Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recipe Recap: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Cinnamon M&M Cookies

DSC_0492 I’m a sucker for the seasonal flavors of  traditional candies like Pumpkin Spice Kisses and Candy Corn M&M’s in the fall.  If I walk by an endcap in Target with something new on display, I can’t resist grabbing at least one bag to try out.  That’s exactly what happened last week when I found myself in the checkout lane watching a bag of Raspberry Hugs go down the conveyor belt, across the scanner, and into that telltale white bag.

Back to the cookies.  I got two bags of the Cinnamon M&M’s before Christmas and only finally made something with one of the bags last week.  Good thing the candy has a long shelf life, huh?

Two bloggers had recipes for essentially the same cookie.  I chose the recipe that had the most butter.  Seemed like a logical way to decide which cookie to bake to me.  I’m no Paula Deen, but I figure more butter’s probably better.


Just like Jenny, I stuck my M&M’s onto the cookies rather than mixing them into the dough.


The McHusband didn’t love these cookies so I used some of the Candy Corn M&M’s (Yes, I seem to have a plethora of seasonal candy accumulating in my pantry.  Good thing I finally used some up.) with the last little bit of cookie dough.  He was very appreciative of his six just-for-him cookies and he enjoyed them very much.



I ended up with about 40 good-sized cookies.  I think the cookie dough (in both its raw and baked states; I’m thorough, what can I say) was pretty good, but I’m not so sure about either M&M version.  I mean, I liked both cookies okay, but I’m not going to rave about them here.  However, they were appealing to look at.



I still have that second bag of Cinnamon M&M’s so maybe I should try the other blogger’s cookie recipe and see if I like it better.  Yes, I’d be willing to take one for the team and participate in a taste test just to get to the bottom of this dilemma.  Any other volunteers out there?


{Recipe Here}

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday morning

Welcome back to the work week!  Did your weekend fly by like mine did?  Let’s see, there was Flamingo Friday, dinner and cards with friends on Saturday, and a matinee with the girls on Sunday.  And in between all the fun, there was exercise, the making of treats, installing the rest of the crown molding in the kitchen, starting a new project outside, and a few chores thrown in for good measure.

I’d made cookies and brownie bites stuffed with Raspberry Hugs to share with the neighbors on Friday, and I bagged up some of the extras and snuck them into the theater on Sunday to share with the girls during our One for the Money outing.


The movie is based on a book by the same name.  Five of the six of us had read that book and the rest in the series (it’s up to 18 books now, I think) so of course we had to see the movie.  As someone who’s read the books, I liked the movie fine.  If I hadn’t read the series, I don’t think I would’ve liked it enough for it to be worth paying to see it in the theater.

This week on McMania:



Pie!  Yes, this became pie.


Fancy Rice Krispie Treats.


Our (and by “our,” I mean “the McHusband’s”)  new outdoor project.


A fun night with friends.


And a delicious and healthy Sunday dinner.


Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!  Oh, and a happy belated birthday to Kevin who celebrated his 30th on Sunday.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Recipe Recap: Mushroom Ragu

I was inspired by the Vegetarian Bolognese that Sabrina made to look for my own mushroom-heavy pasta “sauce.”  I found one on Tasty Kitchen.

If you read the recipe, you’ll see that it calls for olive tapenade.  Can you believe that I actually had that in my pantry?  And after using just two tablespoons of it, I now need to figure out what to do with the rest of it.  I think I’m going to turn it into a dip/spread by mixing it with some feta cheese and setting it out beside some crackers.  People will eat that, right?

Anyway, back to the ‘shrooms.  I chopped and chopped and then chopped some more.


I diced up half an onion and sliced four cloves of garlic.


I put all the veggies in my skillet…


…and cooked it until the mushrooms released their liquids.


I added the next few ingredients while the pasta was cooking then I added the ragu to the drained pasta and stirred in some Parmesan cheese.

Dinner was served!



It doesn’t look all that appetizing, I admit.  But it had a lot of flavor and was good for us.  I used whole wheat Barilla rotini as my pasta, and I liked how the little mushroom pieces got caught up in the corkscrew shape.


