Showing posts with label Pinterest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pinterest. Show all posts


Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

Hey there. Did you already run out of your stash of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies?? You've come to the right place. I'm about to make you forget your worries and satisfy your craving with this recipe for  homemade Thin Mints!

Once upon a time, I said I didn't like anything mint. Gradually, over the years, I have found I do like a few mint treats. The moon has to be in just the right position, with all the planets aligned, and in that moment,  for some unknown reason, BAM, I'm in the mood for mint. I think I was one of the last people on the earth to develop a love for Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. 
Whyyyyyyy? Who knows.

The bad news is, they are only available a few weeks of the year. 
The good news is, they are only available a few weeks of the year. 

I love baking, which makes entertaining my often irrational sweet cravings fairly simple to satisfy!  I pinned this recipe for Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies at The View From Great Island. These cookies are about as close to the real deal as I have tasted... except they don't have the slightly waxy chocolate coating. Again, good news, bad news. Hard to say? 
They are truly a little bite of Girl Scout cookie inspired goodness in a home made treat. 

Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies
adapted slightly from The View From Great Island

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour*

chocolate coating:
20 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, or dark dipping chocolate
2 teaspoons peppermint extract or oil

Set oven to 350 degrees
Cream butter until light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Stir in the salt, vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter resembles a thick frosting. Add the flour and mix just until the flour is combined, making sure to not over mix.
Form dough into a ball.
Using about 1/3 of the dough at a time, roll it thin on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8-inch. Cut cookies using 2-inch cutter. Gather the scraps and press together lightly and cut remaining cookies. Place up to 20 cookies on a jelly roll pan, lined with parchment paper or lightly grease a cookie sheet. The cookies will not spread much while baking.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely before removing from baking sheet. 
While the cookies bake, make the peppermint coating. Chop the baking chocolate into very small, thin pieces. Place in a glass bowl or similar container and microwave for about 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a spoon or a whisk. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the peppermint extract.
Gently drop the cookies, one at a time, into the coating. Turn to coat entirely, then lift the cookie out of the chocolate with the fork and tap the fork on the side of the pan until the extra coating drips off. Place on a parchment baking sheet, and repeat for the rest of the cookies. Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer to set for a few minutes.
Yield about 50-2 inch cookies.

-Fluff the flour and lightly scoop with a spoon into the measuring cup, then level off with a knife to insure you don't get too much flour in the cookie dough.
-The dough is a little stiff and tends to crack while rolling out. No problem, just press it back together with hands. 
-Melt the chocolate just before you are ready to dip, and make sure to whisk in the extract well. 


Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat Bread (copycat)

I'm trying to figure out where the past 12 months went.
A year ago, this was our  life…

February 2013.
The coldest February in the history of the world to move. Not kidding when I say the snow stayed on the lawn until April.  It was that kind of winter.
Hooray for 2014. Yesterday, it was 55 and no snow in sight in the neighborhood. It's feeling like SPRING out there. It's kind of weird, really. This time of year is usually reserved for comfort food recipes. You know, "stay inside and bake up a storm while it's snowing outside" type of food. It was practically shorts weather yesterday, but I was inside, pretending it was cold, baking bread.

This recipe is the closest I've tried to the Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat recipe. It's made with five ingredients you can pronounce, and it is absolutely delicious. If you haven't experimented with making wheat bread yet,  read the tips on this post, it will give you some helpful pointers.
Happy Baking!

Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat Bread (copycat)
adapted from Eat Cake for Dinner found on Pinterest
print recipe

1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast ( I like SAF brand)
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (approx)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine yeast, water and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer; let sit for 5 minutes or until frothy and bubbly.
Place the paddle attachment on the mixer, if using a stand mixer.
Add 3 cups of flour, mix. Add salt and another cup of flour, mix until combined. 
At this point you should have added a total of four cups of flour. The recipe may take a little less, or a little more, depending on climate.
The dough should barely pull away from the sides of the bowl when it has the proper amount of flour added. Using the dough hook, knead for 4 minutes on low.  Cover dough and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled.
After the first rise, punch down dough with floured or greased hands, shape and place in a greased loaf pan. 
Let rise again until doubled.
Preheat oven to 350, set rack in middle of oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove bread from oven.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove loaf and cool completely.

-This recipe is easily doubled, I made two batches, side by side. I didn't want to crowd the mixing bowl, so the flour would mix in properly.
-If you use freshly ground wheat flour, you might need to add 5- 5 1/2 cups of flour.
-You may omit 1/2 cup of the flour and add 1/2 cup of seeds such as sunflower, flax, oats, etc.
-When mixing the bread, add the flour a little at a time to make sure the flour is mixed well into the dough. I used about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups total in my dry climate. If you live in a more humid climate, you may need to use less flour.
-It is important to let the dough mix properly in the bowl.  I set the timer to make sure it has kneaded for four full minutes after all of the flour is added. You will be surprised at how long 4 minutes is, when you are mixing and have the timer set!
-30 minutes seems like a short bake time, but it turns out perfectly.
-I used King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour you can purchase at your local grocery, or purchase on Amazon, through this link.


