Prime Rib Roast…

Happy New Year! I hope your new year is filled with good health and happiness. Mine started off with a bang as I finally ventured into making a prime rib roast. It’s been on my list of “ok, now you have to try this… you betcha can do this” and I decided to jump into the deep end of the pool on the first day of 2017 and tackle this one.

I’ll admit now I was a little nervous. After all prime rib, even when it’s on sale is expensive. And the last thing you want to do is ruin an expensive cut of meat. So you see, even the cooks who have been at it for a while can still get nervous in the kitchen.

And talk about expensive… I decided to check out a prime rib roast at Whole Foods. I only needed a small one, just enough for me and my husband. So, I asked for a two rib roast, between 4-5 pounds. That would give me enough for two people with one dinner of leftovers. The butcher handed me a package for a 4.4 pound roast and the price tag on it was $68.00! I almost choked. As I walked through the store I had many internal conversations with myself trying to see if I could rationalize spending $68 on a cut of meat, albeit prime. When I finally got to the cash register I handed the roast to the checker and said I was sorry but I just couldn’t rationalize spending that much for a roast for two people. She couldn’t have been any sweeter. She said not to worry, it was no big deal and that Whole Foods wants its customers to be comfortable and satisfied with what they purchase. She was great. She took all my guilt away.

Two-Rib Rib RoastI finally worked with a butcher at Safeway who cut me a two rib roast and tied the bones to the bottom as I requested. The roast coast $44 for a 4.3 pound roast. Still expensive, and choice but not prime, but I could rationalize that for a special meal more than $68.00. In the end the roast was fabulous so I was glad I opted for the less expensive cut. My next step was researching various cooking methods and determining what I felt would work for me. So I have some really good lessons learned to share with this blog…

Lesson Learned 1 – Let the roast sit out and get to room temperature: Many people are afraid to do this as they think the meat will spoil. Nothing can be further from the truth. In order to ensure that your roast cooks evenly you have to get it to room temperature. For my 4.3 pound roast I let it sit on the counter for 4 hours. Obviously the larger the roast the longer the time. I spoke with a co-work who made a 9 pound roast over the holidays and she kept hers out for 6 hours. Don’t be afraid to do this. You will be rewarded with an evenly cooked roast and it is perfectly safe.

Lesson Learned 2 – Choose the roasting method that is right for you: When I researched various roasting options, two methods seemed to be most prevalent. Both required cooking the roast at a very high heat for about 20-30 minutes. The difference was the next step. Some recipes suggested turning off the heat in the oven and letting the roast sit in there for several hours, making sure not to open the oven. Others suggested lowering the heat and cooking the roast at a lower heat for a certain amount of minutes per pound. Since everything takes longer to cook in high altitude, I chose the latter. I just didn’t see my roast cooking to medium rare with the oven turned off.

Lesson Learned 3 – Make sure your oven is clean: I cooked my roast at 450 degrees (some recipes call for 500 degrees) for the first 25 minutes. I have a brand new oven and it is really clean. I still set off my smoke alarm. (I forgot to put on the hood fan). My point is, at this high heat the roast will smoke and if you have a dirty oven everything baked on to the walls of your oven will smoke as well, just adding to the problem. So don’t forget to turn on your hood fan and make sure that oven is clean.

Prime Rib With A Garlic, Rosemary & Thyme RubLesson Learned 4 – A rub on the roast makes a difference: I used a rub consisting of olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper. What I found is the rub creates a delicious crust when cooked at those initial high temperatures. It added a fabulous flavor to the meat. I highly recommend the rub in this recipe. It tasted divine!

Lesson Learned 5 – Use a meat thermometer: The only way to truly know what’s going on with your roast is to use a meat thermometer. I like mine medium rare which means an internal temperature of between 130 – 135 degrees. Keep in mind when you take the roast out of the oven it will continue to cook as it rests, at least another 5 degrees. So if you want medium rare, take the roast out at 130 and you will be fine. This time I chose to make it rare as my husband likes it that way. That is an internal temperature of 120-125. You can easily just put a rare piece in a pan on the stove and heat it gently to bring it up to medium rare. Just keep an eye on it, as it will not take long to get it to medium rare.

