Parmesan, Rosemary and Thyme Shortbread

Okay, this is a day late. Oops!

So I kinda love how this picture turned out. I tried to be all fancy by pressing fresh rosemary leaves into the uncooked shortbread, but apparently I didn’t press hard enough. Again, oops! But with that said, I kinda love the curlicues that showed up. They’re so cute!

The rich, warm aroma of parmesan cheese baking filled our house for hours. The funny thing was I was making a chicken, tortellini soup in the slow cooker at the same time, so between the parmesan, Italian herbs, and the garlic you woulda thought you were sitting in a warm, Italian grandmother’s kitchen as she was wiping her hands on her apron, encouraging you to eat more, telling you you’re too skinny (all with a wonderfully expressive Italian accent).

I love making shortbread. It’s so easy (this took about 10 minutes to prep) and yet your audience (even if it’s just you) will lather on the praise for your brilliant baking abilities.

One thing about this version is that it is extremely parmesan strong. So strong to the point that you might feel like you’re diving into a wheel of parmesan. I couldn’t really taste the rosemary or thyme, and although they’re really good I would have preferred a balance of the herbs and parmesan.

Parmesan, Rosemary, and Thyme Shortbread (recipe care of savorysimple.net)

INGREDIENTS: 4 ounces unsalted butter (room temperature), 3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups; grate it yourself for the best flavor), 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 6 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 1 1/4 cups), 1 tablespoon water

DIRECTIONS: Place the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed until creamy. Add the parmesan, salt, pepper, herbs and flour one at a time until evenly combined. Last, add 1 tablespoon of water to help bring the dough together. Flatten the dough and wrap in plastic film. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.  While the dough is chilling, place a rack on the center shelf and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of parchment paper), roll the dough to approximately 1/4-inch thick. Use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make small crackers, re-rolling the dough as needed. (An alternative method is to chill the dough in the shape of a log and then slice it, but the rounds might not be as uniform). Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan (they shouldn’t spread much, but leave a bit of room to be safe). Chill for 15 minutes, then bake until lightly golden on the bottom, 16-21 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. 

White Bean and Hominy Chili

So this is neither baking, nor is it related to baking in any way.

However, I am a master manipulator (when it comes to connecting and justifying things). So I am connecting this recipe to my earlier blog, “Emma’s Cornbread.” Which actually was planned all along. So maybe I’m not the master manipulator I thought I was. Especially because I mentioned both as our dinner plans for tonight. Hmm?

Damn, I thought I was pulling off the Austin Powers, awkwardly confident spy (manipulation) expertise. Turns out, not so much.

I am not a fan of chili; not at all, not even a little bit. I’ve kinda hated it since I was a little girl.

However this chili is so amazingly delicious, it’s kinda crazy. It’s special. As Paul and I made this together tonight (adding ingredients at the right time, letting the flavors melt into each other as they cooked) we both said how much we’ve missed this chili and the coziness it creates. We easily agreed that it’ll be in our repertoire throughout the fall season.

This chili is warm and lovely and inviting. Perfect to kick off the 2021 NFL season.

A Few Notes: I did not use the meatless, chipotle Mexican sausage that is called for in this recipe. Nor did I use water when called for. As I always say, you do you. Neither Paul nor I are vegetarians nor vegans, so we use spicy chicken sausage (2 links). And rather than “watering” things down, we kick it up a notch by using chicken broth/stock instead of water.

Oh, and I add a large container of raw spinach over the cooking chili (with a few last minutes are left while it’s over the flame). The spinach does not intrude on the chili flavors at all. Truly, the spinach does not add any flavor at all. It simply adds a very healthy addition to the chili… calcium, vitamin c, etc.

Giving the chili time to cook lets all of the amazing flavors combine. It will be better tomorrow as leftovers.

White Bean and Hominy Chili (recipe care of myrecipes.com or cookinglight.com)

INGREDIENTS: 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans or other white beans (rinsed, drained, and divided), 1 tablespoon olive oil , 1 (4-ounce) meatless Mexican chipotle sausage (finely chopped),  1 ½ cups chopped white onion, 3 garlic cloves (minced), 2 poblano chiles (seeded and chopped), 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 ½ cups water, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco), ½ teaspoon salt, 1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy ( rinsed and drained), 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 8 lime wedges

DIRECTIONS: Mash 2/3 cup beans with a fork. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage, and sauté for 4 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and poblanos; sauté 6 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add mashed beans, whole beans, 1 1/2 cups water, and the next 4 ingredients (through hominy). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in green onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Emma’s Cornbread

You know that Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?” That’s how I feel about the first Sunday morning of the NFL season. I love (and when I say love, I mean LOVE) baking in the morning with football blaring in the background. Often running from the kitchen to the living room carry a ball of scone batter in my hands yelling, “Did we score?!?!”

