Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate raspberry pecan thumbprint cookies

These cookies are heavenly. I made them for a cookie exchange and they were a definite hit not to mention they have two kinds of chocolate; white and dark. Yum!

Pictures of the cookie making process:

The batter surprised me because it was rather crumbly but the cookies worked out fine even with the crumbliness.

Because the batter is crumbly you won't get a perfect ball and some of the batter will have a hard time sticking together. Just roll it between both palms and get it to stick together as best as you can.

The same thing goes for the pecans; just push the ball into the pecans and roll several times. The ball will probably become oblong and half the pecans won't stick but it didn't make much of a difference by the time they were baked and drizzled with chocolate.

I made my cookies double the recommended size and I ended up using a whole jar of raspberry jam. To form the cookies I used my thumbs and made some deep wells into the cookies. If the wells are too shallow when the cookies bake they rise quite a bit and don't look as pretty.

To drizzle the finished cookies with white chocolate I just used a ziplock bag filled with the white chocolate. Then I popped it in the microwave for around 30 seconds. Then I trimmed off the corner and squeezed the chocolate in lines over the cookies.

Chocolate raspberry pecan thumbprint cookies
Adapted from Cooks Country Magazine November 2010
makes 3 dozen cookies
Note: the quantities and instructions of this recipe have already been adjusted to make the size of cookie that I did. If you want to make smaller 1 inch cookies just half the recipe and it will give you three dozen.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbsn. (2 sticks) unsalted, softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups pecans toasted and chopped finely
18 tbsn. seedless raspberry jam
1 cup white chocolate chips melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. With electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

2. Place pecans in shallow dish. Roll 2 tbsn. dough into 2 inch ball, then roll in pecans pressing to adhere. Repeat with remaining dough. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baing sheets. Using fingers make a well in the middle of the balls. Fill each indentation with half a tablespoon of jam. Bake until set, about 15 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Cool five minutes on sheets, the transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

3. Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate and let sit until chocolate hardens, about 15 minutes. Cookies can be stored in air tight container at room temperature for three days.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

I found this recipe on cooking light's website around three years ago. I consider it a life changing event because it introduced me to chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce and all the amazing smoky spiciness they can impart to a recipe. If you've never tried chipotle peppers in adobo sauce give them a try.

Combine the lettuce, black beans, corn, onions and cherry tomatoes. I like to rinse the beans and corn really well and then pat them dry with a paper towel. While you're doing this throw some chicken on the grill to shred up for the salad.

Then get out your can of chipotle peppers and take one pepper out and chop it coarsely. you can puree' the rest of the peppers and freeze them in ice cube trays or you can store them in the refrigerator after removing them from the can.

Next add the chopped chipotle pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic clove, cilantro, salt, lime juice and sour cream in a bowl. You might need to add a teaspoon of water to make the dressing easier to pour.

Puree it all together in a food processer

Mix the lettuce mixture and the dressing together. I like to add avocado slices, some cheddar cheese and a few tortilla chips crumbled up. It takes it from a tasty salad to another level of deliciousness.

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad
adapted from cooking light

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup light sour cream
1 chipotle chili chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 lime juiced
1 small clove garlic minced
1/4 tsp. salt

4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped grilled chicken breast
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 avocado sliced
1/3 of a red onion finely sliced
1 can black beans
1 can sweet corn

Tortilla chips crushed
Cheddar cheese

To make dressing puree all ingredients in the dressing list together.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pioneer Woman's easy, tasty chocolate sheet cake.

This is titled at Pioneer woman's blog as "The best chocolate sheet cake ever." Around here my husband begs, "Please don't leave more than a slice or I will eat the whole thing. It's too good." I've made this cake quite a few times, it's a standby for potlucks and for my husband's birthday. I am really surprised that I have never posted about it before because it's definitely deserving of one.

I doubled the recipe because the one fault that I can find with this cake is that it's thin, too thin to really be called a cake if it's made the way the original recipe suggests. I've done it in a jelly roll pan like Pioneer woman recommends but then the frosting rolls over the edge and onto the counter. Also I prefer to have a cake with a bit more presence; if it's made with the jelly roll pan it ends up being about as thick as a brownie.

