Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chocolate Earthquake Cookies

Do you have a favorite cookie recipe that you have made for years?  We have one at our house.  I remember clearly the first time that I made these cookies.  It was Sunday, January 16, 1994!  How's that for a memory?  I remember that weekend because on Saturday I had driven with friends the hundred miles over the mountain range to Pasadena to see Les Miserables.  It was in a wonderfully old playhouse and we had a marvelous time.

On Sunday the girls and I made Chocolate Earthquake Cookies for the first time.  They were chewy when warm and so rich that a glass of milk was necessary.  We laughed about the cookie's name and talked about the "chasms" that form when the cookie is baking.  I remember telling the girls about the Anchorage earthquake of 1964 and the landslides that gobbled up houses and cars.

That night a 6.7 magnitude earthquake, known as the Northridge quake, hit the Los Angeles area.  It was one of the most damaging quakes in US history, killing 54 people, collapsing buildings and partial collapse of freeways.  I was ever so happy that I was back home and not in the playhouse watching Les Miserables.

It gave a whole new meaning to our cookies! We always recall that earthquake and the damage it caused, when we make these cookies.  In 2001, when my youngest daughter decided to attend Cal State Northridge, they were just completing the construction of new dorms as the old ones were severely damaged in that quake.  Earthquakes was a topic of discussion as she was making her decision about the school.

Chocolate Earthquake Cookies

Yield:  6 dozen cookies.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup solid shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1  12 oz bag chocolate chips
1  12 oz bag peanut butter chips
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375°

Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and shortening for 30 seconds.  Add the sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Add the flour mixture, beating until well combined.  Stir in the chips.  Roll teaspoon-size balls of dough in a powdered sugar.  (I use a 1 1/4 inch scoop.)  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.


Today's post is linked to three blogs that are favorites of mine.  Stop by for a visit this weekend, you will love see the tasty dishes being prepared across the country and around the world!

Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
On the Menu Monday at StoneGable

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese - The Real Thing!

It is that time again...time for the Secret Recipe Club reveal!  I was really excited to see that I was assigned to Manuela's site, Manu's Menu!  Manuela was born and raised in Milan, Italy by Sicilian parents but currently resides in Australia with her husband and two daughters.  Manuela loves food and is eager to share the concepts of authentic Italian dishes with others.  Her site is the "real thing"!

I had so many choices of things to make that it was very difficult.  In the end I decided that since I had never made a bolognese sauce I would find a recipe for that.  What could be more authentic than Manuela's grandmother's recipe for Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese?  I could hardly wait to make my way into the kitchen.  

Rather than try to convert the metrics, I used a scale and measuring cups showing the metric measure.  
The only chance I took was with the "1/3 glass of red wine".  I decided that she couldn't mean a wine glass as that would be too small of an amount and it couldn't mean 1/3 cup or it would have been written in ml.  So, I took out a water glass decided that 1/3 of the glass would probably measure 1/2 cup.  "smile" (It was a large glass!)   I figured too much wine couldn't possibly be a problem!

I also withheld some of the water.  It appeared that for the amount of meat and vegetables in the pot, that 800 ml might be too much.  I started with 500 ml and decided to see what it looked like at the end of the hour.  Manuela describes the appearance of the mixture and I knew that would work for me.  I was happy that I only used 500 ml of water.  The sauce cooked down nicely and didn't need any extra.

Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese

Yield:  4 servings

350 gms beef mince (3/4 pound)
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 glass red wine (I used 1/2 cup Merlot as that was open!)
300 gms canned tomatoes
800 ml water

350 gms egg tagliatelle 

Finely dice the onion, carrot, and celery and put them in a pot with the extra virgin olive oil.  Saute on slow fire until soft (but do not brown).

Add the mince and stir well with a wooden spoon making sure you  remove all the lumps.  Brown the meat well.  Add the red wine and raise the fire to burn off the alcohol.

Add the slat,  pepper, tomatoes and  water.

