Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

SkilletCookie

Posted by Erin

Here’s a fun fact about me:  I love to bake but I have no self-control around really good homemade desserts.  Like, NONE.  I’ll nibble and take a bite here and there throughout the day and, before I know it, I’ve eaten the majority of the pan of brownies or half a pie.  It’s why I’ve been in Weight Watchers going on 17 years!  I recognize my own weaknesses so I’ve learned to make portion controlled desserts.  My favorite is this skillet cookie.  On a night when I need something rich, warm, and decadent but don’t want a pan of desserts sitting around all weekend to tempt me, I make this cookie.  It’s big enough for my husband and me to share but, I’m not going to lie, I usually eat it all by myself with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  So, go ahead and make one for you and one for your husband.  Wait until your kids go to bed and that will save you from having to share.  Ha!  Oh, don’t act like you haven’t done it.  😉

I always make this cookie in small cast iron skillets that I got one year for Christmas.  They were part of a little skillet brownie kit.  That mix’s brownies were BLECH (if you haven’t tried our family brownie recipe, you really need to do that for yourself), but the skillets are awesome so if you see any of those sets around the after-Christmas sales this year, grab a few!  If you don’t happen to have a cast iron skillet yet, you can just make these in a regular baking pan too.

 

Ingredients:

2 T. butter (I always use real butter for baking.)

2 T. firmly packed brown sugar

1 T. granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

¼ c. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

¼ c. roughly chopped pecans, optional (but SO good – I usually add extra!)

Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Spray a 7″ or larger skillet/pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the butter in 10 second increments until it’s soft and just beginning to melt.  Blend softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla together with a spoon.  Add the egg yolk and stir until it’s well blended.  Add flour and baking soda and stir again until combined.  Lastly, stir in chocolate chips (and pecans, if desired).  Heap the dough into the center of skillet/pan and flatten slightly.  No need to spread it to the edge; it will spread as it cooks.  Bake for 10 -12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly.  Do me a favor and wait until it’s not scalding hot before you dig in.  It will be the longest few minutes of your life.  Top it with ice cream, and eat it straight from the pan!

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Broccoli Salad

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Posted by Robin

Our aunt Kathleen never failed to bring this anytime we were having a salad supper at Grandma’s house, and we never failed to devour it. Even as small children. And the main ingredient is broccoli.  Enough said. 🙂

Salad Ingredients:

4 slices of bacon, crumbled into very small pieces (homemade bacon bits)

4 cups of small florets of broccoli (fresh – about 2 sm. heads)

3/4 c. sharp cheddar, shredded (don’t get the finely shredded cheese, as pieces won’t be substantive enough to taste well in the mix)*

¼- ½ large red onion, diced (depending on preference – I do ½ c.)

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 c. Miracle Whip*

1 1/2 T. sugar

2 T. white vinegar 

A dash of salt

*For the WW version if this recipe, use Miracle Whip Light and low fat cheddar. All other ingredients and quantities are the same.

Directions:

Cook bacon until nice and crispy; drain, cool, and crumble.

In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets, cheddar, red onion, and bacon. Set aside.

To make dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together Miracle whip, sugar, vinegar, and salt until sugar is dissolved well, and it’s evenly combined.

Pour dressing over salad and gently toss to coat salad evenly.

Weight Watchers Info.:  Makes about 1 pound of salad – about 10 half-cup servings, 2 SmartPoints per serving.

Announcing Our 9th Annual Girls’ Trip

Posted by Robin

Okay Friends,

First of all, thank so much for being with us as we’ve started our blog; we’re having fun sharing our recipes with you, and we’re looking forward to sharing more family stories alongside the food soon too!

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We are SO excited to announce that we’ve selected our very first since-we- started-blogging trip and 9th annual girls’ trip destination…Charlooootte, North Car-o- lina!

Here’s where we need your help. We only get to do this once a year, so we like to make the most of it.

We always do a lot of eating and shopping, so we could use your input on great restaurants and coffee shops.

