type of chocolate and only had a limited amount of sugar, so I tinkered until the dough tasted like heaven. (Yes, I do eat raw cookie dough, judge me as you will.) I also decided to photograph the whole process so it took about 5 times longer to make said cookie than it normally would have. (Side note: People – bloggers, photographers, creatives – who do these things for a living do not get enough credit. It really does take SO LONG to get the styling right and the lighting just so, and what if you spill sugar all over the counter and subsequently on the floor (asking for a friend), and then there is all of the clean-up after your done said styling and photographing and cooking…)

But I digress.

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Back to this cookie. It’s got that amazing soft, chewy, still-doughy-like quality of those cookie cakes I’ve always loved. It puffs up, turns golden brown, and the chocolate melts just the right amount but still holds up. Sean did say that he thought it could use even MORE chocolate, so I think next time I’ll use an entire bar instead of the 3/4 of a bar that I mixed in this time. I used a Lindt CLASSIC RECIPE Milk Chocolate bar  (because, duh.) I’m probably biased but it really is the best chocolate, especially if you are looking for a chocolate chip alternative.

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This skillet cookie was, in short, incredible. It could easily feed 8 people with decent-sized slices, but that didn’t stop Sean and me from polishing it off in a matter of 3 days…

So what if you’d rather not use milk chocolate? Gotcha covered – I’ve already got a few other variations of this recipe in my head, just by switching out the chocolate you use. Like, how amazing would a dark chocolate sea salt cookie skillet be? Or a truffle cookie skillet?? The possibilities are endless. For even more decadence, maybe melt some extra chocolate, drizzle it over individual cookie pieces and serve it warm and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Boom, fancy dessert done. Now excuse me while I go plan a whole dinner party around this cookie.

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Chocolate Chunk Deep Dish Skillet Cookie

Serves: 8 (or 2 over the course of 3 days…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (3.5oz) bar Lindt CLASSIC RECIPE Milk Chocolate, chopped into large chunks

How-To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until combined and fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until combined.
  4. Slowly add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Gently stir in the chocolate chunks until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  6. Place cookie dough into the cast iron skillet and spread around with clean, damp hands into an even layer. (Note: This dough is a little sticky.)
  7. Add extra chocolate chunks on top and gently press them into dough.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  9. Cool completely before slicing.

What chocolate combination would your ideal skillet cookie have?

For when you need a Pick-Me-Up…

Sometimes life gets away from us.  One minute things are completely calm and the next, you feel like you are spiraling out of control.  Nothing seems right, your heart hurts, and your stress level is sending your tear ducts into overdrive.

When my life gets like this, I usually turn to tried-and-true “me things” to make myself feel better.  Working out is one of them, dancing is another, baking rounds out the trifecta.

I’ve been feeling pretty down the past couple of days and today wasn’t any better.  So I broke out the list.  I got up early and got in a (very sweaty) workout at the gym and I have 2 hours of dance later tonight so the one thing missing from my “pick-me-up” list was baking…and only one thing came to mind.

Cookies have always been a comfort food of mine.  I’ve made these and these and even these but the recipe today is one that Stephen and I have used over and over again and we’re never disappointed.  We have the recipe printed out and we’ve used it so many times, it’s got molasses and dough smears all over it.  That’s how you know it’s a good recipe.  I wasn’t a huge fan of ginger snaps until he and I made them together – now, they are one of my favorites too.

He's bad for my cookie addiction.

Ginger snaps are one of those cookies that you probably always have the ingredients for in the house.  They have a deep, warm flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth texture… one of those “can’t have just one” type of cookies.  And they are easy to make.  It’s especially fun to take extra flour and put it all over your special someone’s face – they’ll really enjoy that, I promise.  These are perfect to give as a gift or to show that special someone how much you love them.  Or you can just come over now and have one while they are still hot… seriously… It’s worth it.

The offer to come over is still good...

