Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nutella Filled Sugar Cookies

A few weeks ago a friend sent me an invite to join Pinterest. Not knowing much about it, I joined and wow!  I didn't realize there were so many recipes to be found.  They're not listed but rather you find them via photographs that people have "pinned" on their boards.  It's like a foodie paradise but so much more.  Pinterest is pretty cool in that it's a creative way to express yourself via repinning other images that people have on their boards. Here is a screenshot of a few of mine. As you can see, I have food oriented things and other themed ones like photography, butch-femme plus many others that aren't visible in the screenshot.  So you're probably wondering why I'm talking about Pinterest, well, the reason is because I've found some really cool recipes there and think you might enjoy it too.

Follow me on Pinterest.

I've also found recipes using PULSE, the graphical news application for Iphones, Ipads, and Android devices. If you follow me on Twitter, you've seen many of the recipes that I tweet using this application. The cool thing about it is that you can follow other people's blogs or news sources and get immediate updates as soon as they get posted.  I love the app and use it everyday in my search for new recipes.

Add me to Pulse.
Another reason for all this talk about apps and social media (Pinterest, Twitter, & Pulse) is first, to remind you to add me (Pulse), follow me (Twitter), and pin me (Pinterest) to get updates when I post, and second, if it weren't for these Social Networking tools, I'd never have found this wonderful recipe for Nutella filled sugar cookies to share. If you're a foodie like I am, these apps are definitely a way to keep up with your food porn habit. You can thank me later. lol

Now on to the main event!  For those of you who have never tried the yummy hazelnut and chocolate spread called Nutella, you've been missing out.  You are also referred to as a Nutella virgin. Yep, there's a name for you. If you don't believe me, Google "Nutella Virgin." To be honest, I hadn't tried it either until I found the recipe and decided to bake the cookies.  I'd heard people rave and go on about Nutella but never understood why until I tasted it.  It's creamy, chocolaty, very, very sweet and has a flavor to die for.  I'm going to conveniently skip over the number of calories in each tablespoon because we don't want to think about big numbers and sad things. We want to bake and be happy!

Nutella-filled Sugar Cookies Recipe from Buns In My Oven blog:

1/2 cup Nutella
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
14 tablespoons (1-3/4 sticks) salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

I'll do my slightly different version of the instructions, especially since I made a mistake in measuring the Nutella which caused me have to make huge cookies.  I'd like to add that no one in my family complained about this.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a teaspoon, measure and scoop dollops of Nutella onto the parchment paper NOT a tablespoon like I did. Also, the process of making these cookies is a little messy. The Nutella is creamy and will probably get all over your fingers.  But not to worry, just lick it off!

As you can see, I'm already making a mess, but look, once they're on the paper they're so pretty!

Once you've filled your tray with dollops of the Nutella, place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  On the day I baked, it was already pretty warm in the kitchen so I left the Nutella in the freezer and scooped each one out as I made the cookie dough balls. It was a bit tedious though.  You can pull the whole tray out and if they get too soft, return the tray back to the freezer.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In large bowl and using a mixer, beat together the butter and 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add vanilla.

Turn the mixer to low and gradually beat in the flour mixture until combined, scraping the bowl to make sure everything is mixed.

Place 1/3 cup sugar into a small bowl.

Because the dough was so sticky, probably due to the warmth in my kitchen, I couldn't follow the original instructions exactly. So the following is what I did:

Dust the top of a cutting board with flour and pat a ball of approximately 2 tablespoons of dough on it until it is flat. Using the thinnest metal spatula you have in the kitchen, lift a mound of chilled Nutella from the baking sheet in the freezer and put it on top of your dough.  Wrap the dough around the Nutella and form into a ball (I probably could have dusted my hands and achieved the same results as the original instructions but I didn't think of until now (duh). See, this is why I'm not a chef...but it's what makes me adorable right?).

Seal the edges.  Place the dough ball in the sugar and coat it.  Place the cookie onto the prepared baking sheet. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart because they will spread as they bake.  Repeat.