Fried Corn, Sage and Bacon Stuffing

If you have a bacon lover coming to Thanksgiving dinner, you need to make this dish. They'll love the combo of fried bacon, corn, onions and sage. I'm not saying abandon your favorite traditional stuffing, just add this one to the list of dishes you are making.  BTW, Are you getting your list together, checking it twice?
Want to know how to enjoy Thanksgiving day and not totally go bonkers while preparing and serving the ultimate feast?
Two words.
I know what you're thinking.
"Go out"  See how well I know you??
The words are: PLAN AHEAD.
I'm totally into make-ahead for Thanksgiving. You can make and bake a day or two ahead and simply heat up just before serving dinner (see tips below for keeping dishes hot with a cooler or  box). Making stuffing ahead is always in my game plan.
Need some ideas for the big day? I'll be posting almost every day this week.  A crock pot dish, a new twist on Cranberry Sauce, a beautiful and simple salad and a step-by-step to a perfect pie.  If you want to see my favorites, you can also check out my Pinterest board: Thanksgiving, the most wonderful time of the year.
Get ready. Time to get your Thanksgiving on.

Fried Corn, Sage and Bacon Stuffing
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

1/2 lb of bacon, chopped into one inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup corn, fresh, frozen or drained from a can
8-10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
8-10 cups french bread cubes, dried, or boxed bread cubes for stuffing*
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1- 14.5 oz can chicken broth
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided in half
additional olive oil for drizzling on top of stuffing

Fry bacon in a pan until crispy. Drain off grease and set bacon aside on a paper towel to drain. Wipe out pan with paper towel. Using same pan, heat to medium high and add olive oil, onion and corn. Fry until onion is soft and corn begins to turn a golden color, about 5 minutes.
Lower heat to medium.  Add chopped sage and garlic, cook for about 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Place 8 cups of dried bread in large bowl. Add fried ingredients. Toss in melted butter, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, chicken broth and 1/2 cup of chopped parsley.
*If the stuffing is too wet (very sticky and bread seems soggy instead of moistened with liquid, add the additional two cups of bread cubes.
Place all ingredients into  9x13 or other baking pan. Drizzle with additional olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons). Cover with foil and bake on middle rack at 375 for about 30-40 minutes total or until warmed through and golden on top. Remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking.

Tips and how to make your own warming oven:
-If you would like to prepare this for make ahead, assemble, cover with foil and place in refrigerator. One hour before baking, remove and set on counter. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for about 40 minutes,  on middle rack in oven. If the dish is a bit dry, add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth by drizzling on top of casserole before baking. Re-seal foil and bake. Remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking.

-If you need to keep multiple dishes such as yams, stuffing, or mashed potatoes warm and you are short on oven space, or you want to transport dishes and keep them warm, make your own warming oven. You will need a regular cooler or a cardboard box.  Line the box or cooler with newspaper. If you are using a cooler, make sure to use a thick enough layer so when you place the hot dish inside of the cooler, it won't melt the plastic.  Cook the dish according to recipe. Remove from oven. Place a layer of foil on top of the dish. Seal edges.
Lay the pan flat in the bottom of a cooler, box or tub. Place a cookie sheet on top of the pan if you need to stack dishes. Try to lay newspaper in between as well, to make an insulted layer. Layer some more newspaper on top of the dish. I have sometimes loosely wrapped the dish in newspaper to add extra insulation if I am transporting and not serving the dish for a while.  Close the lid and don't peek. This will keep dishes hot for about 2-3 hours after baking. The key is to place the dish into the box immediately after removing from oven, and to refrain from opening the box after placing the dishes inside, until ready to serve. Make sure to secure the dishes if you are transporting (stuff the box with extra wadded up newspaper to make sure the dishes do not move around, and don't leave the box outside in the cold.


Brisket Tacos with Mango Barbecue Relish

People often ask where I get ideas to make all of the recipes I post on ABK?  Besides my enormously huge and creative mind (eheheh) some of my ideas come from:
1. My cookbook collection (over 300 at last count)
2. I'm a cooking magazine addict. Have I ever told you how difficult it is for me to part with magazines??  When we moved down the street last winter, so did stacks of magazines. I did manage to toss boxes of Bon Appetite and Gourmet mags that were from the 80's and 90's into the recycle bin. Ridiculous, I know.  If they ever make a show called "Hoarders, Magazine Addition" I'll be on the pilot.
3. If you've read ABK for any length of time, you know my new favorite place to find recipes is  on Pinterest. Love the visuals. Love the convenience of literally hundreds of thousands of recipes available with a simple right click. Last week, I pinned a recipe on my board  "Cooking, Next on my List". There were so many re-pins the next day,  I decided to test out this recipe ASAP.
We loved it. The caption another Pinner left under the photo read "Now THIS is Texas!!" Crockpot tacos.  I'm not sure about the Texas part (if y'all are Texans, you'll have to try this out and let me know what you think).  
This recipe has a sweet twist. You'll have to give up a can (or two) of Dr. Pepper for the sauce. You know it's going to be good if the recipe calls for meat swimming in DP.  And the Mango Relish? Stash the leftovers for topping your eggs in the morning. Yummy.

Leftover meat? See recipe idea in "Tips" below.