Our Favorite Ginger Snaps
Courtesy of AllRecipes.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
Cinnamon-sugar (for coating)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Sift flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.  Stir to blend.

3.  Place shortening in a mixing bowl and mix until smooth.  Slowly add the white sugar while the machine is on.  Beat in the egg and then the molasses until it is all combined.

4.  In batches, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until a soft dough forms.

5.  Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls.  Coat the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

6.  Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded, about 10 minutes.  Let cool or invite that someone special over while the cookies are still hot!

Winning, Losing, Sickness, School

My team lost, it was a rough game and that’s that.  There will be no more talk of Super Bowl 2012.

Let’s talk about things that are happy or stressful.  Anything but football.  Since I’ve been away from the blog for a little while, I think this is a perfect time for an update.

School… is stressful.  I thought last semester was hard.  My fall courses were a cake walk compared to what I’m dealing with now.  One of the worst feelings in the world is when one of your professors shoots down every single idea you have for your projects.  When May 4th rolls around, you can find me doing cartwheels outside of 640 Commonwealth Avenue because after this semester, it’s smooth sailing (and flying if you’re referring to London!)

My new apartment… is amazing.  My roommates are great, it’s super convenient and I love being a 5 minute walk to the gym. 

Running… has not really been happening.  See “my health.”  I’m also still looking for a race to run this month but since Sundays are now dedicated to dance, my options have been limited.  Help!! I plan on getting back into a routine this week so hopefully that new 5K PR is in the near future.

Dance… is wonderful, albeit a huge time consumer.  Not in a bad way, just in a I-wish-I-had-more-time way.  I had to drop a night of DanceWorks Boston to free up some time for school things which was awful, but the 5 routines I’m in are going to be great.  And cardio is never a bad thing.  Last weekend, DWB even got to travel to New York City to perform in a show there.  It was a blast and dancing in NYC is always a dream come true.  That’s the “winning” aspect of this post. 

The dance I choreographed... "Hello World"

And sometimes in NYC, I put my leg in the air.

Can you find me?

My health… has been CRAP.  I got sick last Friday (of course the day I was going to NYC) and have been sick ever since.  And when I say sick, I mean it.  Gastroenteritis, norovirus.. whatever you want to call it, infultrated my body last Sunday and well, I’ll spare you the gorey details.  I managed to lose 8 pounds in 1 night if that’s any indication.  Then once that was all out of my system (literally), I caught a head cold and have been dealing with that ever since.  Good job, immune system, thanks for your hard work.

Cooking… also hasn’t really happened this week.  Between NYC and getting a sickness that didn’t make food appealing for most of the week,  I wasn’t really in the mood to cook.  I did make some delicious guilt-free piggies in a blanket and an amazing trifle for a certain football game we aren’t talking about and they were both a hit so we’ll count that as a good cooking for the week.   I want to use my crockpot at some point in the upcoming week so stay tuned!

Aren't these the cutest munchies ever? And guilt free!

Well, that’s pretty much it for now.  Next on the agenda?  Surviving this week.

Tell Me!  How has your week been?  Have you managed to avoid getting the stomach flu?  What upcoming races are you running?  What was the best thing you cooked this week?

Oh, PS – Anyone want a yummy trifle recipe?

Oreo and Brownie Trifle
Adapted from Baking Away

Mmm.. trifle...

Ingredients:
1 9×13 inch pan of fudgy brownies
2 small boxes of fat free, sugar free chocolate pudding mix
4 cups of skim milk
8 ounce container Cool Whip Free
12 ounces regular Cool Whip
18 Oreos

Make brownies and set aside to cool completely.  Mix milk with pudding powder and let chill for 30 minutes.  Then, gently fold in the 8 ounces of Cool Whip Free until there are no streaks.  Chop the oreos and set aside.

To assemble:  Lay half of the brownies in a trifle bowl followed by half of the pudding.  Sprinkle half the oreos over the pudding layer and top with half of the regular Cool Whip.  Repeat layers.  If desired, garnish the top with crushed and/or whole oreos or dark chocolate shavings.  Chill until ready to serve. 

