Mushroom Laap

Lately I have been reading through a Kindle purchase I made some time before the holidays. The book is
Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef’s Isan Thai & Lao Roots. I really enjoy the book thus far and it gets into Northern Thai/Isan style cooking which I really enjoy. Laap (larb, lap, etc) is one of my favorite dishes of Northern Thailand and some of the book focuses on that. While I began thinking more about laap and began to get hungry,  I thought about making a batch, but a different style of laap for my daughter.

You can make all types of laap, whether it be chicken, beef (raw or cooked), fish, or pork, but one I haven’t made was more veggie focused, and as my daughter loves mushrooms, I decided to go with just that; a mushroom laap.

Mushroom Laap Recipe
Mushroom Laap Recipe

This mushroom laap recipe is much like most other laap I have made, with similar ingredients, but the importance of this one is getting the moisture out of the mushrooms but regardless so easy to make.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 24 oz of baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of toasted rice powder
  • 2-5 Thai chili peppers, minced, optional
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp palm sugar, or regular sugar
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • Sticky rice, cooked (preferred) or Cooked jasmine rice

Start by heating a very large skillet on medium-high heat.

Add in the oil and swirl it around. Next, add in the mushrooms and level them out so they try to lay flat. No big deal if they overlap. Your goal here is to let them be. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, untouched so that they begin to caramelize. After 5 minutes, reduce the heat just a bit and then give them a good stir. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, untouched again.

Mushroom Laap Recipe Ingredients
Mushroom Laap Recipe Ingredients

Once the mushrooms have caramelized, toss in the shallots, Thai chilies, and garlic. If you cannot handle spicy food then reduce the amount of Thai chilies. Give a good mix, and after a minute toss in the fish sauce and sugar. Cook another minute, then pour into a mixing bowl.

Add the fresh herbs, lime juice, and toasted sticky rice. Stir, taste, and season with any salt or lime juice. Plate and serve with fresh, warm sticky rice.

The mushroom laap turned out great and it was an awesome alternative to an already awesome minced meat salad. Give this one a shot if you are looking to change things up with your laap. Enjoy!

Marshmallow Fruit Salad

Often times I head over to our bookshelves and bring down a book or two. Typically these are recipe books but I am known other work/production related books but in my recent browsing I decided to bring down one book in particular, a Filipino recipe book called A Culinary Life  by Nora V. Daza. I’m really uncertain as to why I collected or decided to hold onto this particular book because it’s just crazy in terms of it’s layout, writing (typos), and really random recipes! One in particular which I read out loud to my wife was called Pampangan Frozen Fruit Salad. She stated ‘My mom made that every year!’. I knew that I had to recreate it but make it my own. The funny thing is that this Pampangan Frozen Fruit Salad recipe is one that we have probably all have had at some point in time, and one that brings back great memories. It’s one that I know as Marshmallow Fruit Salad.

Marshmallow Fruit Salad Recipe
Marshmallow Fruit Salad Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bag of mini marshmallows
  • 15 oz can of fruit cocktail, strained
  • 3.5 oz vanilla pudding
  • 10 maraschino cherries
  • 1 gala apple, peeled, cut into cubes
  • 4 strawberries, quartered
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 2 nectarines, seedless, peeled, segments only
  • 1/2 cup seedless grapes, optional
  • 2 cups Cool Whip

Add the pudding to a mixing bowl. Add the strained fruit, the pineapple, apples, cherries, strawberries, nectarines, apples, and cool whip. Mix well but don’t get all aggressive and damage the fruit. Once mixed, add in the marshmallows, and gently fold into the mixture to get them nicely incorporated.

Marshmallow Fruit Salad Recipe
Marshmallow Fruit Salad Recipe

Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill before serving.

This recipe is not only way too simple to make, but it’s a sweet was to finish a meal, and the fresh fruit really adds a great pop of tartness. This would be great served with crushed graham crackers prior to serving.  This definitely brought back some excitement, and when it’s that easy, why not make it? What are your thoughts on this fruit salad? Are you a fan?

