Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hawaiian Haystacks

This dinner is so easy to make and is a big hit at our house. It's definitely one we keep as a staple.

Rice (I used 2 cups uncooked and it was perfect for the 4 of us)
Chicken, shredded (I used about 3 breasts)
Chicken gravy (I used a mix and made about 3 cups worth)
Shredded cheese
Canned pineapple or pineapple bits
Canned mandarin oranges
Crunchy chow mein or rice noodles (I like the rice noodles better because they're smaller and I love the texture)
Green onions, chopped (I didn't use these this time but Ryan said he would have loved these on top)

Cook the rice. Put the chicken in a pan of shallow water, cover, and boil until cooked. Put the cooked chicken on a plate and break apart (or shred) using two forks. Salt and pepper chicken to taste. Make the gravy. Serve everything buffet style so people can pick and choose what toppings to add to their haystacks.

My parents used to serve this with broccoli as a topping as well. I love this dish because you can be so creative and use whatever toppings you like. Yum!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cookie Tips

I have been doing a couple of things differently with my cookies lately, and they've been turning out consistently better. So here are some tips for chocolate chip:

Soften your butter at room temperature rather than melting it in the microwave. If you need to pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds just to get it a little softer it seems to work fine, but going from frozen to melted in a minute (something I was doing) does not give you the best results. (With cookie bars this doesn't seem to matter as much. You can microwave your butter and the bars are fine.)

Add almost three cups of flour. Not quite 3, as I think that's too much, but closer to 3 c than 2 1/2. At 2 1/2 your cookies will probably not have enough and be too flat.

To spruce up your chocolate chip recipe, add M&M's, mini M&M's, or peanut butter chips to your regular semisweet chips.

Dough refrigerates well. I've been making a batch of dough, only baking one tray, and then doing another tray each day for the next several days. That way we have fresh, warm cookies whenever we want them instead of a huge batch sitting around getting stale on the counter. You can let the dough thaw on the counter for 15-30 minutes and it should be good to go. I roll my dough into balls with my hands to get a nice round cookie.

Pull the cookies out of the oven just before they look done to you, and let them finish baking for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts. It's a process, perfecting cookies, and a yummy one at that!

Click here for my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Happy baking!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwich Suggestion

I have always made chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches with a vanilla-based ice cream. Maybe vanilla, maybe chocolate chip cookie dough, or cookies n' cream...something like that. But the other day all I had was mint chocolate chip so we used that, and they were SO GOOD! I like to look at another recipe blog called Stephanie's Kitchen, and she does a lot with chocolate and mint. I am usually not a fan of mint, but I loved these little ice cream sandwiches (and so did Grayson). These are to die for when the cookies are still warm and gooey right out of the oven.

Apple Sour Cream Cake

After baking:

Before baking:

I made this recently with a recipe from The recipe says to spread the batter into 2 round cake pans, but I wanted to use a 9x13. I put all the batter in and it did not come even close to filling the whole thing. So I ended up tripling the recipe to fill a 9x13. I'll post the tripled recipe here.

We liked this cake. It had a coffee-cake taste and feel, with a dense cake and a cinnamon-sugar top. You can't really taste the sour cream, but it makes the top stay nice and moist. I shared some with friends and they dunked the cake in hot chocolate.

3 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp)
3-4 apples, peeled and cored
3 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
3 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c sugar, for sprinkling

Allow butter to sit at room temp for about 15 minutes, or until it softens slightly but retains its shape and is not oily or soft. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wipe a 9x13 pan with melted butter or oil; dust lightly and evenly with flour and tap our the excess.

Peel and core two apples. Slice into thin, round slices.

In a large bowl, stir together baking powder and flour. Crumble the butter into the flour (using your hands) and stir until a lumpy mixture is obtained.

In a separate bowl beat the egg, gradually adding the 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the vanilla and milk and stir in.

Mix together the contents of both bowls and stir until thick.

Transfer batter to pan. Place apple slices on top of batter. Using a spatula, cover entire cake with a thin layer of sour cream and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Serve with milk or ice cream. (My note: This is yummy warm out of the oven or warmed up in the microwave the next day!)