Chocolate Dipped Thin Mints ( A Famous Knockoff Cookie)

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Always the perfect pick me up to satisfy a sweet tooth~

A childhood favorite, that lasts forever... the great taste of peppermint in a cookie with a dense thick decadent chocolate dip~ perfect for St. Patrick's Day! I am a huge supporter of G.S cookies, and always will be. Love them all! Such a great cause and the kids are very important. So, this is in no way to replace them.

Crisp, but a delicate butter flavor and oh~~ so good mint!

These cookies will bring back the kid in you~

Always use a good grade chocolate.

The cookies are done when the edges are slightly browned.

Cut 1/4 inch thick when chilled thoroughly...

Roll on wax paper and use to freeze for easy straight and even cutting.

Cookie Dough for Thin Mints

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder( omit and add 2 to 4 drops of green food coloring for Christmas and St. Patricks Day)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup half and half or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix cornstarch, flour, (cocoa powder if using to make chocolate thin mints) in a bowl together set aside.
Add cream together butter and sugar. Add food coloring in the milk and the extracts. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until well mixed..
Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches wrap in wax paper and freeze for at least 1 hour, until dough is very firm.
Heat oven to 375.
Slice dough into rounds, shape with fingers if not completely round before baking, and don't cut more than 1/4 inch thick, if you cut them too thick they won't be crisp. Place on a parchment lined cookies sheets.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes till edges are brown. Cool completely

Dark Chocolate Coating
2 bags bitter sweet (as used) or semi sweet chips (use a good grade chocolate)
1 bar of paraffin wax melted
In a microwave safe bowl melt a half bar of paraffin wax melt in microwave until completely melted, add a bag of chocolate chunks and keep stirring till melted and thin. If you need more, melt other half of the bar of wax and the bag of chocolate, repeat above directs. Reheat if it gets cold, a minute at a time till thin and easy to dip. Use two forks, dip the cookie into the chocolate and then transfer to wax paper to dry.
These do not freeze well, as the crispness of the wafer will get soft.


Ciabatta Homemade Rustic Style Italian Bread (Flour or Herb Crusted Top)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
One of our favorite breads, and that could just eat everyday if I had the time to make it and no problem gaining weight! So, this bread, is a treat for us, and I really make this on cold days, when we need the oven on. A very easy recipe, and delicious rustic hard crusted Italian Bread....if you've never tried this or had it, your in for a real treat. Believe me this definitely taste better than it looks. Referred to as the slipper shaped bread, Ciabatta can be used as a pizza dough, sandwich bread, or just with butter on it, simply delicious and pictures can't describe the great flavor of it won't be disappointed if you are a bread lover and I am a breadaholic! Hopin you give this one a try and enjoy this as much as our family does..

The holes inside are perfect to use as a dipping bread for the delicious olive oil and other flavored oils. Make a great sandwich, as well as panini.

Herb crusted and plain flour Ciabatta Bread

Herb hard crusted, very crisp, crunchy, bread..

Ready for flour on top or coated with herbs and egg white wash.

Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours covered with oiled plastic wrap in a warm area, till doubled. This wonderful Italian bread is named after its ‘slipper’ shape.
Dough is sticky, use flour on your hands and on a board to shape. Shape into 9 inch irregular shaped loaves, and using an index finders press into the dough to make dimples. Sprinkle flour on time.

Time to grease the bowl, place a piece of oiled plastic wrap on top of the bowl, damp towels over the wrap, then place in a warm area let this triple in size (that's the secret) on the first rise. Or for at least 2 1/2 hours.

Still beating after salt added for 4 more minutes

Beat for a full three minutes, then add sea salt.

Stir together yeast and warm milk n a bow for 5 minutes, they add to electric mixer bowl. Place milk mixture, sponge from the day before, water, oil, sugar and flour on low speed for 3 minutes.

