Friday, December 19, 2008

Peppermint Fudge

A quick and delicious holiday treat. You won't be able to stop eating it! Mitch and I decided to make some peppermint additions to our normal fudge for the holidays. Perfect for entertaining or holiday gifts... if you prefer more peppermint, you can put extract right in the fudge. If you prefer less, just put the crushed candy canes on top. I like to store in a brownie pan with a seal-able lid for freshness.
-3 cups sugar
-3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
-1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
-12 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chopped
-1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
-1 tsp. vanilla
-5 - 10 drops peppermint extract (optional)
-5 crushed candy canes

  1. Spray 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking oil. Set aside.
  2. Place individually wrapped candy canes between two towels. Slightly strum with a metal hammer, causing candy can chunks to form. Remove chunks from wrapper and place in a bowl to the side. Repeat with each candy cane, crushing to ensure chunks and not a powdery consistency.
  3. Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Boil 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
  5. Add chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until completely melted. Add peppermint extract (optional) and vanilla; mix well.
  6. Pour immediately into prepared pan; spread to form even layer in pan.
  7. Sprinkle candy cane chunks immediately onto fudge before it begins to set.
  8. Let stand at room temperature 4 hours or until completely cooled; cut into 1-inch squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've tried a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes--some thick and soft, some flatter and chewy, some not so good. This recipe is the BEST I've found... thanks to my sister.

I usually try to make the cookies a little bigger than normal sized (heaping spoonful). Take these cookies out of the oven at the first second you see them turning brown. And here's the trick: once the cookies are out, you must whack the cookie sheet on the top of the oven. Trust me, though it sounds weird. This will flatten out the cookies to the perfect thickness.

Also, organic flour, cane sugar, brown sugar, eggs, butter, chips, etc. make these cookies taste even better. Yum!

  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  1. Beat butter in mixer for 1 - 2 minutes until fluffy, and then add sugars. Continue beating for several minutes.
  2. While whipping sugar and butter, combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) in a separate bowl. Mix well.
  3. Add egg and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture and fully incorporate.
  4. Slowly add dry mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture. Incorporate.
  5. Add chocolate chips to mixture. (I actually like to beat the chips for a second in the mixer; it breaks some of the chips up so there are tiny pieces of chocolate throughout the cookie.)
  6. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of batter and drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. (I usually bake about 9 per sheet.)
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 - 11 minutes.
  8. Take out the second they start turning brown. Whack cookie sheet several times on top of oven. Cookies will look a bit underdone, but leave them on the tray for 5 - 10 additional minutes to finish the cooking process. Remove to a cooling rack once the bottoms are solid.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Simple and Delicious Cream Puffs

  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • (melted chocolate and confectioner's sugar, optional)

  1. Mix together vanilla instant pudding mix, cream and milk. Cover and refrigerate to set.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
  5. When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the pudding mixture, or use a pastry bag to pipe the pudding into the shells.
  6. Optional, drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meatless Manicotti

Okay, I can't take all the credit for this one, it actually came from a friend, the lovely Liz Posey Jones, but it's soooo good and super easy. One of my favorite meatless dinners!

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 carton (16 ounce) cottage cheese
1 package (10 ounce) fresh or frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained or squeezed
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
1 package manicotti shells
1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce (or use homemade!)
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375. 
Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, black pepper, spinach and Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons mixture into each uncooked manicotti shell. Pour half of tomato-basil pasta sauce into a 13x9 baking dish. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella evenly over sauce. Pour 3/4 cup water into dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375 for 1 hour or until shells are tender (I've done a little less, 53 or 55ish min has still been okay). Let stand 10 min. before serving. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Shan's own Butternut Squash Lasagna

I never measure anything when I make up recipes (or really ever for that matter!), so eyeball everything. *Tip: I love to make individual servings of lasagna and bake them each on their own plate, so servings aren’t sloppy like most lasagna. To do this, cut the noodles with kitchen shears and assemble individually in ramekins or on a bake able dish.


-1 package lasagna (I like to get the completely flat lasagna with no ugly side ridges)
-1 butternut squash
-Swiss, gruyere, or emmanthaler cheese (or all 3!)
-fresh spinach
-a little flour (for the roux)
-zest of one lemon


  1. Peel, cube, and roast squash with lots of EVOO, salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg in about a 400 degree oven until golden brown (or just taste until soft on the inside)
  2. Cook lasagna noodles.
  3. Mix about 2 -3 tablespoons of butter with a little flour to make a roux. Continue by adding cream and a handful of grated cheese, and then lemon zest for a lovely bichemel sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Whisk the whole time.
  4. Put roasted squash into a VitaMix (my favorite tool!) or a Cuisinart/food processor. Puree for a couple seconds; you want it pureed but not too smooth, so it retains some of that gourdish texture. Add more evoo if needed, and add more salt, pepper, or nutmeg also to taste.
  5. Strain lasagna noodles and pat dry.
  6. Spoon squash puree into the bottom of a lasagna dish. Layer noodles, then white sauce and spinach, then more noodles, then butternut squash, then repeat. Cover top with more grated cheeses and throw back in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is golden!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's almost Spring!

I'm wondering if anyone bakes or cooks anymore?!?! Because I spend every free second I get in the kitchen. This could explain my pants feeling tighter :)

This recipe is so, so good. It's full of fiber, taste, and color (as well as a splash of healthy fat)!

Tomato Vegetable Casserole (Thank you Giada)

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yam, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
Salt and pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons dried Italian-style bread crumbs
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the potato, yam, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Parmesan bread crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs, if desired.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas

A Megan and Dustin favorite :)

8 corn tortillas
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked & diced
1 can black beans
1 yellow onion, diced
1-10 jalapenos, seeded & diced (anaheim peppers are also good, and less spicy)
1 TBS. minced garlic
1 tsp. each coriander, cumin, chili powder

Water saute the onions; after 3 minutes add garlic. After the onions and garlic are softened, add everything else and cook down until consistency is thick.

Heat tortillas on a dry griddle, or nuke for a minute to soften. Spoon filling on tortilla in an off-center strip and roll. Smear filling on side to seal edge. Place in baking dish; seam side down. Serve with salsa verde.

So good! The extra filling also works well as a dip for chips. At least I think so :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pan Seared Halibut w/Lemon Cream Sauce

Super simple and so tasty--serve over fresh greens or rice. (And I omit the capers, but feel free to add them.)

  • 4 (8 ounce) halibut steaks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)
  1. Rinse the halibut steaks and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the halibut steaks in the butter for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir the lemon juice into the pan, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Mix in the lemon juice, then stir in the cream. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Season with parsley, basil and capers, and stir for another minute. Serve halibut with sauce spooned over it. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.