January 31, 2013

Nutella-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oooooohmygoodnes, are you ready for cookie insanity?  Because you've hit the jackpot here.  I'm not kidding.  I've only made this recipe once and already there's a gleam in my coworkers' eyes when the cookies are mentioned.  A fiendish gleam.  The cookies became renowned in just a matter of days.  I have my new Associate Editor to thank/blame for sharing this recipe with me.
Now before you start throwing things into a stand mixer, let me prep you a bit.  Everything about this recipe is wrong.  You *melt* the butter.  What?!?  You use 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar.  Get out!  THREE kinds of chocolate chips.  There's greek yogurt involved.  Now before you stick out your tongue and try to tell me you're not doing that to your cookies, well, believe me when I say that all these wrong things make something so very right.  And if you try to cheat or change them, the Cookie Gods will know and they will smite you with subpar cookies.  So behave.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
(Pictures follow)
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will begin to foam.  Make sure you whisk consistently during this process.  After a few minutes (mine took 5-10), the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan.  If you are iffy on whether or not it's brown, then it's not brown.  Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma.  Immediately transfer the butter to a mixing bowl to prevent burning.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. With a stand or electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.  Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined.  Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low speed until just combined.  Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 2 hours in the refrigerator.  If you cheat and just put the mixing bowl in the fridge, your dough will be very hard to scoop out of the chilled bowl.  You will have to be tenacious to get that dough out of there.  Nobody wants that if it can be avoided.  Lesson learned for me.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Once dough is chilled, measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball.  Flatten the dough ball very thinly in the palm of your hand or against your cookie sheet, then lift gingerly so it isn't stuck to your hand or the sheet.  Place 1 teaspoon of chilled Nutella in the middle and fold the dough around it. Gently roll into a ball.  Make sure that the Nutella isn't seeping out anywhere.  Add more dough to creases if needed.  Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart, and flatten gently with your hand. Nudge the dough ball so it isn't stuck in place to the sheet.
  6. Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.  They may look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven.  
  7. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt, and let rest on the cookie sheet at least 2 minutes.  Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 2. Butter is foaming...

Still step 2.  We have bubbles...

End of step 2- browned butter transferred to mixing bowl. See the brownness?

Fresh from the oven, sprinkled with salt and allowed to sit.

Look at this deliciosity!

Barley and Lentil Soup

I really like having page a day calendars on my desk, and the last couple years have opted for recipe ones.  My January 3rd recipe was for this tasty soup, though it pointed me to crock pot directions.  I wasn't in the mood for that so I just used my stock pot and ate in 1 hour instead of 8-9.  So there.

  • 8 cups (64 oz) beef broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed (I got to use my new mortar and pestle!)
  • 4 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
  1. Stir all ingredients in a large stock pot set to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender and grains are thoroughly cooked.
**Alternately, mix ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours.

January 30, 2013

Felt Heart Tree

One of the things I love most about Pinterest is how it can spark different ideas.  You get that right combo of looking through a set of pins at the right time, and suddenly you get this insight to mash up a couple in a new way.  I feel all kinds of proud of myself when that happens!  This super cute Valentine's Day tree is the product of one of those moments.
At our recent Valentine's Day pinterest party, one of my friends made an adorable heart tree using hole punched hearts.  It was sweet and labor intensive and poor Diana got lots of indulgent looks as she glued her way furiously on that tree throughout our entire party.  To her credit, she did make other things!  It's just that this tree took forever.  Another friend made one at our Christmas pinterest party, using circles like in this pin.  Also took forever and got the "there there, chin up" looks from the rest of us.  Now, I loved the looks of their trees, but not the time investment.  My flash of inspiration came from seeing Sarah's pinned felt trees, with the scalloped strips of felt.  Now, those were looking a lot like hearts in my Valentine's Day mindset, so I thought that with some adjustments, I could marry the two ideas.  I did, and I got this:

Hooray for crafting mash-ups!

