Monday, March 31, 2014

NM Cookies

I’m sure you’ve heard the urban myth of the $250 Niemen Marcus cookie recipe. For those of you that haven’t…here’s the Coles notes version.

Someone was eating a cookie at a Nieman Marcus cafĂ© and was enjoying it so much that they asked the waitress for the recipe. She said it would cost two-fifty. The person enjoying the cookie thought two dollars and fifty cents was a steal of a deal to own the recipe so they asked them to charge it to their credit card along with everything else they had already ordered. Weeks later the cookie eater was shocked to see a charge of $250 on their credit card. When they called NM to inquire they said that was the price and they couldn’t refund any of the money as that person has already seen the recipe. So the cookie eater vowed to share the recipe with the world…and here it is.

Like most urban myths I think this story is a bunch of hooey! But none the less it makes the cookie taste that much better, and is an interesting topic of discussion while you consume said cookie.

Here’s the “original” recipe.

I halved it, as it claimed to make over 100 cookies however my halved recipe only made about 2 dozen. I also left out the nuts, used milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips, along with some grated semi-sweet chocolate. I also mistakenly left out the brown sugar but they still tasted great! (In my defense I feel the ingredients are listed in a funny order)

Friday, March 28, 2014

I Heart Costco

Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. I love the deals and the awesome stuff they have, but I hate the physical act of going there. Dealing with the crowds, line ups and people leaving their carts in the middle of ales drives me crazy. But after I leave, and when I home unloading all of my goodies, I’m always happy that I went.

Here are my latest awesome Costco finds -

Box of Greeting Cards

The price of greeting cards these days is astronomical! I love sending cards but sometimes it’s hard to justify spending $6 on something someone may very well throw out. So when I saw a box of 30 cards for $16. I threw it in the cart as quick as I could. But the real excitement came when I got home and opened the box. First of all, the box is cute, secondly the box has dividers for all the different card occasions just like an old recipe card box. I love the fact that everything is organized and that I will have cards on hand for all occasions. This is such a great idea!

 Salmon Burgers

I actually heard great things about these burgers before, so when I saw them in the freezer section I figured they would be a worth a try. And boy was I right! ;) You can put them on a bun and have it like a burger, or in a wrap or on top of a salad. Anyway you choose they are tasty. Convenience also plays a big role here because you can just pop one out of the freezer and into the oven, then you are just 15 minutes away from a healthy, well-balanced meal.

Light Breakfast Sandwiches

I initially bought these for Andrew, but after trying one, I’ve started taking them for lunches. Breakfast for lunch is one of my favorite things and these are just perfect! English muffin, turkey sausage, egg whites and cheese. And only about 220 calories. I used to make my own and freeze them, but for the price these can’t be beat!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

House Guest Welcome Basket

When I went to New York with my fam years ago, we stayed with my Step Dad’s sister and she put these little welcome baskets in each room filled with snacks. I thought it was such a great idea and obviously it left a lasting impression. It made us feel welcome and was nice to have a little snack without having to raid that host’s fridge.

Next month a few of Andrew’s friends from out of town will be staying with us, so I thought I would whip a few baskets up for them. I not so secretly wish they were girls because I could totally make awesome baskets for girls filled with bath products and cozy slippers etc. But since the ones I made are for men, they mostly have junk food with a few toiletry products but either way I’m sure it will serve the purpose of making them feel welcome.

Here’s what I put in the baskets, but really the possibilities are endless!
  • Magazine
  • Face Towel
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Travel sized shave gel
  • Pringles
  • Starbucks Refresher Beverage
  • Gum
  • Chocolate Bars 
  • Candy
  • Caramel Corn
  • Licorice
  • Microwave Popcorn

Friday, March 21, 2014

Yorkshire Pudding (Popovers)

Since my mother was making a big roast beef dinner I thought I could contribute by mixing 3 ingredients together and putting it in the oven. I was fully expecting them to turn out like dense little pucks like they sometimes do. But for whatever reason they sure popped-over and puffed up. (They do fall a little once removed from the oven) Maybe it was the fact that I refrigerated the batter before baking, or the fact that we were all crowded around the oven cheering them on. Whatever the reason, they turned out great.

It’s been my experience that whether they pop or not, they are still the most amazing part of roast beef dinners. But it gives you a nice sense of satisfaction when they turn out like they’re supposed to. So if all else fails try a little encouragement! ;)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup of butter divided into 12 muffin tins

1. Whisk together the eggs, milk and flour until smooth. Store in refrigerator for a few hours or until ready to make.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, place the muffin tin with the butter in each well in the oven until the butter is melted and hot. Remove from oven and pour the batter equally into each cup.

3. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes, Reduce the heat to 250 degrees and continue baking for 20 – 25 minutes .

Makes 12 popovers

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The BEST Ever Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake…people either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. But I usually forget how much I actually enjoy it because chocolate is always my go-to. But this moist, cinnamon-y cake combined with the thick cream cheese icing is impossible to pass up.

It’s by no means a healthy cake just because it has the word “carrot” in front of it, but let’s pretend it’s slightly better for you than your average cake since you are getting a little bit of nutrients along with the copious amounts of sugar. (Who says that make believe is only for children?) J

I made this one for my Step Dad’s birthday, like me, he is a fan of carrot cake. And don’t tell him this, but this one of the easiest cakes in the whole wide world to make, which makes me love it even more!