After 4 minutes it looks like this, place plastic wrap on top, wait for a minimum of 12 hours or up to one day. I always do this the night before I make this.

This is the bread dough starter you will stir for 4 minutes. This is an easy delicious dough.

Bread flour is a little more expensive, but the results are always very good. I use this flour for all my bread recipes. Be sure the water is warm to the wrist and you measure and 1/8 teaspoon of yeast. This is similar to a sour dough starter, just the Italian sponge version.

For Sponge Starter Mix
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup room-temp water
1 cup bread flour
To make sponge: stir together, warm water and yeast.
Let stand 5 minutes, until foamy.
Place yeast mixture to another bowl and add warm water and the 1 cup of flour.Stir for 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

To make the Bread:
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm milk
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Place in a small bowl yeast,milk and stir, let stand 5 minutes.
In a heavy duty electric mixer, using a dough hook, mix together milk and yeast, add sponge starter( from yesterday), water, oil,sugar and flour at low speed until flour is moistened.
Beat for 3 minutes.
Add salt and knead for 4 more minutes with dough hook on electric mixer.
Place this dough into greased oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a towel on top, place in a warm spot until tripled in volume about 2 hours.
Note: Dough is sticky and full of bubbles, this is normal.
Cut out two pieces of baking parchment paper.Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle flour all over it .
Turn dough out onto a well-floured board and cut in half.
Transfer each half to paper and form irregular ovals like a slipper shape, or you can make pizza's round personal size pan pizza shapes for Ciabatta pizza approx 9 inches in size. Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves.

Note: For Alternative, omit dusting with flour, brush with beaten egg whites on top of bread dough and sprinkle herbs on top. I use a blend of oregano, basil, parsley and minced fresh garlic, red pepper flakes on top, a little Parmesan and pepper, all around 1/2 teaspoon, if measuring. I always make one plain and one herb crusted.

Cover with oil sprayed plastic wrap, a dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, until almost doubled.
If you are using a pizza stone pre heat stone for 45 minutes before baking bread. Otherwise use a pizza pan with air holes on the bottom lined with parchment.
If you have room for both, put the other loaf on another pan, place in oven. 425°F or until they're golden brown. Turn off the oven, remove the Ciabatta from the baking sheet, and return them to the oven, leave the oven door open a couple of inches. Allow the Ciabatta to cool completely in the oven; this will give them a very crisp crust.
Remove to cooling racks.

History on Tomatoes (Pomodoro) with Soup & Marinara Sauce Recipes

Friday, February 19, 2010
There are several kinds of tomatoes. beefsteak, plum (san marzano tomatoes are good for making paste, tomato), dwarf, cherry, oh the list goes on and on, so many types.
A delicious Tomato Basil soup, freshly made. Goes well with garlic bread, garden salad.

I love to pulse mine just a few minutes to leave some chunks.

Plum tomatoes are much fleshier than most and have less seeds, they hold up well and great for sauces. Fresh garlic, basil and parsley enhance the flavor of the tomatoes, a quick sauce to go over pasta and fish dishes.

Most tomatoes go well in any sandwich, personally I love tuna with vinegar and olive oil, oregano, tomato and romaine lettuce as pictured here.

Ah the sauce is cooking......

Traditional Sunday SauceUsing fresh tomatoes always makes the best sauce.

Our family tradition is to eat pasta on Sunday, the meatballs as we speak are frying, the sauce is cooking, and somewhere between 2pm and 4pm depending on when the family arrives, we will be eating, pasta with meatballs, sausage, braciole, garlic bread, salad sometimes referred to must goes( since everything went into that salad as well), and Peaches & Chianti. Sometimes its changes on what meat went in the pot, mom put whatever was leftover from the week, chicken legs, lamb, pork chops, steak, pigs feet, and let me tell you, that was indeed the best tasting sauce to date... we have since moderated our amounts of fat and limited the oil to a healthier version, but boy did all that meat taste great! One other thing, we always had to dip the hard crust Italian bread just to make sure all the spices were right! Nice excuses....scuzzy !!!!!