Bake the cookies 10 to 13 minutes, one sheet at a time, rotating from front to back halfway through baking. The edges and bottom will start to turn brown when they are done.  The centers will be soft and puffy.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.   Tip: I slid the parchment paper with the whole batch of cookies right onto a wire cooling rack and let them cool rather than move them individually with a spatula.

My giant sized cookie dough balls! lol

Mmmmmm, right out of the oven!!! 

Because my cookies were meal size, they served as my breakfast on my way to work with some coffee...sooo delicious! What a sweet way to start the day!!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Easy Shrimp and Pea Risotto

I felt like titling this blog post, "Fear and loathing in the kitchen," because there are just some foods I'm afraid to cook and some equipment *cough, cough* (last year's xmas bread machine gift that's still in the box) that I'm afraid to use.  Risotto is..err..was one of those foods.  The first time that I tried it was a few years ago at a  teeny tiny restaurant called Risotteria in Greenwich Village in New York City.

It's located on Bleecker Street and as you can see from the photo, it's a busy, busy place.  The gluten-free food is delicious and the risotto is out of this world. Yes, it's that damned good. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!  If you're ever in the city be sure to stop by.  If you see a butch sitting in the restaurant with a platinum blonde mohawk and a blissful look on her face, that'll be moi.  Every time I'm in New York City this place is where you can be sure to find me.

As much as I love risotto; it's one of those foods that's always intimidated me, just like tomatillos did until I used them in the turkey chili.  Maybe it's the commitment (Yikes, the "C" word) you have to make to stand in front of the stove and constantly.  And then there's the fact that it's rice and cooking rice has never been my forte. Remember, I use a rice cooker now. So yeah, I have a fear of foods and various kitchen equipment.  I used to be afraid to use my crock pot too until at a work party someone brought in theirs and convinced me that it was easy to use.  Since then I've used it to cook pork for BBQ sandwiches, green chili pork, and a yummy green chili chicken casserole. 

I'm not afraid to admit that I can be irrational and my fears might be goofy but I KNOW that I'm not alone! Let's go for a walk down memory lane.  Remember as a kid being afraid of the monster under the bed?  You know, that fear that a creepy hand will reach out and grab your foot once the lights go out? Well, here I am, a full grown adult BUTCH, and I still won't dangle my foot over the edge of the bed. Uh huh, I can already hear some of you butches laughing under your breath but c'mon, admit it, I bet you'd scream like a girl if someone grabbed YOUR ankle as you stumbled your way to the bathroom at the witching hour! Alright, enough snickering at my expense. Let's get onto cooking.

I've made risotto once before and the thing is that it's not that hard to make but once you begin you're committed (There's that "C" word again). You need to have everything ready because you're going to be constantly stirring.  It takes roughly about 18-20 minutes to cook.  Once you're done it will be so worth it so hey, if I can do it, so can you, so let's start. 

Recipe adapted from Epicurious:
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 lb shrimp, frozen, cooked (medium or large-deveined)
5-7 cups chicken stock (roughly 32 oz)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1-1/3 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

I don't care much for liquor in my food so I left out the white wine.  I also omitted the chives, lemon zest and used cooked shrimp instead of raw.

Chop up your onion and saute it in a 2 quart sauce pan until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes.

Next, add the arborio rice and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. You don't want your onions to get brown so keep stirring and start to add 1/2 cup chicken broth if that begins to happen.

Did I mention that you're going to be stirring? lol.  You  might as well put some music on in the kitchen and enjoy yourself. There is seldom a time when I don't have something going in the background.  Maybe I should write a playlist on my next post!

What you're going to do now is add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Stir the mixture until the liquid is absorbed into the rice and then add another 1/2 cup, stirring constantly.  Keep this up for about 15 minutes (adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stirring until absorbed into rice) then add 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Once the rice is al dente (firm to the bite but not brittle or hard), add the shrimp and peas (at around 17 minutes in).  I used frozen shrimp because I usually make this dish after work and I'm in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

I tend to like my risotto a little on the creamy side so I add a little more broth towards the end.

Your risotto should be done at around 18 minutes or until the rice is tender.   In the photo above, the risotto is a little too "runny" so I let the rice absorb the liquid just a little more and kept stirring before I took it off of the stove.

Top your cooked risotto with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with Italian bread.