Big Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here’s a recipe for giant chocolate chip cookies, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

I split the recipe in half. Modifications are in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (1 cup)
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda (3/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp)
  • 1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (1/2 cup = 1 stick)
  • 1 cup white sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (3/8 cup)
  • 2 eggs (1 egg)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (1 tsp)
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips (I used half a chocolate bar, cut into chunks)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture with mixer on low speed. Mix until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chunks with a wooden spoon.
  4. Drop 1/4-cup mounds of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet, 4 inches apart. One cookie sheet should hold 4 cookies. A half batch makes about 7.
  5. Bake until golden, 15 to 18 minutes. I baked mine for 13 minutes and they came out almost too brown.

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Milk-free Mashed Potatoes

If you want to stay away from milk, you can make these mashed potatoes with chicken broth and they will taste just as good.

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 red potatoes, scrubbed
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Allow the potatoes to boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are soft when pierced with a fork.
  3. Drain the potatoes and mash them. Add salt, pepper, butter, and chicken broth.

Cast Iron Steak

A cast iron skillet is the single best investment in a skillet you can make, in my opinion, and you don’t need to break the bank to do it! Bed Bath and Beyond sells a good one, but I’ve always heard the “gold standard” is Lodge. You can find a preseasoned Lodge skillet at Target for about $17, and it will last you years.

A note on cleaning cast iron skillets: Don’t use soap! Get a nice scrubbing brush or a Lodge pan scraper and release the browned bits under a stream of hot water. Dry the skillet right away so it doesn’t get rusty. To keep it seasoned and oiled, drizzle about 1/4 tsp-1 tsp vegetable or coconut oil onto the dried skillet and use a paper towel to work it onto the entire surface, including the sides. When you’re cooking with it, use a rubber skillet handle to grab it or use oven mitts because it will be very hot!

Here is my recipe for creating the tastiest filet mignon steaks (or rib eye, or whatever thick steak you can find) on a cast iron skillet.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of filet (sliced 1 inch thick)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 T butter

Directions:

  1. Heat the cast iron skillet to medium-high for a few minutes. Drizzle in the olive oil and add the butter, making sure the bottom is coated.
  2. Add the steaks and let cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, flipping once, depending on how well done you want them. For medium rare to medium I cook them a total of 8-9 minutes, and for medium to well done, I add an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the food thermometer reads 155F-160F. I recommend cooking them for less time, though, since they will taste better that way!

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies

I finally made some shortbread cookies. This recipe kept showing up on several websites and blogs. These cookies are great straight from the freezer! I’ve noted the original amounts but I used only 1/3 each amount.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 unsalted butter, softened (I used 1/4 pound, or 1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1/2)
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 1/6)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I used just a sprinkling…about 1/12)
  • 6 to 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used half a bag of Nestle semisweet morsels/large chunks)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (to combine with the chocolate when melting)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sliced almonds, for sprinkling on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, until creamed.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating another 30 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add this mixture to the stand mixer bowl, beating slowly to incorporate all ingredients.
  4. Mix on low speed for about 20 seconds, until dough forms a large clump.
  5. On a floured flat surface, roll out the dough into a flat disk or a 2-inch diameter log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or in freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
  6. You can then roll the disk flat and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces using cookie cutters, or you can slice the log into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with some sugar if you want.
  7. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes (or 16, depending on how thick you made them), until the edges are slightly browned and toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. The original recipe suggests you bake them for 20-25 minutes, which would work well if you have a finger-shaped cutter that measures 3×1 inch. However, since I used small rounds, they baked quicker.
  8. Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl, 25 seconds at a time, until chocolate and coconut oil blend together into a creamy consistency.
  9. Dip the cookies in the chocolate, using a spoon to cover all sides. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top or dip the cookies into a bowl of almonds to cover the chocolate portion with them. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with wax and place in refrigerator to harden, about 30 minutes.

You may store these cookies on the counter, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer.

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Chicken Pot Pie (Milk-Free)

I can’t believe I found such a great recipe for a milk-free chicken pot pie! I used Puff Pastry as well, and it came out great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped (I used 2)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (you can also use dairy-free butter)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 12 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies, thawed
  • 3 1/4 cup chicken broth (I used 3 cups)
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the chicken first. Marinate the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic powder, and olive oil. Place in a baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove half of the puff pastry (for the bottom layer) from the freezer and leave out on the counter to thaw, about 40 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the oven, remove foil cover, and let cool.
  4. Spray a square baking pan (2 quarts) with Pam or other cooking spray. Press the puff pastry sheet onto the baking pan, prick holes in it with a fork, and cover with foil. Pie weights would be good for blind baking here. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.
  5. While the puff pastry is baking, remove the second sheet from the freezer and leave out on the counter to thaw.
  6. Chop the chicken into small chunks and set aside.
  7. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the onion, celery, and bay leaf. Cook for 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, stirring often.
  8. Discard the bay leaf. Add the flour to the saucepan and cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the mixture turns golden.
  9. Add the chicken broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and add the chicken and thawed mixed vegetables, stirring well. The mixture will be thick. Remove from heat.
  10. Once the baked puff pastry is out of the oven, remove the foil and let it sit for a few minutes. When the chicken mixture is ready, pour it into the baking dish, making sure to spread it in an even layer.
  11. Place the second puff pastry sheet over the chicken mixture, pressing the sides down to meet the sides of the bottom sheet. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

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No-Milk Shepherd’s Pie

This is a great Shepherd’s Pie recipe that can be made without milk! You make the mashed potatoes with butter, and you can even add in a bit of chicken broth to thin it out.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds potatoes (3 large ones), peeled and quartered
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped (About 1.5 cups)
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (I used a mixture of corn, peas, and carrots)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground round beef
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with salted water, covering the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Melt half the butter (4T) in a large saucepan on medium heat and add the onion. Cook 6-10 minutes, until onion pieces are soft and tender.
  3. Add the frozen vegetables and saute for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the beef and cook until it is no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. While the meat is cooking, drain the potatoes and mash them in a bowl with the other half stick of butter (4 T). Season with salt and pepper if you wish. Add chicken broth to thin it out if you want.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a baking pan (8×13 casserole) with cooking spray and transfer the meat/vegetable mixture to the baking pan. Spread out in an even layer. Cover with the mashed potatoes.
  8. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes.

Note: This dish can be easily frozen and reheated!

Since the top layer consists of mashed potatoes, I’ve include what my bottom layer looked like when I scooped it out onto the casserole.

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Fluffy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are fluffy! They puff up when baking and remain soft and chewy for several days. I found this recipe in a Good Housekeeping Cookies book, and I’ll be making these again. I dropped the dough into blobs measuring 2 tablespoons instead of 1.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package (16 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup–I used the large Nestle morsels)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) chopped pecans, or walnuts (I used walnuts)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown and white sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture, beating until combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons (or two tablespoons if you want bigger cookies) 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375F 10-12 minutes, until golden at the edges. For my oven, 10 minutes was perfect.
  7. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool. You can also bake two batches at one time, rotating halfway between the upper and lower oven racks.

Enjoy!

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