Long ago rich people used flatware made of pewter, which has a high-lead content. Foods high in acid, like tomatoes, would cause the lead to leech into the food, resulting in lead poisoning and death. Poor people that ate off of plates made of wood, did not have that problem, and didn't have that reaction with tomatoes. A great reason why tomatoes were only eaten by poor people until the 1800's, especially Italians.

In the 1800's a significant change occurred. First, and most significantly, was the mass immigration from Europe to America and the traditional blending of cultures. Many Italian-Americans ate tomatoes and brought that food with them. But, equally as important, the invention of pizza was born. Pizza had to have tomato sauce on it and pizza was invented somewhere around Naples in the late 1880's. The story goes that it was created by one restaurant owner in Naples to celebrate the visit of Queen Margarita, the first Italian monarch since Napoleon conquered Italy. The owner/cook made the pizza from three ingredients that represented the colors of the new Italian flag which consisted of red, white, and green. The red is the tomato sauce, the white was the mozzarella cheese, and the green , a fresh basil topping. So yes you guessed it Margarita Pizza was born, and is still a standard name for fresh tomato with basil pizza. Tomatoes became very popular.
It wasn't referred to a kitchen vegetable until the times after The" Civil War" period in the U.S. At that point forward, tomatoes have become a staple item in the kitchen throughout the world. Each area of the world has its own tomato history and is used primarily everyday in some form. Tomatoes have had one of the largest impact on American eating , and are responsible for enjoying over 12 million tons of tomatoes each year.

Fruit or Vegetable?
An interesting aspect of tomato history is the classic debate: Is the Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable? I guess that depends on whom you are asking. The definition of a fruit is the edible plant structure of a mature ovary of a flowering plant, usually eaten raw, some are sweet like apples, and the ones not so sweet such as the tomato, are cucumbers, peppers, are called vegetables. Botanists claim that a fruit is any fleshy material that covers a seed or seeds where as a horticulturists point of view would pose that the tomato is a vegetable plant. Until the late 1800's the tomato was classified as a fruit to avoid taxation, but this was changed after a Supreme Court ruling that the tomato is a vegetable and should be taxed accordingly.

The tomato or “golden apple” or in Italian is referred and called (pomodore) is used raw or cooked, as a base in many kinds of sauces, salads, soups and juices, and even to make a jam, mostly made out of green tomatoes.

Fresh Plum(Pomodoro) Tomato Sauce (pictured above)Fresh Marinara

10 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine.

I use a food processor for the tomatoes. (If you prefer to remove the skins, place tomatoes in boiling water for ten minutes, remove and immediately put into iced water. Peel the skins with a sharp knife, you can also squeeze out the seeds.) Saute garlic in extra virgin olive oil, add seasonings,simmer in pot for 15 minutes add wine and basil. Cook for 15 more minutes. Serve over pasta.

Tomato Basil Soup (pictures above)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 pounds tomatoes - cored, peeled, and quartered
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon each black pepper, cayenne pepper, sugar, garlic powder
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
8 leaves of fresh basil for garnish

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, saute garlic. Add in tomatoes and chopped basil. Add seasonings. Add in chicken broth, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking around more 15 minutes.
Pour soup into a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and gradually mix in the heavy cream. Pour soup through a strainer before serving. Garnish each serving with a sprig of basil.