The cake below was made for a baby shower at work. I was on my second of three 12 hour shifts and I needed to make the cake for that night. I rushed in anticipation of getting at least five hours of sleep and made several mistakes that caused my cake to be domed. I fixed that by taking a serrated bread knife and cutting until the cake was mostly flat. Then I patted loose crumbs down with a spatula. After the frosting was on you couldn't even tell that I had sawed the top off. Next time I will remember to drop the cake pan a few times on the counter to help get some of the excess air bubbles out. I should also have wrapped the pan with a wet towel to help with the rounded top. Next time I'll take the extra minute to do the cake right.

My mom gave me these adorable little cake pans and I had some extra batter. I couldn't cut the sheet cake for pictures because I didn't want to look too tacky by showing up with a pre-eaten cake. So I greased the little pans and made some mini cakes for my sister in law and husband. I also used one for my cake photo shoot. I had better luck with the pans with less ridges, I suppose I didn't grease them well enough.

Before I left for work my husband confided that he hoped my sister in law wouldn't want to eat her share of the cakes I had left. When I came back the next morning I heard that they had both enjoyed their fair shares much to my husband's chagrin. Also the 9x12 cake had been devoured by my coworkers, all 9 of them. I believe everyone had at least two servings which I consider to be the ultimate compliment at a potluck.

At the risk of sounding too bossy. Make this cake! Maybe not today or tomorrow but one day. I promise you won't regret it.

You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Iranian Tomato and Cucumber Salad

The yumminess that goes into the salad, I ended up using cherry tomatoes that we had left in the refrigerator because all of the tomatoes in the picture below were mealy. I hate mealy tomatoes!

I am not a huge radish fan and I was tempted to leave them out but I am glad that I didn't. So if you are thinking of leaving them out don't do it! They give a nice bite to the salad.

Throw it all on a pretty plate and you're finished! I always love a recipe that I don't have to do much to make look nice in a photo. This didn't need a garnish or fancy camera angles. It's just a pretty, healthy and delicious salad!

You can find the recipe here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

We have a winner!

The winner of the LeCreuset casserole dish is MamaCooks! Congratulations!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One year anniversary and a celebratory giveaway!

BeckysBaking is officially one year old! It's pretty wild to realize how fast time has flown. I've learned quite a bit about baking, cooking and food photography (always use natural lights!) in only a year and I am looking forward to learning more as my blog (and I) get older.

As for the giveaway the lovely people from www.csnstores.com have asked me to do a giveaway and I couldn't wait to offer one lucky reader a freebie. CSN stores has tons of things to choose from like Rachel Ray cookware and ice cream makers.

So here's the deal, leave a comment with an email address I can contact you with and which item you would like. Easy peasy! Also for those who would like extra credit become a follower of my blog and I will give you a second entry, if you are already a follower you will get a bonus entry just for being awesome!

So here are your choices:

A Tribest Yolife Yogurt maker

or a LeCreuset 12x9.5" baking dish

This giveaway ends on August 6th, 2010 so hurry up and get your entries in!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Easy, Tasty Chicken Piccata

I modified this recipe off the March 2010 Cuisine at Home magazine. It promised to be quick and delicious, it took around 45 minutes and it was tasty so on both counts it delivered.

Chicken Piccata
modified from March 2010 Cuisine at Home

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded into cutlets
salt and black pepper
garlic powder
all purpose flour
non stick spray
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 (small)cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
slices of 2 lemons
chopped fresh parsley

Season cutlets with salt, pepper and garlic powder than dredge in flour. Coat a saute pan with nonstick spray, add vegetable oil and heat over medium high.

Saute' cutlets 3-4 minutes on one side. Flip cutlets over and saute' the other side, covered, 2-3 minutes. Transfer cutlets to a warmed platter; pour off fat from the pan.

Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup chicken broth and add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add remaining broth, lemon juice, and capers. Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side for 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to warm plates.

Finish sauce with butter and lemons. Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The pepper conundrum: easy differences between Poblano, Pasilla, and Ancho peppers

Poblano peppers

I made tamales about a month ago and I realized something was seriously awry in local grocery stores. It seems that the names Poblano, Ancho, and Pasilla are used interchangeably except they are all very different peppers and shouldn't be. I realize that if chilies were being mislabeled in Arizona then they most likely were being mislabeled in less Southwestern areas and perhaps I should write a blog about it.