Delicious AND beautiful!

Cranberry & Walnut Biscotti

When asked what my favorite cookie of all time is, I go through a list in my head: anise cookies, gingerbread, chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, nutella.  I could probably name 50 more that would fall into the “Best Cookie” category.  But this close to Christmas, my favorite switches from the every day cookie to one that has a special place in my heart.

The perfect cookie!

My recipe for Cranberry and Walnut Biscotti came about few years ago when I wanted to fill a cookie jar  to use as a centerpiece.  These biscotti are light and crunchy and won’t weigh you down after a big meal.  Inspired by a Food Network chef, they have become a holiday staple for my family and a frequent gift for friends.

Marie’s Cranberry & Walnut Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine, room temperature (I use Brummel ‘n Brown spread)
1 teaspoon lemon zest OR 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 eggs
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour and baking powder in a medium size bowl.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine margarine, sugar and lemon zest (or juice) until blended.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until just incorporated.

In batches, add flour mixture until blended (make sure it’s incorporated but be careful not to over mix.)  Stir in walnuts and cranberries.

Empty the dough onto the baking sheet.  Wet your hands (the dough will be sticky) and form dough into a 12-inch by 3-inch log.  Bake 40 minutes in preheated oven until golden brown.  Let sit out of the oven for 20 minutes or until cool enough to handle.

When the log is cool enough to touch, slice 1/2 inch diagonals using a sharp knife.  (A serrated knife is best.)  Arrange on same baking sheet cut side down and bake for another 15 minutes.  Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Serve with coffee, tea or a big glass of milk to dunk them in!

These keep really well so give ’em as gifts for the holidays.  It just may become the new favorite cookie in your life!

Halloween in full swing

Like I said in my last life update, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  I got my first real kiss on Halloween (I was 15), I’ve dressed up as everything from a cowgirl to a pirate, the pink Power Ranger to a Hocus Pocus witch (Mary Sanderson complete with a floor length black and red cape), and living in the town next to Salem, Massachusetts definitely has its perks in October.  Besides Christmas, Halloween is the best day of the year.

On Friday night, a few of my BU friends ventured to Lynn to the first time to eat, drink and carve pumpkins.

Yes, it is okay to be a full time graduate student, drink yummy beverages and cut faces in pumpkins.

No judging.

My pumpkin... and why yes, it does look like a 5-year-old carved this. Thanks for noticing.

I made nachos with homemade guacamole, pizza and Hungry Girl pumpkin cupcakes with my own buttercream and a candy corn garnish.  It was the casual, college kid version of a Torto dinner party.

Notice my friend Matt wearing my Harrod's apron...

My friend, Sandy’s pumpkin:

She went to art school. Doesn't count.

Saturday brought one of the laziest days I have had in while.  I relaxed most of the day with a brand new 21-year-old and watched Halloween movies (Double Double Toil & Trouble is one of the ultimate classics.)

On Saturday night, DanceWorks Boston hosted a huge Halloween party at Au Tua Nua in Boston.  My good friend and fellow DWB-er, Devlyn, and I headed to our friend Dana’s to have some wine and get ready for the party.  For my cat costume, I wore a black, high collared lace-covered dress, black heels, white lace hand gloves, a jingle heart necklace (in place of a bell), cat ears and of course, my bright yellow contacts.  I coated my eyes with liquid eyeliner and smoky black make-up.  It was pretty cool.  Almost everyone noticed, most people freaked a little.  Loved it.

Cat. 'Nuff said.

I kept my beverage intake to a minimum knowing I would have to wake up somewhat early and do my best on my third 5K: the Witch City 5K in Salem (race report on another day!)

Sunday morning’s alarm came WAY too quickly.  And as usual, I woke up to the alarm and said “WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS RACE?”  I told you I’m not super positive in the morning.  I got up, got dressed, stretched, had my pre-race toast with peanut butter, slugged some water and woke up BF who picked me up from the party on Saturday night and crashed on the couch at my house.

