Tomatillo Salsa

A fresh tomatillo salsa is a great accompaniment with Mexican food, but it really goes with almost anything.  Where I really fell in love with it was at California Chicken Cafe where they serve it with their famous rotisserie chicken and pita.  Kevin and I had a housewarming party back in February and wanted to serve chips and salsa for one of the apps, so I found a Martha Stewart recipe.  It’s so easy and great quality tomatillos can be found at your local Mexican market for super cheap.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound tomatillos (husks removed), washed and quartered.  Tomatillos naturally have a sticky coating on them, so wash them thoroughly after you peel the husks.
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Coarse salt
Fresh Ingredients!
Fresh Ingredients!

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor, combine tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro with lime juice. Pulse until finely chopped; season with salt.

It doesn’t get easier than that!  Serve with chips, over seared fish, or with eggs. It was a hit with the breakfast tacos we had at the Kawasaki twins’ birthday get together a few months ago.

Tomatillo Salsa
Tomatillo Salsa
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D*ck Cookies (Brownie Roll-Out Cookies and Basic Sugar Cookies)

Yes ladies and gentlemen. You read that right. D*ck cookies. I tried to think of a less crude, less NSFW, cuter name to call them.  But there’s no getting around it.  I made d*ck cookies. And I made them twice.  You now can freely lower your expectations for the content on this blog.  As cutesy and wholesome as my last post was, this next one is not going to be pretty.

One of the societal rites of passage for men is the coveted bachelor party.  It’s the infamous night (or even a weekend) whereby guys, scared shitless by the prospect of dedicating the rest of their life to a girl (a girl that they picked in most cases), give themselves free reign to consume near-fatal amounts of tequila and will actually pay money for a nude stranger to give them a boner in the presence of their closest guy friends.  For women, the bachelorette party often constitutes much of the same in the way of drinking, but activities with a nude stranger are often replaced by lots of giggling at fake penises (penii? …no, I’m pretty sure it’s penises).

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the obsession with penis decorations at bachelorette parties, but I’ve been coerced into making d*ck cookies two summers in a row for such events.  Shirley purchased d*ck cookie cutters last summer for Leslie’s bachelorette, which I used to make chocolate brownie cookies using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Refridgerated Dough and... Cookie Cutters
Refrigerated Dough and… Cookie Cutters

They actually turned out to be quite delicious.  While I would like to think I’m not so superficial as to think less of a dessert just because it looks like a big chocolate… you know, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat as many cookies as I wanted to.

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C lightly salted butter, softened (I used one stick salted, one stick unsalted)
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
  3. Roll out cookie dough on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes, brushing the extra flour off the top (it disappears once baked).

    Yup. This Happened.
    Yup. This Happened.
  4. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffy.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Hearts make it all less naughty, right?
Hearts make it all less naughty, right?

Knowing how enthusiastic Shirley was about all the penis decor at Leslie’s bachelorette, I broke out the d*ck cutters again. This timing using Martha Stewart’s Basic Sugar Cookie recipe and adding some red food coloring to make them pink.  The bridesmaids unanimously voted that more of a “fleshy” color would be appropriate.

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 2 C all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cgranulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional food coloring (I used 4-5 drops of red food coloring to get this shade of pink)

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes.

    And it happened again...
    And it happened again…
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Re-roll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks.
For Shame...
For Shame…

Since these were standard sugar cookies, I rolled them out at 1/8″ (per the recipe).  However, seeing as how those little peckers bubbled up a little bit (probably due to re-kneading after the first cut), I would probably roll them out somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ next time and really knead them more.  I didn’t have that problem with the brownie roll out cookies – probably due to the less delicate texture of those.

Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

I’m several months backlogged on posts (literally still trying to catch up on Christmas baking), but here’s a little something from February…

I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve made them before, but they’re always too sweet for my taste, and they tend to be redundant after a while.  Feeling intrigued by the “Ad Hoc at Home” Chocolate Chip Cookies I made last December in Seattle which used two kinds of dark chocolate, I decided to give it a go again with my own taste buds in mind.

I like cookies the same way I like brownies – slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.  I found a recipe for Martha Stewart’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies”, and decided to give it a whirl for Valentine’s Day.  I added a wee bit more salt than what Martha’s recipe called for, and also added a cup of pecans which complimented the chocolate and cookie dough nicely.  I also used two different levels of dark chocolate, rather than the combo of milk and dark that Martha recommended.