  • 10 pieces of felt, in different colors (I used 2 shades of pink and red)
  • Glue stick
  • Cone base (I used an old shirt box for mine instead of a styrofoam one)
  • Scissors
(Pictures below)
  1. Make your cone by taping or gluing cardboard in place.  Trim base to be even.  Or just use styrofoam and hot glue.
  2. Cut out your felt hearts in varying sizes.  I preferred to cut mine one layer at a time, because it was hard to tell how many I would need of each size for each layer until I was actually gluing them in place.
  3. Glue point of heart and stick to cone.  Hold firmly in place and allow to dry slightly before moving to next one.  Try to align the tips of the hearts on each row so that they are at the same height.  My first row, I had the hearts extend past the cone because I knew I wanted to place it on a stand when finished.  If you want your tree to just sit directly on the tabletop, line up the tops of the hearts with the bottom of the cone so they won't get squashed when you place it on the table.
  4. Repeat layers, alternating colors.  Position the layers so that no cone is showing through.  You can see that I alternate some of my hearts so that the fat half of one heart covers the area where the hearts split away from each other on the lower layer.
  5. Top tree with 4 hearts in different colors.  Glue the points and the sides of each heart.  Stick point to the top of the cone, and sides of the hearts to each other.  This step got a little tricky because nothing wanted to stay in place.  I glued my hearts together first, then glued the whole setup to the cone.
  6. Place cone on top of a candle holder, upside down vase (which I did), or some other stand so that your bottom layer kind of floats.
Step 1. Making the cone

Step 2.  Hearts cut out on the right, and my cone is all trimmed and taped and ready to go.

Steps 3.-4. First couple layers in place.  See that the bottom layer extends past the cone?  And how the red layer is covering the gaps between the pink hearts?

Step 5.  Close up of the heart topper.

Ta da!

January 29, 2013

First Dance Lyrics Shadow Box

I have seen so many things on Pinterest that incorporated a couple's first dance lyrics into pictures, frames, and all sorts of creative ways.  For Valentine's Day, I decided to give my husband a framed print out of ours with our initials and a little heart with our anniversary date in it, based on this pin.  I think it came out very cute!  What was funny is that when I gave it to my husband (because I couldn't wait until the 14th), he started reading and about 2 lines in said "Hey, I know this!"

Domino's Parmesan Bread Bites

Ok guys, this one is a work in progress.  Ever since Domino's came out with their Parmesan bread bites, I've been in love.  A few weeks ago, my husband dared me to recreate them at home.  Sure enough, I was able to find a recipe on Pinterest.  I didn't have have the patience to make my own bread dough, so I cheated and got the Pillsbury pizza dough in the blue can.  No shame here.  Mine came out really tasty and I thought they were really close to the real deal, if a tiny bit garlicy.

  • 1 can Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (use the green can for this one, not the fresh stuff), plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll out the dough into its rectangle shape.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into thick strips.  Roll the strips to make 1" wide snakes of dough (like you're playing with Play Doh again!).  Cut the snakes into 1", bite size pieces.
  3. Arrange dough onto prepared cookie sheet, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Bake until golden and puffy.  I used the dough baking guidelines and mine were at that point after about 11-15 minutes I think.  
  4. While bites are baking, mix remaining ingredients in a large zip top bag.  When bites are done baking, add to bag and shake to thoroughly coat the bites in the seasoning mix.
If you make any modifications, please share!  I plan to modify this recipe as I try variations.

January 26, 2013

Chili Maple Glazed Salmon

I'm so behind on posts!  I have a handful of recipes and crafts to write up, and the backlog keeps mounting.  Oh noes.  Well, clearly the solution is an 11 p.m. blog post on a Saturday night.  Afterwards, I'll reward myself with some popcorn and Doctor Who.

I loved it, but this recipe came with some mixed reviews from my dining companions.  My son generally won't touch fish, so we'll not count his opinion.  My husband took one bite and was horrified by the presence of maple flavor on his fish.  Maybe I should have prepped him beforehand?  I think the reaction was more out of shock than an actual dislike of the flavor.  Me?  I loved it, and it reminded me a lot of my spicy honey BBQ chicken recipe, which my hubby LOVES, so he's inconsistent in my book.  That's nothing new.  :)  A Seattle-ite friend says this is how she used to make salmon when she lived in Washington, so I take that as another vote of confidence.  All that being said, the message is: this is a tasty way to make salmon, and will go over well if you prep your audience that it is a spice rub with a sweet glaze.  No more shock and awe treatments in my dining room.  Lesson learned.


  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 large salmon fillet
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1. Preheat broiler.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil but do NOT spray with Pam.  If you keep it unsprayed, after the fish is cooked you can simply slide the fish off of the skin with a spatula (the skin will stick to the foil).  Love this trick.
  2. Combine spices and salt.  Rub the spice mixture all over the salmon (but not on the skin).
  3. Place salmon on baking sheet and broil for 6-10 minutes, until just shy of fully cooked.  
  4. Remove from oven, pour on maple syrup, and spread evenly with a pastry brush.  Broil for 1 more minute or until nicely glazed and just cooked.
  5. Remove from oven and let rest.  The salmon will continue cooking a bit more while resting, so be sure not to overcook.  Because you (most likely) will be dividing the fillet into 2 or more servings, when you cut it you can check the done-ness.  If necessary, you can pop in the oven a couple more minutes to finish cooking.