We also want to try to get to know the city (places to visit, things to do) as much as is possible in a long weekend, without working too hard, that is. We must also relax while we have the chance, and we are NOT people who overbook a vacation – I don’t ever want my vacation to be more stressful than my regular life, but you know the people I’m talking about….they have every minute schedule from 6am to midnight – fortunately not one of us is like that (to each her own; no judgement – I just would not be a good travel buddy for you if that’s your vacation M.O.)! In fact, we still laugh about the Denver trip when we left for the airport at 3am, and Erin was pretty much a female Weekend at Bernie’s stand-in throughout the first day. We drug her around half-asleep, and she’d begin a sentence normally, and be talking nonsense (and not always with real words) by the end. Highly entertaining as a one-time event, but we did decide we’d make sure Erin’s gonna have to get her sleep as we start a trip…no high intensity travel schedules for us!

Lastly, we’d love your ideas for hotels. We like to stay in a touristy area so we can walk everywhere or take a hotel car or cab. We try to avoid renting a car.

Please share with us what we need to know about visiting Charlotte! If you’ve visited, or better yet if you’re a local, what’s on your list of “musts”? Aaaaaannnnd….go!

Key Lime Cheesecake

Posted by Tracy

One of my favorite cheesecakes at The Cheesecake Factory is the Key Lime.  I couldn’t find a recipe that created that same sweet & tart flavor, so I created my own with a creamy, rich texture you don’t have to drive miles for…that just may surpass the original. You be the judge.

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Crust Ingredients: 

2 packages graham crackers, crushed (about 16 whole crackers)

3 T. sugar

½ c. + 2 T. melted butter

Filling ingredients: 

1 c. sugar

1 T. corn starch

3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened

4 eggs (best if allowed to come to room temperature)

2/3 c. sour cream

1/3 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. freshly squeezed key lime juice

1 ½ t. pure vanilla extract

Crust Instructions:

Combine crushed graham crackers with melted butter and mix well.  This works well in a mixing bowl or large Ziploc type bag.  Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” spring form pan.  Bake at 350 in preheated oven for approximately 12 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Filling Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 (note, a different temperature than crust).

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and corn starch.  Set aside.

Place softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the sugar mixture and blend until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is just combined.  Add sour cream and heavy cream, mixing again until combined.  Stir in lime juice and vanilla.

Pour over cooled graham cracker crust.

Place large pan, such as a 9 x 13 cake pan, on the lowest oven rack.  Fill the pan about two-thirds full with water and leave the pan of water in the oven.  This provides moisture as the cheesecake cooks and avoids the sometimes messy water bath suggested by some cheesecake recipes.

Place the cheesecake on the middle oven rack and bake at 325 for approximately 60 minutes.  Cheesecake should still have a slight ‘jiggle’ to the center when removed from oven.

Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar.  Allow cheesecake to cool slowly while still in the oven.  After cheesecake is cool, remove from oven and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Serve with whipped cream and your favorite fruit garnish.

Makes approximately 12 servings.

 

 

 

Taco Slaw Bowls

Posted by Erin

Did you try our most popular recipe, Egg Roll in a Bowl? This Mexican version was inspired by that dish, and you will love it!

I’m one busy woman, as pretty much all moms (and dads!) are. We are always rushing to get kids to their extra-curricular activities, get homework done, etc. so I try to come up with recipes that don’t require a lot of time-consuming chopping and prep-work. This one fits the bill. 

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Another bonus to this recipe, for those of us with picky kids, is that it somewhat disguises the veggies. I don’t know about your kids, but mine won’t eat raw shredded lettuce and chopped tomato on a taco. They will, however, eat the tomatoes & shredded cabbage cooked with this taco meat. The flavors blend so well, they don’t even detect the veggies. I serve theirs in a taco shell, topped with cheese, but I like mine over rice. Either way, it’s delicious!  

Ingredients:

1 lb. 93% lean ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 (1 oz.) packet low sodium taco seasoning

1 (1 oz.) packet ranch dip mix, dry

1 (14 oz.) bag classic slaw/chopped cabbage with carrots

1 (10 oz.) can mild Ro-tel, undrained

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime, plus more for serving

1 tsp. each:  chili powder, cumin, paprika

½ a bunch of cilantro, chopped

Chopped green onion for garnish

Other optional garnishes & serving ideas:  rice, taco shells, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, salsa

Instructions:

Brown the beef in a large skillet with the diced onions, garlic, taco seasoning, and ranch seasoning; set aside onto a paper towel-covered plate to remove any residual oil from beef.  