I pull out my Seahawks mug for my hot, lemon water and start thinking positive vibes (and maybe saying a couple of prayers) that my boys are gonna win. It’s my Sunday morning ritual.

In order to kickoff the Seahawks championship winning season, a.k.a. the NFL season, I wanted to make chili and cornbread. I don’t care that it’s 85 degrees outside and chili is way too hot to eat at this time of year, that’s what you eat when you’re excited about football. So Paul and I will be enjoying a hot bowl of white bean chili with the famous “Emma’s cornbread.”

Emma was a beautiful, southern, Mother of Earth reincarnated woman who cooked for my mom’s family when she was little. My mom would spend a ton of time in the kitchen lovingly watching Emma cook. She passed her cornbread recipe onto my mom and now it is a family treasure.

I stopped by my folks’ house yesterday to get the recipe. My almost 80 year old mother pulled out her little blue, green, and yellow flowered recipe box (blue and green are the Seahawks’ colors, just saying) and found the well-worn, butter smeared index card with my mom’s horrible handwriting listing the recipe. If you listened carefully you could hear a choir of angels singing. My eyes were wide with reverence.

This recipe is the easiest thing to make, ever. Seriously, ever. But the best part about it is you literally drop the batter into a puddle of melted butter, and the butter sizzles as it swallows up the corners and sides of the cornbread. If you make it in a pyrex dish, you can still see the butter sizzling on the sides as you pull it from the oven. It’s just fabulous in every way.

Now with that said, I still messed up. My overly confident, football distracted self added in an extra 1/2 cup flour by accident. So dumb! Such a rookie move. Although it’s the simplest recipe, learn from my mistakes and pay attention.

We used to cut a square of the bread in half, smother it with butter, and drizzle honey over it. Crazy delicious! But you do you.

Emma’s Cornbread (recipe care of my mom who got it from Emma)

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup cornmeal, heaping 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup (plus a little extra) buttermilk, 2 eggs

DIRECTIONS: Melt a stick of butter in your style 9″ pan in a 400 degree oven. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the buttermilk and two eggs and stir. Pour a little of the melted butter into the batter and stir until all ingredients are incorporated together. Drop the batter into the pan with the melted butter, spread out so that it’s evenly dispersed in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, and golden on top.

Loaded Cowboy Cookies

“Holy smokes Paul! I don’t think this dough is gonna fit in the mixer!”

You know how they say everything’s bigger in Texas? Well this cookie recipe is definitely a testament to that. My dear friend moved to Frisco, Texas, and upon finding this recipe she promptly sent it to me.

I had never heard of cowboy cookies until I lived in Seattle (and I went to school in Montana which is weird). There was a killer bakery in Pioneer Square near my favorite bookstore that sold them. Walking by and smelling the sweet smell of fresh baked cookies, I felt it was my obligation to the people of Seattle to explore. I’m a giver. I bought and dove into a cookie that was the size of my head. I ate the whole delectable thing. I’m not proud.

Now not one to be scared off by an oversized cookie, I took this challenge on with gusto. Well, that was until the motor of my mixer started to precariously slow down its churn while it fought against the massive amount of ingredients. I actually had to stop the mixer and stir it all up by hand. Thankfully most of it was mixed together already.

Seriously, “go big or go home,” should be the name of these cookies. They’re beautiful, easy (other than almost breaking my mixer), and full of decadent treats. If you wanted to go over the edge (which I fully support), you could use them to make ginormous ice cream sandwiches. Oh dear Lord, that kinda scares even me.

Loaded Cowboy Cookies (recipes care of thatskinnychickcanbake.com)

INGREDIENTS: 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter (at room temperature), 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, 3 cups old fashioned oatmeal, 2 cups angel flake coconut, 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. In a very large bowl, beat butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in sugars, and combine thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans. For each cookie, scoop out 1/4 cup of cookie dough, roll into balls and  space 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Middles may have areas that appear slightly under done. Remove cookies from rack to cool.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tostadas

Okay, not gonna lie, the Real Simple picture is way prettier than mine. One, I LOVE avocado and would smother it with this precious fruit if I could. I restrained myself for the photograph alone; afterwards I spread an entire half of avocado on my tostado and I’m not ashamed of it! In fact, I take pride in the indulgence. Two, their picture is just so pretty and I forgot to add the queso fresco which happens to be my favorite cheese ever.

This is such a lovely recipe that is so healthy and easy to make. I’m gonna share something that I haven’t on my blog thus far. I’m recovering from breast cancer, and the fact that this was a simple recipe that I could prepare and wasn’t take out was a celebration!

To continue the healthy vibe… I sprayed cooking spray on fresh tortillas, sprinkled them with cumin, then baked them (rather than fried them). Totally worth it.