January 23, 2013

Paper Heart Garland

Now, those paper hearts were so nice, of course I couldn't just let it go at one project.  Oh no no.  I saw a heart garland a friend pinned for our Valentine's Day craft party, and really liked the idea.  My kitchen window was definitely looking bare and much in need of a garland, so this seemed perfect.

Instead of felt, I decided to use the really fun pink, red, and grey scrapbook paper I'd bought for Valentine's Day... things... whatever came up... for the garland.  I made my hearts using the technique from my heart wreath (the post following this one), and instead of making the vertical chains decided to string them as a garland.  First I tried using string like the original garland pin did, but it was making me sad.  I was using a needle to poke a hole in the paper hearts and thread the string through, and I was squashing my hearts in the process.  Their nice curvy tops were getting pointy and I couldn't have that.  Cue idea #2: attaching them to ribbon in some way. I lucked out and my paper hearts were perfectly happy to stick to ribbon with a plain old glue stick.  Amazing!

My son inspecting the handiwork.  Notice the little garland below?  He made it by putting some Disney stickers on his own little strip of ribbon.  He was very pleased with himself for contributing to our holiday decor.  Also, do you spy that red rose pomander?  I'll write up a post on how to make that!

Artificial light view.  So colorful!

  • Scrapbook paper in different patterns (my garland used 5 sheets of scrapbook paper)
  • Length of ribbon
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  1. Lay out newspaper or some other protection on your work surface.  You're going to get glue everywhere.  Fair warning!
  2. Create paper hearts using technique from my heart wreath post.
  3. Run out some excess ribbon to tie one end, run glue along one side of ribbon, and affix tops of hearts to the ribbon.  Press firmly in place and allow to dry.  I unspooled my ribbon a bit at a time (enough to glue 5 hearts), let them sit a bit, and then unspooled more to glue 5 more.  Repeat many times.  Leave excess ribbon at each end for hanging.
  4. A few of my hearts did drop off when my mom and I first (gingerly) picked up the ribbon, but I just glued those individual heart tops and held them in place against the ribbon.
  5. I stuck each end of my ribbon on my kitchen curtain rod.  I cut a small piece of ribbon to tie up the center of my garland.
  6. All told, making the hearts and gluing to the ribbon probably took 90 minutes total.

Paper Heart Wreath

I'm quite proud of myself on this one.  A friend pinned this very lovely looking heart wreath, but after I tried hunting it down, I never actually wound up with directions, just tumblr pages and pictures in endless loops.  An oubliette of paper wreaths with no guidance.  After embiggening the picture I did have, I gave it a shot and found success.  Now I will share my efforts with you so you can be spared my mental gymnastics and angst.

We'll walk through this step by step together, with pictures!

  • Paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Tape or some other way to hang on wall


Fold your paper in half, long side to long side. 

Fold it in half two more times, short end to short end.

One time...

two times!

Unfold the short folds...

 ...and cut along the folded seams...

to get 4 long strips of paper.

(Before you break out the glue stick, let me recommend laying down some paper, newspaper, whatever you want to protect your work surface.  In the interest of beautiful blog-worthy photography, I don't show the place mat that I had underneath my sticky gluey craftiness during this project.)

Glue inside of fold...

...and outer ends of the paper.

Curl ends of paper in toward center, and pinch in the middle along the fold to secure the heart shape.  Notice all your glued parts of the paper should be touching now and sticking nicely.

Repeat times a bunch!

Once you have all your separate hearts glued, it's time to glue two long chains of the hearts and leave one special heart set aside.

Glue the outer sides of the pinched bottom of a heart.

Slip the glued paper into the center of another heart, alternating colors or pattern if you want,

...and hold tightly to secure.

Repeat times half of your hearts!  Follow your pattern, be random, whatever you like.  Be sure to create two heart chains, which you will glue together to form the large heart wreath at the end.  Leave one heart unglued to either chain.

Glue the bottom right of one heart and the end of a heart chain to the top left side of the heart at the bottom of the other chain, to form the bottom of your heart wreath.

Squeeeeeze them together so they feelz it.