Looking for more fruit related recipes? Try these below:

Sous-Vide Pork Chops with Brown Butter

I’m late to this game. The game of sous-vide, the method of cooking in which food is placed in a plastic, vacuum sealed bag which is cooked in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times at an accurately regulated temperature. You see the process on cooking shows, etc. Typically a piece of meat or vegetable is placed inside a bag along with herbs or oil marinade, sealed, and placed inside the ‘jacuzzi’ to cook.  I wanted one many years ago but decided to hold off until they would hopefully come down in price. Well, I folded because the price was right on a brand, Anova, and gosh am I glad that I did!

My first reaction was to cook a nice cut of beef at a perfect temperature but we had already feasted on a beef dinner around the holidays, with plenty of leftovers, so I decided the next would be thick cut pork chops. I’ll admit that I love overcooked, almost dry, pork chops especially the thin cut style over charcoal but I’m not going that direction. These I knew would be perfect (well at least I was hopeful), juicy, and delicious, and hopefully worth the deal on the precision cooker.

Sous Vide Pork Chops Recipe
Sous Vide Pork Chops Recipe

Let’s get started.

First off, the Anova is way too easy to use. I initially thought that this might get complicated, and granted you should be able to vacuum seal with something like a FoodSaver or use this simple technique, but the rest is simply plugging it in, setting a temperature, and a time. Simple, and a bit too easy in my book. Kidding.

Ingredients:

  • Food safety vaccum sealable bag, large enough to nestle your pork chop(s)
  • 2 2 inch thick whole cut, bone in, pork chops
  • Generous pinches of salt
  • Generous pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary, optional

Start by seasoning each side of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Place inside of your sealable bag and add the olive oil and pork chops. You can seal a chop per bag, or spread out two, so as long as they will fit in your cooking vessel.

Vacuum seal, or squeeze out as much air as humanely possible.

Add water to your vessel, in my case I simply used a pressure cooker pot but you can use any large pot. Fill enough water to submerge your precision cooker. There is basically a fill line marked on the Anova device.

Set your temperature. I did 140F degrees at 2 hours. Once you plug the device in and set the time and temp, it regulates the water temperature and circulates the water. Make sure the sealed bags are submerged completely.

After two hours (go about your business), or more (I say more because this keeps your temperature at 140 degrees until you remove it from the expired time), carefully remove the bags from the hot water, cut them open, and place the pork chops onto paper towels to remove any moisture.

How to sous vide pork chops
How to sous vide pork chops

Don’t worry. These are not that pretty when you remove them from the bag. The next step is where ‘real pretty’ comes into play. Keep in mind the pork is done at this time, and as indicated in the Anova manual, they should be cooked at 140 degrees from edge to edge.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Let this heat up for a couple of minutes until it begins to lightly smoke. Toss in all of the butter, and the herbs if using, then lay in the pork chops, ensuring they are patted dry before placing. Your goal is to get them nicely seared. Gently tilt your pan, and using a spoon begin collecting the butter and pouring it over the pork chops. Repeat this process over the course of the next few minutes, turning the chops over and continuing with the butter.

Remove them from the skillet after your desired browning. Keep in mind you can finish these on a hot grill as well for a couple of minutes per side for the grill marks and smoky flavor.

Plate, and drizzle the brown butter over the top if you desire. Season with a touch of salt, and get excited.

I called my kids to the table, along with my wife, and I will admit that I was excited. Not only because they looked pretty darn good at this point, but I was anxious to see if they would be the temperature they were and how juicy they would be.

I took the internal temp with my digital thermometer and they measure at 146 degrees. What some may seem as medium for pork, trust me, this was perfect.

No lie, this was probably the most moist, tender, and delicious pork chop not only that I have ever made, but also that I have ever had. After my son and I finished the pork chop we both were kind of giddy with delight. If you are like me and have always been on the fence with precision cooking, get off and get to it! I have more to follow including fish, vegetables, chicken, and yes… beef. Do you have one of these devices and do you enjoy cooking with it?

Cranberry Steak and Seafood Sauce

First off, Happy New Year!

