Cookbook: Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook

I got a copy of Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook but I kept it under wraps until I could make Cookie Dough Truffles for Mr. J’s Birthday. I’ve been making treats to accompany birthday and Christmas gifts lately and I figured this was definitely special enough! He got real gifts on his bday but I wanted him to have something to open at a family gathering too. Plus, I love excuses to make something unusual!

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook is by Lindsay Landis. She also writes a blog Love and Olive Oil. Here’s her blog post for these cookie dough truffles! The cookbook is lovely and really has some good ideas. It is a fun one I think anyone would like. It is spiral bound which is a huuuuge help when following a recipe (it lays flat). I love the photography and I’m sure I’ll make something again. Here it is standing up but hiding behind my cookbook shield.
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The cookbook has a ton of creative recipes I haven’t seen everywhere. I have my eye on Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookies, and Cookie Dough-Stuffed French Toast.

I made the truffles and they came out ok. They were somewhat messy but tasted good (as was the case for some oreo truffles I made with Mrs. E way back when). Anything that has to be dipped in chocolate is going to be good but messy. I made them on a warm day and couldn’t come up with a good technique.

The dough is super sticky since there aren’t any eggs in the recipe, but otherwise it is standard cookie dough dipped into melted chocolate. First I made the dough.
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Then the chips are mixed in and it is left to refrigerate for 30 minutes. I’m a lucky duck that my Mum gave me a mixing bowl cover for opportunities such as these!

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Then the dough is rolled and dipped.

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I liked that there weren’t a million ingredients. I overlooked that the chips were supposed to be mini (makes sense). That might have allowed them to form more uniform balls, rather than the large and lumpy ones mine were.

My trouble was dipping. I think the tines of my forks are kind of close together to allow the chocolate to drip through. I tried a bamboo skewer and that seemed to go ok. They were tough to get off though. It meant that getting off the skewer left an undipped hole. I did my best to cover it and I definitely recommend sprinkles to hide any imperfections.
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He liked them. I thought they looked cute once they were done and I could breathe again. Dipping was time consuming so I might make them as cups…that’s just a hint to what I made in cups that worked so well. ;)

I wish I could send some fun sweet treats to Biloxi this weekend. Something tells me 95-degree weather would wreak havoc on some cookie dough deliciousness but should be great for a beachy bachelorette party! Enjoy ladies!

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My copy of Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Have you ever used corn tortillas? I guess I don’t know how to use them! I had an enchilada mishap I figured I’d share with you. Not that any of my meals are pefect but I think everyone needs a reminder that not everything goes to plan. The meals that do go to plan are just more fun to blog about.

They were super crumbly. I tried soaking them in water but they still cracked.
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Then I threw in the towel. I shredded the tortillas and made it casserole style.
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We ate it anyway. Ohh well.
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Berry Sangria

This sangria is a long overdue but this intense heat makes it more appropriate right now. I love sangria and just wish I had it more often!

I made sangria for our housewarming, for my birthday, and for Memorial Day. The berry one for the housewarming was the best but the others seem to be hits too.
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The key is really letting it sit for at least 24-hours. I made a berry sangria one last year and it was ok, but it only sat for about 6 hours. We drank the leftovers the next day and were wowed at how much better it was.

Ingredients:

1 cup raspberries
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 bottle white wine
1 cup cupcake vodka
1 cup cranberry vodka
1 lime
1 green apple

Directions:

Bring berries, cranberry sauce, water and sugar to a gentle boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
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Strain fruit from the liquid.
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Mix fruit syrup, wine, and vodkas. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.
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Garnish with lime, lime zest, and chopped apple before serving.
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I added a bottle of prosecco just before serving.

Greek Dip with Some Assembly Required

This is the easiest dip ever. There’s no cooking involved…some assembly required. Make this for your next BBQ or pool party and you’re guaranteed to wow people. I really enjoy the simplicity of this in relation to how much folks rave about this dip! Yesterday was Ms. L’s bday and she likes this one ;)
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Ingredients

8 oz hummus
2-4 oz feta
1 cucumber
2 tomatoes
3 tbs Italian salad dressing

Directions

Spread hummus onto a plate
Chop cucumbers and tomatoes and toss with feta and dressing
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Arrange on top of hummus
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Serve with pita chips, wheat thins, or your favorite crackers

That’s it!

It is a nice alternative to other dips served. It is lighter but really fresh tasting and goes with anything. I’ve made the topping and assembled on-site when it was time to eat so I can attest to how portable it is.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged it before. It tends to be a crowd pleaser. Even when people tell me they won’t like it, they try it and are surprised. Happens. Every. Time.

