Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Can I just tell you what life has been like around here for the last month?

We tore out our old kitchen.  Floors (all three layers.  Nice, I know.), cabinets, counters.  Gone.

Our house is 50 years old, and the kitchen was original.  I hear that retro is in, but I have limits.

So now we have a new floor and cabinets.

Who needs countertops anyway?
But we still have no countertops.  And I'm doing dishes in the bathtub.

And since we didn't have enough going on with three children and no kitchen for weeks, I thought it would be an opportune time to get a....


{I don't know how my husband puts up with me.  All I can say is that he is very sweet, and when I said I wanted a puppy, he said sure.}

Our puppy's name is Teddy.  He's so cute I can't even stand it.  So sweet I can't even deal.

Teddy crashed out on our new floor.  He kind of matches, ya think?
Teddy is a Golden Retriever, the all-American dog.  Great with kids.  I grew up with Golden Retrievers.  They are wonderful dogs!

He is just a gem.  He went to his first vet appointment in style: he rode in my purse.

People think it's a little nuts to have two cats, two dogs and three children.  Well.  All in perspective, people.

During the course of my childhood, we had a horse, several rabbits, three dogs, six cats, three fawns (those are baby deer in case you've never left the city limits).  My rabbits had more litters than I can count, my mama cat had a litter of kittens every spring, and one of our Goldens had three litters of puppies.

The point of all that is just to say that my four animals are a drop in the bucket.  And children need pets.  It's good for them.  Children are good for animals, too.

And my dad is a veterinarian.  Thank goodness.

So anyway.  Since I have no kitchen and am trying to stay sane, I did what any normal, healthy person would do.

I went to my parents' house and used their kitchen to make chocolate chunk cookies.

These cookies have a mere two teaspoons of cornstarch, but the cornstarch yields an amazing result.  The cookies don't spread much as they bake and they are tender, moist, chewy and completely non-cakey (I don't do cakey.  Unless I'm eating actual cake.)

Basically do these cookies as you would do any cookies: cream the butter and sugars, beat in the egg and vanilla, add the dry ingredients and stir in the chocolate.

The dough may be a little dry and crumbly; don't worry.  Just smash it together.  It will turn out fine in the end.  Scoop out balls of dough and then refrigerate before you bake.

You don't really have to refrigerate the dough, but refrigerated dough spreads less than room-temp dough.  Your choice.

Don't bake these very long...we want to keep them moist.  They will set up as they cool, so take them out when they still look under-done.

And if you bake them on parchment paper, they're supremely easy to get off the baking sheet.  The cookies really are awesome.  They're subtly different than my usual chocolate chip cookies, but I really love both kinds.

Bake some cookies.  It makes life better.  Or get a Golden Retriever puppy.  They make life better, too.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Averie Cooks

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch
2 cups flour
6 oz. (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
9 oz. (about 1 1/2 cups) milk chocolate chunks

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and both sugars until combined (this will take about 3 minutes on medium-high speed).  Add the vanilla and egg and mix until combined.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir slowly until just combined (do not overmix!).

Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours (or up to 4-5 days).  If I'm baking the cookies the same day, I scoop out the dough with a medium cookie scoop and refrigerate (for at least 2 hours) on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-9 minutes.  Slide the cookies (on the parchment paper) on to the counter to cool.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Kitchen reno is in full swing here.  There is no cooking occurring at the Jones house this week...or last week...or for the next 2 weeks.

But the good news is that I made these enchiladas a few weeks ago and forgot to post them!  Or maybe I just saved them for this perfect opportunity to share with you.  Whatever.  I have three children and no kitchen.

I've just added the kitchen reno to my growing list of excuses for why I act like I don't have a brain.

These enchiladas were really great and quick to throw together.  I make chicken enchiladas two ways.  My mom's recipe.  Very delicious; very easy.  One of our favorite meals.