Lesson Learned 6 – Let the meat rest: The roast looks so good when it comes out of the oven but you need to give it time to let its juices redistribute before you slice it. Otherwise all the juices will be on your plate and not in the meat. So let the roast sit for 20 minutes. Cover it with foil during that time and after 20 minutes it will be a perfect temperature for serving with the juices redistributed.

Lesson Learned 7 – Make your horseradish cream sauce to taste: Is there any better combination than prime rib and horseradish sauce? If you’ve never tried it you simply must. I will provide some basic guidelines for making this cream sauce but I found when I made mine that I needed to add a lot more horseradish. The jarred horseradish that I had was not overly spicy and so I needed more to get the flavor combination that I liked. But start out with a little horseradish and add from there. Depending upon the type of prepared horseradish you are using, a little may be enough. That was not the case for me.

As you can see there are many things you need to consider in order to make the perfect rib roast. But if you follow these lessons learned you will wind up with a flavorful roast cooked to perfection. Don’t be afraid to do a prime rib roast. You betcha can make this!

PRIME RIB ROAST...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

Prime Rib Roast1 4-5 pound rib roast, bones tied to the bottom

1 cup red wine (I used merlot)

1 cup beef broth

2 Tbs. garlic, minced

2 Tbs. garlic infused olive oil (you can use plain olive oil)

2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, minced

2 Tbs. fresh thyme, minced

1 Tbs. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Horseradish Sauce:

1/4 cup sour cream

1 -2 Tbs. prepared horseradish

DIRECTIONS:

Remove the roast from the refrigerator and let stand for at least 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 and arrange the racks so that the roast will be in the center of the oven. Add the beef broth and wine to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Mix together the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the roast. Place the roast on a rack on top of the beef broth/wine mixture. (At this point if you have an oven safe meat thermometer you will want to put it into the center of the meaty part of the roast making sure to avoid contact with the bones. If you only have an instant meat thermometer you will need to check the roast at various intervals at 1 1/2 hours after lowering the temperature of the oven).

Roast at 450 for 25 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 and continue to roast for approximately 15 minutes per pound (at high altitude I found I needed 20 minutes per pound). For medium rare remove the roast when the internal temperature is 130 degrees. Let the roast stand covered with foil for at least 20 minutes.

While the roast is resting place the roasting pan on a burner with the rack removed. Heat the beef broth/wine mixture and remove any fat from the drippings. This can be used as au jus for the roast or gravy for mashed potatoes if you are serving them as a side dish.

For the horseradish sauce, mix the ingredients together, tasting the sauce to ensure you have the right amount of horseradish. Add more if necessary. Chill the mixture until it’s time to serve.

rub

rub ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beef broth and wine bath

Prime Rib Roast

Prime Rib Roast

prime rib dinner

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Holiday Breakfast Casserole…

I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in a while. The holidays are always hectic and it is tough to sit down at the computer and document the things I’ve been making. The good thing is there will be lots to come after the first of the year! And just in case you didn’t see it on my home page, the picture below is a link to some of my all time favorite holiday recipes (mostly cookies but there are other things as well). Just click on the picture and you’ll have some great recipes to try this holiday season.

17 Favorite Holiday Recipes

17 Favorite Holiday Recipes

The recipe I’m sharing today is one I made the other night for dinner. After I made it I thought, wow – this would make a great Christmas morning breakfast. You can make it the night before, refrigerate it and just pop it in the oven in the morning. It is very flavorful and it couldn’t be easier to make.

So let’s talk lessons learned when making this holiday breakfast casserole…

Cooked breakfast sausageLesson Learned 1 – You probably will not need an entire tube of breakfast sausage: This recipe is made in an 8 x 8 pan and serves four. Double it if you want to make it in a 13 x 9 pan. In the smaller pan you probably will not need the entire tube of sausage. Use as much as you like and if you are a true meat eater use the whole thing. We only needed about three quarters of the tube. We froze the rest to use later.