Brisket Tacos with Mango Barbecue Relish
adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride
print recipe

3-4 lb brisket, shoulder or cross rib roast
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz  Dr. Pepper, not diet (I'm sure Coke or Pepsi will work as well)

Mango Barbecue Relish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 – 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup or bbq sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Spicy Brown mustard
1/4 cup mango chutney
8 flour or corn tortillas
olive oil or cooking spray, to brush tortillas
chopped red pepper and onions (sautéed or fresh), sliced avocado, fresh mango, lime for garnish

Note- Don't let the length of this recipe scare you off. It's basically 3 simple steps:
cook meat in slowcooker, make a (less than 5 minute) relish/bbq sauce and assemble the tacos or quesadillas. 

Rub the meat with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic.
Place brisket in slow cooker and pour the Dr. Pepper around the sides and a little over the top, taking care to not wash away all of the spice.
Cook on low for 8 hours, or in the oven covered tightly at 250 for 6-8  hours.
Remove meat from the crockpot. Slice or pull apart meat. Drain off some of the juice. Keep meat warm until ready to assemble.
Mango bbq Relish: 
While meat is cooking, heat olive oil in a 2-qt sauce pan. Saute onions for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and run until smooth, or use a immersion blender and blend in pan. Set aside until ready to assemble tacos. 
Heat a griddle or large pan over medium-high. Cook the tortillas just until warmed. Place tortillas on plate.
Top with warm meat and mango relish. Garnish as desired.
Yield: 8-10 servings

-Make sure to use regular, not Diet Dr. Pepper.
-This dish may be served as quesadillas or tacos. To make quesadillas, shred Monterey Jack cheese, spread over tortillas, top with meat and a bit of mango relish. Grill, slice and serve.
-I used the leftover meat (about 2 cups) and sautéed an onion and a red pepper as a base for chili. 
Add a can of small red beans and a can of chili beans, a chopped tomato and a bit of water. Simmer and serve.  


Tomato, Cucumber and Cottage Cheese Salad

Don't you love it when you Pin something, and click on the photo, expecting to be taken to the link that will provide the recipe, then- nothing? Dud. A while back, I Pinned a photo of a salad that I thought looked perfect for late summer months. When I tried to see the link to the photo, it was a dead end. No recipe link. Oh well.
I looked at the photo again, and discovered this: You don't need to be Martha to figure this one out.
All you need are: tomato, cucumber, cottage cheese and about 5 minutes.
Best three ingredient salad.

Tomato, Cucumber and Cottage Cheese Salad
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

Tomatoes, any type about 2 cups
Cucumbers, about 1 large or 3-4 small
16 oz low fat cottage cheese, I prefer small curd
fresh ground pepper

Wash and cut the tomatoes. Wash the cucumbers and seed if desired. Slice the cucumbers into small pieces or if using large cukes, slice long way, into fourths, so you have four long slices, then seed. Cut the cucumber into chunks. I like to leave the skin on for color.
Using a medium size bowl, preferably clear, layer the tomatoes, cucumber and cottage cheese, as you would if making a yogurt parfait. Place in fridge until ready to serve.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

-This salad can be made year 'round, but is best in the summer months when garden cucumbers and tomatoes are available. That said, it is also best made with tomatoes that are NOT juicy. I like to make it  with cherry or grape tomatoes (simple to slice them in half, or leave them whole in the salad) so there is not an issue with the tomatoes giving off too much water and making the salad runny.


Banana Chocolate Chip Layer Cake

Don't you love a good celebration? I baked up this cake to celebrate ABK's five year bloggeversary! Whoot. Not really.
I mean, I did bake this cake, but not for the bloggeversary. Just Sunday dinner. Since we all were busy running around, cramming in every possible end-of-summer activity in August, I thought celebrating A Bountiful Kitchen's five year mark should wait until after Labor Day.
You won't want to miss it.
Next week.
It involves a blender.
The. Very. Best. Blender.
You have to have a Pinterest account to enter the giveaway. We're having a little tutorial at the end of the week for those of you who haven't jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon. My oldest daughter, Corrine, who has her own blog  Mint Arrow  (finding the best deal on quality items, never paying full price-click on the link and check it out) is going to guest post on ABK and help you, if you are not yet  Pinterest addicted savvy.
Oh, and if you have bananas sitting on your counter attracting fruit flies, mash them up (the bananas, not the fruit flies) and make this cake. It takes one bowl and about 5 minutes to mix up.
It is divine.

Banana Chocolate Chip Layer Cake 
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3-4 medium bananas (equaling about 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk, half and half or cream

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line (with parchment paper) two-9 inch round cake pans.
Place sugar, bananas, soft butter, oil, buttermilk and eggs in large bowl or stand mixer. Mix for about 2 minutes, until all ingredients are mixed well. Add all of the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips and mix for an additional one to two minutes on high speed. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly into the two prepared pans.
Bake on middle rack of oven for about 40 minutes, or toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Let cake cool, then frost with buttercream frosting.

Cream butter with all dry ingredients. Add vanilla, and milk a little at a time until desired consistency.
Place one of the cakes on platter, frost with 1/3 of frosting. Place second layer on top, frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Top with chopped nuts, if desired.

-This cake can also be baked in a 9x13 pan. Bake for additional 5-10 minutes, to insure middle of cake is cooked completely.


