Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't say I never gave you anything...

       Truth be told I have not been looking forward to writing this blog. I, like other humans can be selfish, ha! But I can no longer keep it a secret. I am revealing my famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. 
I truly started this venture in high school and just last year found the perfect combination. I started with a recipe that came out great and was simple to make. Then I slowly perfected it and combined my love for depth of flavor and texture. The thing about this cookie isn't super secret, I think I love it so much because it comes out perfect every time. Even the Toll House recipe can't do that and just a note to Toll House, you don't use enough flour in your recipe, the cookies are flat!!!!

And waiting, and waiting...

Now you have a good reason to never buy the roll of dough at the store or go to a party empty handed. I have been know to give these out for a gift and I don't hear anyone complaining. 

So now it comes down to this, I am letting go. I hope I make some of you very happy!

I could eat this right out of the bowl!

Tally's Cookies
3/4 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter and 4 tablespoons softened to room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2-3/4 cups flour *
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

* depending on your location you might need to use just the 2 1/2 cups of flour but if the dough looks really loose and sticky add more until is gets to a soft play dough texture.

Put sugars and butter in a bowl and mix on med until light and fluffy. Slowly add each egg, vanilla and coffee. In a separate bowl add all your dry ingredients together just not the chips, and run a whisk through it to combine all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until well blended and has a soft play dough like texture. Now add your chocolate chips and if you choose nuts or toffee bits. You will scoop tablespoon size balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350. These cookies are more cakey, so they will get big and fluffy and you want them to look golden brown. Cool them down and try not to eat the whole batch too fast!!!

wrapped for a gift

That wasn't as bad as I thought!!!!! All jokes aside I want you to enjoy spending time with your family making these and devouring them before the secrets out! 

Please let me know in comments if you make them and how you think they came out. 

God Speed

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tostada Casserole

I'm a huge fan of Mexican food and love when you can take a dish and make it healthier than it's classic version. I know Tostada Casserole isn't an authentic Mexican dish, but it's principles can be used for burritos, tacos, tostadas, etc. This is one of the best dishes I've ever had or made! Even my wife said the same thing. I went vegetarian on this dish, but you could easily throw in your favorite meat as well. This is a very basic dish that makes a lot.

This recipe calls for pre-cooked pinto beans. If you don't know how to make them, see my recipe at bottom. They're so easy and delicious, there's no reason to buy canned beans! Take out about 2 cups of cooked beans, mash them, drain of excess juice and  and set aside to add to casserole in a few...

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You want to start by grabbing 12 corn tortillas and a 12" casserole dish. Then start prep by dicing 1/2 of a white onion, mince three cloves of garlic, chop 1/2 bunch of cilantro, dice two tomatoes, quarter three tomatillos and slice one package of extra firm tofu into  1" squares. Your prepping is ready, time to cook!

Heat a large skillet or wok with a couple tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat and add in onion, tofu, and garlic. Add in a pinch of pepper, teaspoon of salt, and two tablespoons of Taco Seasoning. Saute those for about five to ten minutes until they start to brown then add in tomatillos. You want them to cook a little to kill the bitterness, but not too much or they'll turn to mush in the casserole. After adding tomatillos cook mixture for another 5 minutes or so until tomatillos start to brown.Once mixture is cooked set aside four quarters of tomatillos to top casserole with.

Tofu, onion & garlic sauteing

When that's finishing up you can pour a thin layer of green enchilada sauce in bottom of casserole dish. I use a 10 oz. can of Las Palmas Medium Green Enchilada sauce for entire dish. You can use red enchilada sauce, but green compliments the tomatillos well. Now put four corn tortillas on top of thin layer of enchilada sauce. Top those with a layer of beans, cooked tofu mixture and a sprinkling of tomatoes and cilantro.

Layer 1

Now layer another four tortillas and a layer of enchilada sauce and repeat for a second layer with beans, tofu mixture, tomatoes, and cilantro. This should be the remainder of your mixture, besides the tomatillos you set aside earlier.

Final layer of tortillas with sauce poured over tomatillos, ready for oven!

The last layer is four more tortillas and a tomatillo quarter for top of each one then pour remaining enchilada sauce all over top. Drown that casserole, the more sauce the tastier it will be. Now cover in foil and cook in over for 40 minutes. Sit down, relax, have a Pacifico with lime and wait for your delicious casserole to cook. Enjoy!

The finished masterpiece, it's a mouthful!