Lesson Learned 2 – Get the hash browns nice and crispy: The hash browns will soften in this recipe. By getting them crispy you add a nice flavor. If you don’t crisp them up they will get too soggy on the bottom of the casserole.

Crispy Hash Browns

Lesson Learned 3 – Substitute for fresh whenever you can: The recipe I based this on called for both onion and garlic powder. If you are in a rush you can certainly use them, but I used minced fresh garlic and chopped green onions instead. I think it made a world of difference in the flavor of the casserole.

Lesson Learned 4 – Add more cheese if you like: I made this recipe with a cup of shredded Jarlsberg. Next time I will use a cup and a half as I wanted it to be just a little cheesier. A cup works just fine. This is something you can experiment with and see what works best for you. But don’t use any less than one cup.

This casserole couldn’t be any easier, and as I mentioned earlier I actually made this for dinner but I felt with the holidays coming this recipe might be a good trick to have up your sleeve. Happy Holidays!

HOLIDAY BREAKFAST CASSEROLE...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound breakfast sausage

1 20 oz. bag of unfrozen hash browns (I used Simply Potatoes)

1 large garlic clove, minced (you can use 1/4 tsp. garlic powder as a substitute)

2-3 green onions, chopped (you can use 1/4 tsp. onion powder as a substitute)

1 cup shredded cheese (use any good melting cheese – I used Jarlsberg)

4 extra large eggs (use 5 if they are small)

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large skillet cook the breakfast sausage until it is no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Set sausage mixture aside.

In the same pan cook the hash browns until slightly crispy. Place them in the bottom of a lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Top with sausage and cheese.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, green onions and milk. (If using onion and garlic powder you would add them into this egg mixture). Pour over the hash browns, sausage and cheese. (Cover and refrigerate at this point if you plan on making this the next day.)

Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until the top is set and the edges start to brown. Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes and serve.

The Hash Browns Layer

The Hash Browns Layer

The Meat Layer

The Meat Layer

The Cheese Layer

The Cheese Layer

The Egg Mixture

The Egg Mixture

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Holiday Breakfast Casserole

Right Out Of The Oven

Holiday Breakfast Casserole

Holiday Breakfast Casserole

Holiday Breakfast Casserole

Holiday Breakfast Casserole

So This Is Christmas…

Oh Christmas Tree...

Oh Christmas Tree…

Christmas Day 2013 and lots to reflect upon. On this day more than any other you think about the many things for which you are grateful as well as precious times past. Those thoughts can bring both smiles and tears as you revel in the holiday spirit but miss those that can no longer share it with you. For me, Christmas is the time to reflect on the past year, the good, the bad and the ugly and to begin the process of creating the hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. So here goes:

All in all, 2013 was a pretty good year. It started out rocky but is ending up positively. In January I began feeling pain and numbness in my legs that took me on a health roller coaster of doctors, vein procedures, physical therapy and finally a diagnosis of spinal stenosis. Scary as it may sound, finally getting the diagnosis and having an operation to fix it is what I am most grateful for this year. Not having pain in my legs and the feeling of having “my old legs” back is a gift I am not taking for granted. I laughed when a friend told me that I basically had a “roto-router” procedure on my spine but call it whatever you want, it did the trick. So this year I am looking forward to being physically able to work on a healthier life style without experiencing pain in the process.

Holiday Decorations

Holiday Decorations

I am also grateful for being retired and now just working on things that I choose to and that I love. Who would have ever thought that I would love working part-time in retail? Not me, that’s for sure. And I am sure that working retail in general could never be something that I would enjoy, but working at Crate and Barrel has been a blast. A great company, great people and working in customer service has really, for all intents and purposes, “cranked my switch”. I have just enough hours to effectively learn the business (I am so enjoying learning the ins and outs of corporate America) but not too many that it prevents me from pursuing my other interests. So it is a win-win situation and as long as it continues to be fun I will do it. And working on the two NRPA schools is really a joy for me. My first love was always teaching and to be able to work on schools that attract the best of the best in the field of Parks and Recreation is a gift I treasure.