According to scientists, tomatoes are fruits because they contain seeds. However, most people would say that it is a vegetable as it is mainly used in appetizers and main courses.
Did you know that tomatoes are not always red? They can also be yellow, orange, green and even white and black. These tomato varieties are treasures from the past. They usually come with outstanding flavor, color, or overall performance; they can be grown in your garden, but probably never found in a supermarket.
Tomatoes are of various shapes: round, oval or ribbed and flat.
With the many trends of food production, there came a need to develop tomatoes that could be harvested green, holdup during shipping, maintain appearance. Those qualities were achieved through hybridizing. Unfortunately flavor was compromised, however scientists have been trying perfect and reintroduce that method.
Great fresh tomatoes must be firm but not hard as a rock. They should have a thick fleshy look and shiny, without wrinkles or cracks. Preferably a nice color and uniform . Tomatoes that are rather green will ripen in a sunny place in the kitchen. Refrigerator life is about ten days in the drawer of your refrigerator.
Point of interest on the subject:
Most people feel the tomato is both a fruit and a vegetable. It may interest you to know that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided the question: Tomato is a vegetable. The case was NIX v. HEDDEN, May 10, 1893. Imported vegetables were subject to a 10% duty; fruits were free. Mr. Hedden was the tax collector, and Mr. Nix, after paying duties on tomatoes under protest, sued him for a refund, reading in evidence the dictionary definitions of "fruit", "vegetable" and "tomato." The court found that for purposes of trade and commerce, "the common language of the people" was to be followed rather than botanical definitions. Tomatoes, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips and other vegetables, are served with the main part of the meal; fruits generally as dessert. The plaintiff got no refund.

The case can be found here underlined.

Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli Rabe Rapini Sausage

The potatoes are so full of flavor, the sausage give this just the right spice. Homemade Sausage and Broccoli Rabe!

You can add chopped fresh tomatoes, pour tomato sauce on top, or just eat this with some Italian Crusty Bread!

Even great for a hearty breakfast!

Boiled first and ready for the frying pan to saute with some fresh garlic and olive oil.

My mom Margaret Ann Fanelli Colenzo, said the secret to get these Broccoli Rabe tender and not tasting at all bitter, was to boil them in salted water with a little olive oil, lemon juice and simmer till tender. Took a little over an 45 minutes for store bought, if you are lucky to get these fresh grown, it takes no time at all less that 25 minutes and they are tender. The next step is to saute in fresh garlic and olive oil . But, cutting off the heavy stalks and washed them well first is the first step.

While the Broccoli Rabe is cooking, I cut up the potatoes, and spread the homemade sausage on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh minced garlic, salt pepper, parsley, cayenne pepper, grating cheese, pour olive oil all over the potatoes and a heavy handful of panko breadcrumbs on top last, all over the potatoes. Put into a hot oven 430 over and bake till crispy and browned.

Make sure you have greased the pan first, I always line with tin foil for easier clean up!

Saute cooked Broccoli Rabe in olive oil and fresh garlic, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes for some heat.

I think broccoli rabe is by far my favorite Italian vegetable, I love it with pasta, pizza, side dish, sandwiches, and this is just one more way to eat this versatile, healthy amazing wild broccoli. I just can't eat enough of this wonderful, magnificent colorful delicate Italian broccoli.

2 medium bunches broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil first cold pressed
3 garlic cloves minced,
1/2 teaspoon salt
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Instructions :

Place broccoli rabe in a large saucepan with salt; cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook 1/2 hour, drain .

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic till just starting to turn golden, not brown. Add broccoli rabe,add more salt and pepper to taste and crushed red pepper flakes ....saute' on very low, around 15 to 20 minutes, till tender.

Prepare Potatoes:

I used four cut up in quarters leaving part of the skins on:
1 package of panko bread crumbs
Romano grated cheese
salt pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, 1 clove minced garlic,1/4 teaspoon of parsley, 1/4 cup olive oil.

Place cubed potatoes in a bowl,mix with spices,  around 1/4 cup oil and mix together. Place on sprayed cookie sheet or oil sprayed aluminum foil or parchment paper. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bread crumbs.
Place Sausage links on the same cookie sheet, I used one pound sweet sausage.  Bake at 430 degrees till potatoes are crispy.

While you are preparing the broccoli rabe  make your sausage and potatoes.  Place broccoli rabe on the dish first, slices of sausage, top with potatoes and garnish with mozzarella cheese.