You will love this! Enjoy!!!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tostadas (recipe care of Real Simple)

INGREDIENTS: 2 white onions (halved) , 1 ½ pounds (boneless, skinless) chicken thighs, 1 16-oz. jar tomatillo salsa , 2 poblano chiles (seeded and cut into 1-in. pieces, about 2 cups), 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided), 3 large plum tomatoes (diced about 2 cups), 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves , 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (plus wedges for serving), 8 corn tostadas, 2 ½ ounces queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese) crumbled (about ½ cup)

DIRECTIONS: Chop 1 onion half to measure ½ cup; set aside. Chop remaining onion halves into 4 wedges each. Stir onion wedges, chicken, salsa, poblanos, and ¾ teaspoon salt in bowl of a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until tender, 4 to 5 hours. Using 2 forks, shred chicken in slow cooker. Meanwhile, make the pico de gallo: Stir tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, reserved chopped onion, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or for up to 12 hours. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, top each tostada with about ¾ cup chicken mixture, 2 tablespoons pico de gallo, and 1 tablespoon queso fresco. Serve with lime wedges.

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Gruyère & Arugula Sandwich

So these are just delightful! Delicious and easy as pie to make. By the way, I’ve never quite understood that saying, “easy as pie.” Making pie crust scares the bejeezus out of me. I always feel like its gonna turn out like a ton of bricks and not light and flaky like its supposed to, but somehow my mom achieves a perfect crust every time.

Anywho, I digress. I wanted to shake things up this morning and try something new. This is such a simple recipe and seriously yummy. If you had people over for a brunch they would be in awe of your wicked awesome cooking skills (all the while you would know that there’s nothing at all to making these sandwiches). If you really wanna work it and just for the full effect you can sprinkle a bit of water on your face and as you bring out the beautifully organized tray of sandwiches and set it down, you can take a deep sigh and wipe away the “sweat” while looking exhausted. Maybe even a hand on a hip while leaning against a chair. But that’s just me, I can be evil at times (hee hee hee).

Paul and I made things a bit easier and changed things up just a touch. We added shredded Gruyère to the eggs while cooking them rather than using slices. We also minced one clove of roasted garlic and tossed it in. Cuz why not? Garlic’s just good! And we used super crisp bacon.

Oh and I didn’t use mustard. Paul doesn’t like dijon mustard and I hate, with a passion, mustard of any kind. Mustard flowers are lovely and grow prolifically here amongst our mountains, but the mustard used in cooking should be wiped away from the face of the earth. That’s slightly dramatic but that’s how much I hate mustard.

The only issue I had with these sandwiches was that I couldn’t find ciabatta rolls at the store so I had to buy a loaf. I could have easily made square shaped rolls out of the loaf but my brain wasn’t quite awake yet so I sliced the bread into thin rectangles. Yeah, I have no shame, sometimes I can make ridiculous choices. But square rolls would make them way easier to build and eat.

Go forth and scramble away!

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Gruyère & Arugula Sandwich (recipe care of Centennial Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS: 2 ciabatta rolls (cut in half), 2 slices of crisp bacon (cut in half), scrambled eggs, 2 slices of Gryuère cheese (Swiss or Emmenthal work also), 1/2 a cup arugula, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange bun halves, face up, in a single layer on a baking sheet. Prepare bacon as you prefer. Prepare the scrambled eggs as you prefer. Divide eggs evenly between bottom halves of each bun and top each with a slice of cheese. Bake until cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with bacon slices and arugula. Spread one teaspoon mustard on top half of sandwich.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well in last week’s blog I mentioned that you could easily bake the “camping cookies” with any variety of ingredients. I specifically suggested blueberries and white chocolate chips. So, I tried it this week.

But I was curious to see what a recipe would look like so I found this one. It’s basically the same as the “camping cookies,” but I love that it calls for lemon zest. It adds such a brightness to the cookies.

I would highly recommend this recipe. It’s easy and the cookies are delightful (for lack of a better word). Definitely a crowd pleaser and a nice change from chocolate chip cookies.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe care of aspicyperspective.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, softened), 1 cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, zest of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen), 12 ounces white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together (on high speed) until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn the mixer of low and mix in the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt. Scrape the bowl again, then slowly beat in the flour. Once the flour is fully combined, turn off the mixer and add in the blueberries and white chocolate chips. GENTLY fold by hand, as to not squash the blueberries. Roll the dough into 1 ¼ inch balls and place on the baking sheets 2 ½ inches apart. Press the tops, ever so slightly, to help keep the cookies uniform in shape.  Bake for 11-12 minutes until the edges are set, and slightly golden. Allow the cookies to rest on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before moving.