I am also so grateful for my friends and to be able to have regular contact with them either the “old fashioned” way, by telephone, or the more popular ways by texting, emailing (although this is becoming less popular these days) and through social media. I love seeing what is happening in their lives and sharing what is happening in mine. To be able to maintain contact with people that I taught some 30+ years ago, colleagues from work days long gone by and new friends made along the way brings untold joy into my life.

The Christmas Village

The Christmas Village

Having had the opportunity this year to vacation with some old friends was the best. True friendship exists when you can spend time apart but, when finally together, pick up right where you left off without regret or awkwardness. We laughed so hard we cried, and we enjoyed each other for who we are now as well as for our past connections. Those friendships last a lifetime and I am so grateful to have those kinds of friends in my life.

I am particularly grateful for a special surprise gift I got this year from a former student. Nothing like getting some Lou Malnati’s pizza and popcorn to bring you back to the good ole’ Chicago days. The gift was totally unexpected and brought about tears of joy, the best kind of tears. This gift was a great reminder to me that it is the small things, the unexpected kindnesses in life, that truly matter the most.

Paying it forward by performing random acts of kindness, that is becoming a tradition for me during the holidays and really should be a year-long tradition. Buying an unsuspecting person their Starbuck’s order and looking at the smile on their face when they were told – that was a good one for me this year. But I think I am going to try to spread this out during the rest of the upcoming year as well. It makes you feel so good to do something for someone, just because, with no expectation in return. That is the true act of giving and what I’ve learned along the way is that giving is just as rewarding, if not more so, than receiving.

Me and My Dad By The Tree...

Me and My Dad By The Tree…

I can’t escape thinking about my parents at the holidays. They were the ones who always went out of their way to make my holidays special. The annual downtown Chicago shopping trips, consisting of a march up and down State Street (always ending at Marshall Fields), coffee and a treat at the Walgreens buffet (yes they used to have one), several walking trips back to the car (my dad’s job) to drop of the myriad of packages and dinner at Millers Pub (always their lamb chops for me). I remember one year my mother having too many of a drink called a “Tom and Jerry”, that was one of the more memorable dinners! We always did our trip on the first Saturday in December and even as an adult I would look forward to doing this with them. These are special, special memories. Needless to say I now miss my parents terribly at this time of year, but I know they would want me to be happy and the best way to honor their memory is to work through the sadness and revel in the joys of the past and look to the future with unrelenting optimism.

The scamp, Cody...

The scamp, Cody…

This was the second year we did not put up a Christmas tree. I can tell you the reason in one word, Cody. Cody is our orange tabby that we adopted in 2012. He is a big boy, tipping the scales at 12 pounds, and he is very rambunctious. We knew if we put a tree that it would wind up on the ground. We were hoping this might be the year we could put it up, but he is still in full blown scamp mode and so we decided against it. Next year there will be a tree for sure, whether it stands or lies down.

And as always there is the holiday baking ritual. This year was an enormous success with two new recipes (caramel butter bars and frosted cinnamon chip cookies) leading the way. I try to make at least one new recipe a year but now I am at the point were I make eight different cookie recipes, all articulated favorites, so it will be interesting to see if next year I’ll have the courage to discontinue one in order to try a new one. There are only so many types of cookies a girl can make before she becomes tuckered out! But seeing the joy in the eyes of my neighbors and co-workers when the cookies come-a-callin’ is worth all the time and energy. This year a plate even made it to a Christmas Eve dinner at the Denver Children’s hospital. I am sure those attending that dinner more than appreciated something made with such love during a difficult time in their lives.

Holiday Cookie Platter

Holiday Cookie Platter

And last but not least, there is always the sojourn to some sort of holiday theatrical production. One year it was to see the Radio City Rockettes perform their holiday extravaganza, another time it was to see a production of my favorite story, A Christmas Carol and last year I saw the stage version of “White Christmas”.

A Holiday Performance...