(I realize the color of the pasta is all over the place in these pics.  I think this last picture is the most accurate.)

Because we’re watching our portion sizes, I think I should’ve planned to serve this with a salad.  Actually, the McHusband had his share of the leftovers as a side dish to a steak that he cooked and he said the two paired very well together so maybe I should keep this in mind for a side as opposed to a main dish.

Happy Friday!  Hope everyone has something fun to look forward to this weekend.  The McHusband and I have Flamingo Friday at the neighbors’, and I’m going to a matinee on Sunday with the girls.  And in between the fun stuff, there’s the Y, chores, and hopefully finishing installing the crown molding in the kitchen.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Recipe Recap: Samoa Bark

When I told Heather I was bringing a treat or two to her house Saturday night, she asked if there was any way I could make something halfway, or even a quarterway, healthy.  I told her it went against everything I believed in, but I’d see what I could do.  I don’t think those cookies actually qualified as any kind of health food, but I only took so many over there so my thinking was I was helping out in the portion control department.

Since I pretty much failed in the halfway-healthy department, I tried to make it up to Heather by making a second treat that I knew she’d have no interest in.  Anything with coconut would fit that bill.  I decided to go with a no-bake treat: Samoa Bark.

I lined my pan with foil then melted a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and spread that on the pan.  I topped the chocolate with Lorna Doone shortbread cookies.


That combo went into the freezer while I toasted my coconut.


I set that aside while I worked on the next step: melting a bag of Kraft caramels with a couple tablespoons of water.  Sorry, no picture, but I wouldn’t lie to you:  I melted the caramels, added the coconut to it, mixed it all up, then spread it over the cookies.  And voila!  Samoa Bark!


The coconut layer didn’t stick perfectly to all the cookies so a few of my Lorna Doones were naked on top (sorry, Lorna!).  You didn’t know this was an R-rated dessert, did you?


This treat turned out just okay.  As a big fan of the traditional Samoa Cookies, I was a little disappointed that these weren’t better.  But maybe it was for the best that I didn’t find them irresistible since two-thirds of the batch sat around my house all day Sunday.  I took the leftover treats (both the bark and the cookies) to the doctor’s office in my building on Monday and bid them a fond farewell as I handed them over.  (I just realized that sorta sounds like I was handing over tainted goodies that were going to poison the doctor’s office.  I promise that wasn’t the case.)


{Totally unrelated but I have to share:  We just finished watching a Fringe on the DVR and the TV was on Showtime, which was playing Twilight: Eclipse.  I’m sorry to report that my husband was speaking the lines before the characters.  Apparently I have a closet Twihard on my hands here.}

Okay, back to the treats.  If you’re craving Samoas and missed your opportunity to order some, maybe go get some of those Keebler Coconut Dreams rather than making this, or something like it, from scratch.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keeping the peace

Now that we have laptops, the McHusband doesn’t have to hide away up in the bonus room, tethered to the desk.  But being the music  fan that he is, it doesn’t always work out for him to be sitting at the table 20 feet away from me and the TV, cruising the cyber highways without his tunes.

So he figured out how to have his cake and eat it, too.


He didn’t know I was taking pictures. 

For a few seconds anyway.  Looks like I’m busted.


King-sized bed, separate closets, and headphones – all the keys to a successful marriage. Winking smile


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recipe Recap: Hot Chocolate Cookies

I made these cookies because we went to Heather and Bruce’s for dinner on Saturday.  Chelle and Jeremy did the appetizers; Bruce and Heather grilled chicken and steamed some broccoli; and I made Cajun Roasted Sweet Potatoes and two desserts.

These cookies owe their cocoa flavor and color to hot chocolate mix.  I used Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate mix.  Anyone besides me ever have that at the actual restaurant?  I don’t think it’s still on the menu, but it was uh-mazing.  Like, it was so good I got one on my way to work then another one during my lunch hour that same day. 

It’s probably in the best interest of my pants still fitting that the flavor isn’t available any more.

