Archive | November, 2007

Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

16 Nov

Some cookies are pretty, others are not, some are homemade and others store-bought (just had to keep going there). These cookies are dark–an Oreo-Cookie-how-did-you-make-chocolate-that-dark? kind of dark. They are very tasty though, like the dark chocolate truffle cream that is inside of a milk chocolate candy in a box of chocolates.

This recipe is void of eggs, so the cookies spread apart a lot and are prone to breaking (leaving me to be prone to unnecessarily eating all broken cookies).

Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup Hershey Special Dark Dutch-Process (this is essential for the dark-chocolateness of the cookie

1/2 cup butter, cubed and room temp

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cups chopped white chocolate, white chocolate chips, or white chocolate chunks.

Preheat oven to 325 and place oven racks in the upper and lower middle position.

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa.

Beat butter until light and add sugars, creaming well.

Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk.

Chill dough for 15 minutes.

Scoop dough into balls and bake 10 minutes.

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Holiday Get-Togethers: Need an appetizer?

7 Nov

These are easy but give a façade of exquisite taste and refined choice for a dish brought to a cocktail party.

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Stuffed Mushrooms

adapted from Paula Deen.

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion (for a quick fix, use the equivalent in dried minced onion)

4 tablespoons Parmesan

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1/2 t. garlic powder

20 white mushrooms caps

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the cream cheese, parsley, onion and Parmesan.

Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture and top with bread crumbs.

Spray the tops with nonstick spray to help them brown.

Transfer to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is hot and melted.

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on friendship

5 Nov

We have some really fantastic friends, I mean really bend-over-backward-to-help-you-out, my-house-is-your-house, your-burdens-are-my-burdens friends that we have truly been blessed with in the past months. Jon and I thought when we got married and settled in Austin, how wonderful that it would be if we just had a couple that we clicked with, people who we could hang out with and have no particular agenda, just people to live life with. God, in His infinite power and grace, has provided couple after couple after couple. We were able to hang out with everyone a lot this weekend and had a great time. Saturday night, we got together with a theme of Bring Your Own Soup! As always, we had a ton of food, a ton of kids < the age of 5, and a ton of fun fellowship. These photos speak for themselves (more photos here picasaweb.google.com/morgan.c.norris). Thanks, friends…

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Caramel Corn

1 Nov

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I made caramel corn yesterday, you would know if you went into my house because it smells like half the kitchen burned down…I was so worried about getting my caramel to the right temperature, I neglected to notice that the popcorn in the microwave had ceased to make any popping noises and just begun to produce smoke in the oven. This probably went on for 45 seconds, maybe a minute, when I started to smell the smoke. I opened the microwave and somehow, the smoke that was confined only to the microwave, now laid itself like a blanket over the entire kitchen. I had to run the charred popcorn bag under water to stop the smoke at its source and it was then that I realized the cute little window in our kitchen could also be functional to waft the smoke outside. Oops.

When I was younger, I thought popcorn was a really neat food. Not because of its ability to hold insane amounts of butter or to expand to 10x its original size in just a few minutes, but because I thought it was a thoughtful food…you know, like how chocolate chip cookies make you feel better when you’re sad or chicken noodle soup makes you feel stronger when you’re sick. Well my dad told me (during the phase of 4- or 5-year-old questions in the realm of “what is this?” “what does it do?” “why?” “why?” “why?”) that not to ever be afraid of the airbags, or any deployment of them because there’s popcorn in there! If someone gets in a situation where their airbags deploy, they’ll be just fine and they even have a snack to keep them from getting hungry while help arrives. This should have stirred more questions in me…how long does it take help to arrive? long enough to need a snack? But with this I was satisfied and for a long, long time gave popcorn the credit for being such a comfort food.

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Today’s caramel corn came about because Hilary mentioned wanting caramel corn and I couldn’t find any fairs in Austin that would have the sweet treat to fill her desires but I could find a recipe. This recipe was really good. I would say I am not great with making caramel/candy/fudge etc., anything that requires heating to high, high temperatures in order to succeed, and therefore it is an overwhelming success that this project turned out at all. I would blame my usual foupas this on the candy thermometer. Oh candy thermometer, why are your tick marks so close together? How am I supposed to know when you reach 240*? You may just as well be at 200, or 250 and I would never know…until later, when my pumpkin fudge turns to sludge and never hardens, or when my English Toffee is grainy and falls apart.

Needless to say, this caramel corn turned out great and I would accredit it to my newfound patience for temperatures and use of the alternative method to the candy thermometer: this caramel is to reach 250*F, you know that the caramel hits the correct temperature on the candy thermometer, or, when you let a drip of hot caramel drip from your silicon or wooden spoon fall into a bowl of icewater and the caramel turns into a hard ball (this is hard-ball stage, as opposed to a soft-ball stage, that you would strive for when making something softer, i.e. peanut brittle would need to reach the hard-ball stage at 250-266*F, but peanut butter fudge would only need to reach soft ball stage at 235-245*F)

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Caramel Corn

this is an easy recipe to make organic–all of the ingredients can probably be found in organic form at your local grocery store.

1.5 bags popped popcorn (about 15 loosely packed cups)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup regular sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups salted peanuts (optional)

Heat oven to 225°F.

Place popcorn in 2 9×13 pans; set aside.
Combine brown sugar, sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and vanilla in a thick-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 250°F or small amount of mixture dropped in ice water forms a hard ball (about 12 to 14 minutes).

Remove from heat

Carefully pour hot mixture over the popcorn in a large roasting pan. (If you would like peanuts with your popcorn, sprinkle the salted peanuts over the caramel sauce at this point.)

Using a wooden spoon, stir until all popcorn is coated.

Place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir to more evenly coat the popcorn with the caramel sauce.

Return to oven. Continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let cool completely. Break into bite-sized pieces. Store in tightly covered container.

On Prayer

1 Nov

Jon and I spent a long time talking about prayer last night. We have not experienced the day-to-day emotional and mental wearing of some of the things burdening our friends, but we have experienced whole loads by praying for these things weighing on friends. I told Jon last night (humbling myself to realities of my life and walk with God) that I have never prayed for something for so long, seen a change, and so accredited the glory to God not just with attribution, but in rejoicing…until now. I have always stopped praying, whether or not I really realized it, or stopped being frequent and persistent on my prayers for something, and then when God’s work actually came to fruition I have been so detached from the prayer that I failed to accredit the glory to God. I can look back through life and see times when God delivered me from things, but never in relationship to my prayer. So here we are, in Austin, and God has lessons for us in diligence and devotion and perseverance. I am joyful that we can be open and transparent and pray with others so that we can rejoice with them.

Be confident your prayers and requests are from God and not in vain, because God is using you to teach all of us something.