Tessa's Mini-Melts with Poppyseed Drizzle

Almost five months have gone by since this day...

Two years is a long time! My oldest son, Stephen left home to serve an LDS mission in Puebla, Mexico on February 16, 2011 (if you've been reading ABK for a while, you'll remember this post).  He returned two years, one month and three days later. That afternoon we dashed off to the airport with ballons and signs in hand. Our immediate and extended family gathered there, along with families of other missionaries who were returning that day. So much excitement. So much joy. So glad to have him  home!
In honor of Stephen serving for two years we celebrated his return with (what else?) food. We made  lots of salads, treats and some fun little sandwiches. It was nice to have something hot with the salads that didn't require too much time in the kitchen when we wanted to enjoy spending time with our newly returned missionary. Tessa gave me this recipe after she made dinner for a large group of sorority girls at the U. She said the girls loved them, and I thought, if they're good enough for the Chi-Omega's they're good enough for us! They take just a few minutes to put together, and are perfect for parties of any sort.
Grateful to have Stephen home.
So proud of his willingness to sacrifice and share the good word of God with the sweet people of Mexico.
Two years is a long time.
Yes, it is.

Mini-Melts with Poppy Seed Drizzle
Tessa Reinemer

3 dozen soft dinner rolls 
2 pounds deli meat (or have the deli slice up the exact amount of slices you need)*
1 pound sliced deli cheese, or approx 18 slices, cut in half

2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespooon minced dehydrated onion (optional)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Slice rolls and put small amount of turkey or ham with one slice of cheese.  Place sandwiches in 2- 9x13 baking dishes or one large jelly roll pan.  
Heat ingredients for topping in a saucepan until butter is melted. Brush or spoon topping onto sandwiches right before cooking.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.
Serves about 15-20.

Tips (aka more than you ever wanted or needed to know about making baked sandwiches):
-These sandwiches may be assembled in advance.  A day before is fine, but don't brush with drizzle until right before cooking.  Store in fridge covered tightly with foil.
-*Deli meat- Slice the meat in half with a sharp knife (I cut the meat all at once). If you have 36 rolls, order 18 slices of deli meat, cut in half. 
-We used a combo of ham/swiss and turkey/havarti. Both were delicious.
-For a gathering at the school, and Anibelle's baby blessing, I used Costco large croissants and cut them in half after stuffing with meat and cheese. We used:
3 doz  large croissants
4 lbs ham or turkey
2 lbs sliced cheese
Served approx 75. 

-I use the Walmart Brand rolls, found near their deli when making these for a large (100+) crowd. I pinned the rolls here, so you can see what they look like. The rolls come 16 to a package. I like these for a crowd, because they are inexpensive and they stack well, without smashing if you need to buy a large quantity. I have also used a roll that looks similar to a Granny Sycamore cluster roll from Costco. They only sell these in the fall and winter months. This roll is much thicker than the Walmart brand roll,  and I add more meat to the sandwich when using the Granny roll, so the meat is not lost in the roll!
-Cooking for 100:
plan on about 1 1/2 rolls per person if you are serving other buffet items such as salads, appetizers, sweets.
10 packages of "The Bakery" rolls from Walmart, (Potato or Sweet Hawaiian) 16 per pkg =160 rolls
Deli meat sliced, approx 80 slices, cut in half to yield 160 slices
cheese slices, approx 80 slices, cut in half to yield 160
1 1/4 lb butter, melted (5 sticks)
8 tablespoons poppy seeds
6 tablespoons mustard
3-4 tablespoons dehydrated onion (optional)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
Follow directions above for baking.


(Almost) Swig Sugar Cookies and one long story behind them...

If you live in St George, Utah, or have visited St. George over the past few months you've heard about the buzz surrounding SWIG. It's a little cookie shack (two locations) rumored to be hauling in thousands of dollars each day. They sell cookies, ice cream, donuts, shaved ice and get this- "Dirty Diet Coke".  The Mormons in St. George are a pretty tame bunch ( I know this, bc they're my peeps). Slap the name "dirty" on a soda and you have a small stampede outside your place of business. This is about as wild as it gets if you're a Mormon :) The "dirty" in the soda, btw is a free add-in flavoring such as coconut, cherry, lime, etc.
Here's a pic of a famous St. George landmark, in case you haven't ever been there. It's a beautiful town located about 2 hours north of Las Vegas.

St George Temple

The skinny :
The big deal at Swig is the sugar cookie (which is actually baked by the folks at Dutchman's Market/Cravings Bakery in Santa Clara). Dutchman's has a FB page, if you scroll down their page, they show a pic of the cookies sold in their store, along with what they call "muddy" sodas. Maybe they call it a muddy soda after mud filled their shop? Dutchman's went under (literally) last year when there was a devastating flood in Santa Clara. They recently re-opened and are selling cookies in their bakery. It looks like they sell their cookies at room temperature, prefrosted. The Swig cookie is served cold and frosted with room temp frosting after you place your order. St George is a hot, dry place, so a cool cookie and Coke are a perfect combo.