Jen (a.k.a. Beantown Baker) had a good idea: she used an assortment of chips she found in her pantry in these cookies.  I followed suit and used butterscotch chips, toffee pieces, and a few semi-sweet chips.


I used my scoop so my cookies would be uniform in size.  Once I plopped the dough (very precise cooking phrase there) onto my cookie sheet, I flattened it slightly with my fingers.



They didn’t spread too much so I was able to get a dozen to 14 cookies on each pan.

These cookies came together easily, baked up beautifully, and most importantly, were delicious.


They had a slightly crunchy bottom that gave way to a chewy interior chock full of complementary flavors.



If you need to clean out your pantry, give these cookies a try.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.



{Hot Chocolate Cookies}

Monday, January 23, 2012

The projects

How about a little multiple choice action to start your week?  I know, you weren’t prepared for a pop quiz on this Monday morning, were you?

What projects did we undertake here at the McCasa this weekend?

a. Baked some cookies.

b. Assembled some Samoa Bark.

c. Started hanging crown molding in the kitchen.

d. Cooked a mushroom ragu and served it over rotini.

e. All of the above.

Did those two desserts give you pause?  I mean, one treat is sort of a given but two?  Did I really need to make two in one weekend?  Turns out I did.  So I guess I gave the answer away…

I baked Hot Chocolate Cookies.


And made Samoa Bark.


The McHusband began the kitchen crown molding (moulding?) project.


And, as is our normal course of action, we had a homemade meal on Sunday.


Recipes and a glimpse of my crowned kitchen to come!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Photo Finish

The McHusband and I are going to the Mat Kearney concert at the Lincoln Theater Thursday night so I’m just posting some pictures to finish out the week.  I’ve been doing pretty well lately having a post per day, and I didn’t want to mess up my streak.


Love my boys!

TGIF and have a great weekend!  Oh, and Happy Birthday, Bri!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Recipe Recap: Birthday Treats

I’ve made this Lemon Cheesecake twice now.  I made it back in April for Bruce’s birthday, and Chelle remembered it and obviously was a fan since she requested it for her birthday.


My crust looked gooey and I thought that some of the water from the water bath got inside my springform pan.  You don’t even know how mad I was when I thought the cheesecake was ruined.  But I think it just looked that way because I used lemon crème sandwich cookies for my crust and I probably didn’t need as much butter as I mixed in.  Guess I was having a Paula Deen moment.

I need to get a non-reactive pot because my lemon curd definitely took on a bit of a metallic taste.  It was still really good so I can only imagine how yummy it would be minus the underlying metal flavor.


I know that Chelle’s favorite bakery cake combo is chocolate cake with white/vanilla frosting.  And lately anyway, it just doesn’t seem like a birthday celebration without cupcakes so even though Chelle didn’t request them and wasn’t expecting them, I made a second dessert.


For the cupcakes, I used my favorite doct0red-up recipe with mini chocolate chips mixed in.  Have you guys seen these Duncan Hines half-batch cake mixes?  That’s what I used because I was making mini-muffins and I knew I didn’t need a regular box’s worth.  The smaller box worked out perfectly – I had at least 36 cupcakes and enough batter left over for 4 or 5 regular ones.


For the frosting, I referenced my memory and recent experience  but didn’t follow a specific recipe.  I used 2 sticks of butter, about half a cup of shortening, 2 teaspoons clear vanilla, and probably 6 cups or so of powdered sugar.  What a perfectly delicious combo!  Normally I prefer chocolate cake with any flavor frosting besides plain old boring vanilla, but I think I inadvertently showed myself that the chocolate-vanilla combo can be quite wonderful.  These little bites of heaven were seriously addictive.

The frosting wasn’t only delectable, it held its shape so well that I wished I had done full-sized cupcakes so the frosting could be properly displayed.


Aaaaannnd now I am seriously craving one of those cupcakes right now.

Thanks, Chelle, for having a birthday and letting me commandeer it for my enjoyment.  Hopefully you (and everyone else) didn’t suffer too much.