Friday, November 11, 2016

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

What do you do when you don’t feel like sitting at the computer?
These aren’t just any cookies; they are browned butter chocolate chip deliciousness that will slam all your senses.  Watch that beautiful butter melt and listen to it sizzling away.  Close your eyes and breathe in the smells coming from your kitchen.  Feel that fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie warm your soul.  And finally, sink your teeth into one of these.  Wow, that’s beyond good.
A great thing about this recipe is that it makes about 3 dozen cookies, which is good considering how quickly they’ll be gone.
1 C. unsalted butter (I used Kerrygold, but any unsalted butter is fine)
1 C. light brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (Costco has a GREAT price on vanilla!)
1 tsp. molasses (I know this is rarely used, but it will last for all of eternity in your cupboard.)
½ C. sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 ¼ C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. chocolate chips (roughly, and you can use any flavor or combo of chips)
½ C. chopped pecans (again, Costco.  During the holidays, they have a huge bag for a great price.)
Sea salt to sprinkle on top (Costco also has a good deal on this)

First, let’s get the butter going.
You’ll want to babysit this.  It isn’t something you just melt and walk away from.  I used one of my very loved cast iron pans, the smaller one.  Put 8 T. (half of your butter) into the pan on medium.  Give it a little jiggle here and there until is completely melted.  After a few minutes, it will begin to sizzle and get foamy.  Give it a swirl.  Do not walk away!  Keep watching and frequently giving it a swirl.  After about ten minutes (APPROXIMATELY.  Go by eye and smell!) the crackling will slow down.  Keep swirling!  The separated bits at the bottom of the pan are milk solids and should be golden brown and delicious (GBD.) and it will smell amazing.  Remove your pan from the heat and, if using cast iron especially, pour into a Pyrex measuring cup or bowl immediately to stop cooking.  You’re going to let this cool while you get everything else ready.

Switching gears.
In a large mixing bowl, beat your other 8 T. of butter with the brown sugar for 3-5 minutes until it is well blended.  Set a timer and do it for the time specified.  You will see a change in color and consistency.  Then beat in the vanilla and molasses.
Here’s where your browned butter jumps into the party.  You want to make sure it has cooled down completely, at least 20 minutes.  Add it into the mixture, along with the sugar and beat for 2 minutes.  Set your timer.  2 minutes.  The mixture will lighten in color and texture.  Add your one egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 minute longer.  1 minute.
In a separate bowl, sift your dry ingredients:  flour, salt and baking soda.
On low speed, beat this into the wet ingredients just until it’s incorporated.
Scrape down the bowl and add in your chips and pecans, making sure anything dry that might have been missed is mixed in.  (My last chip combo was about a cup of dark chocolate and a cup of milk chocolate chips.  Each.  See how that measurement for chips is flexible? ;)  )
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Clean up your kitchen and get the cookie sheets and parchment paper set up.  We’re heading to phase 3.
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Scoop a little smaller than golf ball sized balls of dough onto the parchment covered sheet.  You should be able to fit a dozen.  Just make sure to leave space in between so they have room to spread.  Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on top of each one.  I did a test pair- one with and one without- and that slight taste of salt on your lips does make it better.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, then remove and let cool for a minute.  Then they’ll slide right off the parchment onto a cooling rack.  Try not to eat one.  Yeah, right.
Now I know you can do two dozen at a time, but I find that you end up needing to rotate them halfway through so they cook evenly, and then you’re letting heat out of the oven and are still not going to get a consistent cookie.  Up to you.  I do one tray at a time, which also allows the other tray to cool in between batches.
Now eat them until you are sick.
A couple of notes-
You could probably freeze these.  You can probably freeze the dough.  I’ve never done either.  Just be sure that they are packed well to avoid freezer burn.  A hint for the dough (and anything else you’re freezing) is to put it into a Ziploc and flatten it.  It fits better in the freezer as well as thaws more evenly.
You can put them in an airtight container but I let ours sit on the counter (because I knew they’d be gone in a day) and they were the perfect texture.
Before Christmas, WinCo has Guittard chips for $1.88!!!
They have milk, semi-sweet, dark, and white chocolate, mint and butterscotch!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mug Brownies

So I kind of teased you with the mug brownie after my failed mug bread pudding attempt.  The brownie made everything all better. :)  It's really a simple recipe, which can be deadly, especially when the ingredients are things you'll generally have in your pantry!