My opinion:
I Pinned a recipe posted online that was supposed to be a knock off recipe of the Swig Sugar Cookie. After looking at the recipe, I knew it would not produce a cookie like the Swig cookie. It looks beautiful in the post, but doesn't have the Swig cookie texture. A few years ago, I posted this recipe, which is almost identical to the knock off recipe posted. It has a lighter, more shortbread-like texture than the Swig cookie. I've baked sugar cookies with cream cheese or sour cream in the dough, and thought the sour cream gave the cookie a (heavier) texture, similar to the Swig cookie.  Have I totally lost you yet?  I tried an entirely different recipe, altered a bit to create a heavier cookie. Still not quite right. I pulled up recipes and compared and decided the Swig cookie is so dense, it is likely to not have any egg in the dough. I altered the cookie again, and swapped the baking soda for baking powder. I also tried cream of tarter (see my note below about that experiment).  Yes, I feel like I should be auditioning for a job at America's Test Kitchen.  My final result is a cookie very similar to the Swig cookie. If you strip away the frosting on the Swig cookie, it is a very bland tasting treat. The cookie is so bland, that I added vanilla and sugar to make the cookie more flavorful. I couldn't help myself. 

The End. Almost:
For what it's worth, I've had better sugar cookies. This is coming from a person who has eaten hundreds of sugar cookies in my life, thus far. Not a proud moment. Anyway. I prefer a softer, lighter and more moist sugar cookie than the Swig cookie. After extensive taste testing on several of the Swig Sugar cookies, I've decided the cookie is more like a cross between a shortbread slash flattened out sweet biscuit than a cookie. It is not very flavorful and quite dry- which may be a good thing, since it is often served with a Coke or Dr. Pepper. And don't forget about the flavor shot in the drink. A bland cookie goes well with a sweet drink and/or a flavor-spiked soda. 
I'm standing by my theory that all the fuss is about a cold cookie, served in a hot climate, with a fun drink.
That said, I gave samples to lots of friends, fam, etc. Almost everyone loved this cookie. They all raved about how good it is. Was. Whatever.

Are you still reading? Wow. You get a prize. 
I'm going to bring you some cookies. Yes, some of the one hundred and twelve dozen test cookies I've made over the past few days. I'm not joking. 
Here it is, my version of the Swig Cookie, for your baking pleasure.
Oh, don't forget the Dirty Dr. Pepper. 
You'll need it. 

Update** October 2013
After making dozens of batches of this recipe for the last five months, I've altered the recipe again.
I will enter the updates in RED below. Tricia, a reader suggested (after trying to eat dairy-free for a month) to try substituting shortening instead of butter to get the desired crunch, and crumbly fall apart texture in the original Swig cookie. I tried and she is absolutely right! I still liked the flavor of half butter and half shortening, so I still use part butter in my cookies. Thanks for leaving a comment Tricia!

(Almost) Swig Sugar Cookies
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

1/2 cup butter or  (1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup Butter Flavor or Regular Crisco)
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional) or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
dash of salt
1 drop red food coloring
1-2 tablespoons milk**

Preheat oven to 325 convection or 350 regular bake.
Take butter out of refrigerator and microwave for about 15 seconds. Place butter, shortening and cold sour cream in a mixing bowl. Mix for about one minute. Add sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth. Add all dry ingredients at once. Mix just until flour disappears and the mixture comes together in a ball of dough, about 1-2 minutes on very low speed. 
Spray the cookie scoop with a little cooking spray. Scoop the dough onto a  lightly greased cookie sheet. I use either a 1 3/4 inch or a 2 inch scoop. A two inch scoop will produce a cookie similar in size to the Swig cookie. If you don't have a cookie scoop, use an ice cream scoop or roll the dough into a ball about the size of a golf ball. It is best to use a scoop and overfill it a bit to get the desired jagged edge. 
Place about 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl.
Spray the bottom of a flat glass with cooking spray. Flatten one cookie a bit then dip the glass in sugar Press the bottom of the glass against the cookie.  Press the cookies so they are flattened a bit, twisting the glass as you press to produce a jagged edge.  I bake 8 cookies per tray. Continue until all cookies are flattened. 
Bake in oven for about 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden and cookies are slightly firm to the touch. Remove from oven, let cool. Place the cookies in the fridge and chill. 
Prepare the frosting:
Beat together the butter, sour cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. When all ingredients are incorporated, add the drop of food coloring and milk if the frosting needs to be thinned. 
Frost after the cookies are completely chilled. 
Makes about 14 small or 8-10 large cookies. I almost always double this recipe. 

Tips and (surprise) a few more comments:
-*If you want the cookies to taste more like the Swig cookies make this adjustment to the dough:
 omit the vanilla and reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup. I prefer the cookies to be a bit sweeter, so I liked 3/4 cup of sugar in the dough.
-I like the cookies made with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of almond extract in the dough, along with the 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
-**The Swig cookie is frosted with quite a thin layer of frosting. I prefer my frosting to be a bit thicker. If you want to frost the cookie with a thinner frosting, add about 3-4 tablespoons of milk to the frosting.
 -The bit of crunch on the edge of the Swig cookie could be from the baking method, or from cream of tarter substituted for the baking powder. Cream of tarter adds a bit of a crunch, but also a hint of tang, which I didn't detect in the Swig cookie. In one of my test batches, I tried 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter along with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and thought the cookie was too tangy, not at all like the Swig cookie. ** See update above recipe on 10/2013
-This cookie stays quite well in the fridge for about a week if kept in an air tight container.