It would be good as a crostini if it is easier for you not to serve a dip. If you do make it as a dip I assure you folks will be standing around devouring this one! (I love when that happens at a party but crostinis would help when serving a crowd.)

Cost Breakdown

Hummus: $3.50
Feta $1.99
Cucumber $0.75 (English cuke $2.00)
2 plum tomatoes $1.00
Wheat thins $3.00
Total = $11.49 (for the dip & dippers to serve 6-8 for <$2.00) That’s even using an English cuke which is totally worth it not to have to peel it!

Reader Recommended: Taco Pizza

I love when totally unexpected people tell me they read my blog! I was working a few weeks ago in Chicago and one of the local staff had a recommendation for me to try. She suggested a taco pizza! She and her husband like it and seem to have perfected it! Thanks Mrs. M!

I’m not into mixing food from one region to another (hello, taco stuffed shells? No thanks) but pizza is a whole different game to me. Does that make sense? Prob not. Do I make the rules? Sure do! I was super psyched to make this pizza and knew I’d like it.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough
1 can refried beans
¾ pound ground chicken/pork/turkey/beef
3 tbs taco seasoning (or half a packet)
1 ½ cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
¼ cup salsa
2 cups lettuce, chopped
5 tortilla chips crumbled (optional)

Directions:

Precook pizza dough for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
Cook ground meat until cooked through and add taco seasoning and a splash of water when the meat is mostly cooked.
Remove pizza crust from oven and spread the beans on it (instead of tomato sauce)
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Top with cheese, then ground meat and cook for 10 more minutes (or until crust is crisped).
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Remove from the oven and top with salsa, lettuce, and tortilla chip crumbles.
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Bacon Wrapped Burgers

I was really excited for my menu for Mr. J’s birthday. My guy loooves a good burger so I thought about a bacon wrapped burger. I guess Birthday Burgers are a tradition now since I made stuffed burgers for his birthday last year.

I googled and saw a few that put bacon around the edge. That’s not good enough. I was thinking of weaving it to make a little bacon wrapping.
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It seemed like it would cook ok, it just might need to be secured with toothpicks (I recommend counting them to be sure they all come out). We strategized that getting the bacon crisped on the first side might help keep it all together before flipping.

Ingredients
2 burgers
strips of bacon (4-6 strips per burger)

Directions
Lay 3 strips of bacon and interlace 3 other strips in the opposite direction to form an L.
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Place burger on the bacon intersection. Fold the flaps over and weave them together.
bacon_burger_assembled_590_390Mr. J’s was a beef burger. I did ground pork. Though I didn’t eat Mr. J’s burger, I have to say I think the 4 strips of bacon is plenty (versus the 6 on his).

I served it with a cucumber ribbon salad. It was plain greek yogurt, dill, garlic, and pepper.
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I sliced the cucumber with a mandolin but was afraid to make them too thin. I figured not slicing my hand off was a good birthday present too.
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The burgers were reallllly good. I topped mine with swiss and Mr. J’s with American cheese. I think it was a fun meal.
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Now what kind of burger am I going to make for his bday next year??

Foodie Book Review: American Way of Eating

Do you need a beach book? Grab this book for a whole different side of food! I saw this book somewhere and was instantly interested. The author Tracie McMillan goes “Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.” Check out her website for more info.

She tackles the myth of privileged classes being the only ones interested in their meals. The verdict? McMillan says it isn’t true. She explores class relations with food, and eating as a culture in the US. This is no Upton Sinclair Jungle. McMillan goes to the fields to try her hand at harvesting garlic and peaches. She lives the life of the field worker before entering the next experience of late night shifts in Walmart Produce departments. Seeing the goods in their whole forms takes a drastic turn when she works in an Applebee’s kitchen and can’t find a whole food anywhere.
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I loved her stats on grocery space and fresh food access in different parts of NYC. It is true that fresh food costs more but also that it is harder to access in certain areas. McMillan lives the life and tries to afford to eat on her earnings.

The result is really captivating. Her experience trying to make cookies for a holiday swap all the time wondering what other party-goers spent on butter is really interesting. She uses a mix and winds up calculating that flour and sugar themselves would have been cheaper, but more money upfront.

