Spicy Tortilla Lasagna

September 30, 2012
Replace tortillas for noodles & salsa for sauce to create Spicy Tortilla Lasagna, a delicious alternative to tradtional lasagna.



Funny 1st grade story from this week ... One of our spelling words this past week was 'blog.'  Kind of a strange spelling word for 1st graders if you ask me, ... but ... no one asked me!  So, anyway, since none of my students had any idea what a blog is I decided to show them my blog as an example.  (It just so happened that Neapolitan Cupcakes were showing on the front page, which totally amazed and enthralled my students!  They want me to make some for them ... which I can't ... against school rules.) 

Anyway, as I was scrolling down the front page ... showing them what a blog post is, and how people write to me and I write back in comments, and so forth ... one of my little students hollered out, "Hey, who's that?" ... referring to my childhood picture in the right sidebar.  I said, "That's me when I was 4 years old."  To which he promptly replied, rather exuberantly, "You look like a boy!"

Tact is not the forte of six year olds. 

I don't think I look like a boy in that picture, do I?  Oh, wait.  On second thought, don't answer that.  'Cause if you do think I look like a boy, I don't think I really want to know.  


Well, since school is still C.R.A.Z.Y. busy, I've been turning to some of my super-easy-stand-by recipes for our dinners.  This Spicy Tortilla Lasagna is just one such recipe.  And it's not exactly a recipe, it's more just something I threw together one night and have stuck with it ever since.  I like that it comes together super quick, and it makes a big pan so there's always leftovers for another night.  (No cooking the next night - yay!)

Start this dish by spreading a small amount of salsa (this lasagna's sauce) in the bottom of a baking dish.  This keeps the bottom layer of tortillas from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and provides a tad of moisture for those tortillas to soak up.


Next, layer in two whole tortillas (I use whole wheat) and then tear small pieces from another tortilla to fill in the corners and any other big 'gaps.'


Then spoon in a layer of the lasagna filling ... a mixture of ground turkey (or beef), black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes ... and ...


... top with salsa and cheese.  Layer on up two more times, and you'll have ...


... a tasty tortilla treat!  It's a yummy alternative to traditional lasagna, especially if you're in the mood for a super easy spicy kick.  And now I'm going to go try to get over being called a boy.  Ha!


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Spicy Tortilla Lasagna
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • dash of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 of a 10 oz. package frozen corn, thawed
  • 8 tortillas (I use whole wheat)
  • about 36 oz. salsa (mild, medium, hot, salsa verde, or a combination of any of these)
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Brown ground turkey or beef together with chopped onion; drain. Season with ground cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Add black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine.
  2. Spray a 9"x13" baking dish lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Spread a small amount of salsa in the bottom of the dish. Top with two whole tortillas; tear pieces from a portion of another tortilla to fill the corners and any other gaps around the sides of the pan. Top the tortillas with 1/3 of the meat/black bean mixture, 1/3 of the salsa, and 1/3 of the shredded cheese.
  3. Repeat to make two more layers.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.
NOTE:  This is a very flexible recipe.  Adjust spices and other ingredients to fit your fancy!

Enjoy!



14

Fruit Salad Cheesecake

September 27, 2012
Fruit Salad Cheesecake - a unique, interesting, & very tasty way to serve fruit salad!

Fruit Salad Cheesecake image

Holy cow!  Can you say B.U.S.Y.??  I feel like I have been running ragged the past few weeks.  And, from what I hear around, it seems to be a trend with lots of folks right now.

I haven't been in the kitchen at all for about the past two weeks, we've eaten take out three times this week, and I've resorted to my stash of  "emergency" frozen foods for the remaining nights.  I'm ready for life to settle down a bit.

So, for today's post I'm turning to a dish I've had in my queue for a while but just haven't shared yet.

31

Ugly Buttermilk Baked Chicken

September 22, 2012

This is one of those dishes that just isn't pretty.  In fact, I'd say this dish is downright ugly.  Come on, we all have them ... ugly favorites that sure taste good! 