Here’s my take on Martha’s recipe:

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (53% dark)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (65% dark or higher)
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1.  In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in dry mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and pecans.

Cookie Dough
Cookie Dough

3.  Drop dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in 2 rounded tablespoons, leaving 2 inches around each cookie (trust me – they will spread). Refrigerate 1 hour – this is necessary for the chewy outcome of the cookies!

Ready for the Oven
Ready for the Oven

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Bake until the edges are light golden brown, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Martha Stewart's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist
Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

This is definitely my new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I love the crispy outside and chewy center, with the rich dark chocolate chips.  It’s definitely not too sweet, but not bitter at all since it still uses relatively low levels of dark chocolate.

MS Cake Stand Showcasing My MS Choc Chip Cookies!

Thank you again, Melo, for my cake stand!

 

Martha Stewart Cookie Boxes – 2012

Oops.

The packaging for the tea-themed cookies I made for last year’s Holiday Bake-A-Thon totally slipped my mind.

I picked a new design for my holiday cookie boxes, which the Earl Grey Tea Shortbread, Chai Spiced Snickerdoodle, Glazed Lemon Cookies, and Chocolate-Mint (Nightmare Before Christmas) Pinwheel Cookies were boxed in.

Only the Earl Grey Shortbread cookies had actual tea leaves in them.  The rest of the cookies were just flavor-inspired, and I paired them with Stash brand tea bags in Peppermint Herbal Tea, Chai Spiced Black Tea, Earl Grey Black Tea, and Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea.

What's Inside
What’s Inside

While this box was far more festive than last year’s cookie boxes, I think last year’s were more my style.

All Wrapped Up!
All Wrapped Up!

However, I think for the individual packages, this year’s tagline is about on par with last year’s cheesiness.

Brew Up Some Fun, and Have a Tea-riffic Holiday!
Brew Up Some Fun, and Have a Tea-riffic Holiday!

One more post, and then I’m DONE with the Holiday Bake-A-Thon from 2012!

Potato Chip Cookies

People don’t traditionally associate dessert with Super Bowl food, so I combined two of America’s favorite snacks (the cookie and the potato chip) for this year’s Super Bowl party!

I’m proud to say I’ve been getting a little braver with my baking and improvising a lot more.  I’ve done it with cooking, but I always hesitated to do the same with baking since even the slightest bit too much or too little of something can throw a dessert’s chemistry off and completely change the texture and sometimes even the flavor.  Most of my experimenting has come with flavor rather than texture as of late.

I sourced the recipe for these cookies from Emeril, but I like my sweet-and-salty desserts a bit saltier so I adapted the recipe as such:

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips (I used Kettle Sea Salt potato chips smashed in a baggie with my hands)
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

Chocolate and potato chip dip finish (optional)
1 cup crushed potato chips (used a food processor to crush finer)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil (butter will work too)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy with a dough blender.  Two knives will work too, as I made these at a friend’s and had forgotten to bring my pastry blender. Mix in the vanilla and salt until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.

I Miss My Dough Blender
I Miss My Dough Blender

2.  Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small, firm ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated.  Place on prepared baking sheet and slightly flatten the cookie balls.  The cookies only spread a wee bit, so they only need to be about an inch apart.  Repeat with remaining dough.

3.  Bake cookies until lightly golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.

4.  If dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate with oil in the microwave (do a few 30-second increments) or in a double boiler.  Stir until smooth.  Dip half of each fully cooled cookie in the chocolate, and sprinkle with pulverized potato chips.  Let dry and set on a wire rack.

Dipped and Setting
Dipped and Setting

I probably slightly overdid the salt between using salted chips and adding more salt (I used a full teaspoon originally) than what Emeril’s recipe called for, so I dipped them in bittersweet chocolate and then sprinkled crushed potato chips on top.  They were looking a little on the plain side any way, so it worked out nicely!

My New Cake Stand. Thanks, Melo!
My New Cake Stand. Thanks, Melo!

Melody was my Sho-Yu secret santa this year and got me this fabulous Martha Stewart miniature cake stand.  I’m very excited to be using it to show off my latest edibles!

PS – I loved Beyonce’s catwalk during her half time performance this year.  I’ve been practicing it myself, but I just don’t think it’s quite on par yet…