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Monday, March 26, 2012

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

My daughter's school book fair happened last week, and along with that came a "book fair carnival."  The school is small, so to kick off the book fair, one of the biggest grossing events for the PTO, we hold a carnival that includes carnival games, face painting and snacks.  All of this is free, so the parents pitch in to make it a fun event for the kids.  This year, my five year old wanted to help make the snacks, and she chose chocolate covered pretzels.  These are so simple, but the kids love them!  And as a treat, they work wonderfully.  You can use whichever chocolates and toppings you like, but these sprinkles seemed festive enough for a carnival!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Makes about 24 pretzels

1 12-ounce package of chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening
24 large pretzel sticks

In a double boiler or in a small bowl over a pot with a small amount of water (the water should not touch the bowl), add the chocolate chips and the shortening.  Turn the heat on medium and stir the chocolate chips occasionally until they are completely melted, and the shortening is incorporated.  Remove from heat.  Using a spoon, ladle chocolate over about 2/3 of the pretzel, letting the excess drip off into the bowl.  Place the chocolate covered pretzel on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and scatter sprinkles on the top.  Let sit in a cool, dry spot for at least an hour to let the chocolate set.  Alternatively, you can place the tray in the refrigerator to speed up the setting.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Coconut Peanut Butter Stuffed Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies [Secret Recipe Club]

So it's Secret Recipe Club time again!  I have to say that after participating in this group for a few months, I've found that I really love it.  Being assigned a random blog to cook from each month is quite exciting, and really makes me try new things.  This month, I was assigned Angie from Big Bear's Wife, a great cook and the host (who keeps us all in line) of my group of SRCers. 

I spent a long time trying to decide what to make from her beautiful blog, but I finally settled on her Peanut Butter Stuffed Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I halved her recipe since I didn't need 12 of these babies floating around my house.  I also made my own peanut butter filling to replace the peanut butter cups since we try to steer clear of processed foods, but it was quite simple to make regardless.  The end result was fabulous--I could barely keep my daughter away from it at all stages!  I will say that I would probably make these in smaller dishes next time (I only had larger oven-proof bowls).  It's quite rich and filling, so smaller bowls would not only help your figure, but really is all you can finish in one sitting.  They are best eaten fresh from the oven...and perhaps with a big scoop of ice cream on top!

Coconut Peanut Butter Stuffed Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Big Bear's Wife
Makes 6 cookies in small bowls

Cook's Note: I used natural organic coconut peanut butter with great results.  Feel free to substitute regular peanut butter or just use peanut butter cups or eggs instead of the filling below as indicated in the original recipe if desired.

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup coconut peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Small oven-proof bowls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit.

Make the peanut butter filling: With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, mix 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter until well combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Set aside.

Make the cookie dough: With a mixer, combine the brown sugar, sugar and butter until well combined.  Add the eggs and mix until incorporated.  Add the vanilla and mix again.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda.  In small batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and mix.

Using an ice cream scoop, add one scoop of cookie dough to each bowl.  Pat it down to cover the bottom of the bowl.  Add a heaping tablespoon of the peanut butter mixture to the middle, spreading it around.  Make sure to leave about 1/4-1/2 inch border around the edge of the bowl.  Add another scoop of cookie dough to the top, and spread over the peanut butter and push gently on the edges to seal with the bottom layer of the cookie dough.

Place in the hot oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top of the cookies becomes golden brown.  Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.  Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spanish Rice and Eggs with Tomate Frito

"Yuck."  Or at least that's what my husband says every time I say I'm going to make this dish.  But hold your horses...Spanish Rice and Eggs is a little out of the ordinary, but it's delicious, warming and filling!  It takes all of about 20-30 minutes to make, and you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now.  How can you beat that?!

I learned how to make this dish when I lived in Spain.  The grandmother of the family I lived with would make this about once a week for our lunch, and I totally looked forward to that day each week like a kid looks forward to dessert.  That's how much I love this!  And to tip the scales, my daughter loves it as well.  So we have a 2 to 1 vote in our household, and I'm not inclined to count my husband's since he hasn't even tried it.  His loss. ;-)

So really, this is just rice layered with what the Spanish call "tomate frito" (fried tomato sauce) and an over-easy to -medium egg.  Go try it and let me know what you think so we can settle this family feud once and for all! 
Spanish Rice and Eggs with Tomate Frito
Serves 2

2 cups water
1 cup rice
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 15-ounce can unsalted tomato sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs

Put the water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the rice and garlic clove, cover, and simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is done.

While the rice is cooking, place the tomato sauce and olive oil in a shallow pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste and cover.  Simmer on a low heat until your rice is ready.

When the rice is done, heat a small pan and spray with cooking spray or coat with a small amount of olive oil.  Fry the eggs to your desired consistency.  (I like my whites cooked all the way through, but my yolk runny for this dish.  Once the yolk mixes with the rice and tomato sauce, it makes a delicious creamy sauce for the dish.) Top with freshly-ground pepper.

Eat immediately and sop up the sauce with crusty bread.

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