Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to wish all my friends and family a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2010.

I am looking forward to creating more fun recipes and relating all the crazy stories that make up my cowgirl life!

Keep checking in for good things to come here at

I am looking to make some great cookies for a musical evening with in January. I will be posting my weekly meals (if they are worthy) and blogging about the spring works soon.

Thank you for the support and Happy, happy, happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Old Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of hours baking Christmas cookies. I made my doughs the night before and transported everything over to a friend's house where we baked and baked and baked batch after batch, then iced a million sugar cookies with toxically sweet frosting (but needless to say delicious), and then put together mixed cookie plates to give to our friends/family as gifts.

Together, we made hundreds of cookies, 7 different varieties, plus fillings and icing! I decided that I would make a double batch of my now 'famous' chocolate chip cookies because my friend's husband, Jack loves them and since he was going to have to tolerate our whole day of baking in his house and I figured he deserved a treat for that.

Throughout the day as we baked one recipe after the other, I watched the most interesting phenomenon. The cookies that were "sampled" the most during the day by Jack and my husband, Matt were the plain old every day chocolate chip cookies! We made snickerdoodles, Linzer cookies filled with jelly, Russian tea cakes, Red Velvet (which turned out purple, but that's another story) sandwiches filled with fresh cream cheese frosting, gingerbread, chocolate chip and frosted sugar cookies. We had to force the guys to try the fancier cookies, some attempts failing. Every time Matt would take a batch of chocolate chips out of the oven for me, he had to perform quality control and eat one warm out of the oven. Needless to say I was glad I made a double batch, and Matt ended up with a stomach ache for his valiant efforts to make sure the cookies were good enough to send out. I am not even sure how many Jack squirreled away from the cooling racks, but I am sure it rivaled Matt's count.

So...for all the fancy cookie recipes out there...beware....taste tests prove that men still prefer the "Maryann" over the dressed up "Ginger" of cookies!

Here is my own chocolate chip cookie recipe that I hope you will share with your men!

Helen's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

1 package of butter flavored crisco

3/4 cup of brown sugar

3/4 cup of white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups of flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

Milk and Semi-Sweet chocolate chips to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a medium bowl, cream together the crisco with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and mix well.

In another bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda.

Mix dry ingredients into sugar mix, a little at a time, mixing well in between.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Make 2 inch balls of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes - depending on your oven or altitude. The cookies should be light golden on the edges (not brown!!) and still soft looking in the center when you remove from the oven. Let the centers set before removing from the cookie sheet and moving to the cooling rack.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Marriage, bliss and donuts....

Well, since my last blog I got married. We drove up to Las Vegas, met some friends there, had a limo driven "drive-up" wedding and then drove home. Short, sweet and VERY fun. Unlike most weddings, we didn't have stress, we didn't get ourselves into debt and the best part, we had a blast! There were only tears of laughter shed and we will remember sharing the funky, fun experience with our friends for the rest of our happily ever after life!

I must admit, I am totally head over heels crazy about this guy and feel completely blessed to be able to share the rest of my life with him.

I would do it all over again! Except maybe not eat at a Buffet every meal like we did! UGH! So, what exactly is the BUFFET PHENOMENON? We ate ourselves to the gills at every meal! We ate sushi, crab legs, elk, salad, steak, prime rib, salmon, shrimp, and whatever other delicacy they offered up...ALL IN ONE MEAL! We would never consider doing this at home! As a matter of fact, we could hardly clean our plates of one measly serving for the whole week following our gluttony in Vegas. I don't understand how the mind overrides the body's "I am full" sensor when a huge buffet of food faces you, but it did. For breakfast and dinner every day we were there. Most days we skipped lunch because we had snacked on goodies at all the trade shows (like mini donuts...OMG!! Those were fantastic!

So...for those who didn't have the chance to taste the mini donuts at the Sands Casino Trade Show...this recipe is for you!

Mini Donuts...not for the faint of heart...

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, plus more for deep frying
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground mace
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

For coating: 3/4 cup granulated sugar, or 3/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or sifted confectioners' sugar
For filling: raspberry jam

Melt the 2 tablespoons shortening in a small sauce pan. Set aside to cool slightly but remain liquid.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and melted shortening together on medium speed. Add the egg and beat well. Add the evaporated milk and vanilla, continue beating until the mixture is light, about 2 minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, mace, and salt into a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture on low speed until just combined. The texture of the dough will be soft and loose. Turn dough out of the bowl onto a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it well. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Roll the chilled dough out on a very lightly dusted workspace until its about 1/2-inch thick. Dip the edges of a 2-inch round cutter in flour and cut the dough into discs. Place cut dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Heat about 2-inches of shortening in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375 degrees F. Line a large plate with paper towels.

Working in batches, fry the doughnuts, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon or skimmer to the prepared pan. Cool. Repeat with remaining dough, taking care the oil comes back to the correct temperature between each batch.

For jelly filled doughnuts: Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with raspberry jam. Let the donut cool slightly. Make a small opening with the pastry tip and gently fill each donut with some of the jam. Dust with sugar as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For sugared doughnuts, roll the doughnuts in sugar or cinnamon sugar while they are still warm. For confectioners' sugared covered doughnuts allow the doughnuts to cool completely before rolling in the confectioners' sugar.