NOTES: You can use any type of fresh or frozen berry you like. Yet, blueberries “bleed” the least, therefore they do not affect the texture of the cookies as much as strawberries or raspberries might. However, there are other berries, similar to blueberries, that have slightly different flavors, but bake just as well. Consider using Serviceberries, Huckleberries, and Bilberries.

Camping Cookies

This is seriously the best chocolate chip recipe I have ever come across. Seriously. It’s simple, easy as pie, and delicious. That’s a winning combination.

My dear friend, Michelle (whose maiden name is Knab), made these once for a car camping/glamping trip in Big Sur. They were a fabulous treat, so I begged her for the recipe. Since that day, I refer to them as, “camping cookies.”

Paul is heading out on a backpacking trip to King’s Canyon (a trip I was supposed to go on but unfortunately can’t – yeah, I’m not bitter at all). There’s a great crew who will be hiking in, and I decided they could use some camping cookies since pack horses will be taking in all their food. Hence today’s batch.

You can choose any kind of chip you’d like and whatever kind of nut tickles your fancy. Or leave the nuts out completely. There’s room for creativity and a personal touch. I’m thinking of trying a blueberry, white chocolate chip cookie. The brilliance of this cookie is its simplicity. But don’t be afraid to have fun and shake it up a bit.

Aunt Mary Knab’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe care of Michelle Erickson)

INGREDIENTS: 2/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup chopped nuts, 12 oz. package chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.

Hazelnut Swirl Blondies

Awwww yeaaaaahhhh!!! These are damn good. Like crazy good! Warning though: they’re incredibly rich.

I’m sure I’ve written about my obsession with/addiction to Nutella. When we were in Italy on our honeymoon I ate it every single day, sometimes twice a day (I’m not proud). I’m not allowed to buy it at home because I can easily eat an entire jar by myself in a day (again, not proud). Chocolate + hazelnuts = ummmmm, good!

I added the optional, toasted hazelnuts that make a wonderful crunchy surprise. Paul was skeptical about the nuts (he’s not a huge nut fan in baked goods), however I do believe his response to eating these was, “Oh yeah. These are good!” Success!!!

Side Note: If you’re having trouble finding already chopped up hazelnuts, you can find them at nuts.com (I love that website name, cracks me up every time – yes I’m that childish). All you’ll have to do is toast them, which is actually nice because your kitchen will fill with the lovely aroma of toasting hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Swirl Blondies (recipe care of Real Simple)

INGREDIENTS: Cooking spray, ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, 1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ cup toasted unsalted skinned hazelnuts (optional), chopped, ⅓ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella), ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Melt butter in a large pot over medium, stirring occasionally to ensure butter doesn’t brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar until well-combined. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and kosher salt to butter mixture; stir until batter is smooth. Stir in hazelnuts, if using. Transfer batter to baking pan. Spread in an even layer and smooth top. Dollop chocolate-hazelnut spread in tablespoonfuls on top of blondie batter. Drag a wooden spoon or a skewer through spread to swirl it slightly (it won’t be evenly spread out over batter). Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Bake until top of blondies is set and edges are golden (center will still be a bit gooey), 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack and let blondies cool completely, about 2 hours. Using parchment paper overhang as handles, remove blondies from pan and slice.

Simple Guacamole

I will never forget the first time I had guacamole in college. Mind you, I’d eaten lots (well, that’s an under exaggeration of how much guacamole I’d eaten at that point in my life). Avocados, to me, are like bacon, butter, and chocolate… an example of all that is right in the world.

But I will never forget this specific bowl of green, mushy glop (because, of course that’s what guacamole is). My dear friend who made it had mistakenly added mayonnaise to it to make it creamy. She hadn’t been taught the important recipe of simple guacamole.

So although this is not baking, I thought I’d share this very easy recipe with you because it’s one that everyone should have in their wheelhouse. Thanks to my beautiful friend, Goldin, who taught it to me.

Now, this is a recipe for basic for guacamole. Nothing fancy, just basic. But I have to tell ya, everyone loves it and you will be known as a culinary genius if you make it and share it with others!

If you want to make this and spruce it up, start with this recipe and add whatever ingredients sound good to you. Suggestions: cilantro, jalapeño, tomatoes, red onion, the ideas are endless.

Just be sure your ingredients are fresh, and your chips are thick and delicious!

Simple Guacamole (recipe care of lots of people who have been making this forever)

INGREDIENTS: ripe avocados (however many you’d like), fresh minced garlic (however garlicky you’d like), fresh lemon juice to taste, salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Slice open lengthwise each avocado and and scoop out the green flesh. Place the fruit in a large bowl. To remove the pits, carefully hit them with the blade of a sharp knife. They will pull right out if the avocados are ripe enough. Set the pits aside, do not discard. Take a large fork and mash the avocados up in the bowl. Add in the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.