Monthly Archives: February 2011

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

 Cookies I will be the first admit that I hadn’t expected much when Dagmar first showed me the recipe for these cookies.

And they sure didn’t look like much sitting there on the cooling racks.

But – oh my – was I wrong! It just took one bite to make them a new favorite!

They are a cross between a meringue and a cookie – crispy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside.

Heavenly!

And the best news – they are only 143 calories for a nice sized cookie – even with the mini chocolate chips and chopped nuts! 🙂

Chewy Chocolate Cookies
from the Encyclopedia of Baking

4 egg whites
2 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup baking cocoa
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 Tablespoon water
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.

In a large bowl beat the egg whites until frothy.

Sift the sugar, cocoa, flour, and coffee into the egg whites. Add the water and continue beating on low speed to blend, then on high speed for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped nuts and chocolate chips.

Place generous spoonfuls of the mixture 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Bake until firm and cracked on top – but soft inside – about 12-15 minutes.

With a metal spatula, transfer to a rack to cool.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff, and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.

Mental Slippage

I seem to have a bad case of mental slippage this last week.

Brain burps. A momentary lapse of thought.

Or just plain forgetfulness.

On our trip to the big city last weekend I had meticulously written out a detailed list for every store I needed to go to – and left them in the car. Except for one store – I remembered the list but had forgotten to put several important items on it.

That wasn’t nearly as bad as my mental lapse on Sunday. My friend Cinnamon just had the sweetest little baby you ever did see – and I was supposed to bring her a meal on Sunday.

Totally slipped my mind.

Then I discovered that the gal who was bringing their Saturday meal forgot too. Ouch. Two days in a row. Her kids even said, “Melinda won’t forget – she’ll bring us something yummy.”

Double ouch.

I did bring them a meal on Monday – but forgot the pile of movies and the extra Easter script I was going to bring along.

The rest of the week continued like that -forgetting to put the pan of scones in the oven, walking into a room and forgetting why I went in to it, the kids needing to remind me several times to correct their math.

The list goes on and on.

I don’t know what my trouble is – but I blame senioritis.  You know –  having a graduating senior in the house.

My mind is full of ACT scores, financial aid packets, college visits, and senior pictures.

All those numbers, the dates, the decisions!

Just looking at the price of college tuition is enough to freeze some brain cells.

Or <gasp> maybe the senioritis is mine.

After all – I did just have a birthday.  You know – they say the mind is the first thing to go.

No – on second thought – let’s all just forget I said that.

Here’s hoping that a nice quiet weekend and a few good nights of sleep will restore my cognitive prowess.

But until then – I’ll keep slugging away at my to-lists.

That is – if I can remember where I put them. 🙂

No ‘Nard’s!

MenardsWe went to the big city on Saturday – and like every trip to the big city – we had to stop at my husband’s favorite store – Menard’s.

Now for those of you who have never experienced this Midwestern phenomenon – Menard’s is a regional home improvement store.

You could almost call it a red-neck Home Depot.

My husband loves it. My dad loves it. My father-in-law loves it. My brothers-in-law love it. My brother loves it.

Our kids – not so much.

When my niece was much younger she would recognize the store as they pulled in and scream from her car seat, “No ‘Nard’s Daddy! No Nard’s!” (She is now a normal well-adjusted college student with no lasting ill-effects from so much time spent in Menard’s during her developmental years – although she has an amazing knowledge of home improvement terms!)

My own children have spent so much in Menard’s that they have learned to make it fun. On this trip the girls systemically picked out a new dream kitchen – complete with cabinets, counter top and appliances. Meanwhile the boys were walking around the store planning their defense – MacGyver style – in case of Zombie attack – things like how they could use duck tape to modify nail guns.

Okay – maybe I should have limited their Mountain Dew intake at Arby’s during lunch!

At one point I heard them discuss how they could make a bomb using garden fertilizer for nitrogen, cellulose and battery acid.

Oh dear – I wonder what people thought!

But then you see all kinds of people at Menard’s – like the older couple wearing matching striped bib overalls or the dashing stranger with the black cape coat and long sideburns. He looked like he should have a dagger hidden in his belt and rescue the fair princess from the evil dragon.

Hmm…maybe I should have limited my caffeine intake at Arby’s! 😉

Personally I have come to appreciate Menard’s. Where else can you pick out a scented candle that will cost you 75 cents after rebate while listening to a video across the aisle telling you that you will save thousands of gallons of water over the lifetime of the toilet.

