Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taste Of Home

I recently purchased a magazine at the grocery store called Taste of Home Cookies. I've decided to work my way through the magazine only deviating by 1-2 cookies, but always coming back to the ones that I've skipped before moving on. Every few cookies I'll try to write up a quick blog spot and let you know what I thought.

The first cookie I started with was Nutty Butter Munchies. As the name states, these are quite nutty. They have a good, very tasty base flavor and the trick of pressing them out with a sugared glass before baking them allows the cookie to stay soft in the center but get a little crunchy around the edges. Although the batter tastes very strong of almond, the baked cookies have a nice harmony of peanut, almond, and pecan. Overall, a tasty cookie, though I can't say anything about them 'wowed' me. The reactions at work were positive, but again, no one was blown away. I'll keep this recipe in my back pocket and probably whip it out again someday, but it won't make it into my top 20.

Next up, Honey Lemon Cookies. These were actually the first cookies in the magazine, but last week I just didn't have time to get them all out of the oven, cooled and then iced. So they are finally making an appearance tonight. Off the bat what I'm not happy about with this recipe is that if you follow it exactly, then you'll be needing 3 bowls. That's a lot of dishes to clean at the end of the night. -1 point. Also, note that they do not spread out, so feel free to cram 12 of them per cookie sheet. I used a small cookie scoop so they turned out to be about 1.5" in diameter. Perfectly bite size. And now the taste test....

Chewy, a hint of honey, a bit of lemon, but ... eh. They definitely need the glaze on top, and probably two passes of glaze. The cookies themselves could use a bit more lemon, maybe double. It has potential, but again, probably won't make my top 20. I have another lemon cookie that just blows this out of the water. HERE!

Stay tuned for Chocolate Lovers Dream Cookies and Chocolate Pecan Kisses!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I've been collecting some pictures of my food creations for a few months now, but there has never been enough to make a full blog out of any one of them individually. So today I present you with Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Cake Martinis, and Graveyard Brownies.

I used to hate asparagus, but it has slowly grown on me. And really, when you wrap anything in prosciutto it gets 1000 times better! Here we have prosciutto wrapped asparagus. To make, simply blanch your asparagus in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove from water and pat dry. I like to chill mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes before working with it again. Next gather a cluster of 3 and wrap them together with a slice of prosciutto. Don't worry if the prosciutto rips, it never stays together for me. I garnished mine with a chive tie and some 18 year aged balsamic vinaigrette. I served these at a Christmas Eve dinner party and although my friends were adversed to asparagus, they enjoyed them quite a bit.

Well enough about healthy stuff, lets move onto the desserts!

I found a chocolate hazelnut icebox cake recipe on Pampered Chef a few months back. I really loved their idea for the hazelnut filling, however I wasn't too excited about their "cake." So I decided to modify a bit. Instead of using their recipe for cake I decided to put together a standard devil's food chocolate cake. I made 4 layers and filled between each layer with the hazelnut filling recipe attached. It was awesome! To make the sides all nice and straight, I froze the cake for a few hours then cut the sides with a bread knife. With the extra cake and filling I also put together some chocolate hazelnut cake martinis. Love the presentation of these!

My third food entry in this blog is something that I made just last week. Graveyard Brownies. I got this idea last halloween, but between the wedding and honeymoon I just didn't have time to make them. So a few weeks back I made up the lime green chocolate candies using a halloween mold and stuck them in the pantry. This is such a great time saver. Make the candies when you have a chance, then when you are ready to make the brownies you don't have to set aside such a large chunk of time. Now is where I confess my brownie making secret. I don't make brownies. Well, I don't make brownies from scratch. Nope, not this girl. I've never had a knack for it. What I use is the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. They are wonderful. And make sure you follow the note on the box that tells you not to over bake them! Mine came out all chewy and delicious. After they cooled I added my chocolate pieces and then crumbled up some brownie leftovers to make it look like dirt on top of the brownie. Perfect for any halloween or just your typical Tuesday in March.

Speaking of brownies. About a year ago I was at a pampered chef party in Austin and the host kept going on and on about this nylon knife that they sold which was "perfect" for cutting brownies. I've heard the story before that the best knife to cut brownies with is a plastic knife because the brownie 'gu' won't stick to it. So I though I'd give this nylon knife a try. Before I used it on brownies I used it on other desserts like butterscotch bars, and it worked great. Especially if you make your desserts in a pan that you don't want all scratched up with knife marks. So after my brownies were cooled, I thought this would be the perfect time to try out my nylon knife on brownies, you know, the whole reason I bought it.

I made my first cut, not too bad, second, eh, a little messy, and then by the third, forget it. I guess you could argue that it was less 'guey' than a metal butter knife, but I'm not sure I would say it was much better. So I grabbed my little green knife from Williams Sonoma and gave it a slice. Amazing. No mess, no 'gu', just a perfect cut. See ya nylon knife, I may bring you out for bars, but for brownies, I'm all about my little green WS knife.