Italian Style Bread Pudding with Kahlua Hot Fudge Sauce

Thursday, February 18, 2010
I seem to always make my bread puddings when its cold outside, and now I have been wishing for this old time favorite of ours. Inspired by my Grandma who used apples all the time and was great, we adapted a recipe using banana's. You will find my Italian Style Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding as a recent post, and more of a dessert bread pudding, this is our Italian Style Banana Bread Pudding with Kahlua Hot Fudge Sauce.

Our favorite is to serve with hot fudge sauce with Kahlua in it, over the top of the bread pudding, then add whipped cream on top.

Place the ready to cook banana bread pudding into a cookie sheet filled with water.

After pouring the egg mixture over the bread and banana's sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

In the hot milk and sugar, pour in the eggs and whisk together.

Break bread up into pieces, add banana's on top.

2 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces
2 ripe bananas, finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
7 slices Italian day old bread
2 cups evaporated milk
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kahlua (optional)
Hot Fudge Sauce or Caramel Sauce
Whipped Cream
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter, sugar and evaporated milk in the microwave until hot. Stir a few times during the heating process. In a large buttered casserole dish place pieces of torn bread on the bottom then place mashed bananas over the bread,set aside.
Whisk eggs,vanilla together, then carefully stir into the hot mixture .
Pour over the bread and banana's. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, dot with remaining butter . Place on a deep cookie sheet with about 1/4 inch of water in pan, bake for 45 minutes on 350 till brown and set.
Serve with hot fudge sauce or caramel sauce homemade or purchase ice cream toppings then add whipped cream to the top.
Hot Fudge Kahlua Sauce1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 tablespoon of Kahlua ( I like to add a little more your by choice, omit vanilla add another 1 1/2 tablespoons)
Combine condensed milk, chocolate and salt in top of double boiler over rapidly boiling water. Stir and cook until chocolate melts and mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in water, a little at a time, until sauce reaches desired consistency. Cool slightly and stir in vanilla add Kahlua. Serve.
Printable Recipe

Chicken in White Wine,with Mushrooms over a Bed of Linguine

Monday, February 15, 2010
One of those really easy dinners, but tasted like it took you all day. The flavors of these spices blended with the white wine keeps this chicken moist and tender.

Linguine cooked al dente and full of delicious flavors from the sauce that cooked in the oven.

Makes a wonderful gravy for the red skinned mashed potatoes.

The mushrooms are buttery and have a garlic flavor as well.

While the Chicken is cooking, start boiling the pasta. Set aside till ready to use, be sure to use some olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together.

Place the chicken in the pan and pour all ingredients over the top, bake till the chicken finishes cooking and sauce thickens.

You'll want to coat the chicken in flour then fry the chicken on both sides till slightly crisp on both sides to seal in the juices, before baking.

4 boneless Chicken Breasts split in half making 8 pieces
2 cups of chicken broth
flour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending how thick your chicken is)
1 large plastic bag for shaking
1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, basil, oregano.
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup of mushrooms
1 lb of linguine
grating cheese
extra parsley for garnish

4 Red potatoes cut up (skins on) boiled, mash or whip ( I like mine with lumps) and add 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of sour cream or cream cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder,  salt, pepper to taste, set aside.

Put flour in a large plastic bag, place chicken in the bag and shake until coated.
In a large fry pan add olive oil, saute chicken till crispy on both side, around 3 minutes each side. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray, place chicken and mushrooms in the pan. Add chicken broth, wine, spices, garlic, butter. Bake covered for around 45 minutes till broth thickens and chicken is thoroughly cooked.
While baking, boil salted water for linguine to desired doneness. Drain, add 1/4 cup olive oil and grating cheese to the pasta. Set aside.
Place paste on a large plate, chicken on top, mashed potatoes on the side, and pour sauce from chicken over the entire pasta and potatoes...serve immediately.