And sometimes he brings me pretty flowers for no reason.... I'll keep him.

The race, overall, went just okay.  Running with a friend is definitely better but my stomach was not feeling it.  It was also the coldest race I’ve done to date.  But the scenery was lovely and I finished it.  A little slower than normal, but ya “win” some, ya lose some.

Salem. Done.

Sunday also brought about some fun research.  Enough said for now.

On the baking front, I made pumpkin snickerdoodles yesterday.  I brought them to work today and everyone loves them.  They taste like pumpkin pie filling and I could’ve eaten all of the batter myself.  And I think if I neglect to post the recipe, I’ll be beaten with something.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin 'Doodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Adapted from pagespak.com

1/2 cup softened Brummel ‘n Brown margarine spread
3/4 cup Splenda/Brown Sugar mix (trust me on this one..)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground giner
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 baking sheets liberally with nonstick spray.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer (this can also be done with a hand mixer), cream together margarine and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in egg and vanilla and then the pumpkin.

3) In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger and pumpkin pie spice. 

4) In batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet until fully incorporated.

5) Drop tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake 18 minutes until set, slightly puffed but not browned.

Happy Fall!

And the winner is…..

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway!!  I was so excited to see everyone’s comments and some of your favorite foods sound amazing.  Using a random generator, I have selected a winner!  (I would post the picture of the True Number Generator that I used but I’m embarrassed to say I can’t figure out how.  Do you know?  Shoot me a comment or an e-mail and help me!)

aubreylaine | September 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm | ReplyEdit
Fave food is anything with artichoke hearts :)

CONGRATS AUBREY!

I will be sending you an e-mail at some point today and we can discuss your care package!

Everyone else, thank you again for all of your support and love over the past year.  I plan to make the second year of this little blog even better!

Peace.Love.Chocolate&Wine.

1st Blogiversary & 1st Giveaway!

Happy 1st Blogiversary Chocolate & Wine!

Is it rude to wish yourself a Happy Blogiversary?  Maybe… sorry about that.

One year ago today, I was sitting at my desk at work, searching the Internet for something to make for dinner when I decided to start this blog.  At first, it was to document recipes and photos of the food I make.  From there, it spiraled into a cornucopia of food, fitness and fun.  And I thank all of you for helping it (and me) get to where it is now.  I am more than grateful for how much support I have gotten for this blog over the last year.

For my 1st Blogiversary, I also want to do my first ever giveaway!

I love giveaways.  I follow lots of blogs that are lucky enough (and popular enough) to have companies sponsor them and send them gifts to give away to their readers.  I may not be at that point just yet (it’s coming though… any day now!), I still want to host a giveaway all my own.

So what will be included in this fabulous giveaway?  Some of my favorite things that I’m sure you will enjoy!

1) My favorite pastime.  Baking is one of my favorite things to do so I want to bake for YOU! (You see how I even made up that little rhyme? I’m good like that.)  The winner will have a choice of peanut butter blossom cookies, sugar cookies or multi-chip cookies that I will send to them.

2) My favorite peanut butter.  If you haven’t tried Better ‘n Peanut Butter, this is your chance to get a whole jar for yourself.  Warning: If you like said PB and eat the whole jar, I am not responsible. (Note: Allergic to nuts? Enter anyway and we’ll figure out an alternative together!)

3) A Favorite Book.  Let Me Eat Cake by Leslie F. Miller.  A must-read for food lovers!

4) My Favorite Chocolate.  I mean, it’s only fitting to include this.  It’ll be a surprise to the winner which chocolate I choose.

5) My Favorite Wine….Glass.  Apparently it’s frowned upon by the law to mail actual wine.  However, you will receive a pretty cool wine glass that you can pour your own wine in.  And I’ll tell you what my favorite wine is so you can go find it!

There will also be a few surprises in there that I’ll keep secret for the winner.