Here are some easy ways to tell the peppers apart:

1. Poblano peppers are most frequently mislabeled as Pasilla. They will have a wide top and a narrow base; they will be about the size of a small female's hand. They are often dark green but can be lighter green. They are less spicy than a jalapeno and when you cut them will smell very similar to a green pepper. Even though they are low spice the seeds will still burn so wear gloves when you cut them!

2. Ancho peppers are just dried Poblano peppers. To add to the confusion they look nothing like Poblano peppers; when they are dried they are red and will need to be deseeded. The easiest way to deseed them is by taking a pair of kitchen shears and cutting off the top then removing the seeds.

3. Pasilla peppers are also dried but they are dried Chilaca chilies not Poblano; they will be a dark brown or a black and are spicy so you don't want to confuse Anchos and Pasillas!



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lemon Marmalade

About a month and a half ago I began to be gifted lots of lemons by a mysterious benefactor. I am just kidding about the mysterious benefactor but it sounds way cooler than neighbor. Anyways my lovely neighbor (the one I gave ginger cookies to in December) began dropping off bags of home grown citrus at our door. Lemons, grapefruits and tangelos all began piling up in our kitchen, we must have had 15 lbs of citrus sitting on our counters and I began hunting for things to do with them. I juiced about half of them and froze the juice in ice cube trays for future use but I didn't know what to do with the rest.

I found this recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade at www.simplyrecipes.com the only problem was that I didn't have Meyer lemons but I didn't let that deter me. I decided to attempt a half and half version of the marmalade, I purchased some Meyer lemons and I used around six regular lemons. I wasn't sure how it would work but It made some really delicious, sweet and sour marmalade. The neighbor was given several jars and he tells me that he likes the marmalade on Peanut Butter sandwiches!

I am not going to go over how to prepare the lemons and can the marmalade because Elise at simply recipes did a wonderful tutorial that I couldn't beat so go check her website out for details!

Here is the basic recipe that I used:

Meyer/Regular Lemon Marmalade

4 Meyer Lemons
6 regular Lemons
6 cups sugar
6 cups water

Follow the recipe here except when preparing the regular lemons cut off most of the peel and the pith, then cut into segments. Because most of the bitter pith and peel is removed you won't get as much peel in your marmalade as simply recipe's marmalade but it will still be tasty.

I managed to get about nine jars of marmalade out of the mixture.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We have a winner!!

The winner of the Kitrics Kitchen Scale is Darian Moone!

Thank you all for entering!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Le Creuset or Kitchen Scale giveaway!

I have a special surprise for one lucky reader's mailbox!

Their are only a few simple things you need to do to be entered, leave a comment on this entry with a few pieces of information:

1. Your first name
2. An email that I can contact you with (if you don't want to leave your email publicly in a comment you can email me it privately)
3. Which item you choose if you win

On February 22nd I will enter all of the names using a list randomizer and the reader who is number one will be chosen as the winner! Because of shipping costs this giveaway is only available for residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Here are the items to choose from:

A LeCreuset 9" casserole dish with a bonus 5" dish in Caribbean blue

or A Kitrics Stainless Steel digital kitchen scale
P.S. The kind folks from www.cookware.com have made this giveaway possible so go check their website out. They have all kinds of brand name cookware at good prices.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Arabic Cucumber Yogurt Salad

I like this dip just by itself, with pita or drizzled over veggies. It's also heavenly with hamburgers, kabobs or lamb. My Egyptian Mother in Law showed me how to make this so it's relatively authentic.

1 1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup finely diced english cucumber (or regular cucumber with the seeds removed)
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 tsp. salt
1.5 Tbsn. water
1 Tbsn. parsley for garnish

2 Tbsn. Mint finely chopped*

Mix together the first four ingredients until well combined. Add the water and mix well. The water is added to the yogurt because traditionally this is made with Leban, a thin Middle Eastern yogurt. The water helps to thin out the regular, American style yogurt to a more authentic texture. For all the calorie conscious eaters, I've made this with fat free yogurt before and it worked out well.

*The optional mint gives the salad a refreshing taste just mix it in during the first step.