Pinto Bean Recipe
Take 2 cups of dry pinto beans (rinsed)
Add them to crock pot with 10 cups of water
Add half a white onion diced
Add four cloves of garlic minced
Add 2 tbsp. of salt
Cook on high for a few hours until beans are tender and water turns same color brown as beans.
If you'd like to spice them up a bit, dice a jalapeno or serrano chile and add to beans in beginning!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quick Pseudo Paninis

It's been a hectic but great week. The kids finished school on Friday, yipee! And last Sunday through Tuesday we went camping up in Malibu and had an amazing family getaway. Yesterday I realized I have been in a cooking slump because I haven't been able to go grocery shopping since we came home. I needed to work with what we had in the house and it was rolls, provolone and sliced turkey meat, so in my brain the light bulb clicked, PANINIS!!!! I had Dominic wrap bricks from the backyard up in foil and placed the sandwiches on the grill with a plate over and bricks on top and you have a cheap style panini grill. Also while we are on the talk of grocery shopping I have stumbled across this free template for a grocery list online, smart shoppers click here, I tested it today and it was really helpful and I didn't over buy which is huge for me! 

So tonight we reused that mechanism for flat bread paninis. Again I already had flat bread which is a must to have all the time and some chicken breast frozen so it was a done deal. My mom has this great indoor grill pan so we used that, but if you can throw them on the Bar B, more power to ya! I have a slight fear of propane (not sure why) so I like Lee to start the grill but he was working. 
I was so hungry I almost forgot to take a picture so it's half eaten!

I also had time to throw in some garlic to roast in the over for future endeavours throughout the week and this is how you can do it: 

Garlic Loves Lovers     (I think I made a new bumper sticker)
Take a whole head of garlic still in the skin and cut the top off so you expose the bottom 3/4 of the cloves, place it on some foil and drizzle olive oil on the whole thing. Wrap it up in the foil and bake for 45 min at 350. The aroma is amazing and you can use it to add to dressings, rub on toasted bread and add to homemade hummus. The possibilities are endless. 

Bricks on Sandwich, who knew!

Cabinet Staple Panini
Sliced Roasted chicken breast- about 4-6 slices per sandwich
2 Tablespoons marinara sauce per sandwich
Fresh mozzarella sliced- about 3 on each slice of flat bread
1 whole flat bread sliced in half- I used whole wheat- Per person
any other toppings you like

The only trick I realized it to make sure the cheese isn't hanging out the sides because it squeezes out. Also make sure you put cheese on each of the sides of flat bread so it has something to stick to. You have two half moons for each sandwich so lay the toppings out on each side both sides getting equal amounts of chicken, marinara, cheeses and anything else. Place the two sides together and slap it on the grill with a flat plate on top and one or two foiled bricks on top, this is where the squeezing comes in. I used olive oil on my pan but you can use Pam on the grill to make sure it doesn't stick. Now enjoy!

Also if you are looking to prepare some chicken ahead of time I used this roasted chicken recipe to make ahead, slice and store for when I need it. 

Chicken breast, Bone-in, Skin-on 
Good olive oil
Salt and pepper
 Preheat oven at 350. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool.Cut off the bone and discard skin and bone and slice to your preference.

Have a Blessed week, I hope we will now that summertime has finally come!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Steak Heaven

I recently I had a hankering for Steak. I truly have these visions a few days before I make them, and luckily my family goes along with the whim. So here's the vision: steak sliced thin on flat bread with a creamy garlic sauce, some simple toppings and look out!!!!! We served ours with baked sweet potatoes and a simple salad.

We also got to enjoy the company of my brother and sister-in-law for a few day and they threw some veggie polish sausages on the grill and topped with the sauce. The did look tempting but the carnivore vision had to be fulfilled.
Too big to bite into like a normal person, check!

Steak Sandwich Dream

2 lbs. good quality grilling Beef, we used top sirloin
1 cup Yoshida's Teriyaki marinade
salt and pepper the meat to the way you like
1 whole onion sliced thick
avocados slices
sliced tomatoes
chopped cilantro
lettuce for topping

Put the steak into a covered bowl or large zip-lock and pour the teriyaki marinade over, we let it set for most of the day but I think 1-2 hours would do. Throw the meat on the grill and cook to a medium temperature, pink in the middle. Also put the onions on the grill until they get nice grill marks on them and are slightly translucent. The flat bread should be put on last and only takes 5 minutes or so to get toasty and warm. After letting the meat rest with a piece of foil on top for 10 minutes you can slice the meat thin. Now put it all together, put your meat on the flat bread, drizzle the garlic sauce on top of meat and top with all the extra fixins' you like. YUM!

My Bro at the grill, He's a Pro

Garlic Fantastic Sauce

8 cloves of fresh garlic peeled- if you just want a hint use 4 cloves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
 2-4 tablespoons olive oil-start with just 2 first
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper

Here is the tricky part... Drop all the ingredients into a blender or food processor until well mixed! Whoa-la!! If the mixture is too thick add the last one or two tablespoons of olive oil. The texture should be like a thin salad dressing.

I hope this makes your dreams come true because mine sure did! Have fun!