A Holiday Performance…

This year it was front row seats to see the Denver Ballet perform The Nutcracker. My theatre going friend had never seen The Nutcracker before, so it was an extra special treat. Seeing a holiday production always gets you in the holiday spirit. This has become a tradition that I really enjoy and plan on continuing.

So this was Christmas, 2013. All in all a pretty good one. Can’t say that every year but happy when I can. And as I reflect upon this year, I can only hope that yours had more joy than sorrow, more ups than downs, more successes than failures and was filled with friendship and love. Merry Christmas and to quote Tiny Tim, “God Bless Us, Everyone.”

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies…

Cranberry oatmeal cookies have been a staple in our family for the last five years. I was looking for something completely different from what I traditionally made for the holidays and found this recipe in the 2008 Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars holiday magazine. At the time the magazine cost me $9.99 and I thought that was pretty pricey. But I can now without hesitation say that it was the best money I ever spent. That magazine is my go to place for holiday cookie ideas and it has a wealth of cookie recipes, many that have become our holiday favorites and many still needing to be tried. The magazine is a compilation of recipes from different people around the country and the editors did an excellent job of choosing fabulous recipes.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Initially I made these cookies just because I liked the way the picture looked in the magazine. I was not prepared for how delicious they would be. A co-worker recently described their flavor as being close to a Starbuck’s cranberry orange scone with a bonus of white chocolate chips. I think she hit it on the head. Not only are they easy to make but they look colorful on a dessert tray. Here is my rating and lessons learned making these cookies.

Rating: A+++++ – once again this cookie is one of our all time holiday favorites. How could I rate it any less?

Lesson Learned 1: Use golden raisins in this recipe. The recipe does not specify what type of raisins to use but I found the dark raisins create a less colorful and vibrant looking cookie, and after all you eat first with your eyes, remember? Make sure the raisins are fresh. Don’t use the box that’s been sitting in your pantry for six months. As with any ingredient, the fresher the better but especially with raisins.

Lesson Learned 2: Put in a healthy tablespoonful of grated orange peel. I used the grated peel of two large oranges. Don’t skimp on this. The flavor of the orange peel so compliments the tartness of the cranberry and the sweetness of the white chocolate. Use more than less.

Lesson Learned 3: These cookies keep well both in the refrigerator and the freezer so these are great make ahead cookies.

I guarantee that you will love these cookies. They are easy to make, easy to store and add a nice colorful holiday flair to your cookie assortment.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup unsalted butter softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup raisins

1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (you can you frozen ones but I prefer fresh)

1 TBS. grated orange peel

1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time beating until well combined. Beat in the vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins, cranberries and orange peel. Add the white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (I use a cookie scoop) 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Iced Cinnamon Chip Cookies

If you have been following my recent holiday cookie recipe posts you know by now that every year I try at least one new cookie recipe. This year I tried two, Salted Caramel Butter Bars and the one I am going to share in this post the Iced Cinnamon Chip Cookies. The Caramel Bars were a huge hit with my husband but my favorite was the cinnamon chip cookies.

First of all, did you even know that cinnamon chips existed? I didn’t until I saw the recipe and decided to do some hunting at the grocery store. Lo and behold, right next the semi-sweet chocolate morsels were the cinnamon chips. I had never seen them before but I guess I just wasn’t looking for them. They were there in plain sight.

Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Cinnamon Chip Cookies

At first I was a little hesitant about making this cookie – the recipe was very similar to a chocolate chip cookie recipe but I wanted to make an iced cookie this year and thought a hearty cookie like this would stand up well to icing. I found the recipe in my trusty 2008 Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars magazine (the magazine that has supplied quite a few a my holiday cookie recipes over the years). The one thing that I did not like about the recipe was the frosting ingredients (they seemed bland to me, just the usual milk and confectioners sugar combination) so I went online to research a cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe. I found one that was part of a soft pumpkin cookie recipe and decided to try it. I’m so glad I did. I’m sure it complimented the cookie much better than the original frosting recipe. So now my recipe rating and lessons learned.