Heat olive oil in the skillet over medium heat; add the slaw, Ro-tel, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and paprika.  

Stir and cook until cabbage is wilted and tender.  

Add the beef mixture back to the skillet; stir and heat through.  

Serve over rice with lime wedges, chopped green onions, etc.

Weight Watchers info.:  This makes 5 servings of about 1 cup each; 6 SmartPoints per serving (not including rice or optional garnishes).

 

Grown-Up Peanut Butter Cookie

Posted by Kathy

I have always loved a classic peanut butter cookie. But these Grown-Up Peanut Butter Cookies will take you over the edge!  Since they are frosted (twice!), they have a few more steps than the traditional cookie, but they are worth the extra time to try the next-level version of this classic. They are very similar to a cookie found at a bakery in Utah. Soft and cakey, you may never be able to go back to the old-school peanut butter cookie once you’ve tried them!

GrownUpPBCookieLogo

 Cookie Ingredients:

1 c. butter, softened

1 c. brown sugar

1c. sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

3 ¼ c cake flour*

1 bag (12 oz.) Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips – no substitutions

Cookie Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350˚

Cream together butter, sugars, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add flour and peanut butter chips. Mix just until the flour is incorporated. Scoop into 2” balls and place onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart (about 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for about 12 minutes, just until set.

Peanut Butter Frosting Ingredients:

¼ c. butter, softened

1 ½ c. powdered sugar

heaping 1/4 c. smooth peanut butter (not natural)

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp vanilla

Milk to thin (whole milk is preferable)

PB Frosting Instructions:

Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Add peanut butter, salt and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add milk a tablespoon at a time just until smooth, creamy, and spreadable.

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

½ c. butter, softened

2 ½ c. powdered sugar

heaping ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa

Pinch of salt

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Milk to thin

Chocolate Frosting Instructions:

Cream butter and powdered sugar. Add cocoa, salt, and vanilla. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until smooth and spreadable. If needed, add additional powdered sugar or cocoa to obtain preferred flavor.

Once cookies are completely cooled, frost.  No worries about whether you start with the peanut butter or the chocolate frosting; it’s just important to have both on each cookie.

* If you don’t have cake flour, place 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill with all-purpose flour. Pour into medium bowl. Do this three times, then add additional ¼ cup all-purpose flour. Whisk gently to combine. Add, as called for, into recipe above.

 

 

Monterey Chicken

ChickenMontereyLogo

Posted by Erin

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie… a classic in many restaurants and diners, Monterey Chicken is always a favorite.  It’s so easy to make, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it at home as well!  This is one of the first dishes I made when Albert and I were newlyweds… or at least one of the first successful dishes.  It’s still on the menu at our house quite often, 14 years later.  It’s a quick and easy meal for a busy night, especially if you have the bacon precooked.  I keep cooked bacon in my freezer all the time (We love bacon!) but, if you don’t have any on hand, you can easily substitute 1 T. pre-packaged real bacon bits per chicken breast.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 (approx. 4 ounce each) boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded 1-inch thick

1 tsp. each of cumin, garlic salt, onion powder, and smoked paprika

1 T. olive oil

6 T. barbecue sauce

6 thin slices Colby-Jack cheese (such as Sargento Ultra Thin)

6 slices center cut bacon, cooked crisp & crumbled

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large oven-safe skillet.

Season chicken breasts with cumin, garlic salt, onion powder, and paprika.

Brown the chicken in the skillet for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until no longer pink; remove from heat.

Top each chicken breast with 1 T. barbecue sauce, 1 slice cheese, and 1 slice crumbled bacon.

Sprinkle evenly with chopped tomatoes and green onions.

Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake about 5-8 minutes, until cheese is fully melted.

 

*Each loaded chicken breast is only 6 Weight Watchers SmartPoints!