I read some of the comments left by readers on another knockoff recipe. Some of the comments left were (to put it mildly) not very nice. What's up with that? People. Relax. It's just a recipe. 
I posted this recipe because several people have asked me about the Swig recipe.
This is not the Swig recipe. It's a recipe similar in texture and flavor. If you want to try another knockoff recipe, which I mention in this post, you can check it out here.

My work is done. On to the dishes...


BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start to Summer. Summer. Summer.
It's been a long Spring here in Utah. One of those keep 4 blankets,boots,hat,gloves,scarf and portable heater at all times in your car for the baseball game seasons. So glad it is finally warming up.
Summer means salads. I've been looking for an excuse to try out this recipe I Pinned a while back.
Verdict? Loved it. My new favorite.
I think there is a similar salad at CPK? This salad comes from the blog Erin's Food Files. She adapted the recipe from Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe, but added her own twist, by throwing in some roasted sweet potatoes and succotash (a dish consisting of corn and any type of beans cooked together).
Hello Summer. So glad you're almost here.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing
Adapted from Erins Food Files and Mel's Kitchen

Chicken* early in the day, or day before prepare chicken in marinade:
4 chicken breast halves, any fat trimmed off
3/4 cup of barbecue sauce to marinate chicken

1 large head romaine
12 cups lettuce Spring Mix or Spinach (about 1/2 of a Costco box of Spring Mix)
2 sweet potatoes, baked or grilled on bbq  just until soft
olive oil for brushing on sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 limes
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2-15 oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed ( I like S&W brand regular or organic)
3 cups corn, frozen
1 teaspoon each sea salt & pepper

1 1/3 cup mayonnaise, light or regular, I used light Best Foods
2/3 cup buttermilk, sour cream, or nonfat greek yogurt, I used light sour cream
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
few generous dashes fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (you may use either home made or bottled) and additional for drizzling on salad
2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed for thinning dressing

The day before serving salad or early in the day:

Marinate chicken in BBQ sauce at least 6 hours. I like to use a large Ziplock bag. After marinating, preheat grill, and cook chicken until done.  Barbecue the chicken on low heat for about 8-9 minutes per side, depending on thickness of meat. Remove from heat, check for doneness. If cooked through, let rest for about 5-10 minutes. Slice after cooled.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add beans & corn, season with salt & pepper. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine all the ingredients together and whisk (or shake, if using a jar) vigorously to combine. I used a blender and pulsed the ingredients.

Place lettuce on platter or large bowl. Layer on top of lettuce with black bean & corn succotash, sweet potatoes, and chicken. Drizzle with additional BBQ sauce, followed by the Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing.

-Great dish for make-ahead. I made the entire salad the night before and bagged all of the ingredients separately. Then in the afternoon, took to a luncheon and assembled it in just a few minutes.
-You may use any combo of ingredients for the succotash. It would be delicious with red or yellow peppers, chopped onion (red, yellow or white) or tomatoes. I added  small grape tomatoes and loved the color and flavor.
-This serves about 20 as a side dish, and is easily halved.
-I like to make my own bbq sauce (recipe found here), but didn't have any on hand, so I used 'Sweet Baby Rays" bottled sauce in this dressing, and for the marinade.
-For the sweet potatoes, I wrapped the potatoes in foil and grilled them on my bbq (350 degrees) for about an hour. After they were softened, I cut them into about 3/4 inch slices, brushed both sides with olive oil and grilled them just until they were cooked a bit more and had grill marks on the outside of the potatoes.
You can eliminate the step of wrapping in foil and baking the potatoes. Simply place the peeled, sliced potato onto a greased baking sheet and bake or broil until softened. Or grill pieces on the bbq grill.
After the potatoes are cooked, gently chop.
-If you are a cheese lover, grate some cheese on top - Monterrey Jack would work well. I don't think this salad needs cheese, there are lots of flavors in the salad, and with the creamy dressing, I think cheese is a little overkill. Just my two cents :)


Billion Dollar Bars aka Homemade Candy Bars

Do you Pinterest?
Apparently everyone is Pinning these days.
Last week, Bonnie Oscarson was named the new General Young Women President of the LDS (Mormon) church. The lead line of a news story I read about Sister Oscarson stated that she is on Pinterest. Of course,  people weighed in on her activity online. Some of the comments stated were negative. Others positive. My thought?
Wow, she's one of us :)
Here's a recipe I found recently and Pinned. If you are a peanutbutterandchocolate kind of gal, you have to make this.
R I G H T  N O W .

Billion Dollar Bars

Bottom Chocolate Layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or half semi-sweet)
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup peanut butter
Melt milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a pan over low heat; stirring constantly. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13″ baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray or lined with plastic wrap which is long enough to drape over sides of the pan. Spread mixture and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Nougat Layer
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1/3 cup peanut butter
1-1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts (optional)
Melt butter over medium heat in pan; add sugars and evaporated milk; bring to a boil, and cook additional 5 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat and add marshmallow creme and peanut butter. Pour over the bottom layer and gently spread mixture. If you use peanuts, scatter across the top. Place in the refrigerator for 15 - 30 minutes.