I found this recipe years ago when researching egg-free goodies for our daughter who has an egg (and peanut) allergy.  I can't even tell you how many times this has been made.

Here we go.
Into a mug, mix:
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. flour
2 T. cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/4 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. flour, pinch of salt, 2 T. cocoa powder
whisk, whisk, whisk
...whisk dry ingredients.

2 T. oil
3 T. milk
whisk, whisk, whisk
...whisk wet into dry.

The chips.
Guittard chips are soooo gooood!
The milk chocolate chips (in the silver bag, front and center) are extra big.
Grab an extra bag (or more?) for nibbling!
These also go on sale for $1.88 for the holiday season.
I've been known to get a lot (ahem, a LOT) of them when they're on sale.
Guittard mint, white, butterscotch, milk or dark chocolate
Pick or mix and match
mint, white, butterscotch, milk or dark chocolate
...stir chips in.

Pop it in the microwave for
one minute and thirty seconds

It will look moist when you take it out.  Dig in a bit to see if it is done enough for you.
Add time by 10 seconds at a time, if necessary. 
Sticking a Reese's in the middle doesn't hurt.
Neither does a plop of Nutella.
Or peanut butter.

Go make one.  Now.

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What would you add?
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Bacon Serrano Deviled Eggs

Can you resist?

Are deviled eggs a football snack?  Maybe, maybe not.  They *are* easy to whip up on a Sunday for the game.

And they might be gone before the game starts.  

First things first, get those eggs going.  Put eggs in a pot of cold water, cover, bring to a boil, then shut the burner off and let sit for 12 minutes.  Rinse under cold water.

Cooking your eggs the way I described is the trick to pretty yellow yolks and easy peeling.
Now let’s make your house smell good.  Bacon time!  One pack, fry it up until crispy and set aside to drain and cool.  (There should be enough for you to steal a couple of pieces!)
The filling:
1 C. mayo
1 ½ tsp vinegar
¾ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. sugar
2 (more or less) Serrano peppers, seeded and minced
Who gets to lick the bowl?
So yeah, you can use a Jalapeno if you want it to be a bit milder, but honestly Serranos aren’t *that* much hotter, but enough to make it a bit spicier.  You’ll just have to test out peppers to see what works for you.  Maybe you’ll go nuts with a Habanero!

Peel your eggs.  It helps to do this under gently running water.  Cut them in half and put the yolks into a bowl. Set the halved whites on a clean kitchen towel, then onto a dish for filling.

Ta-da!Mash yolks and filling ingredients together to the consistency you’re happy with, then spoon into egg. (You can also throw it into a Ziploc, cut a corner off, then use like a pastry bag.  I find that the spoons are easier, less messy, and quicker.)
Sprinkle with paprika, and crumbled bacon!
You can make these the day before, cover and refrigerate.
My mind started churning while making these, thinking of all kinds of filling options!
  • Add Sriracha to the mayo mix
  • Stir in crumbled blue cheese
  • Play with different types of mustards- horseradish, Dijon, brown...

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What’s your favorite filling?
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Scones

Scone deliciousness!

Check that out.  Check THAT out.

How could you not want to sink your teeth into one of these?  I have to admit, I stayed away from scones for years because I thought they were dry and crumbly.  Then I was introduced to real scones.  Scones that were moist and delicious.  After that, I had to find the perfect recipe, and I think I did.  I knew there was a world of options for additions to the basic dough that could transform it into something special.  

My last post was about Butter Coffee.  Conveniently, a scone will gladly snuggle right up next to your mug and put a smile on your face.

Here ya go.

3 T. sugar
Zest from one lemon (optional)
2 C. flour
1 T. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 T. unsalted butter, cold (or even frozen)
1 C. heavy cream (or milk)
1 C. (ish) blueberries, frozen or fresh

Preheat oven to 400 DEGREES
Loves me some parchment paper!
Parchment paper is awesome.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add the lemon zest and sugar, and rub together with your fingertips
Add sugar and 2 T. lemon juice

Into the same bowl, SIFT flour, baking powder, salt.

flour, baking powder, salt, sift

And here comes a smarter way to prep your butter for all your baking.

