Cookies with a Twist

One of my first friends in Kansas City was Megan. Like me, she was an old soul in a young body. We met while working on our Masters degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. We also had a lot of fun exploring the city – dinners, plays, and concerts. Megan is so talented and has taught me so many things. I also owe the start of my nonprofit career to this lady. She helped me make a resume that visually popped. Her networking skills also helped me find my first nonprofit job as a grant writer. That job was one of the best teams I’ve ever worked on and a few of those fantastic women are still dear friends.

Megan is Martha Stewart. Not only is she an amazing cook but she and her husband are also master gardeners. They have turned their passion for gardening into a full-scale Kansas agri-business. If you are close, visit their Next to Nature booth on a Saturday morning at the Bonner Springs Farmers Market. They have everything from fresh seasonal produce to products made from honey. I love watching their business adventures on Facebook.

Megan_weddingI was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid for Megan and Chad’s wedding. Like all weddings, they had a hiccup right before their big day. Less than a week before their big day, the building where they were going to have their wedding reception was hit by a car. The good news is that structural engineers determined it was still safe to remain open. Their wedding end up going off without a hitch. And nine years later, they are still happily married.

For our wedding, Megan shared this recipe. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. Orange and chocolate chips? Sure, I’ve seen chocolate covered orange slices but I’ve never eaten them. But I trusted Megan. She’s Martha Stewart, right. I have to tell you, these cookies were so good I wish I had made a larger batch. I hope you love these super soft cookies as much as I did.

Orange Chocolate Chippers by Megan Gilliland
IMG_01601 c. shortening
1 – 3 oz. package of cream cheese
2 T. grated orange peel
2 c. flour
1 (6 oz.) package of chocolate chips
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt

Cream together shortening, sugar, and cream cheese. Add eggs, orange peel, and vanilla. Shift together salt and flour. Then, add to mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool and remove. Makes 4 dozen.

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Hash Brown Lasagna

My mother-in-law is the queen of biscuits and gravy. Nobody can even compete with her recipe. It sounds like she has been perfecting it over the last 30 years. I saw this recipe and wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about it. I made this delicious Biscuits and Gravy Casserole dish from an old coworker. He told me the jar country gravy was “too salty”. For this recipe, I made the McCormick Country Gravy. I think he was ok with this gravy in a dish that is very different than his mother’s original. We did like this dish but I think I like a few other breakfast recipes better like Breakfast Sliders, Weight Watchers Breakfast Quiche, Mini Maple Bacon Rolls, Creamy Biscuits, or Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Ring.

Hash Brown Lasagna from Pinterest
img_00341/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
shredded hash brown potatoes
salt and pepper
sausage crumbles
bacon
cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
McCormick Country Gravy packet prepared
1 Tsp. butter, melted

Bake bacon in the over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cook sausage according to package.

In the meantime, pour gravy packet into a medium pan. Slowly pour two cups of milk over mix while whisking. Cook over a medium heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Then, reduce your to low and simmer for 1 minute.

Spray 8 x 8 pan. In a bowl, mix hash browns, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and eggs. Pour half of mixture into pan and even out. Top with a layer of cheese, gravy, and meats. Repeat with other cheese, gravy, and meats. Top with remaining remaining hash browns. Pour melted butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.

Notes:

  • I used a 13 x 9 pan because it appeared to be too much for the pan.
  • I used skim milk to prepare my gravy mix. It cut the fat and salt in country gravy.
  • I thawed the hash browns slightly in the microwave. This helped them break-up easier. Looking back, I wish I had baked the bottom layer for 10 minutes before topping to give me a slightly cruncher crust. 
  • I used turkey sausage.
  • I only used four slices of bacon. I really couldn’t taste it so you either need to use more bacon or opt it out. Sausage can be an overwhelming meat flavor.
  • The recipe suggested both mozzarella and cheddar. They suggested a prosciutto wrapped mozzarella and Velveeta cheese slices. I used shredded cheese. I’d suggest just mozzarella because I think it matches the flavors of the country gravy better. 
  • Make sure you have a lot of time to cook this recipe. I think I took me a good 40 minutes to prepare before backing. 
  • If I made it again, I think I might create a crust with something different like crescent rolls.
  • Jar gravy and precooked meats can save you time. 

 

 

Quadruple Chocolate Cookies

I was looking for some new recipes when I ran across cookie recipe. I love Chocolate Crinkles (my signature dish) so these seemed like something I’d enjoy. Although they are tasty, I think my Chocolate Crinkles are better. But they did give me another excuse to use my Kitchen Aid mixer.

Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies from Pinterest
img_0018
¾ c. butter, softened
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 packet of chocolate pudding
¼ c. cocoa powder
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

5 oz. dark chocolate chopped

Mix together butter, sugars, and eggs. Add in pudding, cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt slowly. Stir in chocolate. Refrigerate for two hours. Roll into balls and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Espresso Bread

I usually work on Sundays at a hotel front desk. The nice thing about working in the hospitality industry is that some many people in the biz love to cook. That means if you can catch the TV in break room when no one is watching sports, no one complains about watching The Food Network. Since I got to lunch at 11:30ish, Brunch at Bobby’s is usually on. I saw this recipe and I just knew I needed to cook it up for my sweetheart – Jeremiah.

In case you don’t know, we love going on coffee dates. In fact, our second date and first kiss was at a Starbucks. As hard earned Gold Reward Members, we often go for evening walks to Starbucks. The funniest past is that our barista always calls Jeremiah by name but can never remember mine. Did I mention I normally pay? (Don’t worry ladies – Jeremiah usually pays for our dinner dates.)

This recipe is for all of you who enjoy coffee as much as we do.

IMG_0067Espresso-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Espresso-Cinnamon Butter by Bobby Flay
Bread:
5 T. butter
1 T. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 ripe bananas
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. brown sugar
1 large egg
3 oz. chocolate chips

Espresso-Cinnamon Butter
1 1/2 sticks room temperature butter
2 T. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Spray bread pan with nonstick spray. On the stove top, melt butter in a sauce pan. Then, stir in espresso powder. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Using a potato masher, mash bananas in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter mixture, and eggs. Mix in flour. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Mix ingredients for butter. Smear on bread and serve.

Notes:
Since I didn’t have instant espresso powder in my pantry, I made a little coffee and added it to the batter. I used coffee grounds in the butter.

No Fuss Chicken Dinner

Who doesn’t love a simple four ingredient recipe? This Crockpot recipe only takes about 5 minutes of your time to make.

Lemon ChickenCrockpot Lemon Chicken from Pinterest
3-4 T. butter
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 package of Italian seasoning
lemon juice

Cube butter and place on the bottom of a Crockpot. Top with chicken breast. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Drizzle with lemon juice. Bake on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Are You a Chocoholic?

Calling all chocoholics – this rich recipe is for you. Be sure to serve it warm with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream to help tame this chocolate dish. I could only eat piece once every couple of days.

Chocolate CobblerChocolate Cobbler from Pinterest
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
7 T. cocoa powder, divided
1 ¼ c. sugar, divided
½ c. milk
1/3 c. melted butter
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
½ c. brown sugar
1 ½ c. hot tap water

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, 3 T. cocoa, and ¾ c. sugar. Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla. Pour into 8” baking dish. In a small bowl, mix ½ c. sugar, brown sugar, and 4 T. cocoa. Sprinkle over batter. Pour over water. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

An Amber Original

Back in my Komen days, I remember going with our Community Outreach Manager to Atchison to present our first grant to the hospital. As the only hospital/imaging center serving that region of northeast Kansas, they hosted a big pink party to celebrate. One of the things their chef made was these amazing chocolate cookies with Raspberry M&Ms. I was in love. Although I haven’t been able to locate a recipe for these delicious cookies, I opted to take my best cookie recipe, remove the confectioner sugar, and add raspberry M&Ms. My you enjoys these as much as my Marriott co-workers did. They will melt in your mouth when served warm.

Chocolate Raspberry CookiesChocolate Raspberry Cookies by Amber Bourek
3/4 c. Butter, melted
1/2 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 c. Sugar
2 c. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 c. Chocolate Chips
1/2 c. Raspberry M&Ms

In a large bowl, mix butter, cocoa, and sugar. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use an electric mixer to add eggs and vanilla into chocolate mixture. Slowly add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate overnight. Roll into balls and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used mini-chocolate chips and it wasn’t as rich as I would have liked. I’d recommend using Milk Chocolate regular sized chips. You might even want to use 3/4 cup.
  • I used 1/2 c. Raspberry M&Ms. That put only about one M&M per cookie. You might want to use 3/4 or 1 cup of M&Ms.
  • I didn’t add but you could easily add a tsp. of raspberry syrup instead of adding more M&Ms.

Cherry Crisp

Fall is officially in the air. The low temperature last night was is in the upper 40s with a high in 70s. This is my kind of weather.