Caramel Layer
1 (14-ounce package) caramel candy
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
Place the unwrapped caramel candy, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the mixture has completely melted and is smooth. Pour in the pan and quickly spread over nougat layer. Place in the refrigerator for 15 - 30 minutes.

Top Chocolate Layer
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or half semi-sweet)
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
chopped almonds
Melt milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter in a pan over low heat, stirring consistently. Pour over the caramel layer and spread. 
Sprinkle chopped nuts over top of chocolate while still soft. 
Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares. These are very rich, cut into small squares. If eating right away, place on platter and serve. If the bars start to get too soft, place in refrigerator to firm up a bit. 
Store in an air-tight container in refrigerator.


Warm Caramelized Pear and Asparagus Salad

Brookie called me a couple of weeks ago and told me she made the most wonderful salad for dinner. I knew the boys would not be thrilled about a spinach, warm pear and asparagus salad, so I threw it together one night when it was just me and the doggie at home. Since Jack is not generally interested in greens, I was able to have the entire salad to myself.
Oh my goodness.
So simple. So delicious. Sweet, savory. You know how I feel about that combo.
You have to try this.

Warm Caramelized Pear and Asparagus Salad
adapted from Season with Spice
print recipe

2 Bosc pears – cored and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 lb of asparagus,  tough ends snapped off
A handful of pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh spinach
Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese, optional

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.
In a large skillet or frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pear wedges and cook for a minute over medium heat (turn wedges over once). Using tongs, move the pears to one side of pan. Add asparagus to pan and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add nuts and cook for another minute until the asparagus is just tender and pear is softened and browned on the edges. Remove from heat and place on top of spinach on serving platter or individual salad plates. If you would like the nuts to be sweetened, sprinkle a little sugar on top of the walnuts or pecans.
Crumble cheese on top if using. Drizzle a small amount of dressing on top of each salad.
Serve warm.
Serves about 4-6

-Prepare all of the ingredients before starting to cook. This recipe comes together quickly and it is best to have everything ready so the salad may be served warm.
- Depending on the firmness of the pears and asparagus, cooking time may vary. You may need to turn the heat up a bit to medium-high heat to get the pear to caramelize.
-I left the cheese off and loved this salad. I think goat cheese would be best and add a little creamy tang to the salad.
-Adding sugar to the nuts is optional- I added about a teaspoon at the end of cooking.
-This salad took me less than 15 minutes to make.
-This salad is best served warm, but is also good served at room temperature.


Blueberry Light Wheat Pancakes with Maple Butter

I made the Maple Butter two ways. Above I followed directions and cooked the syrup. The second time I simply whipped the room temp butter with 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup (below).

I lovelovelove breakfast. I remember talking to my friend Nick about how people just don't eat or go out to eat breakfast much any more (unless you count McD's).
Sad. I'm a HUGE breakfast fan. If I have a chance to go out for either breakfast or lunch, I'll choose breakfast nine out of ten times.  At home, I make breakfast every morning for the baby.  I found this recipe at Leanne Bakes, a wonderful blog filled with yummy dishes. I changed up the recipe by adding cake flour (to lighten the cakes) and yogurt (instead of banana for moisture and tang) to the original recipe and then modified the maple butter to a simplified version.
We loved these cakes!  Grant, Jake and I ate the entire batch. Jake complained about the pancakes being "all healthy" because he saw me adding yogurt. Good thing he didn't catch the wheat addition...
I guess the fact that he ate about ten pancakes total means the wheat and yogurt didn't kill him.

Blueberry Light Wheat Pancakes with Maple Butter
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe
1 cup cake flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
2 cups thick buttermilk (I like Winder Dairy brand)
1/2 cup thick vanilla yogurt (I used Chobani)
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh ( if frozen, see note below)

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl.
In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients: buttermilk, yogurt, eggs and oil  and stir until blended.
Add the wet ingredient to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or non-stick frying pan to medium high heat.
Using a ¼ cup measure, pour batter onto pan. Cook just until bubbles begin to form, then flip carefully.
Continue to cook for an additional 2-4 minutes until pancake is done in the middle.  Test by quickly pressing on the center of the pancake and check to see if the cake springs back. Do not pat down the pancake, do not flip more than one time.
Top with Maple Butter.

Maple Butter
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup butter
Heat the maple syrup in a saucepan, until it reaches 240F.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
Whip in a stand mixer until combined well, about 10 minutes.

-If you are using frozen blueberries,do not thaw berries first. Add the berries to the batter after you have poured the batter on the griddle. Sprinkle a few berries on each pancake. Let cook, then flip to cook the other side. Resist the urge to flatten out the pancake or “even up” the pancake. This will result in a pancake that is not light and airy. If you add frozen berries to the batter and mix, the berries will bleed into the batter as they thaw, and you'll end up with blue batter.
-I tried the maple butter as written above, then also made it using 1 cup butter softened, and ½ cup pure maple syrup beaten for about 10 minutes. It saved the step of of boiling the maple syrup and produced a thicker butter than the boiled method. If you are looking for more of a syrup, use the cook method, if you want a thick, spreadable butter, just beat butter and syrup together.


Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs

Once in a blue moon, I attempt cooking ribs at home.
Master of the grill?
The last time I cooked ribs, I threw them on the bbq, smothered them with sauce, started out on low heat, grew impatient after about an hour (surprising, I know) and turned the heat up. The result- a tough, sticky, chewy mess.
I had all but given up on cooking ribs at home until I saw this recipe on  Pinterest.

The recipe suggests that slow cooking the ribs, then broiling them for just a few minutes after they are cooked to add color and that little bit of caramelizing of the sauce is what makes them both moist and beautiful.
The ribs were tender beyond belief. The meat literally fell off the bone- so much, that there were a couple of bones sitting on the platter after I transferred them from the pan and Grant thought I had eaten a few before dinner started!
Don't let the length of the recipe scare you. Most of the time required for this recipe takes place in the oven, while you are off getting a pedi, having a root canal, going to church, driving carpool, working... you get the picture.
Perfect busy-day dish. I'm thinking baseball season. Want to know my resolve for this season? I know I tell you this (or a variation of this) every year. Here it is:  We will not eat licorice and sunflower seeds for dinner. We will not eat licorice and sunflower seeds for dinner. We will not eat licorice and sunflower seeds for dinner. Check back with me in a few weeks and I'll let you know how it's going...

Oh, one last thing. Once the weather warms up a bit, I'm going to try the final broiling step outside on the grill.
Maybe I'll become a Grill Master after all :)

Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution
and Heather at Mmm is for Mommy
yield 6-8 adult servings*
print recipe

4 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon each salt and pepper
8-9 lbs pork ribs* - leave the membrane on the ribs to help hold them together
2 cups barbecue sauce, home made is always best (recipe below), but bottled will work
Vegetable oil spray
foil to cover pan if you don't have a tight fitting lid

About 9 hours before serving start this process. Most of the time will be cooking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place rack in the middle of oven. You will be reducing the oven temperature right after placing the ribs in the oven.
In a small bowl, mix together paprika, brown sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture all over both sides of ribs. Good to do this with food handlers gloves on unless you enjoy a slightly orange colored hand for the rest of the day.

Arrange ribs in a large heavy pan with a lid*, fat side up. See note below if you do not have a lid to fit your large pan. Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs, cover tightly and place ribs in oven.

Reduce the temperature to 200 and cook ribs for 6-8 hours. Do not open oven door, do not lift the lid or foil off the pan.
After the ribs are cooked, remove the pan from the oven. Line a cookie sheet with foil and carefully place the ribs meat side up on the lined sheet. The ribs will be very tender and fall apart easily. I use a large spatula and some tongs. It is okay to cut the ribs a bit for easier handling. Set aside.
Pour the sauce remaining in the pan into a saucepan, skim off grease and discard.
Cook the remaining (de-fatted) sauce over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced a bit.
Brush the sauce over the ribs in the lined pan.
Set the oven to broil and place the rack about eight to ten inches from the top of the oven.
Place the ribs into the oven, uncovered and broil just until the ribs are browned a bit, and the sauce caramelizes about 4-5 minutes.  The original recipe says to flip the ribs and continue on the other side, but we found the ribs to be perfect with broiling on one side. Or maybe we were just hungry and wanted to eat?
Remove from oven and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Fam Favorite bbq sauce
2 cups ketchup
1-cup brown sugar or honey
5-8 drops hot sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 clove garlic (optional)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, if you like it more tart
ground pepper
Heat all ingredients in pan on stove. Add more sugar, hot sauce or garlic according to your taste.

Servings and cooking method:

Ribs come in many varieties. This recipe works well with Baby Back ribs or St Louis Cut ribs. I used St Louis Ribs. My package was almost 9 lbs, or generous servings for 8 adults, with salad, side veggie, bread, and potatoes. If you are serving mostly ribs, this will probably feed 6 adults.

This recipe was written originally to cook in a slow cooker or crock pot. Since we were cooking such a large amount of ribs, I used a roasting pan. The pan does not have a tight fitting lid, so I covered it with foil tightly, then to make sure the seal was tight and the steam would not escape the pan (which will cause you to have dried out meat) I placed a smaller cookie sheet on top of the pan and sealed the foil around the cookie sheet, which served as a lid. The Slow cooker time is about 6-7 hours on low. The oven conversion to this is 200 degrees for the same amount of time. The following link provides helpful info converting slow cooker recipes to your oven temperature. slow cooking conversion to oven

Cuts of meat:
Everything you ever wanted to know about pork, especially ribs and other cuts regarding ribs is here:


Baked Jalapeño Dip

What goes best with the Superbowl? Not beer. FOOD!
Your favorite Neanderthal will love this Baked Jalapeño Dip.
Trust me.
I have loads of experience in this area.

Baked Jalapeno Dip
adapted from Simply Gourmet
print recipe

2  8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened, 16 oz total
1 cup of mayonnaise, regular or low fat
3-6 jalapenos, chopped, seeds removed
1 cup of cheddar cheese grated, sharp is best
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup diced green onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
few dashes of hot sauce

1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl. Stir until combined.
Lightly grease a 9x13 or other similar size bake-proof dish. Place ingredients in the prepared dish. Place   parmesan cheese and additional 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.
Bake at 350 uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. 
Serve with sturdy chips (such as tortilla chips), crackers, or our favorite, sliced pita bread.