Grate your butter!GRATE YOUR BUTTER.

Directly into your dry ingredients, grate your butter then gently toss it with the dry ingredients.  TOSS IT, don’t mix it.  Your butter will stay separated just like you want it!

butter, tossed, blueberries, tossed, happy!
Add the blueberries and toss so they are also covered with the dry ingredients.  (You can sub any berry you like.)

Pour the cream (or milk) and toss/fold with one hand until it starts to come together.


Dough, be gentle!

Once it is together, dump it onto a clean counter dusted with flour.  You want to form it into a circle, around 8-10 inches in diameter, then cut into 8 pieces.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake until golden, 15-20 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely.

Transfer to cooling rack and put back on the parchment-papered pan.

Baked, cooled, drizzled.  Mmm...
1 C. powdered sugar
2 T. lemon juice (use juice from lemon if you used one for zest)
SIFT the powdered sugar, then add the lemon juice.  You can mix it with your fingers!  If you want a thicker glaze, add a bit more powdered sugar.
Using your hand, drizzle glaze over the scones.

Taste test one of these and you’ll want to whip them up all the time!  Once you get the recipe down it really doesn’t take long to make, which can be dangerous ;)

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Flaky Buttery Biscuits

Tender, flaky, buttery biscuits with Venison SOS!

It’s hunting season and our son just returned from a bow hunting trip to Idaho with a deer!  Once it’s ground and seasoned, the first thing I think of is SOS.  For those who don’t already know, SOS is military slang for, ahem, shit on a shingle.  It refers to meat and gravy served over toast.  What goes with SOS?  Not toast in our house.  Instead we have fresh biscuits.  Fresh, flaky, buttery biscuits.


They’re really pretty quick to put together, and so worth it.

Keeping it real with UNSALTED butter and sea salt, along with your baking staples.The Biscuits

2 C. flour
1 T. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 C. milk

Preheat your oven to 450 DEGREES

Not cheese.
Cheese?  Nope, butter!
Sift your dry ingredients into a large bowl, then grate your butter into the bowl.  If you haven’t seen me do this before, it is exactly what it says.  It is the smartest way to incorporate cold butter without it getting warmed up and incorporated, which is bad bad bad for any biscuit, crust, or pastry!

TOSS the dry ingredients with the butter.  Do not mush it together.  That’s the whole point of grating it.
Pour in the milk and gently mix together with one hand, folding it as it comes together.

Turn out onto a floured counter top and flatten.  Now here’s the secret to those flaky layers- fold the dough in half.  Press it out and fold it again.  I do this 4-5 times.  You might need to let your dough rest if it starts bouncing back when you spread it.  Just let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  Then press your dough to about ½ to ¾ inches high and get going with those Biscuit Cutters

Cute cutters cut cute biscuits!

Place biscuits onto a baking sheet
...bake for 12 minutes, until golden on top.  Smell your house?  Oh yeah…

A few things-
·         You can butter the biscuits before baking them, or as they come out (or both I suppose!)
·         You can serve with butter and honey.
·         You can add extra sugar (a couple of tablespoons rather than teaspoons) for a yummy sweet biscuit to serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.

·          You can also freeze these.  They're almost as good as fresh when you pop them in the microwave.

What do you have with your biscuits?
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

National Coffee Day!

According to Facebook, National Coffee Day is September 29th!

We’re from Seattle.  Coffee is a way of life.  Starbucks is on every corner and there are just as many quaint neighborhood coffee shops.  Yes, I have a “usual” order, (Venti Decaf Raspberry Mocha), and I’m up for a Java Chip Frappuccino all summer long.  Not to suck the fun out of those drinks (I’ll never give them up) but they are full of sugar.  Sad face.  I’ve seen Bulletproof Coffee everywhere (not Starbucks!) but have never tried it.

There are supposed health benefits to Butter Coffee.  Let’s divide and conquer.  Ingredients are coffee (duh), coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.

