This is definitely one of my favorite Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season cookie. However, it is almost Easter, so why did I just make them? Because they are good all freakin' year round! Oh, and my Grandma was craving them. So, with my mother working as my assistant (ha) we produced a delicious batch and the house was left smelling wonderfully like holiday spices.
It was finally time for me to make something sweet during this vacation. What would it be? Coconut cake? Oatmeal raisin cookies? I was really at a lost until my mother suggested making brownies. Of course, only the best recipe would do, and without a doubt that would the Ghiradelli brownie recipe. Upon taking the first bite my grandmother said that she had never eaten a brownie that good and "You just can't get a box mix that good."
The recipe calls for walnuts, but since I am not nuts for, well, nuts I substituted in a surprise. It ended up adding a welcome bit of tanginess to the otherwise overwhelmingly (but good) chocolatey brownies. These brownies will simply melt in your mouth, surprise or not.
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c butter or margarine, melted
3/4 c Ghiradelli Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa
2/3 c unsifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c of walnuts (original recipe, but my SURPRISE substitutes in dried cranberries, like Craisins!)
1 c 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (the can of cocoa says "optional," but I say "essential)
"Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a spoon, stir eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter. Sift Sweet Ground Chocolate with flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into egg mixture; add nuts (or surprise). Stir in chips. Spread into a greased 8" or 9" square pan. Bake 20-30 minutes (or if your oven sucks, like mine, 35 minutes). For extra chewy brownies, use 8" pan and less baking time. For cake-like brownies, use 9" pan and longer baking time. Cut into squares."
This is another one of my favorite meals, so it simply had to be made for my week home. I ended up having pasta salad two dinners in a row, because it is just SO good. In my opinion, the dish is almost better the second day as the dressing really soaks into the broccoli and croutons...mmmm, yes. I almost begin to salivate as I write this. Good thing there is a pan of fresh brownies sitting just feet away from my keyboard. No. Restraint, have a little self-control. Anyways, pasta salad. The original recipe was called "pizza salad," but as I don't make it with the pepperoni, I felt the snazzy name would be a bit ridiculous. I guess that just goes to prove, as my good friend Willy says, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet," or in modernspeak "this recipe is delicious no matter what you call it.
1 lb spiral colored macaroni; cooked and drained
1-3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4-1/2 lb cheddar cheese cubed
1/2 bunch slice green onions
3 oz pepperoni (or salami, or NEITHER)
3 crowns of broccoli
Dressing (combine in a small bowl):
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c water
2/3 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c red wine vinegar
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
Mix salad and dressing well, refrigerate several hours. Top with croutons before serving.
Looking for a little spice? Make Southwestern Pasta Salad! This is my mother's fabulous variation on the original recipe. In place of the usual vinaigrette use a mixture of 1-1.5 C ranch dressing, 1/2 c green taco sauce, and 3 Tb dry taco seasoning mix. Then, substitute 1 can of black beans, and 1 can of corn, pepper jack cheese, and crushed tortilla chips for broccoli, cheddar, and croutons. Other nice add-ins to the original recipe: kidney beans, and black olives (not to my taste, but some like them).
For St. Patrick's day (also my first dinner home during spring break), my mother taught me how to cook my favorite meal. Cabbage and Corned Beef wasn't an option for the lucky day as I am was vegetarian (going on 8 months!), but cabbage was. So, out came the recipe card for Chinese Napa Salad, a recipe my family got from an old friend some ten years ago now. The recipe here is how it is on the card, however, my mother makes a delicious lite version that I will get on here as soon as she WRITES IT DOWN (hint, hint Mom. I know you read this). Still, I think it's best to try the authentic recipe first and then adjust it to your own tastes.
Chinese Napa Salad
1 large head of cabbage, shredded
5 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 stick of butter
2 packages of Ramen noodles, without seasoning packet
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2-3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup-1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
Wash and drain cabbage.
Melt 1 stick of butter in pan, and add 2 packages of Ramen noodles (no flavor packets) broken up.
Add 1/2 cup sesame seeds and 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Sauté until golden brown. Cool.
Shake dressing and mix all ingredients just before serving.
Suggestions: Put ramen in a Ziploc bag and place a towel beneath; then, use a meat pounder to break up brick of noodles. Works great!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine shortening and salt. Add 1 C brown sugar and cream thoroughly. Add 2 C flour and blend well. Spread mixture in a greased and floured large pan (16.5''x12''). Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees or until delicately browned. Add remaining 2 C brown sugar and vanilla to beaten eggs. Beat mixture until thick and foamy. Then add 4 Tb flour, baking powder, coconut, and nuts; blend. Spread over baked mixture, carefully, so as not to tear it. Bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool for AT LEAST an hour (this will be hard as they smell so delicious that you want to devour the entire piping hot pan, but please resist) or else topping will separate from crust. Cut into small bars.
Suggestions: Don't like walnuts? Perhaps pecans would taste good; or, for an even richer bar try chocolate chips!
Living in the dorms, there is a kitchen, but by no means can you cook or bake with it. I believe someone cooked fish in there a few months back and there is still burnt fish skin around the stove, and spots of olive oil on the area where a back-splash should be.
So, when I go home, I bake. Next time I would like to try my hand at some bread, and maybe a little cooking. The purpose of this blog, therefore, will be to chronicle those adventures. I will try to include recipes, yet for now, some pictures will have to suffice.
I went home for the long weekend last week (this is an old blog reposted here, because I have been dissatisfied with Tumblr and have moved here, but keep reading knowing that "last week" was now about a month ago, heheh...), and while home I was able to bake some Tom Thumbs. I have been eating these cookies for as long as I remember. They definitely have a target audience, as not everyone appreciates shredded coconut or walnuts, but that’s ok, because if no one else eats them, I sure will.