I know… it feels like an eternity since I last posted a delicious recipe. I am not tired by any means, but we have been enjoying family time, prepared for the holidays, and my wife’s birthday. It has been busy to say the least, and I will admit that taking a break from making 20+ cookies beat me down a bit. Did I also mention that I am somewhat (somewhat) sick of eating cookies? I did not think I would ever say that lately, but I am. I’m on break from the cookie intake. But during all of the baking, we hosted Christmas dinner and as always I had something in store for the family. This year was Filipino pancit (I ruined it for the first time), roasted garlic potatoes, herb crusted beef tenderloin stuffed with duxelles, garlic and butter shrimp, and a garlic and herb crusted strip roast. All of this was great, but the sauce I whipped up to accompany the beef was the star, at least in my opinion.

See, I bought a big bag of cranberries around Thanksgiving time this year, and I had plenty of them left in the freezer. Of course I whipped up a nice chutney but then I decided to make a cranberry steak sauce that sparked a recipe from the past that my Dad loved which was a cherry steak/bbq sauce.

Cranberry Steak Sauce Recipe
Cranberry Steak Sauce Recipe

(Don’t mind the sad picture of my beef. This was an end cut that I used for leftovers. My other cuts were spot on and cut like butter. I miss it.)

This sauce is sweet, tangy, and a bit smokey. It is almost like an A1, but way better. My wife and I loved it and it will be a condiment to add to any fridge. The bit shocker was how awesome this was with the shrimp!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups frozen cranberries, defrosted overnight
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 oz light beer
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup of pomegranate flavored red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • small pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper

I know, when you think about it, there are a few flavor bombs in here but the balance with the brown sugar and cranberries make this stuff shine. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Oh, by the way it is all gone.

Start by heating a sauce pan on medium heat.

Add in the oil, bring it to temperature then add in the onion. Sweat the onions for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times, then add in the garlic. Stir again, then toss in the cranberries. Give another good stir, then add in the brown sugar, beer, worchestershire sauce, dijon, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and cracked black pepper. Stir well.

Cranberry Steak and Seafood Sauce
Cranberry Steak and Seafood Sauce

Once this comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. The sauce will begin to reduce and thicken. This is what you are looking for.

You have two options now. You can pour this into a blender, or keep it in the pot and use an immersion blender. I chose the latter (an immersion blender is an awesome). If you are using a blender just be careful and not only make sure the lid is on right, but that you cover it with a towel for extra protection.

Blend until you have a smooth mixture, then you will strain this through a fine mesh strainer to remove any thick clumps. Use the back of a spoon to push this through the strainer. I do this over a bowl to reserve the sauce.

Pour the sauce into storage container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. In my case I used a plastic condiment squeeze bottle and let everyone squirt away.  Sweet, salty, and a smidgen spicy it is everything you want in a great sauce, plus cranberries to boot!

This sauce, hands down is one of the better ones I have made in some time and gives my regular steak sauce a run for its money! Happy New Year everyone!

 

Chocolate No Bake Cookies with Cranberries and Pepitas

I grew up eating this style of cookie. Granted my grandma made some darn good, and probably the best oatmeal cookies that I have ever eaten, but my dad of all people turned me on to these chocolate no bake cookies. I remember watching him make them, and saw excitement in making them. I know the excitement because it was essentially a no bake cookie, and one that you melted ingredients, poured into a bowl, mixed, and formed into cookies. Wait about an hour and you have treats for the week. What is not to get excited about right?

I’ll admit that these cookies are not my kids favorites. They eat them, and are always curious. They are dense, which I love, and one that carries you a long way in terms of not wanting to go back in and eat three or four of them (which I also love). So I decided to whip up a batch but add in a couple of different ingredients to jazz them up a bit (not that they need jazzing).

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Pepitas
No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Pepitas

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of craisins, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • Parchment Paper

In a sauce pan, add the sugar, cocoa powder, milk and butter, and melt that down and bring to a boil.

During this time, line a baking sheet with the parchment paper.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Pepitas
No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Pepitas

Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium, and then add in your pepitas, vanilla, and craisins. Mix.

To a mixing bowl add the oats and peanut butter.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the mixing bowl and get stirring.  Mix well, then drop a tablespoon, or larger of the mixture onto the lined baking sheet.