Cover and cook on a low fire for about an hour.  Add water (or reduce it on the fire) if needed.  The sauce doesn't have to bee too thick, you have to be able to see 1/2 a glass of watery sauce  at the bottom of the pan when you stir it.

Cook the tagliatelle following the steps on How to cook  pasta "al dente" on the Techniques page of Manu's Menu.  Drain it and serve with the Bolognese sauce and thinly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the top.


Mr. T and I really enjoyed the meal!  Simple ingredients, simple preparation and wonderful  flavor!  Do stop by Manu's Menu for some great, authentic Italian dishes.  You won't be disappointed.  

In case you are not familiar with the Secret Recipe Club, I will give you some background.  Each month club members are assigned a secret blog from which we select recipe to prepare and write about in a blog post.  We keep our assignment secret until  reveal day when  we when everybody's posts appear at the same time.  That just takes a little behind the scene coordination by the leader Amanda at Amanda's Cookin' and Angela at Big Bear's Wife who helps with Group C.  Thank you to both of you. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwich

I remember the first time that I ever bit into a Pulled Pork Sandwich...I wondered where it had been all of my life.  All of that wonderful BBQ goodness topped with crunchy coleslaw.  It was pure heaven!  Maybe I had those sandwiches in mind when I got Mr. T. a new BBQ and I had found a new recipe to try.

Mr. T. now uses a BBQ/smoker.  The fire is off to the side and the smoke flows over the meat cooking "next door"!

The pork shoulder was rubbed with Head Country All Purpose Championship Seasoning which came highly recommended by Larry at Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings.  (Mr. T is a faithful reader of his blog.)  Larry is always making delicious meals on the BBQ so when he mentioned how great this rub was, Mr. T. ordered some.  Our pork shoulder was delicious....the pulled pork sandwiches were scrumptious!

Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwich

1  8 lb. pork shoulder (Don't buy an expensive cut of meat.  You need a tougher cut as plenty of fat and connective tissue will withstand the long exposure to the heat.)

Barbecued Pork Rub (This is our usual rub for the pork.)

Combine all seasonings.
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup chili powder
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne

Coat the shoulder with the rub, massaging it into the meat.

Grilling Process
Grilling indirectly is for cuts of meat that take a long time to cook.  If you don't have a grill with a side compartment, set up your grill so that half has fire and the other half does not.  Cooking is done on the area where there is no fire underneath, but there's plenty of heat!

This can be accomplished by placing chunks of wood in a foil pack (use two layers of foil)  Bundle the packet leaving a hole at the top so smoke can escape.

Preheat one side of the grill to medium high.  Place the smoke packet over the fire, drip pan is under the unlit side.

Place the pork  over the drip pan and grill  for three hours.  Check every hour to make sure there's plenty of  smoke.  Smoking takes 3 hours.  Add wood packets as needed to keep plenty of smoke circulating.

Once smoking is complete, wrap pork in to layers of foil, crimping edges to seal in moisture.  Return to grill; cook 2 more hours.  After 2 hours, insert thermometer into thickest part of meat.  You want to hit 180°.  (We cooked the pork at 225°-250° in the smoker for four hours total.)

Keep foil around the meat and let rest off heat for 30 minutes.  At this point the meat is ready to be pulled with a fork or fingers.  Don't worry about the red ring around the meat.  It's not undercooked but rather a natural reaction to the smoke.

After pulling the pork apart and removing and fat that may be remaining, remove the pork you will be eating and mix in some of your favorite BBQ sauce....just a not saturate!

Serve the sandwich on a Kaiser-style bun.  (These may be buttered and toasted.)  Top the pork with a special coleslaw.


Spinach Coleslaw
Yield 10 cups

Whisk together:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup vegetable  oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne

1 bag (1 lb) coleslaw mix
1 bag (10 oz) shredded red cabbage
1 bag (6 oz) fresh baby spinach,  thinly sliced

Whisk together all ingredients except the cabbages and spinach.
Add the cabbages and spinach.  Toss and let coleslaw sit 30 minutes before serving.


