Monday, January 25, 2010

A Chocolate Cherry Covered Cookie counts 333 days until Christmas 2010 and 13 days until Superbowl XLIV

Christmas comes only once a year, but there are year round celebrations to bring out a cookie tray.  Take, for instance, Superbowl XLIV.

Superbowl parties bring out friends, fun and food.  A cookie tray full of "sweet" choices is perfect for your football party.  It is a small portable treat for your guest to enjoy.  A cookie tray doesn't have to be a painstakingly difficult process if you start now.  Pick a variety of cookies that freeze well and in two weeks you will be the talk of the celebration.

Chocolate Covered Cherry cookies are unique and a "Gourmet Gin" guarantee that there won't be one left when the final score is revealed.

Gourmet Gin's Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon  vanilla
1/4 t coffee extract
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
24 maraschino cherries
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c sweetened condensed milk
(1) Preheat oven to 350 F  (2)  Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder & salt together, set aside.  (3)  With a  mixer beat the butter until softened. Add the sugar to the butter & beat until light & fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, coffee extract and coconut oil.  (4) Add the flour mixture & beat until well mixed.  (5)  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls & place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  (6) Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.  Drain the cherries reserving the juice. Remove the stems & cut the cherries in half. Place 1/2 of a cherry into the indentation in each cookie.  (7)  Bake for 10 minutes & cool on a rack.  (8)  While cookies are baking put the chocolate chips & condensed milk in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 teaspoons of the cherry juice.  Cool  (8)  Spoon 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chocolate over the top of each cherry covering it completely. (9)  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  (10)  ENJOY!! 
The coffee extract and coconut oil complement the chocolate and cherry of these cookies.  You won't taste the flavors but what you will taste is a rich decadent chewy moist flavorful cookie (I think that about covers it!)
Your Superbowl party is a great excuse to try out some new cookie recipes.  Have a mix of simple to the exotic cookies.  This Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookie is addictive.  It is not too sweet, and with a chunk of cherry is sure to be a crowd pleaser. 
Ok!  Now on to the game.  Since my beloved Cincinnati Bengals are not heading to the Superbowl this year I am rooting for the New Orleans Saints.  I can't think of anything better for a city that has been plagued with the bad luck of Hurricane Katrina.  They deserve some HAPPINESS, and something tells me that their Saints winning Superbowl XLIV is just the ticket to some long overdue contentment.  GO SAINTS!!
Have a great week and enjoy a cookie on me : -) 


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

If you give El Belle a Chocolate Chip Banana Cauliflower Muffin. . . . .

This muffin holds a secret that was NEVER EVER suppose to be revealed!

Meet my niece, El Belle.  She is a "junk food" eater.

The "Bah Humbug" hat says it all about her displeasure of healthy fare.  If it is a vegetable, she won't eat it.  If it is a wholesome dinner being served, she backs slowly away from the table.  If it is filled with fiber, she gags.  AND so on. . . .  .

Meet my baby sister (she is the one in the middle between my parents.)

Suzanne is on a mission for 2010 for her four children.  The mission is simple, less junk and more nourishing "good" for you cuisine.  This is where I come in.  I am the baker.  I am the one bringing all the treats. This is where the muffin story starts.  

This muffin held a secret in the form of cauliflower.  Yelp, cauliflower.  It was a strongly guarded secret until I told my sister. 

You see, Ellie had eaten several of my muffins and "loved" them.  She ate them for breakfast.  She nibbled on them for a snack.  They were packed in her lunch box.  Over a day's time, there were just a few left.

The other night  Ellie had declared my sister's dinner inedible! 

"Mom, can I please have one of Aunt Gin's muffins instead?" Ellie asked my sister.

"Sure, why not.  They are packed full of cauliflower," my sister mumbled.

"YUCK!"  Ellie yelled and vowed never to touch another Chocolate Chip Banana Cauliflower Muffin to her lips. 

Now, the remaining muffins sit on a plate getting more stale as the time goes by.

Gin's Chocolate Chip Banana Cauliflower Muffins

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups steamed fresh cauliflower, mashed

(1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line twelve standard muffin cups.  (2)  In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking soda.  Stir in the sugar and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.  (3)  In a mixing bowl stir together the eggs, milk, melted butter, mashed bananas and cauliflower.  All to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.  (4)  Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full.  Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top of the muffins.  (5)  Bake approximately  15-20 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan.  (6) ENJOY!  

This is an easy five-star muffin recipe that is moist and sumptuous.  The crowning touch of the muffins are the chocolate chips that rest lazily in top.   You will definitely be asked for seconds, if you can keep the secret!

Can somebody please tell me if this means spring is coming?

Have a wonderful day and a great week!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year and a simmering pot of 2010 GOOD FORTUNE

Happy 2010!

Yes, I am a “little bit” behind. The holidays have been (shall I say) hectic for me. I have one son home from college and another son looking forward to college. I have had “big” kids in and out of my house. I have simmered and stewed. I have filled backpacks with snacks. I have fed for hikes and bikes. I served fresh bread and muffins. There were cookies and cakes. I baked and they ate.

One thing that I didn’t do very much was blog. There were a couple of reasons for this lapse. (1.) I have one broken camera and one new camera. The broken camera speaks for itself. It’s broke. Mr. Picky Head insisted on buying me a new camera (that is the kind of husband he is.) This camera is beyond my wildest dreams and expectations. It is unbelievable! It is also beyond my skill level. There is a huge learning curve, but I will prevail. Now on the reason number two. (2.) When you have big hungry boys in and out of your kitchen, there is virtually no time to stop the feeding frenzy for a few photos. That is until I simmered a pot of Black-eyed Pea Soup.

Somehow this one pot of soup stopped the feeding frenzy dead in its tracks. I explained to these boys that eating black-eyed peas for the New Year represented luck. That one bowl would bring them good fortune for the months to come in 2010. Long story very short, they weren’t buying it. Out the door they went in search of fast food that would put as much distance as possible between them and my pot of Black-eyed Pea Soup. Their loss is my windfall and that is all I am going to say about that!

Gin’s 2010 Black-eyed Pea Soup

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
3 smoked ham hocks
1⁄2 stick butter
3 cups finely chopped cooked ham
1 tablespoon dried red chili pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 small bag of baby carrots, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 large bag of baby spinach or your choice of greens
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste
5 cups cooked brown rice
Chopped scallions, red onions, Sriracha Sauce and crackers for garnish


(1) Bring peas, ham hocks, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 12-qt. Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, skimming foam occasionally, until peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain peas, reserving cooking liquid and ham hocks. (2) Simmer butter in a 12-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped ham, dried red chili pepper flakes, garlic, jalapeños, carrots, onion, and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. (3) Add reserved black-eyed peas, ham hocks, reserved cooking liquid, along with chicken broth and 8 cups of water. (4) Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1/2 hour. (5) Remove ham hocks. Add spinach and cook until done. (6) Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon rice into bowls and ladle soup over rice. Garnish to your taste. (7) ENJOY!

I believe in positive thinking so I am saying 2010 is going to be a great year.