And I also make the recipe from the Bunny cookbook...the one with Mexican gravy.  A bit more complicated but well worth the effort.

These Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas are somewhere in between these recipes: they are topped with a homemade sauce but are still quick and easy to put together.

My kids loved these!  Green chiles have so much flavor but are not hot at all.  Not even an itty bitty bit.

You can never have too many Mexican recipes, chicken recipes or recipes smothered in cheese.

You're welcome.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Joyful Momma's Kitchen

10 flour tortillas (soft taco size)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
7 oz. can diced green chiles

Fill the flour tortillas with the chicken and 1 cup of cheese.  Line a greased 9x13 baking dish with the rolled tortillas.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Stir in the stock and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the sauce thickens and begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream and green chiles.  Pour sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cup of cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Macaroni Salad

I made this for a church picnic a couple of weeks ago.  It was so good!

Macaroni salad is a great summery side for hamburgers.  There's tons of flavor in this salad, too...I married about four different recipes and I was happy with the result.

I would tell you that Baby Bear loved it.  But he eats virtually everything, so I'm not sure his vote counts for much?

One last thing.  Don't leave out the mustard.  I tried to be clever and leave it out but it was so much better with the mustard!

Happy summer, y'all.  Eat it up.

Macaroni Salad

1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked in salted water according to package directions and rinsed
12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 T sweet pickle relish
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp yellow prepared mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Place the rinsed pasta (make sure you drain it WELL!) in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours until chilled.  Stir again and add a little bit of mayo if it seems dry (the pasta will drink up the sauce).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Lovers.  I need your attention please.  This pie is killer.

This is Pioneer Woman's pie.  I just made it.  And loved it.

I served it to my friends last fall (and then totally forgot to blog it.  Baby brain.).  And then I made it for my father-in-law's birthday.

It's really delicious.  And quick to whip up.

And as for our kitchen reno?  Done.  Well, except for countertops.

Are countertops really that necessary?  It sure is easy to get utensils out of the top drawers with no countertops.

Oh, and we don't have a sink either.  Yet.  Therefore, the dishwasher isn't hooked up either.

Details, details.

But we do have a floor and cabinets!  This is progress.

And maybe in a few weeks I'll have a sink in which to wash the dishes I dirtied to make this pie.  (That's a joke, people.)

I love pie.

Peanut Butter Pie
Heavily Adapted from Pioneer Woman

4 T butter, melted
25 Oreos (about 2 rows of a 1 lb. package)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif)
8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

Combine the Oreos and butter in a food processor and pulse until cookies are finely ground and mixed with butter.  Press in a greased pie plate.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the powdered sugar, cream cheese and peanut butter until combined and smooth.  Add the Cool Whip and beat for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of time to make sure it all incorporates well.

Pour the filling into the cookie crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pithy's Top 7!

I thought it would be fun to look at my stats and share the TOP 7 RECIPES on this blog.

Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich
  • Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich.  By far the most popular recipe I have posted.  It's gone viral on Pinterest.  Inspired by my favorite sandwich at Penn Station Subs, I created this knock-off that may (?) just be better than what you order at the sub shop.  Tender chicken sauteed with onions and mushrooms in teriyaki sauce, topped with melted Swiss cheese on a warm toasted roll.  So good.  I need one now. 
  • Grilled Chicken Smothered with Peppers, Onions and Cheese.  Apparently y'all like chicken, onions and cheese as much as we do.  The top two recipes on my blog contain these ingredients and are Pithy's Kitchen originals.  This chicken is so tender and flavorful with the chili-lime marinade -- it's grilled until done, then topped with a mixture of sauteed onions and peppers (think fajitas) and buried under a pile of grated Monterey Jack cheese.  Stringy, melted cheese.  Top it with sour cream and salsa, and wrap it in a warm flour tortilla if you feel so led.  I'm putting this on menu for next week! 
Edamame Salad
  • Edamame Salad.  Who knew that a salad containing only five ingredients (six if you count the pepper) would be so popular???  It's fresh, crunchy, sweet, salty (feta, anyone?) and nutty.  I make this regularly.  My husband and kids love it.  Besides steaming the edamame, it's virtually no-cook.  Great served at room temp or chilled.  A summertime staple.
  • Ooey Gooey Butter Bars.  Anything with a name like that is sure to make the top seven.  Growing up, my mom made these bars all the time.  Such a quick and easy dessert.  What could be wrong with a cake mix crust topped with a sweet cream cheese filling and baked until just ooey and gooey?  Here's the catch: the way to ensure perfection is to remove them from the oven while they are still quite jiggly.  Gooey is the goal.
    Broccoli Slaw Salad
  • Broccoli Slaw Salad.  I could eat the entire recipe by myself.  Made with a bag of broccoli slaw (how easy is that?) and a mixture of toasted nuts and crispy noodles, tossed together with a sweet and tangy vinaigrette, it's perfect for a cookout or a weeknight side.  You could even add chicken and turn it into a main dish.  
    Bruschetta Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta
  • Bruschetta Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta.  Let's talk about this recipe.  It is summer in a bowl.  The bruschetta is the best I've ever had (it is inspired by the bruschetta I ate while white water rafting down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho) and is good on anything you can find.  It is full of garden-fresh tomatoes, crumbly and salty feta cheese, fresh basil and tossed with a wonderful sundried tomato vinaigrette.  This fabulous bruschetta becomes the "sauce" for the angel hair pasta...top it with grilled chicken and and it just don't get no better than that.  Really.
    Honey Nut Graham Snack Mix
  • Honey Nut Graham Snack Mix.  I made this before a road trip a couple of years ago.  It's sweet and salty (one of my fave combos) with honey-roasted peanuts, pretzels, Golden Grahams (one of my favorite cereals to eat out of the box!) and M&M's.  Needless to say, it was long gone before we reached our destination.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spring Green Quinoa Salad

After the Oatmeal Caramelitas I posted this weekend, I probably owe you an apology.  Oatmeal cookie bars stuffed with caramel and chocolate...

Since I've never been great at apologies, I just made you a salad instead.

Quinoa.  Asparagus.  Peas.  Feta.  Tossed with lemon vinaigrette.

So fresh.  So springy.

Am I the only one with a refrigerator drawer full of asparagus?  Don't get me wrong - I love it.  My dad and father-in-law grow copious amounts of awesome asparagus, and we eat it every day when it's in season (mid-April through May).

I love it.  And I really love receiving garden-fresh veggies from my family.  There's nothing like it.

Normally I just saute the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper.  But sometimes I like to do something a little different with the asparagus...like this salad.

Start with quinoa...remember quinoa?  It's our friend.  It's a seed and insanely healthy (fiber, protein, among other qualities that earn it an A+ on the nutrition scale).  So I had black and red quinoa, but you could easily use white.  I think it might be more visually appealing with white quinoa?  But I used what I had.  It all cooks the same, so it really doesn't matter.

And saute some asparagus with an onion.  And toss it together with feta and lemon vinaigrette.

It's fresh, it's springy and it's healthy.

Can't beat it.  Make it fast...asparagus season is almost gone!

Spring Green Quinoa Salad
Adapted from Heather Cristo Cooks

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quinoa, rinsed (I used a combo of black and red quinoa, but you could use white)
1 bunch (about a pound) asparagus, sliced thin
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen petite peas
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

2 T olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons, juiced)
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the quinoa and cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

In a separate skillet, saute the onion and asparagus in the tablespoon of olive oil until crisp-tender (about 7-8 minutes).

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, sauteed asparagus and onions, frozen peas (the heat from the quinoa and asparagus will thaw the peas) and the feta.  Whisk together the dressing and pour it on top.  Toss to combine and serve warm or chilled.  This is great with fish.