Glue the tops of the loops on each heart at the top of your chain.  Also glue the bottom sides of your leftover heart.  Stick the top of one heart chain to the bottom of your leftover heart.  Do the same with the other chain, and you should have a heart shape for your big wreath.  See how it should look?  Those light pink hearts at the top had glue on their curvy tops, and the white heart was glued along its pinched bottom fold.  They were all squeezed together nicely until they held.

Now, hanging is fun, because the wreath doesn't necessarily just have this default heart shape if you hold it by the tops.  It gets kind of sad and deflated looking.  So I strategically taped mine to the wall, and I have no shame in that.  It works, and that's what matters!

Nice way to greet guests when they walk in the front door.  Like I said, I'm pleased with myself on this one!

January 20, 2013

Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

Well, this one isn't a terribly big leap from my regular coconut macaroons, but it is a VERY tasty one!  I got the idea from Smitten Kitten, but much prefer my recipe with the shredded coconut.  When I've used flaky in the past, I really didn't care for it.  I also didn't need to make an army of macaroons- her recipe made 50!  So I just tossed in some berries to mine, used a stand mixer, and success.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 pint container of raspberries
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer), combine ingredients until raspberries are thoroughly broken down and all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Dampen tablespoon with cold water.  Scoop a generous tablespoon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) of coconut mixture and lightly tap onto the cookie sheet for mound to drop out.  Place cookies about 1 inch apart.  Moisten measuring spoon periodically so that coconut will continue to slide off of spoon instead of sticking.
  4. Bake until macaroons are golden brown, 16-17 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Let sit on cookie sheet 2 minutes to firm, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.  The berries do make the cookies very soft, so if you want to cook longer to make them harder, just a few more minutes should do it.
Isn't it fun when you get to bake with such pretty ingredients?!?

Ready to get all golden and done.  Mmm.  Must resist raw macaroons.

January 13, 2013

Baked Chicken and Bean Burritos

A few years ago, my department at work pulled together recipes from our very talented employees and made up a cook book.  It was funny how quickly that cook book became the source for many of my weeknight staples.  My husband liked to tease me that for all the cook books I had, I pretty much only used 2: Martha Stewart and the one from work, haha.  Anyway, one of my favorites from the cook book is one from my friend Marian.  I can never find green salsa to pour on top, but otherwise I'm pretty loyal to her recipe.


  • 2 1/2 cups shredded, cooked boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese (half of an 8-ounce block, when crumbled, will fill 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4.5-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 16-ounce can refried beans
  • 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and bake at 375° until cooked all the way through (about 25 minutes).  Shred cooked chicken.  I prefer to shred it with my stand mixer, set to medium for about 1 minute, using the metal flat beater attachment.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°.
  3. Add cheese, onions, cumin, garlic, and chilies to the shredded chicken.  Mix on low until evenly incorporated.
  4. Spread 1/4 cup of beans down the upper third of each tortilla.  Top the beans with 1/2 cup of chicken mixture.  Fold in the sides and roll up.
  5. Place rolled tortillas, seam side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Coat the tops of the burritos with cooking spray as well.
  6. Bake at 500° for 7 minutes.  (Optional: serve with green salsa.)
Yum yum yum yum yum!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A friend introduced me to these bits of deliciousness.  They smelled like Mrs. Fields when they came out of the oven- amazing.  My son and I gobbled down 6 in no time flat when they were still cooling.  I like a couple things that are a bit different in this recipe, such as the increased portion of vanilla, mix of brown sugars, and mini chocolate chips to have more chocolate per bite.  You do need to refrigerate the dough overnight, though.  So prepare yourself mentally for that.  ;-) Enjoy them!


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 12 ounce bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Cream together butter and sugars in a stand mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy.  
  2. Mix in eggs and vanilla until incorporated.
  3. Turn mixer to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until flour is just incorporated.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly mixed.
  5. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, up to 48 hours.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°.
  7. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake 9-12 minutes until edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheets another 2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I had some very ripe bananas, and was looking for a nice banana muffin recipe to make when I came across this one for banana muffins with chocolate chips and a bit of coffee in there.  Wow!  I was going to make the muffins for a friend who doesn't care for coffee, so I left that bit out, and it was a success.  In addition, my husband absolutely LOVED these muffins, so much that I had to make a second batch!


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease muffin tins or line with muffin cups (I prefer using spray).
  2. Blend butter, sugar, egg, banana, and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated.  Will be a bit soupy.  Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Blend until flour just disappears.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spoon mixture into 15 to 18 muffin cups, about 2/3 full.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean.  Gently remove from muffin cups (I like to use a spoon to pry them loose all around) and cool on wire racks.