Monday, April 25, 2016

Browned Butter Blondies with Toasted Pecans

YES - I am on a huge "browning butter" kick!  I can't believe how "browning butter" totally enhances the flavor of cookies and bars.  Please try it if you haven't!  You will be hooked too.

Most cookie/bar recipes call for two sticks of butter.  I brown one stick over medium high heat for 3 - 5 minutes.  Stir constantly as the butter will also quickly burn.  You just want the butter to turn to a nice golden consistency.

If you need just "softened" butter for your recipe, add the browned butter to the other stick of butter and whisk together.  You can refrigerate for a bit to reach your "softened"  consistency.

With these blondies, I just whisked the two together and went with that texture.  It worked out great!

My husband LOVED these bars.  I made several desserts last week for the teachers at preschool for our Teacher Appreciation week.  Chris kept asking me if there were extra Blondies!  I did save a few for him!

I like Blondies for several reasons....1.   I always have the ingredients on hand and.....2.  you can totally change a Blondie by adding toffee pieces, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips... or whatever sounds good to you.  I would love dried cherries , mini chocolate chips and almonds.

Browned Butter Blondies with Toasted Pecans

2 sticks butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 with cooking spray or line the pan with parchment paper.

Put one stick of butter in large mixing bowl.  Melt the other stick in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring constantly for 3 - 5 minutes.  Watch carefully so not to burn butter.  Butter will turn a nice golden brown and have a nutty aroma.  Pour browned butter over the other stick of butter - using a whisk or fork to mix together.  This is a thick dough - might be easier with a mixer.  Add dark brown sugar, mixing well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each.  Add vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Add toasted pecans and gently mix until pecans are dispersed throughout the thick dough.  Pat mixture into a prepared 9 x 13 pan.  I like to sprinkle lightly with white sugar.  Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes.  **Please do not overcook.  I check my bars at 18 minutes  - see if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Enjoy!!

Printable Version

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pesto Chicken and Rice

I feel like I have only been sharing desserts lately.  I like to bake!!

A teacher at preschool knows I love pesto.  She gave me this recipe yesterday and I made it last night.  I had everything on hand but the cream... so I made a quick stop at the store.  I keep the large jar of pesto and the large jar of Parmesan ... from Costco.. on hand.  I had some basmati rice so I went to town.  It was quick and easy.  I even used the thin frozen chicken breasts from Costco - didn't thaw them out!!  Great new recipe!!

Pesto Chicken and Rice Casserole (adapted from Lauren's Latest)

1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
6 Tbsp prepared pesto, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
salt/pepper to taste
2 1/4 cups chicken stock/broth
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 Tbsp heavy cream
Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour rice in the pan and top with 1/2 cup cheese, 4 Tbsp pesto and then chicken breasts.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour chicken stock/broth over all ingredients and gently stir to even out the rice underneath the chicken.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  Check at 45 minutes.  When rice is done and chicken is cooked, remove chicken from baking dish and shred or cut into large pieces. Add chicken back in and stir in cream, remaining pesto, 3/4 of the diced tomatoes.  Spoon onto plates and top with diced tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  4 servings

Printable Version

Monday, April 4, 2016

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chunk Cookies - Totally Amazing!

I know not everyone loves social media.  With all three of our girls at college in Texas, I LOVE Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat!  I love connecting with my girls and their world.

I have been following a few great food bloggers on Instagram.  I enjoy reading the cookie recipes on Baker By Nature.  She really puts extra effort into her cookies and they all look fabulous.  I love how she takes a look at her cookies a couple of minutes before being done... and adds a few chocolate chips.... or M & Ms or whatever to the top of the cookie.... and puts them back in the oven to finish baking.  This helps to make the cookies look extra fabulous!

I chose to make her Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies for a party this past weekend.  They were simply amazing!

I have read many reviews on how "browned butter" adds so much flavor to a cookie, dessert.  I totally agreed.... I am sold.

I did go the extra mile with these cookies... but it was so worth it!!

Please visit Ashley at Baker by Nature - you will love it  - and learn a lot too!

 **Ashley at Baker by Nature made 2 dozen cookies.  I cut my caramels in half and made more cookies.  I needed more for an event.

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chunk Cookies (adapted from Baker by Nature)

2 sticks salted butter
20 semi-soft salted caramel candies (used Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel salted caramels)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt, kosher salt or table salt
1 cup + 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
Maldon sea salt flakes for garnish (click link to find)

Place both sticks of butter into a small saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir constantly.  The mixture will foam, turn an amber color and will take on a slightly nutty aroma.  The browned butter will have lots of yummy brown bits. Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator for about a hour or so.  **You'll know the butter is room temperature when you press a finger into the top and it makes a slight indention

While the butter is cooling, unwrap all of the caramels.  **I cut my caramels in half to make more cookies.  Put the caramels in the freezer until needed.

Once the butter is at room temperature, preheat your oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper;  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt - set aside.  Combine the brown butter, sugars, vanilla in a bowl.  Using a mixer, beat on medium-high until light and fluffy - about two minutes.  Reduce to medium and add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Let mixture rest for 5 minutes.  Gently fold in flour mixture with a rubber spatula, stirring until all of the flour is gone.  Fold in chocolate chunks.

Take a few caramels out of the freezer, pat enough dough around caramel half to seal in the caramel. Make sure the caramel is sealed in the middle so it doesn't leak out.  Pour some flaky sea salt into a bowl.  Tap the top of the sealed dough ball into the salt.   Place the golf ball size cookie ball on a baking sheet.  Put cookies in a preheated oven and bake for about 8 - 10 minutes.  Edges will be slightly brown but soft in the middle.  Allow cookies to cool five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

**I peeked at my cookies at 7 minutes and topped them with a few more chocolate chunks so they would look as good as they taste - then finished baking

Printable Version