Monday, January 25, 2010

Monster Cookies

Every year, on New Year's Day, my family gets together at my brother Michael's house to watch the Mummers Parade and to celebrate my niece Josie's birthday. This year, I decided not to go to Philly for the parade, and instead decided to spend the day with my family. Of course, in true Quaile Family fashion, there was a huge spread of food for everyone.
Among the many desserts on the dessert table was a tray of these delicious cookies. They're moist, chewy and I seriously couldn't stop eating them. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that I immediately asked my sister-in-law, Karen, for the recipe. I know she told me where she got the recipe, but I can't, for the life of me, remember. So we'll just give Karen the credit. The recipe couldn't be simpler to throw together. You just mix it all up and you're good to go! Oh, and about the name....I'm guessing they're called Monster Cookies because they have so many different ingredients mixed in.
Try 'em!

3 eggs
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 (12oz) jar peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup M&M candies
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (not instant)

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the M&Ms, chocolate chips, craisins, baking soda and oats. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don't over bake!! Let stand for about 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

-Yes, you read the recipe correctly. There's no flour. The oatmeal makes up for it!
-You can use artificial sweeteners such as Splenda instead of the white or brown sugars, or both. Either way, the cookies are still amazing!
-Btw, they freeze well, so feel free to make an extra batch! Then just pull them out of the freezer a few minutes before it's time to serve. They'll defrost in no time at all!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Baked Brie

My fierce friend, Amber, is quite the party hostess. Her parties always bring lots of friends, lots of laughs, and of course, lots of incredible food. (Have you tried her Amberlicious Sausage Wontons?) So I'm always thrilled when she sends me a delicious party food idea. Here's a fabulous and sophisticated yet simple recipe, in her own words.
Thanx again, Gorgeous!

Hey Honey! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and happy new year! I think you should put this recipe on your website. I made baked brie over the holidays, and it was a big hit! It is really simple, it's just:

1 sheet puff pastry
1 wheel of brie
apricot preserves
sliced almonds

Let the puff pastry come to room temperature. Cut the wheel of brie in half horizontally and put a layer of preserves and almonds on one half then close the wheel back together. Wrap in puff pastry sheet. You can substitute raspberry or other preserves for the apricot and use different nuts or omit nuts altogether, if desired. For best results, it's better to freeze until baking so the puff pastry holds up while the brie melts. Brush pastry with egg wash and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until puff pastry looks golden brown all over. Serve with crackers and green apples or whatever dip-ables you like.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Joey's Garlic Tilapia

When I was little, I must admit, I would have chosen a hamburger over a fish fillet 10 times out of 10. To me, fish always tasted, well, too "fishy". I always loved shellfish like shrimp and crab and lobster, but when it came to a simple fillet, I wasn't having it. Then as I got older, my tastes began to change. Now I enjoy a nice fresh fillet whenever the mood strikes me. One of the main reasons for this change is the discovery of tilapia. It's light and flaky and delicious and definitely NOT "fishy". My sister, Reen, made it one night for dinner and it only took one bite for me to know that this was my new favorite fish. I also tasted it when I stopped for a visit with Tony and Dina. Dina had just finished breading some tilapia fillets with Panko bread crumbs and frying them up in a pan. They were SO crunchy and delicious! I knew I had to try them. So, since I'm always looking for new and delicious low-carb recipes, I decided to omit the bread crumbs and try the butter/garlic route instead. And here we are! Even if you're not a fan of fish fillets, you have to give this a try!

4 tbs butter
1 whole head of garlic, about 20 cloves
3 large fillets of fresh tilapia or other favorite fish, about one pound
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

In a large skillet, over a medium low heat, melt the butter. Peel and slice all the cloves of garlic and add to the skillet. Gently saute over low heat, being careful not to burn. You just want it to sizzle slightly and gradually turn golden. Be patient! This should take a good 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, pat the fillets dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper. When the garlic just begins to crisp, remove it from the pan (leaving the garlic infused butter in the pan) and set aside in a small bowl. Place the fillets in the pan and turn the heat up to medium, not too high. Remember, you don't want to burn the butter. Saute the fillets until just cooked through. You'll know it's done when it easily flakes apart with a fork. When the fillets are just about done, add the garlic back to the pan. Let it simmer for just a minute or two longer. Serve with your favorite vegetable and a light salad.

Yes, the recipe is correct. TWENTY cloves of garlic. The whole head. You'll be amazed at how mildly sweet and sticky and delicious the garlic becomes once it softens in the butter and begins to caramelize. To be honest, I'm tempted to add more! I'm not even kidding when I tell you it's sheer heaven!
Usually when I make this, I stop at the supermarket and buy the fillets fresh from the seafood counter the actual day I'm going to cook it. It just tastes fresher! I've made it with frozen tilapia and there's just no comparison. I'm guessing the fillets from the seafood counter were previously frozen at some point, but they just taste better than the ones from your grocers freezer.
As you can see from the picture, I like to serve it with a little fresh sauteed baby spinach. After I take the fish and garlic out of the pan, I add the spinach to the remaining garlic butter and let it saute just until it wilts. There's no need to add any seasoning since the butter is already full of flavor!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

If you're looking for comfort food, then you've come to the right place. This is one of those recipes that always hits the spot and it makes the whole house smell like home cookin'. You can do it in one large casserole, or individual miniature pies. Simple! Oh, and btw, some people might suggest that it isn't a pie unless it has a bottom crust. Well then, by all means, bake the filling in a two crust pie!

1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
a sprig or two of fresh thyme leaves
5 tbs butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 rotisserie chicken
one pie crust

Heat oven to 350F.
Saute onion, celery, & carrot in butter for 10 minutes. Add thyme leaves and give it a good stir. Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Combine broth and half-and-half; gradually stir into vegetable mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened & bubbly. Stir in salt & pepper. Add chopped chicken, stirring well. Pour chicken mixture into a greased shallow 2-quart casserole. Top with pie crust. Flute to make a decorative edge. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Instead of peeling and dicing carrots, sometimes I just use a bag of baby carrots (as you can see in the photo). No peeling, no chopping, done. Oh, and I also used a ready-made pie crust. SO much easier!
If you don't want to add a rotisserie chicken, you can easily cut up some boneless skinless thighs or breasts and then just let them cook in the sauce.
You can easily go in a million different directions with this recipe. Substitute or add any of your favorite vegetables. Add potatoes or corn or peas or all of the above. (I added peas. YUM!)
Instead of using regular pie crust to top your pie, try topping it with biscuits. (you know, like the ones that pop out of the can.) Paula Deen serves hers with a puff pastry lattice on top. Then she breaks off pieces of it to dip into the filling. That woman seriously knows what she's doing!