Let these cool to harden, then grab and go. I love these, I really do. Maybe it was the history of seeing my dad’s face and that smile that he was creating something yummy back in the day, or maybe it’s because I find them just darn delicious. Whatever the case, they are part of the cookie platter in 2018, and will be on the platter as long as I’m able to make cookies. Plus, did I mention that hidden crunch from the pepitas, and that mild tartness from the craisins that make them even better?! Enjoy!

Looking for more cookie recipes? Try these below:

White Chocolate and Cranberry Haystacks

Please don’t get bored with me. I know I am posting more and more cookie recipes that I recently made, but it is the season, and I promise I will have much more comforting food recipes to please your eyes and palettes in 2019. Do you know how many recipes I posted in 2018? Me neither, but I know it is quite a bit and that is a bit surprising with all of the stuff we have been dealing with this year, and I am thankful to be able to keep posting. Hopefully one day my kids will look into my website and make a recipe or two. That’s a goal.

So with the cookies that I have made, these white chocolate and cranberry haystacks were a real treat and something my wife and kids could not stop eating. Who knew chow mein noodles could be so delicious, right?!

White Chocolate and Cranberry Holiday Haystacks
White Chocolate and Cranberry Holiday Haystacks

This is another one of those cookies that are basically melt, form, and eat. A no baker type of cookie.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 11 oz bag of white chocolate chips
  • 12 oz bag of chow mein noodles
  • 1 cup of dried Craisins, blended into fine pieces (cherries would be good as well)
  •  red sprinkles, optional
  • parchment paper

Place your chow mein noodles in a mixing bowl.  Toss in the ground up cranberries.

Melt your white chocolate. I do these over a double boiler but you can keep an eye on it in the microwave, stirring frequently up to 3 minutes. The goal is to get nice and creamy white chocolate.

Have I told you I was never a fan of white chocolate, up until recently? Crazy how that works.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Holiday Haystacks
White Chocolate and Cranberry Holiday Haystacks

Once the chocolate is melted, pour into the bowl of noodles. Stir, and stir quickly coating all of the cranberries and noodles.

Notice on the image above with the Chow Mein. The callout says ‘Improved Taste!’. Yikes. Hey, at least there is 0g of trans fat per serving.

Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take two spoons and form into bite sized shapes. These will be all over the place in terms of size and shape, so don’t worry! Sprinkle with sprinkles if you want. Let these sit in a cool place, uncovered for about 1 hour, or less until the chocolate hardens and you are left with the haystacks.

Take one. Just try and take ONE. Now watch others eat them as you eat them. These things are great, and fun. They somewhat shatter and the crunch of the chow mein, along with the sweetness from the white chocolate pairs so well with the subtle tartness from the cranberries.

Now, only about 15 more cookie recipes to post… Kidding. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

I counted 21 total different kinds of holiday cookies that I baked or ‘formed’ these past couple of weeks. Can you believe that? I didn’t think it was a lot of cookies but after looking at all of them, I was pretty impressed. I actually had to load them into a box so that I could sort them all out. Most of not all of them were dreamy and I only say that as I watched my wife and kids expressions after eating them. This was one of those delicious morsels and one that is way too simple to make. It’s essentially melted peanut butter and chocolate chips, marshmallows, and holiday colored M&Ms.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Bars
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

Sugar bombs, if you will but everyone seems not to mind that around this time of year.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 11 oz package butterscotch chips
  • 10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup holiday colored M&Ms
  • parchment paper, optional but recommended

Pretty standard holiday baking ingredients. I can’t tell you how many bags of chips I have gone through, as well as butter, so I was a bit glad this one was not utilizing butter and sugar! That’s how much I have been going through.

You have a couple of options for the melting of the chips and peanut butter. You can use a double boiler method, or you can utilize your microwave. I go microwave as it is quicker and one less dish.

To a microwave safe bowl, add in the peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch chips. Melt, stirring every minute, up to about 3-4 minutes until it is nice and smooth. Be careful as this is super hot.

During this time line your large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Bars
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

Fold in the marshmallows until they are fully coated.