Rating: A++++++  I absolutely LOVE this cookie recipe. The cinnamon chips provide a delightful unique flavor and the frosting highly compliments the cookie and makes it an absolutely tasty delight. If you try any cookie this year, I would recommend this one. It is easy to make and soooooo good!

Lesson Learned 1: I am providing you the recipe as it is in the magazine. I had to adjust it for high altitude. If you want the adjustments just let me know, I will be happy to provide them.

Lesson Learned 2: Storing an iced cookie can be a challenge. I recommend making the icing, refrigerating it and putting it on the cookie before serving or giving away. That way the cookies are easier to store.

Lesson Learned 3: These cookies are so easy to make that there are no more words of wisdom I can depart regarding making them or storing them. Just make them and enjoy them.

Iced Cinnamon Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 package (10 ounces) cinnamon baking chips

Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 TBS softened butter

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and add vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in the cinnamon chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (I use a cookie scoop) 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Frosting: In a mixing bowl cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

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Iced Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies…

The second favorite cookie in my recent posts on Facebook was the Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookie. I’ve been making this cookie for the past six years and it has risen to the list of the big three must-bake every year holiday cookies (the other two being chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate dipped sugar cookies, soon to be featured in future blogs). I like this particular cookie for several reasons: one it is easy to make, two it has three kinds of chocolate in it and three it has a great consistency that leaves you asking the question am I eating a cookie or a brownie.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

The recipe comes from a magazine I purchased in 2008 called “Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars.” This magazine was definitely worth the money because it also provided the recipe for another one of my holiday staples, the cranberry oatmeal cookie (also to be featured in a later blog). I like this recipe because not only does the finished product look and taste so darn good but it keeps well in the freezer so it is a great make-ahead cookie. That being said, let’s move on to my rating and lessons learned.

RATING: A++++++++++++ This cookie is one of my big three holiday must-bake recipes so I will give you a clue and tell you that all three will have the same rating. Easy to make, great visual appeal and leaves you wondering whether you’ve just had a cookie or a brownie. Top that off with three different types of chocolate used in the recipe and tell me, how can you go wrong?

Lesson Learned 1: Make sure you cool the melted butter and unsweetened chocolate before beating it with the sugar and eggs. If you don’t you will wind up with scrambled eggs.

Lesson Learned 2: Use a cookie scoop (a small ice-cream scoop) to portion out the cookie dough. That way you have the same amount and don’t have to worry about having some cookies baking faster than others. Spray the inside of the scoop with some non-stick spray when you first start out and then wash it out after every completed baking sheet. That way you won’t struggle as much with getting the batter out of the scoop. It will stick somewhat, but having even amounts of batter on the cookie sheet is worth it.

Lesson Learned 3: Don’t over-bake the cookies. The cookies will be robust in the center and they are supposed to be that way. The cookies are done when the edges are set and the tops are slightly cracked. They are designed to have a doughy consistency.

Lesson Learned 4: You don’t need any special utensil to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Use an ordinary quart-sized plastic bag, insert it into a tall drinking glass, pour the melted chocolate and shortening mixture into the bag and squeeze it down to one of the tips of the bag. Twist the top portion of the bag and snip a very, very small portion of the tip. Then just drizzle what comes out free-armed over the cookies. As you can see from the pictures, the back and forth pattern really gives a professional finishing touch to the cookies.

Just like the Raspberry Walnut Bars from my previous blog, this recipe is so easy to make and produces a professional looking end product. I like this recipe because of the consistency of the finished product that often has people asking if they are eating a cookie or a brownie. Plus it really appeals to the chocolate lovers out there and tell me, how many non-chocolate lovers do you know? Try making these cookies during this holiday season and see if it doesn’t quickly becoming one of your holiday must-bake traditions.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup butter cubed

