Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Banana Pudding Cookies

You know what rocks about my job?  You guessed it - working from home.  Granted, I travel a lot and sometimes wake up in the morning confused about what city I'm in or try to get in a random Chevy Malibu when I should be looking for my rented Corolla.  D'oh!  The Malibu was LAST trip, silly.  Anyway, when I'm not traveling, I work from my home office, and that is the best ever.  I just have to wake up in the morning, put on some socks (bonus if they match), walk down the stairs, and BAM!  I'm at work. 

A year and a half ago when I took this job, a few people told me that when you work from home, you should get dressed every day like you were going to a real office.  And then close the door of your home office and work in silence - no music, no TV.  Um, what?  No!  That would totally defeat the purpose of working from home, and then what would I have to brag to my friends about!?!  If I changed out of my yoga pants into dress pants, how could I possibly reign supreme over all you cubicle dwellers?  I mean, really. 

Anyway, people often ask me if I miss working in an office with a bunch of people and a water cooler and a duck pond out back.  The answer is no, no I do not.  Then they're all, "but what about the social aspect, don't you get bored!?!?".  Nope.  That's why God made phones and Instant I can talk to my co-workers when I WANT to, and not when I HAVE to.  And there are airplanes so we can all fly to the same place every now and then and get into all kinds of college-like mischief together.

I guess every now and then I think it would be nice to have some crazy co-workers to laugh at with from time to time, but when I get that urge, I just live vicariously through my husband and pretend that his co-workers are mine.  I mean, I know most of the office gossip, and I sometimes (not often enough, though, y'all) get invited to happy hour.  I feel like an honorary member of the team, and that's how I get my fix.  They're like my imaginary friends.

I made these cookies for my fake co-workers.  We can't have 2 dozen cookies in this house, that is for sure, and I don't have my own office break room to bless with my culinary genius, so I sent my husband off to work with these bad boys.  He emailed me at 8:36 AM and said they were gone.  If that's not a reason to make these RIGHT THIS SECOND, I don't know what is.  You're welcome in advance.


Banana Pudding Cookies
Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 (1oz) packages banana cream sugar-free instant pudding mix

1 (1oz package) cheesecake sugar-free instant pudding mix
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped vanilla wafer cookies (I used low fat)
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Great or line a baking sheet with parchment paper

In the bowl of your Kitchenaid mixer (or you could use an electric mixer in a regular bowl), beat together the butter and sugars until creamy.  Add in pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the vanilla wafer cookies and white chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges and set.

Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mushroom, Chorizo, and Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs

Hey y'all!  Long time no talk, huh?  I've been on the road for the past 2 weeks straight in various locations, fixing all the world's problems.  Well, not all of them - I still can't figure out how to beat my Mom at Words with Friends or why the dog always insists on barfing on the white parts of my dining room rug and never the black parts.  But, I guess those are my problems and not really the world's....

Anyway, one thing that is not a problem is my progress in shrinking the size of my gut and my butt.  I've lost 22 pounds in 2 1/2 months and feel awesome!  It has not been easy, I will tell you that, but if you follow the rules and make smart decisions, it can definitely be done.  I still find it unfair that I can't eat Jimmy Johns and cake batter martinis all day every day and look like a runway model, but such is life I suppose.  So instead, I eat eggs and veggies and meat (and red wine) and look like a runway model that swallowed a baby seal.

One of the things that has worked best for me is to eat a big breakfast, full of protein and completely devoid of carbs.  I won't bore you with the details on why it's important to eat breakfast that way, so you'll just have to trust me.  I eat eggs scrambled with some combination of meat, veggies, and cheese pretty much every morning, but I'm going to share this particular one because it was SOOO tasty and pretty fancy as well (at least as fancy as eggs can get).  I know it's not really a recipe, but I haven't cooked in like 2 weeks so you're going to have to make do with this until tomorrow when I make you some pork.

Anyway - enjoy!

Mushroom, Chorizo, and Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs

3 eggs, cracked and scrambled in a small bowl
1 tablespoon butter
3 white button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 link chicken Chorizo (found at Whole Foods), crumbled
small handful crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they become soft.  Add the chorizo, and cook until done. 

Turn the heat to medium-low and add the eggs.  Scramble the eggs slowly until they are done to your liking.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with the crumbled goat cheese.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Beer Braised Short Ribs over Mashed Cauliflower

Hello there, friends!  I'm not even going to say anything about how much I suck at keeping up with blog posts lately, because you already know this.  So I'm just going to jump right in with some kick-butt short ribs and a shout-out to the new (are they new??) flavored butters from Whole Foods.
Short ribs are one of my favorite cuts of meat, but the really good ones can be expensive.  I always keep an eye out for when they go on sale, which is actually quite often, and then I stock up.  There are a million ways to make them, but one of my favorites is to slow cook them in beer or wine and then eat them on a chilly day with a side of beer or wine. 
This is super easy to make and the prep work is quick.  It does take a bit of time to cook, but once it's in the oven, the work is over, and you can concentrate on the leftover beer or wine that you might have after preparing the braise.
Anyway!  I served this over mashed cauliflower made with some shallot-saffron butter I found at Whole Foods.  I didn't know they made these flavored butters, but there are like a million (or six) different kinds and I can't wait to try them all!  Mmmmm, butter.

Beer Braised Short Ribs
Source: Adapted from My Baking Addiction
8 whole Beef Short Ribs (bone-in)
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole medium onion, diced
3 whole carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups good beer, any medium or dark variety
2 cups beef broth
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped, plus 2 whole sprigs

Salt and pepper ribs. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, add the butter and olive oil and heat over medium high heat.

Add ribs and brown ribs on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Add chopped herbs.  Pour in beer and scrape bottom of pan. Bring to a simmer.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid.  Serve immediately.

Mashed Cauliflower with Shallot-Saffron Butter
Source: My own

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 block low fat cream cheese
1/3 cup beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons shallot-saffron butter (from Whole Foods, in the cheese section)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt to taste.  Add cauliflower and boil until fork-tender.

Drain cauliflower and leave it in the sink for a couple of minutes to allow it to drain completely (you don't want it to be too wet). 

Add cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor.  Add salt, pepper, cream cheese, broth, butter, garlic powder, and goat cheese.  Puree until almost smooth.  Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve immediately.  Enjoy!