Tag Archives: recipe

Cooking: Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

I cannot for the life of me remember where I found this recipe. My best guess is it is from Giada De Laurentiis, since quite a few of my recipes are derived from hers. I love these simple cookies, and they are perfect in a care package or as a pick-me-up. They are just the right amount of chocolate-y and just the right amount of chewy.



1 Cup (2 sticks) softened butter

1/4 C powdered sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 package mini chocolate chips

2 C flour

2/3 C Nutella

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheets.

Beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add the cinnamon and flour, then beat in the Nutella. Lastly, fold in about half the bag of mini chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, drop 12 balls of dough at a time onto the greased cookie sheets. Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack or wax paper to cool completely. With a small scoop, I get about 3 dozen cookies.



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Cooking: Foccacia

This was one of my favorite things to snack on while living in Italy. This bread is rustic, hearty, and flavorful. If it seems labor intensive, be assured it is not nearly as labor intensive as most homemade breads.


1 1/2 C warm water

1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 3/4 C all-purpose flour

5 TB extra-virgin olive oil

Desired toppings: Kosher or sea salt, dried oregano, dried rosemary, red pepper flakes, drained olives (chopped), drained sun-dried tomatoes (chopped), etc.


In a large bowl, combine 1/2 C warm water, yeast and sugar; stir to dissolve. Let stand about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 C warm water, 2 TB oil, salt, and flour, then stir to combine. Turn dough onto floured surface & knead about 7 minutes (kneading feels like it takes forever, but this step is so important and does make a difference in your foccacia’s texture!). Dough should be soft; do not add more flour. Shape dough into a ball; place in a greased, large bowl, turning dough once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap (I also through a dish towel over that) and let stand in warm place for 1 hour.

Dough should be doubled in volume! Then, and this is my favorite part, punch that dough right in the center. Lightly oil a 15.5″ by 10.5″ (inches) jelly roll pan. Pat dough into the pan, then cover again and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

With fingertips, make deep indentations about 1 inch apart over the entire surface of the dough, almost to the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with remaining 3 TB olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let it rise in warm place for 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then, add your desired toppings! I always do salt, dried rosemary, and sometimes dried oregano, because that method is extremely popular with my guinea pigs, it’s how I ate foccacia in Italy, and why mess with a great thing?



Bake foccacia on lowest oven rack until the bottom is crusty and top is lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Transfer foccacia to a wire rack to cool, but not completely. Then grab a glass of wine and enjoy this bit of comforting fabulousness.


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Cooking: Butternut Risotto

This is one of those recipes that results in the flavors of autumn. It is a “comfort food” in our home, and one of my parents’ favorite things I cook. Here is what you need:

Two cups of diced butternut squash: you will need an ice pack for your wrist after chopping up a butternut squash, unless you have an extremely sharp knife or, perhaps, an axe. I toss my squash in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it in the oven for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees. You don’t have to do this, but I like how the flavors become concentrated and the sugars are caramelized.

You also need the following: 4 cups of chicken stock/broth, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 4 or more (I always use more) of pancetta or bacon (the real, good stuff, not the thin, pre-cooked stuff), 2 medium shallots, minced, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1-1/2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice, 2 teaspoons of sage, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the chicken broth and wine in a pot and begin warming it. You want it to be hot when as you add it to the risotto, but not boiling. I like to squeeze the juice of a lemon into mine as well.

Now, Arborio is a delightfully fat & starchy rice that makes the risotto hearty. I also use it for rice puddings.

You will also need a really good, dry white wine. Please use something you would drink, people. You need to stay hydrated while you cook this marathon dish. I use my all-time favorite dry white wine, Orvieto Classico:

You’ll want to cook up your pancetta in a little olive oil until it’s awesomely crispy, then let it drain on paper towels:

Cook up your shallots until softened and add the garlic. Throw in the Arborio & squash and stir it together for about a minute, getting the rice all coated and toasted. Add one cup of the chicken stock & wine-y goodness. Stir continually, and sing softly to your risotto, if you so desire. Enjoying some of that wine will help with this.