Fill your mug!First, the coffee.  Caffeine has many health benefits.  There are a lot of claims and studies.  I happen to get put in check any time I have a caffeinated coffee drink and get jittery and nervous, thus my decaf Starbucks fave.  I might just have to find a way to put some caffeine into my life after seeing how it can positively affect your health.

Some of the claims are that it:
·         Prevents mouth and throat and other cancers
·         Reduces risk of stroke
·         Decreases the risk of diabetes

There’s even research that supports caffeine protecting against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

There there’s the coconut oil.

Again, so many health claims, some being:
·         Cholesterol and Heart Health
·         Reducing Inflammation and Arthritis
·         Cancer prevention
·         Memory and Brain Function
·         Digestion
·         Skin Conditions (eczema, psoriasis, dandruff)
·         Bone health
·         And, like caffeine, is said to be an Alzheimer’s Disease treatment.

Finally, butter.  I see grass fed butter as the recommendation, and there are specific reasons why.  Grass fed is much higher in Omega 3's and Vitamin K2, which is responsible for 

Pros with eating real butter:
·         Protects against arthritis
·         Good source of Vitamins A, E, and K2
·         Promotes gastrointestinal health
·         Protects against cancer
I saw a suggestion to put the drink into a blender (we have a Bullet) so you don’t end up with an oil slick floating on top.  If you can, do it!  It makes it nice and frothy

I have a huge disclaimer here that none of this is scientifically proven and I, like 99.9% of people, am going with what I find online.  Everything has its pros and cons, and I believe in having everything in moderation.

Butter Coffee
1 C. coffee
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T coconut oil

Good morning!

Have you tried Butter Coffee?
Let us know what you think!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bacon Chili Cheese Fries, anyone?

It's the foosball season!  (The it.)

I know, we're already into the 3rd week of the season, but I have the Superbowl on my mind each week, which makes me think of party food.

So many choices, but a lot of Sundays to make some good grub.

Let's make some bacon chili cheese fries, shall we?  Mmmmmm....

You have a couple of choices to make.  Homemade fries or frozen?  Homemade chili or canned?  I did homemade for both.

The fries:

potatoes, I use your standard cheapo bag of potatoes
oil, I use canola

You can peel your potatoes or not, whatever you prefer.  Cut your potatoes into the thickness of fries you like and put them in a bowl of water as you cut them.  (They'll brown if they are exposed to air.)

These can sit while you throw together a pot of chili.

The chili:

1 lb. hamburger
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
4 cans of tomato sauce, give or take (or whatever style of canned you like; crushed, diced...)
chili powder

This is really easy and shouldn't take more than maybe 10-15 minutes.

Brown your hamburger and drain.  Back into the pot it goes and dump everything else in, including a palmful (you might even add more) of chili powder, and start off slowly with the cayenne if you get my drift.  As far as the tomato sauce goes, you can add as much or little as you want to make it thicker.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste and let it simmer.

The toppings:

BACON.  Fry it until nice and crispy, then drain and crumble it.  (Might need two packs to allow for nibbling!)
Cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, colby jack...)
Sour cream

Back to the fries:

Heat the oil to 300° It will initially jump higher, but when it starts to cool down make sure you keep your temp between 325°-350°  (I know, my oil was way too hot.  I let it come down before frying.)

This is really important; with a clean dish towel, dry the potatoes batch by batch as you fry them.
water + oil = bad
The size of your pot will determine how many fries are in each batch.  For a Dutch oven you can probably put 15-20.  I used a smaller pot so I would use less oil and it could be deeper, and did around 10 fries at a time.

Fry until they're golden brown.  There's not really a time frame, just watch them.  Do not walk away!

Salt when they're on the draining rack.

Put it all together!

Create a beautiful pile of fries, chili, cheese, sour cream, cayenne, and that bacon you've been smacking your family's hands away from!

Park yourself

Some extra tips:
Extra fries can be...
fridged and microwaved, but they'll be soggy.
fridged and baked and will be less soggy.
frozen, then baked like frozen fries you'd buy from the store. (freeze separately on a tray then put in a ziploc.)

Chili leftovers are delish, but can also be frozen in individual servings or a family sized freezer ziploc.  When you put it in the freezer lay it flat so it thaws evenly later and fits better in your freezer.

Wow, now I'm really hungry.  Until next time!

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