Scrape the mixture onto the parchment paper, smoothing it out and covering the sheet. Next begin pouring on the M&Ms with your hand to level out the chips. Gently press the M&Ms into the chocolate marshallow mixture so that they adhere. Place the sheet into the fridge, or in my case in the cold garage for about 1 hour to let it become solid.

Once solid, cut into bite sized bars and dig in. These Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Bars are so good. There is already a great relationship between chocolate and peanut butter, but then you get this great added texture of the M&Ms and the softness of the marshmallows. This is a real treat and a quick and simple treat to bring to any party. Enjoy!

Mixed Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs

Are you like me who makes a quick list before heading into a store? I’ve been that way for some time and my lists that I keep during the week add up. These lists though allow me to make my driving routes and get into stores quickly and efficiently as I make attempts to stay clear of those who may look sick (coughing, sneezing, etc), especially this time of year. Not too long ago however I found myself checking off my list of things to get at Costco, but then got sidetracked, most likely because I saw some sickos ahead of me and turned down an aisle that I did not need anything from, that is until I saw a big bag of mixed beans that looked great, even in their uncooked state. We always talk about getting more legumes into our diet, so I was already sold.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe

So I have been making soup at least once a week recently, most likely due to the season, and granted I made French Onion Soup back to back, I decided I was going to use up those beans and turn them into a Middle Eastern style soup, and this one a mixed bean soup with fresh herbs, and pork. This soup was so good, and we knew it as we ended up eating it again the following day for another dinner.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 3 cups of mixed beans, washed and soaked in water overnight (I used a blend of mixed beans including garbanzo)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups pork shoulder, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • fried onions, optional

Start by soaking your beans overnight in cool water in a large bowl. When you are ready to make the soup, rinse and strain the beans.

Heat a soup pot on medium heat. Add in the oil and bring to temperature. Toss in the onion, and stir, cooking for about 7 minutes. Next, toss in the garlic, and turmeric and give a good stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the strained beans. Give a good mix, then add in the stock, water, and pork. Cook this for about 2 hours, covered on medium-low heat.

Once the beans are tender, check about 1 hour in, add in the salt and cracked pepper. Start with about 2 tsp of salt as the beans can handle that, and about one teaspoon of black pepper. Stir and continue to cook. Taste for any additional seasoning. Add more if necessary.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Add in the fresh herbs and spinach, stir and cook for about 10 more minutes to allow those herbs to perfume the soup.

Now you are ready to serve.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with fried onions.

The end result is really comforting. You get the creamy beans, still having some texture, along with the fresh herbs which are the real star, and the super tender pork and crispy onions. It’s really a great bowl of soup, plus super healthy to boot. What is not to love about that? So thank you to the person who sneezed an aisle ahead of me and allowing me to turn down that aisle at Costco. Those beans and I thank you. Hope you enjoy!

Glazed Italian Cookies

Butter. Sugar. Flour. Baking Soda. Baking Powder. Eggs. Extracts. Those are the basic ingredients that I have been dealing with for nearly three weeks, among a few others such as Cocoa powder, salt, and more butter. My cookie game is on point, at least I thought it was until I decided to come up with this glazed Italian cookie that I thought was going to fail, but I was completely wrong.

Most every time we frequent our favorite Italian grocery and deli, Glorioso’s we tend to visit their baked goods area and pick up a good dozen of their cookies. Everyone in the family loves them. They are great alone, and a perfect snack with an afternoon coffee, so I decided to come up with a batch that I was hoping would come close, and I did a pretty darn good job.

Glazed Italian Cookies Recipe
Glazed Italian Cookies Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 5 cups all purpose flour, possibly more
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • parchment paper, optional but recommended
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 5-7 tbsp milk
  • colored sprinkles, optional

This is a great cookie dough recipe and you can adjust your extract accordingly whether you want vanilla, almond, lemon (preferred), or other to your taste.

Keep in mind that you need to be care when adding the lemon extract as it can be a bit ‘chemical’ tasting if you go too far. You can always zest a lemon and add that in for an extra kick as well.

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet, or two with parchment paper.

Get a mixing bowl ready as your main mixer, then another bowl for sifting some dry ingredients. There is something about sifting that I really love. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it is the fine powder coming out of it, or maybe it was a memory of being a kid and seeing my elders use them in baking, not sure.