This is the long part: continue to add the broth mixture, a ladle-full at a time. Stir continually until each ladle-full is almost completely absorbed before adding another ladle. Slowly, the rice will begin to give up its starches and your risotto will thicken and become wonderful. Near the end, the risotto should be creamy, but still “toothsome”, so you actually have some bite to it, and it isn’t just mush:

At the end, crumble the pancetta and add the sage into the risotto. Mix in the cheese and remove the pot from the heat.

Plate it up! Serve it with a nice salad and warm bread and the rest of that wine, if there is any left. If you want some nice color contrast, throw some parsley on top of it, but I don’t like green plants in my risotto, so I leave it out. Enjoy the comforting goodness!

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Having purchased my longed-for Madeleine baking pan, I finally made the delicate cookie-cakes a few days ago.  No one, on either side of the family, has ever made Madeleines, so I had no idea what to expect.  The only thing I had to go on was my memory of how incredibly delightful were the Madeleines made by the mom of my dear friend, Christine.  I carefully followed the recipe below:

2 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted, and slightly cooled

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray Madeleine pan with cooking spray or generously butter.  Using electric mixer, beat the eggs and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl just until blended.  Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and salt.  Add flour; beat just until blended.  Gradually add cooled melted butter in a steady stream, beating until just blended.

NOTE:  At this point, I freaked out a little, as my “cookie-ish” batter suddenly turned in a runnier “cakey” batter.  I tried to have a little faith in myself, and after baking the first batch, I realized that is what is supposed to happen to the batter.

Carefully spoon batter into each Madeleine indentation in the pan, like this:

Bake until puffed and browned around the edges: 6-8 minutes for small Madeleines, 14-16 minutes for large Madeleines.  Cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove each Madeleine from the pan.  Repeat the process, spraying or buttering the pan before each batch.

For a final, yummy flair, dust the cooled Madeleines with powdered sugar.  Now, my mom has this gorgeous, scalloped China plate with exquisite little blue flowers on it, and I dug it out.  See, I believe that elegant little cookie-cakes deserve an elegant presentation.

These are so light and delightful and go fabulously with black coffee or tea.  It is not possible to eat just one.

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The potato saga continues…

So, Friday was the loaded baked potato bar day at my mom’s school.  She was in charge of the baked potatoes, so she got up Friday morning and baked off 42 potatoes.  Then school was cancelled because of icy streets.  Yeah.  My family was stuck with 42 baked potatoes.  Mama made a massive pot of loaded baked potato soup, which was divine, but we cannot get through it all.  Then, she scooped out the innards of the remaining potatoes and froze the skins for loaded potato skins to enjoy during the Super Bowl, which the Colts will win.  Now, all we had left was a large bowl of potato guts, defiantly taking up too much room in the fridge.  So, yesterday I made mashed potato rolls.  Now, they aren’t the most perfect-looking rolls, but oh-my-goodness are they buttery, oh-so-soft, and delicious.

Potato Rolls

2/3 cup of granulated sugar

2/3 cup room-temperature butter

1 cup mashed potatoes (not instant; real stuff makes a difference!)

2-1/2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs

2 packages (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast

1-1/3 cups warm water, divided

6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the butter.  Add potatoes, salt and eggs.  In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 2/3 cup of the warm water; add to creamed mixture.  At this point, your batter may look strange.  Beat in 2 cups of flour and the remaining warm water.  Continue to add flour until a soft dough forms.  Shape it into a ball; do not knead.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch dough down; roll scoops of dough into balls and arrange in either 9-inch round baking pans, a greased jelly roll pan, or a glass baking dish.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Bake the rolls at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the pans to cool on wire racks.  This recipe yields about 45 rolls, depending on the size you make them.

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