Who Can Enter?  Anybody!  As long as you enjoy fun, free gifts, I’d love for you to win!

PLEASE REMEMBER to include an e-mail address that you check on a regular basis in all of your comments!  It would be shame to not be able to contact the person who wins!

Ways to Win:

1) Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment telling me what your all-time favorite food and/or pastime is!

Extra Entries:

1) Follow me on Twitter (@ChocoAndWine) and tweet “I want to win @ChocoAndWine ‘s 1st Blogiversary Giveaway!” Then leave a separate comment telling me you did.

2) “Like” my page on Facebook and write me a separate comment telling me you did.

3) Sign up for Chocolate & Wine e-mails using the link on the sidebar “CRAVING MORE CHOCOLATE AND WINE?”.  Leave a separate comment telling me you did!

Good luck to everyone!  Entries can be submitted until Sunday, September 11th, 11:59pm EST. I will select the winner using a random generator and will announce who won on Monday, September 12th!

Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!  Although I’m not Irish, I usually take part in the traditions anyway.  I mean, how can you not get into the spirit when you’re a college student and there’s green beer to be had?

Well, I’m not an undergrad anymore and to be honest, I don’t like green beer at all.  But there are things about St. Patrick’s Day that I do love.  The color green is one of them, boiled cabbage is another.  But it seems that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just an excuse for a free-for-all drinking binge (which, I will not be taking part in but if you head to South Boston, you definitely won’t be alone) but its the perfect time to try out some great Irish-inspired recipes.  I have selected a few of my favorites from some fellow cooking blogs.  I hope you enjoy them!

Oh – and yes, I made St. Paddy’s Day treats for my dance rehearsal tonight.  Check back for my next post to see how pretty they turned out!

Hungry Girl’s Shamrock & Roll Shake

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Double Fudge Irish Cream Cookies

Traditional Irish Car Bomb 

Plaid St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes (Video Tutorial)

And speaking of cupcakes…. Well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

A Very Special Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day .. a day of love, happiness and…. chocolate.  Oh yeah, massive quantities of chocolate.  Of just sugar in general.  Simple deliciousness.

This year, I joined a dance company for college graduates called DanceWorks Boston.  You might be asking why this is relevant to my Valentine’s Day but I have a point, I promise.  After one of my best friends and fellow dancer got a job offer in Connecticut that she could not refuse, the director of the company was down a choreographer.  Long story short, I now have my own contemporary piece and 20 talented dancers who spent Valentine’s night from 7-8pm with me sweating in a dance studio.   Dying to make some delicious love-themed sweets, I decided to make small treat packages for each of the girls.  Hence, the inspiration for this post (and some amazing desserts.)

I searched for days trying to figure out what to make.  I just couldn’t decide… brownies, cupcakes, cookies, mini parfaits… the list of possibilities were endless.  I went back and forth, debating between red velvet and dark chocolate, maybe a big chocolate chip cookie we could all share?  I almost gave up completely.

Then, it hit me – dur, Marie, just make more than one thing and share the wealth.  Tie with some pretty ribbon, attach a (cough, Disney Princess, cough) Valentine.  Oreo Truffles, Red Velvet Cakeballs, White Chocolate-Peanut-Pretzel Bark … Perfection.

The recipes… well, I must give credit where credit is due.  I found the Oreo Truffles and the Red Velvet Cakeballs courtesy of the lovely Bakerella herself.  I may have tweaked the recipe to fit my needs, but hey… dancers don’t usually eat full-fat cream cheese.  The bark recipe came straight from Ms. Paula Deen herself and despite the fact that I NEVER make her recipes, (do I even need to explain why?), I found that this combination was the perfect amount of sweet and salty together.

First, I made the Oreo Truffles.  Pretty straight forward.  I whipped out my 14-cup food processor and pulverized a whole package (minus 7 oreos) to nothing but fine crumbs (cream filling and all).  I transferred it to a bowl and mixed it (more like mashed with the back of a large spoon) until it turned into a big ball of soft, oreo goodness.  I rolled 1-inch nuggets, let them harden in the freezer and dipped them in melted light cocoa candy melts (that I made a special trip to Joanne Fabrics for.)