4 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup baking cocoa

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided

2 teaspoons shortening

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350. In a small saucepan over low heat melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate; cool. Transfer to a large mixing bowl; add sugar and eggs. Beat until smooth. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the chocolate mixture. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until the dough is easy to handle.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets (or you can line your baking sheets with parchment paper). Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the edges are set and tops are slightly cracked. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat shortening and remaining chocolate chips on high for 1 minute or until chips are melted; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Let stand for 30 minutes (or pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes) until the chocolate is set. Store in an airtight container. These cookies freeze well so they are a great make-ahead cookie.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Get Your Holiday Crab On…

SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTING THIS RECIPE I’VE BEEN ASKED TO INCLUDE THE RECIPE IN THE BLOG AND I’VE TWEAKED IT SLIGHTLY FROM THE ORIGINAL. SO I WILL REPOST THE BLOG, WITH THE LINK TO THE ORIGINAL RECIPE AS WELL AS A PRINTABLE RECIPE ON THIS BLOG:

I stumbled on this one quite by accident. I was looking for a make-ahead appetizer recipe to bring to a friend’s house. All I could seem to find on Pinterest were appetizers best served hot and I wanted something I could make on Friday to bring to an event on Sunday. Somehow I stumbled on this recipe from justapinch.com called crab dip to make ahead. It sounded like it would fit the bill, so I decided to try it.

The challenge for me was finding some good crab meat. The last time I bought lump crab meat was from Costco and it was full of shells and very salty, even after I rinsed it thoroughly. This time I went to a local grocery store called Sprouts and found an 16 oz.can of crabmeat. When I opened it up, much to my surprise, it was a can of crab claw meat. The meat was tender, there were no shells and a slight rinse was all the meat needed. The dip took about 20 minutes to prepare and the recipe says it serves ten but I think it will serve more than that.

My rating of the recipe: A++++. This recipe is fabulous, easy to make and definitely one that tastes better once the flavors have had a chance to meld, so definitely make it ahead of time. This recipe would be a great addition to any holiday gathering.

Lessons Learned:

1. The recipe calls for 1/2 pound or 6 ounces of crab meat. I put in approximately 16 ounces. The more crab the better. There’s nothing worse than a crab dip where you can barely see or taste the crab.

Make Ahead Crab Dip

Make Ahead Crab Dip

2. The recipe includes adding unflavored gelatin to the mixture, the purpose being to keep the dip from getting too runny once it sits out for a while. I added it and would recommend it. The dip stayed nice and firm and you never taste the gelatin.

3. The original recipe also calls for either cream of shrimp or cream of mushroom soup. If anyone can tell me where to find cream of shrimp soup I would certainly like to know. I went to four different grocery stores and no on carried it. The cream of mushroom soup worked very well, but I would like to try it with cream of shrimp soup.

4. Everyone who tasted it loved it. You will be asked to share this recipe, I guarantee it.

Quite a few times I talked about the joy of trying a recipe and having it turn out perfectly the first time. This is one of those recipes. I was so excited to bring it with me to my friend’s house. Unfortunately the evening got canceled. My co-workers wound up being the recipients of my culinary success. Already four of them have asked for the recipe.

Holiday Crab Dip

  • Servings: 25-30
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
INGREDIENTS:

1/2 – 1pound crab meat (I used a 16 ounce can)

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used the brand with roasted garlic)

1 packet unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup (4 stalks) green onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup (1 1/2 large stalks) celery, chopped fine

1/8 tsp. salt

1 package cocktail pumpernickel bread and/or party crackers

Old Bay for garnish.

DIRECTIONS:

Open the can of crab meat and drain. By hand, clean the crab meat and remove any remaining shells or cartilage. Set aside.

Cut the cream cheese into smaller chunks. In a medium saucepan combine soup and cream cheese. Stir occasionally until cream cheese has melted. Add gelatin and stir to combine. Stir in the mayonnaise until combined. At no time let the mixture come to a boil.

Once combined, take the mixture off the heat and stir in the onions and celery. Add the crab meat and fold in gently until combined.

But crab mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (overnight is best). Put in a serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of Old Bay and a lemon slice. Serve with cocktail pumpernickel slices or cracker.

Holiday Crab Dip