Glazed Italian Cookies
Glazed Italian Cookies

To the mixing bowl, add in the butter and sugar. Put the mixer on medium-low and begin creaming the butter. During this time sift your flour, baking powder, and salt. Crack your eggs into a separate bowl to prevent any shells from getting in the batter.

Add the lemon extract to to the butter and sugar, then start slowly adding in the eggs, one at a time. Once all of your eggs are nicely mixed into the butter, slowly begin adding the flour. Mix on medium until you have a nice batter. Stop and scrape down the sides, and mix some more. Add more flour if needed to form a nice, thick and somewhat sticky dough.

I placed all of my dough into a piping bag, but you can use your hands and form these into 2 inch log shapes if you want. I placed mine in a gallon sized ziplock, clipped off the corner to the size I was going form, and piped strips onto the parchment paper.

Once all of your dough is used, place into the oven for about 9-11 minutes until golden brown.

While the cookies are baking, make the glaze. Take the melted butter, powdered sugar, and milk and whisk in a mixing bowl. Mix, feeling free to add a bit more sugar or milk until you have your desired consistency.

Once the cookies are baked, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack. Let these cool for about 30 minutes before adding the glaze. I simply add the same parchment paper under the cooling rack to catch excess glaze.

Take a cookie strip and cut them into bite sized pieces. Dip each piece into the glaze, the put on the rack. Repeat. Sprinkle your decorations if you desire, and let the glaze set. I let these sit out overnight, then bagged them for later use.

When my wife and daughter came home, they said something along the lines of ‘Oh boy, what are these!?’, then upon biting into them they knew right away where I was headed, and that was the Italian cookie. Addicting, but well worth it, these Italian glazed cookies will be a real hit, especially this time of year. Enjoy!

Toffee Saltine Bars with Chocolate and Nuts

We have been waking up for a few weeks now with part of our kitchen counter top covered in holiday baking ingredients. It is now starting to dwindle down which is great because to be honest, I’m a bit tired of looking at all of it taking up space, but what I still love about it is that every time I walk by them I begin thinking of things I can make out of them. Sure it is pretty much the same ingredients (butter, flour, sugars, variety of chocolate chips, extracts, nuts, and snacks) but something always comes to mind, well at least after a few thought attempts!

I made these toffee saltine bars for a couple of reasons. I recall someone in my family stating they did not like coffee, or nuts on their desserts, and for my advantage I wanted to use up some leftover saltine crackers that were just on the brink of getting stale, so this was an easy challenge to make haters of toffee and nuts into lovers and get rid of the crackers. I will mention that I won on both accounts!

Toffee Saltine Crackers with Chocolate and Nuts
Toffee Saltine Crackers with Chocolate and Nuts

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped, optional
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • parchment paper, recommended

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by heating a small pot on medium heat. Add in your sugar and butter, and let that begin to come to a light simmer.

During this time, line a baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Lay the saltine crackers onto the parchment paper, covering edge to edge if possible, salt side up.

Once the butter and sugar is completely melted and bubbling, let it bubble for about 1 minute, the pour the mixture over all of the saltines, covering all of them.

Place these into the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes.

 

Remove from the oven, and pour on the chocolate chips, covering all of the crackers.

Toffee Saltine Crackers with Chocolate and Nuts
Toffee Saltine Crackers with Chocolate and Nuts

Let the chocolate chips set for about 2-3 minutes, then use an offset spatula or spatula and gently spread the chips as they should easily be melted.

Once covered, top with the chopped nuts. As you can see I did a half sheet of nuts, and one with just chocolate. A win/win for everyone. Doing so prevents kids or adults from taking a bar covered in nuts and stopping them from brushing off any nuts!

Let these cool and harden, about 1 hour or 10 minutes in my garage, and then begin breaking them into bite sized pieces. Place them onto a serving platter, or freeze in a ziplock bag until ready to gift.

The result is a real crowd pleaser. These a chocolaty, buttery, and crunchy deliciousness. There was no doubt on the toffee part would be a overall treat, and something that won over the family. Hope you enjoy!