I was most interested in her Applebee’s experience. She works in the kitchen and befriends the other staff. During her time there she sees how they cook and the product they use. I also thought it was endearing that she doesn’t assume the staff want to cook that way. Everything is a packet or pouch of pre-made this or packaged that. It is worth thinking about when dining out. That’s why diners impress me…most of them make everything there, on the spot.
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I’m always interested in what it costs to make dinner. It is just Mr. J and me eating but I’m a penny-pincher by nature yet I really value dinner time and the meal. I grew up eating dinner as a family and it is definitely a priority for my family. That doesn’t mean that Mr. J and I don’t end up whipping up something easy now and then, but it does mean that most nights we eat together and I like to cook.

I started calculating the cost of meals I’ve made. It is really astounding. Chicken, bean & corn enchiladas for $2.12 per person, mashed potato pizza for $1.12 per person, and baked ziti for $1.68 per person are just a sampling. We don’t eat a lot of red meat, or fish at our house which tend to run a bit pricier, but still. Cooking at home is easily attainable for us.

I know we’re lucky, we have professional careers, we each work near farmer’s markets, and we have the means to buy any produce we want, whenever we want.  Reading how hard she had to work and the generosity of the communities really touched me. Those around her also had nothing yet still were including her in family meals, sharing more beans than she could eat, and making sure she survived

Here is a stat I thought was most note-worthy to leave you with: the poorest Americans spend up to 35% of their income on food; the middle-to-upper class spends only 8% to eat (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Roundup: Birthday Boy’s Favs

Today is Mr. J’s birthday. I looove birthdays (as seen here and here). He isn’t as into birthdays as I am, but luckily he humors me. I’m super jazzed about the dinner I thought of for tonight (stay tuned). Hopefully it works!

In honor of his birthday I’m giving you a little collection or list of some of his favs! Happy birthday Mr. J!

He liked this Thanksgiving Sandwich I made recently (yes, no timely connection or anything)

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And he surprisingly fell for broccoli & cheddar soup in breadbowls
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and he was into these Greek Meatball Wraps
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and the guy loves his Chinese food
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He embraced Neapolitan pizza when we were in Italy on our honeymoon. We’ve recreated since then and I perfected it…I dare say.
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He loved this Balsamic Citrus Chicken though the photos don’t do it justice.
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I hope he has a fantastic birthday. He’s amazing beyond words and deserves it. He has suffered through some of my mishaps and willingly eats pretty much anything I make. He patiently waits for me to photograph his meal before taking a bite and is my biggest supporter…blog and live-wise. The pup and I have lots of fun surprises for him!

Check out his amazingness here on his guest blog.  Better yet, check out his blog here! Go ahead, leave him a comment for his birthday!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I’ll never tire of pizza toppings. This is actually an oldie-but-goodie. It was the first meal I made for Mr. J. It was kind of a go-to meal since it was easy regardless of grill access. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged it for you before!

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Ingredients:

Pizza dough
4 chicken tenders (or 2 breasts)
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
½ red onion
2 green onions

Directions:

Pre-bake pizza crust at 400-degrees for 15 minutes or until the edges start getting crisp.
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Brush chicken tenders with ½ the barbecue sauce and grill until cooked through.
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Shred the cooked chicken with 2 forks.
Top the pizza crust with a light layer of barbecue sauce, then cheese, then red onions.
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Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
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Remove from oven and top with chopped green onion and drizzle with bbq sauce.

I forgot how much I love this pizza. The sweet and tangy sauce with melty cheese…ohh so good. It is really good for leftovers too. Don’t let the 2 kinds of onions be intimidating. They are not overpowering. Topping this with a drizzle of sauce really makes it an impressive dinner.

On my trip to Chicago my colleague inspired a NEW pizza. Stay tuned for that one! Thanks Mrs. M!

Everything Bagel Cream Cheese Dip

I’m pretty obsessed with Pretzel Crisps right now. I love them…especially the everything ones. They remind me of everything bagels which then brought me to a cream cheese dip for them!

I made it for mother’s day brunch but am just getting around to posting it. Make this. Take my word for it. It’s a fun brunchy item that nobody else will have. It is super addicting too.

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese (softened to room temp)
1 tbs crushed garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp dried onion
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
3 tbs milk/cream
Pretzel thins (everything or sesame or plain)

Directions:

Mix softened cream cheese with garlic, spices, and sesame oil.
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Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture is dip-able.
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Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before serving.
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I think everyone liked it. I chose flavors I thought we’d like with the pretzels but there are tons of alternatives. Crushed garlic, garlic powder, and chives would be good. Or bacon and scallions (my fav at Breuggers).
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What is your go-to brunch item?