Once the chocolate hardened around the oreo mixture, it was like biting into a little piece of heaven.  Out of all three things I made, I may be a little biased towards these.

Next up: White Chocolate-Peanut-Pretzel Bark.  3 steps: I melted some white chocolate chips and stirred in broken skinny pretzel pieces and lightly salted peanuts and voila! I spread it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and stuck in the fridge for 20 minutes.  The chocolate mixture hardened and I was able to break it up like a brittle.  If you have a salty-sweet tooth like me, this is the easiest and most perfect snack with the exception of maybe dipping pretzels directly into melted chocolate.

Finally, I attempted the cakeballs.  Funny enough to say, these balls are both simple, yet time consuming.  Even though the foundation is a red velvet cake mix and cream cheese frosting, I ran into difficulty when I was supposed to roll them into 1-inch balls.  The batter was simply too sticky.  Instead, I took a cookie scoop and divided the batter onto cookie sheets.  I then stuck the balls in the freezer to firm up.

Consequently, I ran into a second problem.  When attempting to roll the cake balls in melted white chocolate, the balls were so gooey they were falling apart.  I rectified the situation by spooning the melted white chocolate on top of each cakeball.  They may not have looked as pretty as Bakerella’s, but they definitely tasted great. (The ones in the picture aren’t frosted but simply covered with a thin coating of sugar.)

When it came time to pack them up, I slid a truffle, a cakeball and a few broken pieces of bark into a cellophane baggie, tied it with a red ribbon and attached the Valentines.  The girls in my rehearsal loved the treats.  I think I may try more blog-worthy recipes out on them more often!

Aren’t my dance friends pretty?

Oh – but how could I forget my amazing boyfriend?  This was our fourth Valentine’s Day together (!!!)  He is the most incredible guy I could have ever asked for.  And not to get all mushy on you, but it’s the real deal….

My gift to him: a L.L. Bean (his favorite store) rugby shirt, love dice (joke present) and a 6-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.  I wrapped them with a big red bow and a very funny card.  He loved it and the shirt fits him perfectly!

His present to me?  Something I have been wanting for practically a year; something he has taunted me with for about that long (let’s just say my Christmas present was wrapped in one of these bags but no bracelet was to be found in it…)

An “oxydized silver” Pandora … I screamed when I saw it.  He done good.

Oreo Truffles
Recipe courtesy of Bakerella

1 package Oreos
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened (I used low-fat)
White or Cocoa Candy Melts (can be found at specialty craft stores/bake shops)

Pulverize all but 7 oreos in a food processor (cream part included.)  Pour crumbs in large mixing bowl.

Add softened cream cheese and combine thoroughly.  (I used the back of a big wooden spoon until it was mostly combined, then dove in with my hands.)

Roll into individual balls at desired size.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until hardened.

Melt candy melts in the microwave according to package directions.  (Only melt a little at a time; the melted chocolate will thicken the longer it’s out.)  Drop oreo balls one at a time into chocolate and cover completely using a spoon.  Lift covered truffle out of chocolate, tap off excess against the side of the bowl and let dry completely on parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Keep refrigerated or in a cool, dry place.

One night, three hits…

The other night I decided to make 3 completely new recipes, ones I had found in some internet searching but never tried.  It was a three-course dinner the other night with recipes from three different places – an appetizer from a fellow blogger, the entree if a mere 4 points from Weight Watchers (and worth each delicious point) and the dessert, from Miss Giada di Laurentis herself. 

I must say though, of the three, I was the most disappointed in Giada’s recipe.  I wish I had taken pictures, but I forgot, of course.  More details about this in a bit.