I am joining Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum!  Stop by and take a look.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cape Flattery Trail, Neah Bay, Washington

Last week we hiked the Cape Flattery Trail, Neah Bay, Washington to the most northwestern point in the lower United States. We trekked along a cedar planked boardwalk and bridges over the wetlands enjoying the observation decks and the fantastic views that were along the way.

The 3/4 mile trail groomed by the Makah Tribe ends at an observation deck on the edge of  the cliff with spectacular views!

The views were amazing.  We were back on the road before the storm that was threatening arrived!  The lack of sunshine didn't dampen our spirits or appreciation for the area.

I am  participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lemon Pie Bars...Another New Cookbook

How does one resist a new cookbook?  If there is a way, I haven't figured it out as yet. Yes, I bought another one.  This is different, though.  I bought it for my Nook.  I knew that we were going to be doing some traveling and that I would be doing some cooking when we arrived.  So, why not buy a cookbook for the Nook?  I could take it with me!

I purchased The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.  I had so much fun looking over the recipes and it was hard to decide which one to make first.  But, as you know, I have had an abundance of lemons, so something with lemon was the choice.

The description of the Lemon Pie Bars says that with a graham cracker crust it has old school charm...this is a true statement.  It is creamy, tart, light and delicious!

Lemon Pie Bars

For the crust
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar

For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Two 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
6 large egg yolks

Fresh whipped cream

Position a rack in the middle of  the oven and preheat the oven  to 350° F.  Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking dish and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hand over two opposite edges of the pan.  (I also greased the parchment paper when it was in the dish.)

To make the crust:  In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter,  and sugar and blend with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Press the graham cracker mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Use a piece of parchment to press on the crust with the palm  of your hands to make sure it is completely level.

Bake the crust for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden.  Let cool completely before adding the filling. Turn the oven temperature down to 325° F.

To make the filling:  In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk,  and egg yolks.  Pour the filling over the cooled crust.

Place the baking pan   inside a larger baking pan and pour enough hot water  into the larger  pan  to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is puffed at the edges and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped.  Remove the pan from the water  bath and set it on a rack to cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold.

Cut the bars into squares and serve chilled, with the whipped cream.  The bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


These were a really great, light dessert!
I am really happy that I got this cookbook.  It is filled with quick and easy, tasty delights!

Having a cookbook on the Nook is worthy of a discussion.  Is it practical?  Is it better than paper?  What exactly are the benefits and the issues?

I am still wrestling with the concept.  I like having it electronically.  It sure saves space.  It travels well if and when the need arises.  It does time out a little too soon but that isn't a problem, I just have to touch the screen.  I am still learning about navigating from one location to another within the I  learn more about the Nook, it will be better!

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen at Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Banging Chains!

What is this?

I must admit when I first saw it, I didn't have the slightest idea nor did Mr. T.  Then one day Mr. T's buddy asked if he would be interested in learning to play disc golf.  You have probably seen young guys playing it in the park.  I thought they were just tossing a frisbee.  I had no idea that there was a net involved, and a course involved and that it was called Disk Golf, not Frisbee Golf.

It is addicting....Mr. T. is now the proud owner of his own net.  One must practice, you know.

Disc golfers take on many forms when they toss a disc.  It is serious business.  There is a lot of talking, leaning, dancing, grimacing, joking, cheering and smiling!  I especially like "the flamingo"!

There are discs that are distance drivers, fairway drivers, mid-range discs and putt and approach discs.  ..whatever is needed! Practicing your putt is important...when it goes in the basket, the chains hanging down bang against one another and there may be a cheer or two!

Disc golf is a great game for those who want to be out in the fresh air, get a little exercise, enjoy time with friends and have fun!  Beware of the addiction....Mr. T. plays with a group of  6 or 7 guys at least three times a is important to try out all of the courses in the area, and then there is the need to play on courses in other cities...  The courses are usually within parks.  They are similar to a regular golf course with open areas and hazards!  Sounds serious, but fun!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer!