Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brownie Pillow Cookies

While in High School, I worked at this cute, little bakery called, Bread Basket. Among the breads and things sold there, one of my favorite cookies were these chocolate chip cookies with a brownie in the inside. They were heavenly! I have missed them so much. Well, I went on to Bakerella, looking for something entirely different I might add, and I happened to stumble upon this recipe for Brownie Pillow Cookies. Guess what? They are exactly what I loved at Bread Basket. After trying these cookies, tonight, I definitely had a blast from the past experience happen.

These are so, so good! My family loved them, I loved them! They are winner cookies for sure. They are ginormous cookies though, so invite people over to share! I promise you will love these.
source: Bakerella

1 package brownie mix (I made homemade brownies, but I actually think a box would be better, they would be thicker. Our favorite box brand is Betty Crocker).

1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. bag miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Make brownies according to package and let cool. Cut about ten 1 inch squares. Enjoy the remaining brownies. (I used a pan about 8 X 8)

For the chocolate chip cookie dough, beat butter with a mixer until creamy.

Add brown sugar and beat until smooth.

Add eggs, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.

Add flour to butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in mini chips.

Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (I would reccommend at least 2 hours if you have the time, the dough needs to be stiff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a measuring cup to scoop batter by the 1/2 cup. Since it’s chilled, you may need to pack it with a spoon. Then use the spoon to remove the dough from the cup and place it on parchment paper. Work quickly so the dough remains chilled or either prepare one cookie at a time so the rest of the dough remains cold.

After the dough is on the parchment paper, make an indention and place a 1 inch square brownie in the center. Press the brownie down gently and work the remaining dough around the brownie. You can use your hands to shape the dough into a ball.

During this step, I found it easier to use a piece of parchment paper as a work surface since the dough can get sticky and then I used another piece of parchment paper for the baking sheet. If your dough gets too soft, you can chill the rolled dough balls for a few minutes right before baking.

Prepare six cookies at a time using a large baking sheet (15 X 20) and bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator until time to bake the second batch.

Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about ten cookies using a little less than a 1/2 cup of dough for each cookie.

If your cookies start to get too brown before they are done baking, you can place a sheet of aluminum foil over top for the last few minutes. (I didn't need to do this, mine were perfect after 18 minutes).

Coconut Chicken Salad with Warm Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

This.Is.Fantastic! The coconut breaded chicken screams summer and the salad with tomatoes and cucumbers are a nice compliment to the chicken. The dressing is yummy! The only thing I will say is, next time I make this, I will definately double the dressing recipe, Chris said his salad was too "dry."

This is really perfect, for the warmer months ahead, and they better be ahead here in MI, and I will definitely be making this again, Soon!

Note: Double the dressing recipe
Double Note: Shrimp instead of chicken would also be divine

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 3 • Serving Size: salad with 2 chicken tenders • Points: 8 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 397.6 • Fat: 11.0 g • Protein: 26.8 g • Carb: 32.5 g • Fiber: 4.4 g • Sugar: 10

6 (about 12 oz) chicken tenderloins
6 tbsp shredded coconut
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tbsp crushed cornflake crumbs
1/3 cup egg substitute or egg whites
pinch salt
olive oil spray
6 cups mixed baby greens
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 large tomato, sliced
1 small cucumber, sliced

1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white vinegar (balsamic would work too)
2 tsp dijon mustard

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine coconut flakes, panko, cornflake crumbs and salt in a bowl. Put egg whites or egg beaters in another bowl.

Lightly season chicken with salt. Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture. Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for easy cleanup. Lightly spray with olive oil spray and bake for 30 minutes turning halfway, or until chicken is cooked through.

Place 2 cups baby greens on each plate. Divide carrots, cucumber, tomato evenly between each plate. When chicken is ready slice on the diagonal and place on top of greens. Heat dressing in the microwave a few seconds and divide equally between each salad; a little over 1 tbsp each.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Asparagus and Ham Risotto

I love risotto, it is downright delicious! This is a yummy, healthy risotto that you can feel good eating and feeding to your kids. Lexi even ate this! That should tell you this really is good! It is such a perfect dinner. Yum!

adapted from

This fed Chris and I and Lex with leftovers

4 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 medium leeks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
3 ounces diced cooked ham (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used reduced fat and it was great)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.

Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water until the peas are no longer warm to the touch.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in rice; cook 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Add ham to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in peas, cheese, and pepper. Serve immediately.

NOte: The original recipe calls for 8 oz sugar snap peas, but we substituted asparagus, because my hubby does not like sugar snap peas, but either or would be fine.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Decadent Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Again from Kitchen Cafe, this pie is pure bliss! Chocolate and peanut butter are definately my favorite sweet combo, give me a reese peanut butter cup and I am in heaven. Well, this pie is like eating a huge reeses with a graham cracker crust! It is awesome! It is very rich though so a little piece goes a long way. I had to use so much self control to only eat a little piece, though. Oh, my I cannot wait to make this again. So So good.

Graham Cracker Crust:
12 to 14 whole graham crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups crumbs)
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Dark Chocolate Layer:
¾ cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Peanut Butter Mousse Filling:
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

Topping and Decoration:
Sweetened whipped cream
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter, stir until well blended. Using the palm of your hand, press the moistened crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Bake in the center of the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the crust turns lightly golden. Set the pie crust on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the chocolate layer: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust, smoothing it over the bottom and slightly up the sides. Freeze for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chocolate layer is firm.

Prepare the mousse: In a heavy medium-size saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add ½ cup milk and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the custard comes to a boil. Still whisking, boil for 1 minute until very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanut butter. Pour the mousse into the baked pie crust. Chill for 1 hour, or until firm. Before serving, decorate the pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I really should change my blog name to, Wannabe Kitchen Cafe, because I love her blog and almost cook from it exclusively. This is another amazing recipe. It was my first attempt at homemade BBQ sauce, and I think it is my last, this was so so so good! Really, it was amazing and easy to do. I do not know if I will ever buy BBQ sauce again, even my beloved, Sweet Baby Rays. We put this on our pulled pork sandwiches, which was phenomenal, but it can be used on whatever calls for BBQ sauce. make it, you will love it too, I am sure of it.

Makes about 7 cups of barbecue sauce

2 cups ketchup
2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cups unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
4 teaspoons hickory flavored liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, mix together all the wet ingredients and then add the seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it simmers (and then as it cools). I try to plan ahead and simmer for at least an hour. Use the sauce to brush onto meats the last ten minutes of grilling or for any other recipe where barbecue sauce is used.

Once cooled, the sauce can be frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator and use as needed.