Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookies- the redo

The night after the great blazing crockpot incident, my dear husband thought that the slow cooker cookies sounded to good to pass up, so he went out and fought the craziness of the baking section 3 days before Christmas. 4 stores and a headache later, he was home with the ingredients to make more Chocolate Peanut Clusters..... many, many, more. Each batch makes a ton, so we were able to make bunches for neighbor and friend gifts. this time I cute the cook time in half and it worked out great.
Big crockpot full of chocolate
One of the 9 sheets of clusters.
Here is the recipe:

Slow Cooker Chocolate Peanut Clusters

•2 pounds (2 - 16 ounce jars) dry roasted peanuts, salted*
•48 ounces almond bark white chocolate
•4 ounces sweet German chocolate
•10 - 12 ounces dark chocolate**
Place all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 3 hours***. Don't touch. Turn pot off and let sit for 20 minutes. Cover a large surface (about 3 square feet) with waxed or parchment paper. Stir mixture completely. Drop by teaspoons full (I used iced tea teaspoons) onto paper. Let harden and store in airtight containers.

Monday, December 21, 2009


It that time of year! Time for Christmas cookies and treats galore. What are your families favorites?

Around here we love anything with chocolate, but chocolate and peanut butter put us all over the top. My favorite cookie recipe is for the easy peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses on top. The recipe I have is so easy that the hardest part is waiting for the cookies to cool.

Easy Peanut Butter Kissy Cookies

1cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
one beaten egg
36 unwrapped kisses

Mix peanut butter sugar and egg together. Roll into 2/4 inch balls and bake for 8 minutes. Place kiss on top of each cookie and cool on the cookie sheet

Last week I was crazed making treat trays for teacher gifts. Each tray had Chocolate Chip Zucchini bread, pumpkin muffins, Easy Peanut Butter Kissy Cookies and Glitter Balls.

Glitter Balls were my 9 year olds contribution. They are made by mixing powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs and m&m's with chocolate syrup, rolling into balls and then chilling. Once the balls are cold, they are dipped in melted white chocolate and sprinkled with colored sugar. They are not for diabetics or those watching their weight! One of these will send you into a sugar coma, but they are very tasty and cute. Next time, I think we will make the balls smalled so that they are tiny little bite sized treats. That may make the sweetness easier to handle!

Unfortunately, I had my first cookie disaster of the season today. I was making a huge batch of Chocolate Peanut Clusters in my slow cooker. My slow cooker got to hot and burned all the chocolate!!! Currently my house smells like a combination of burnt chocolate, baking meatloaf and pine. Its a bit like Christmas caught on fire! Definitely not a scent that Glade will be putting in a candle soon.

So anyway, if you have ideas for great Christmas cookies, let me know. Just nothing that goes in a crockpot please!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adventures in Batch Cooking - Cook Day

Cook day was great, partially due to some good wine, but mainly because I love the ladies that I cook with. We had a great time talking and laughing while we finished assembling our meals. Several of the meals were finished at home before cook day, so we actually only finished about half of the meals on our cook day. We ended up assembling the Sage and Rosemary Pork Loin, Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf, Chicken with Black Bean Salsa, and Mexican Lasagna. The chicken for the Chicken with Black Bean Salsa had been cooked earlier in the week and the meat mixture was already made for the Mexican Lasagna, so that made things move along much quicker than the last cooking session we had. All in all I would call it a successful day! Now on to think about next month......

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cranberry Goodness!

After Thanksgiving I was left with several cans of cranberry sauce. I know that normally I would think of using canned cranberry sauce as a sin, but it is pretty good to use as an ingredient in a better sauce. Well, we ended up with some sauce leftover and put it to use.

Cranberry Chicken: the recipe is so simple it is ridiculous.

Mix a can of whole berry cranberry sauce with a packet of onion soup mix and pour it over chicken.

Bake for 40 minutes and your house will smell amazing and it looks like it was a ton of work. We served it with rice, tossed green salad and steamed asparagus. The kids love rice and it gives me a chance to use our rice cooker. We have had it almost a year and it is definitely one of the favorite small appliances in my kitchen. You can set the time that you want the rice done and it will sense the humidity and figure out when to start. The rice is perfect every time!

Our finished dinner! I think it looks almost as good as it tasted.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adventures in Batch Cooking- The Shopping

Yesterday was the big shopping day for our December batch cooking. This months menu includes :

breakfast burritos - 12

Mexican Lasagna - 2 8*8 pans or one full 10*13

Chicken Tortellini bake - 2 8*8 pans or one full 10*14

Beef and broccoli - 8 servings

Sage and Rosemary stuff Pork Loin - 2 pound roll

Chicken with Black bean salsa - 8 servings

Beef Stroganoff - 8 servings

Sausage muffins - a dozen

Spinach and Mushroom quiche - 1 pie

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf - 1.5 pound roll

The list took quite awhile to compile, but using a spreadsheet program really helped. Honestly, the shopping isn't bad, its the making of the list. If only recipes called for ingredients in the same measurements listed on the packaging. Converting cups of cheese into pounds in the bag and teaspoons into ounces takes some time. One thing I changed this time is that I used the Click and Pull service from our warehouse store. I was able to compile the grocery list online and place my order the day before. They gathered it up and had it ready the next morning. This works great for the frozen and canned items, but they don't pull things like ground beef and chickens with varying weights. My friend Anne came with me to help so that really sped things up. When we arrived at Sam's Club, the click and pull order wasn't ready yet, so we gathered what they wouldn't and then went to Walmart to get the items that didn't need to be in such large quantities. After that I went back to Sam's to pick up the order.

This is the food that was not on the Click n pull list.

The Click n Pull Flatbed

The total came to around $670 so $67 dollars each. Not bad for 10+ meals!
When we got the food back to my house, I divided it up into each persons recipe and those that were cooking ahead of time came to get their ingredients. The rest of the food went on to the host house to be help in the freezer until cook day. Now it is just time to prep so cook day will go smoothly!!

Kids can cook too!

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my 9 year old told me that she thought I had cooked enough so she was going to take over for the night. She decided to make an easy Chicken pot pie from her favorite Paula Dean cookbook. I am not sure what my favorite thing about this pot pie was: used up leftovers, really tasty or not made by me. Any way you look at it, it was a win-win dinner for me! She had a great time making it and didn't balk at eating all the veggies inside. Her siblings were pretty excited to eat something made by her as well. I am realizing more and more that if you let the kids make it, then they will most likely eat it.

Another thing the kids help make was this Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe that a friend sent to me. The little ones had a great time spreading the chocolate chips and pecans in the pie plate while big sister made the caramel sauce (with help from mom). There was no problem getting them to try it! Of course who could turn down a chocolate pecan pie with caramel drizzle?