I decided to make “Spinach Brownies” as the appetizer for a few reasons.  One, they are from a blogger whose website I visit frequently.  Jamie, the lovely young lady who writes My Baking Addiction is, to me, a culinary genius.  (Not to mention one of the most creative cupcake makers I’ve come across.)  I know the name seems a little off-putting but don’t be fooled – these things are incredible.  I decided to make them because even though my original appetizer recipe for spinach balls was a hit with my family, this recipe is much less time consuming (and definitely more delicious).  I made a few changes – her original recipe calls for bell peppers and bacon, but I think they were just as yummy.

Spinach Brownies (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
Ingredients
(10 ounce) frozen package spinach
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 onion; chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (more like a cup if you’re like me)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 8×8 inch baking dish.
2. Place spinach in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until spinach cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain thoroughly and set aside.
3. Sautee onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat until vegetables are slightly softened.
4. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and butter. Mix in spinach, onion mixture and mozzarella cheese.
5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before serving.

Next up, the entree.  While browsing my account on Weight Watchers, I was looking up healthy dinner recipes featuring ground turkey for the sole reason that I had some in my freezer and I’ve been dying to experiment with it.  Plus, I had to find some way to “hide” it well enough in flavor that my dad (who prefers fatty ground beef, obviously) would love it.  When I found this recipe, a mere 4 points a serving, I knew it was the one. 

It features some of my favorite things – the turkey, spaghetti squash (note to self, use more often!), and two types of cheese!  I was a little weary at first but as my dad took a bite and complimented me on it, I was elated.  Call it a new staple in my kitchen.  (By the way, we did tell him it was ground turkey.  Didn’t stop him from eating 2 helpings!)

Weight Watchers Italian Turkey & Spaghetti Squash Pie

  1 medium raw spaghetti squash   
  1/2 pound(s) uncooked ground turkey breast (or 1 whole pound if you’ve got it)
  2 tsp olive oil (I just use cooking spray to saute veggies)
  1 small onion, chopped   
  1 clove (medium) garlic cloveminced   
  28 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained   
  1 tsp italian seasoning, or more to taste   
  6 oz fat-free ricotta cheese (I used low fat)
  1 large egg
  1 spray cooking spray, nonstick (more if you are using it to saute)
  1/2 cup(s) shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese (yeah right – definitely

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut sides down, in a large baking dish and prick skin all over with a fork. Bake until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook turkey, stirring occasionally, in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain, remove from skillet and set aside.
  • In a same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and Italian seasoning; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add cooked turkey and simmer, stirring often, until desired consistency, about 5 minutes.
  • Place ricotta and egg in a food processor or blender; puree until smooth (or forget the gadgets and blend it with a whisk by hand)
  • Coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Remove squash from oven and increase oven temperature to 375ºF.  LET COOL OR YOU WILL BURN YOURSELF.
  • Using a fork, carefully rake stringy squash pulp from shell, separating it into strands that look like spaghetti. Arrange spaghetti squash strands in bottom and up sides of pie plate to form a crust.
  • Add ricotta cheese mixture and gently spread over squash. Pour tomato-turkey sauce over cheese mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing into 6 pieces. Yields 1 piece per serving.

And of course, my favorite part of any meal – dessert.  More specifically, Giada’s Lemon-Ricotta cookies.  Originally, I made these for a colleague at work because she requested them a while ago.  I made a half batch because really, who needs 45 cookies? 

Well, these things are awesome in theory – and the batter was pretty tasty too.  I mean, who can go wrong when you put 1/2 a container of ricotta in cookie batter?  Unfortunately, these were more like lemon-ricotta pancakes when they came out of the oven.  Even though I added the correct amount of each ingredient, I’m sad to say that the execution was a little elusive to what I was trying to achieve.  Nonetheless, I’ll save the recipe and try them again for experiment’s sake.  For Giada’s recipe, check out one of my favorite websites (that of course, doesn’t load while I am at work): www.foodnetwork.com

Overall, my three course experiment was very successful.  Next up?  Christmas – let the Season of Joy & Sweet Treats begin!