Craving cherry crisp, I went to my blog to search for the recipe. I was shocked that I hadn’t posted it for all of you yet. This recipe comes from my mother. Super easy and very tasty. It’s one of my favorite recipes. It serves up delicious warm or cold, with ice cream or fat free Cool Whip. Enjoy!

Cherry CrispCherry Crisp by Kathy Bourek
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 c. oleo (I used butter/margarine)
1/2 c. oatmeal
1 can cherry pie mix

Crumble flour, oleo, and brown sugar with a fork. Add oatmeal and mix. Pour 1/2 into a 8 inch square pan. Pour cherry pie filling over crust. Sprinkle with remaining mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

FrootLoops Bars

When I was a child, my Great Grandma Kingston used to always make Rice Krispies Treats for our birthday parties. My Great Grandma Reith would make homemade ice cream. I had party cool great grandmas, right?

I used to help my mom a lot in the kitchen. One treat that I always avoided helping with though was Rice Krispies bars. They were a hot gooey mess to stir and get to stick in the pan. As I got a little older, Kellogg’s started packaging and selling these treats in the grocery store. I tried making them once in college but I learned quickly it was easier to buy the pre-made ones. My rule is if someone can do it better than you for a cheap price, buy it. They are also great treats to ship to service men and women serving our country overseas.

A few weeks ago, I ran across this recipe in the Hy-Vee ad for Simple Cereal Bars. The ad featured FrootLoops, Frosted Flakes, and Apple Jacks bars. I decided if I wanted another treat flavor, I would have to give it a try. The directions suggested making it on the stovetop. My mother used to use the microwave so I thought this might be a bit easier. I selected my large oblong Rachael Ray pan. I also sprayed both the 13 x 9 pan and silicone spoon with non-stick spray. I really think both of these things helped. Recipe challenge accepted and achieved. Pick your favorite cereal and give it a try.

FrootLoops Cereal BarsFrootLoops Bars by Hy-Vee
1/4 c. of butter
6 c. mini-marshmallows
6 c. FrootLoops

Melt butter in a large saucepan on a low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and pour in cereal. Stir until completely melted. Press into greased 13 x 9 pan. This recipe serves 12.

Notes:

  • My mother likes to make them with Cheerios. I think Golden Grahams might also be good.
  • Look for coupons for your favorite cereal and buy them when they are on sale (about every 6-8 weeks). This recipe takes a whole bag of miniature marshmallows and almost a whole box of cereal. As you know, I’m a big believer in always having a variety of cereals on hand and I love to save $.
  • I put the cereal bars in the fridge to harden before cutting.

Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Everyone has a word they don’t like. One of my exs over used the word “audacity” so I avoid using the word at all cost. Others struggle to pronounce words. My ex who was bilingual in two languages really struggled with the word “Worcestershire Sauce”. It is a kind of hard word to say if you don’t slow down.

The first word that came to mind when I tasted this recipe was moist. It made me think of my friend and former co-worker Kelly. She detested the word “Moist”, perhaps even more that she hate people inappropriately using exclamation marks. (Can you tell we worked together as grant writers?) One time, a co-worker and myself called her office and said “moist” just to freak Kelly out. Of course she knew it was us by the internal caller id. But we were laughing so hard it still puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. It truly is a terrible word. When you thesaurus synonyms for moist, you get: humid, soggy, clammy, saturated, soaking, damp, wet, and tacky. Not exactly the words I was looking for to express my sentiments. Perhaps the best words for me to describe this cake are – soft, sweet, and delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Yellow cake with sour cream chocolate frosting is my favorite birthday cake flavor.

Chocolate Chip CakeChocolate Chip Snack Cake by Betty Crocker website
1/2 box yellow cake mix
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. sour cream
3 T. butter, melted
1 egg
1 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, sour cream, butter, and egg with a mixer. Stir in 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Pour in dish. Bake for 22-28 minutes. Cool completely – one hour. Then, melt 1/2 c. chocolate chips with 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil. Microwave it on high for 45 seconds, plus 15 seconds increments til completely melted. Pour into a Ziploc baggie, cut corner, and drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

Nutritional Information: (Makes nine servings) 270 calories (120 from fat), 14 g. fat (8 g. saturated fat) 35 mg. cholesterol, 210 mg. sodium, 35 g. carbs, 1 g. fiber, 23 g. sugar, and 2 g. protein

Notes:

  • I used half light and half fat free sour cream. Another great substitute is regular or Greek yogurt.
  • I also used sugar free cake mix. I also think you could have used a chocolate cake for an even richer dessert.
  • You could easily skip the extra chocolate chips on top and it would still be good.