For the Cake

  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups of carrot, grated
  • 1 – 14oz can of crushed pineapple, juice and all
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of walnuts, chopped

For the Icing

  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 2 – packages of light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 3-4 cups of icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2, 9’’ round spring form pans.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, eggs, carrot, pineapple and vanilla. Then add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients until combined.

3. Divide batter evenly into the pans. Bake for approx. 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and cakes are golden.

4. Once the cake has cooled, frost with the cream cheese icing. For the icing, beat together the butter and cream cheese, until smooth. Add in the vanilla, and then a cup of icing sugar at a time until you get the desire consistency and taste. Use icing in between the 2 cakes as well as the outside.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Maple Glazed Salmon

I'm not sure why, but I really dislike grocery shopping. Which is strange because I love shopping for everything else. Even though I'm armed with a detailed list I find the entire process very stressful. From the parking lot to maneuvering my cart around other shoppers and so on. Anyway I'm trying to justify the fact that I was so flustered during my last grocery trip that I just grabbed some fish and threw it in the cart. I didn't realize until I got home that I just spend $28 on two pieces of Salmon...whoops! But I took advantage of my mistake and made one of our favs, maple glazed salmon! For the record, this glaze is great on any priced salmon. ;)

  • 2 pieces of fresh Salmon
  • 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
  • 2 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • Seasoning salt

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with tin foil, place the salmon skin down on the foil.

2. In a small measuring cup, combine the syrup, soya sauce, garlic, and lemon juice. Pour half of the glaze over the fish. Sprinkle with seasoning salt.

3. Bake for approx 20 mins (may be more or less depending on the size of your fish) Half way through baking, pour over the remaining glaze. Continue to bake until the fish is flaky.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mint Chocolate Triple Layer Brownies

Mint & Chocolate. That's all that needs to be said. If you like that combo you will LOVE these!

Brownie (Bottom Layer)

  • ½ cup of butter
  • 1 & 1/3 cup of white sugar
  • ¾ cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sauce pan on low heat, melt the butter, and then mix in the sugar and cocoa powder. This will look a little lumpy, but don’t worry it will smooth out when the flour is added. Set aside.

3. When the mixture is warm, and not hot, mix in the vanilla and the eggs one at a time. Then add the salt and flour. Batter should be thick and smooth. Stir in chocolate chips if using, and pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Mint Layer (Middle Layer)

  • ½ cup of butter
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of mint extract
  • 1 tsp of milk
  • Few drops of green food coloring (optional)

1. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until smooth, if needed add 1 tsp of milk. Icing should be thick and smooth. Like most icings you may have to play with the measurements of milk and/or icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

2. Add in the mint extract and food coloring, mix well. Spread across the cooled brownies evenly. Place in the fridge or freezer until the chocolate layer is ready.

Chocolate Layer (Top Layer)

  • 1 ½ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup of butter

1. In a small sauce pan on low heat, melt the butter and chocolate chips until smooth. Spread on top of the mint layer, and return to fridge or freezer.

2. Once completely cooled, cut into squares.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crispy Edamame Beans

I always forget about edamame beans until I go for “sushi” (I’m using quote’s here because I don’t actually eat sushi, I just go because it sounds trendy and then eat teriyaki chicken and tempera) There, they come in their shells, lightly salted. And that’s the way I normally eat them at home. But this recipe is a nice change from the norm.

  • 1 package of frozen edamame beans, thawed & shelled
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Toss the beans with the olive oil and spread across the pan. Sprinkle with cheese and salt & pepper.

3. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is crispy and golden. Flip/stir a few times while baking. Serve Immediately.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Always a favorite in our house! And with good reason! They are a hybrid dessert between cake and cheesecake and are moist and delicious! We have even turned this recipe into a cake and served it with a dollop of whip cream.

  • 1 package of light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of min semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • ¼ cup of cocoa
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line muffin tins with paper cups. (This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes)

2. In a kitchen aid, or medium sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, egg, 1/3 cup of sugar, and 1/8 tsp of salt until smooth. Mix in the chocolate chips and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, remaining sugar and salt, cocoa, baking soda. Make a well in the center and add in the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Mix well. The batter should be thick.

4. Spoon batter into the muffin tins, about 1/3 full. Then add a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each. Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Peanut Butter, Banana & Oatmeal Cookies

I am constantly on the hunt to find new ways to use up over ripe bananas, other than the obvious classic banana bread. So when I came across a cookie recipe that called for bananas, I was intrigued. They aren’t so much a dessert cookie but I think they would be perfect to take on a hike or a road trip as a somewhat healthy snack that will give you a little boost of energy.

I also got to use one of my favorite foods which is peanut butter! As an added bonus they also have peanut butter chips! What more could you ask for in a cookie!?

  • ½ cup of smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ¾ cup of flour
  • ¾ cup of whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup of ground flax seed
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup of peanut butter chips
  • ¼ cup of raisins *optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease a large baking sheet

2. Using a Kitchen Aid or an electric mixer, cream together the peanut butter, butter and sugar. Add in the eggs vanilla and mix well. Then add the banana, baking soda and salt.

3. Mix in the flour, whole wheat flour, and flax until just combined. Stir in oat, chips and raisins.

4. Drop spoonful’s onto the baking sheet. (These don’t spread out too much so you don’t need to leave a ton of space between cookies) Bake for approx. 15 mins or until lightly browned. Remember, for moist cookies, you want to slightly under bake them. These freeze well, makes about 24 cookies.