No – I’ve come to realize that Menard’s is much more than just scented candles, toilet seats, garden seeds, a new rake, water softener salt, electrical conduit, dry wall, PVC pipe and cabinet knobs.

I now see every trip to Menard’s as a promise that a project will soon be finished.

That’s why this wife says, “Yes, ‘Nard’s!”

Peanut Butter Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Cupcakes I love church potlucks!

I love the massive variety of food from some wonderful cooks, the sweet time to fellowship with good friends, and – of course –  the chance to try out new recipes on unsuspecting eaters! 🙂

At our last church potluck, Dagmar decided to try out a recipe from her new Taste of Home Cookbook.

Her friend Grace was here the afternoon she baked – and between the giggles and picture taking  – I’m amazed they accomplished anything! 🙂

The highlight of making these tasty little treats was piping the peanut butter filling into the cupcakes. Since they had extra filling – they used it to pipe designs on the top instead of using the crushed peanuts the recipe called for.

When they still had filling to use – they piped it on their hands in different designs and licked it off! 🙂

The cupcakes were delicious, my kitchen evidently got clean, the girls weren’t a bit hungry for supper – but fun was had by all!

Peanut Butter Devil’s Food Cake
(From the Taste of Home Cookbook)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 -1/2 cup  sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cake flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee

Filling

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cup powdered sugar

Ganache

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and coffee, just until combined.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in muffin tins, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

For filling, in a small bowl, beat peanut butter and butter until fluffy. gradually add powdered sugar, beat until smooth. Cut a small hole in a pastry bag or ziplock bag and insert a small tip. Add filling. Push the tip through the bottom of paper liner to fill each cupcake.

For the ganache, in a heavy sauce pan, melt the chocolate with the cream over low heat; stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Place a heaping tablespoon of ganache on the top of each cupcake and spread to the edges. Sprinkle with peanuts (or decorate with left-over filling!)

Chill for 20 minutes or until set. Refrigerate left-overs.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tuesday’s at the Table at All the Small Stuff, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Pipes! Look at Those Pipes!

My husband surprised me the other day when he asked if there was anything I needed at the Scratch and Dent – our name for the local Amish owned discount grocery.

It was no surprise that I needed something – I can always find something I need at that store. The surprise was that he asked me to go with him – since my bill there is almost always in the triple digits! 🙂

I didn’t question his intentions at the time – I just grabbed my coat and ran to the car before he changed his mind.

It wasn’t until we walked into the store that I understood.

There in the front of the store stood about a half dozen men – all gawking over the biggest – baddest-  looking wood stove I had ever seen.

My husband whispered to me  that the Amish guy had designed and built it himself. All the guys at his work were talking about it.

I guess the whole county must be talking about it – judging from the full parking lot and the number of ladies pushing carts while their husbands try to study the monstrosity.

And a monstrosity it was!

It’s base was a barrel  – a large ugly barrel – and was covered with pipes. It looked like a jet engine that was just waiting for take-off.

I immediately thought of Bill Cosby’s 200 MPH routine and whispered “Pipes! Look at those pipes!”

My husband studied it from a distance, straining his ears to hear the men talking about it.

“It’ll burn anything I put in it – crates, boxes, old pallets,” Eli, the Amish proprietor announced while the men around nodded their approval.

My husband paid the triple digit bill without blinking and I thought his curiosity had been appeased.

But I was wrong.

A week later I casually mentioned that I forgot to check for ketchup when we were at the Scratch and Dent. His eyes light up like the 4th of July and he said, “We could run over this afternoon if you’d like!”

I smiled while I grabbed my coat and jumped in the car, knowing this time he wouldn’t change his mind – but he might just leave without me! 🙂

The novelty of the new stove must have worn out because the parking lot and store were much quieter when we got there.

We were all the way over in the toiletries section when we heard the explosion.

We peeked around the corner of the aisle and saw smoke billowing from the stove while the very hot stove pipe was laying on the floor.  Eli was running to the front of the store yelling out orders frantically in Deutsch.

He and another Amish fellow manhandled the stove pipe back on with some – I’m sure – very choice Deutsch words.

It really was a humorous sight – those Amish men with their gray beards flapping trying to re-attach that hot stove pipe!

Meanwhile his wife quietly opened some windows and – when the smoke cleared – we continued shopping.

As we paid yet another triple digit bill and left the store I thought to myself – “It’s back to the drawing board for Eli.”

And boy was I glad I stocked up – it might be a while before our food budget can handle another Amish woodstove!