Right?

Well, this is certainly one of those.
 

And Mark and I love it.  It's one of our comfort-food-go-to-recipes ... and it never disappoints.  Buttermilk makes the chicken super moist and tender.  As most Southern cooks know, buttermilk makes things better!


Since this recipe has a pretty short list of ingredients, makes use of convenience products, and comes together in a single baking pan, it's a very easy throw-together-on-a-weeknight meal.  Bake up the chicken for about 45 minutes, serve it over some rice or couscous (I use couscous because it's ... you guessed it ... faster!), and you've got yourself one very tasty ugly-duckling dinner.

While this ugly duckling won't grow up to be a beautiful swan, once you taste the flavor, I don't think you'll mind.


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Buttermilk Baked Chicken
Source:  A family friend
(Printable recipe)
Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. buttermilk, divided
1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (4 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained

Directions
1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place butter in a lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish; place in the oven until butter is melted.

2.  Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Place 1/2 cup of the buttermilk in a shallow bowl.  Place flour in another shallow bowl.  Dip chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour.

3.  Place dredged chicken in the baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

4.  Turn chicken pieces over in the baking dish, and bake for 10 minutes more.

5.  Meanwhile, stir together the remaining 1 cup buttermilk, cream of mushroom soup, and mushrooms; pour over the chicken and bake for an additional 10 minutes, shielding with aluminum foil if necessary to prevent excessive browning.

6.  Serve over rice or couscous.

Enjoy!

5

Neapolitan Cupcakes {Happy Birthday to Me!}

September 19, 2012

Happy birthday to me ... happy birthday to me ... happy birthday dear, Tracey ... happy birthday to me!

Psssst! ... It's my birthday. 

Hadn't figured that out yet, had you?  Well, it's true.  Today is my birthday!

Ever since I can remember, my Mom has made me Neapolitan Sheet Cake for my birthday.  Ever since I can remember, without fail ... even arranging for someone else to make it for me one year when she was going to be out of town.  She's a good Mom like that.  This year was no exception.  Though Mom made me my cake two weeks early.  But no complaints here.  Nope, not a one.

I just love the classic Neapolitan flavor trio ... vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  Mmmmmm, yummy.  In honor of my Neapolitan birthday tradition, I decided to share a new Neapolitan sweet treat with you today - these Neapolitan cupcakes.

Now, let me just tell you ... these cupcakes have been a labor of love.  I've been working on perfecting them for about a year now.  A year!  Can you believe it??  I've had the cupcake itself figured out for that entire year.  But the frosting?  That's another story.  The frosting had been eluding me.  I had failed attempt after failed attempt, with several versions turning out not-as-I-desired.

Until now!  Finally!!!!  Finally, a friend of mine who knew I was working on this cupcake found a strawberry frosting I was happy with.  Thanks so much, Jennie and Southern Lady magazine!


Not only do I love the taste of these cupcakes, I also love the "Hey, how'd you do that?" reaction I get from people when they see them.  Truth be told, it's really not that hard.  And I'm going to share with you how to do it!

Start by whipping up your favorite vanilla cupcake batter and favorite chocolate batter ... making sure they're of the same 'base' recipe with the same required baking temperature and time.  I use my BEST Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the wonderful bakers at The Hummingbird Bakery, along with their corresponding chocolate cupcake recipe.

Once your batters are mixed, put a little chocolate batter on one side of a paper cupcake liner set in a muffin pan.  I've found tipping the pan just a tiny bit to keep the chocolate batter to one side is helpful ... but you only need to tip truly a tiny bit.


Then, put some vanilla batter on the other side.  I've found the chocolate batter to be just a teeny bit thicker, so it 'runs' just a little bit less ... that's why I start with the chocolate.


Then bake 'em up, and they'll look like this.


Aren't they neat looking?  I love the side-by-side look of the two flavors.  I tried marbling them together instead in one batch, and while they taste the same, the look just isn't as 'dramatic.'  Mark and I decided we like the side-by-side look wayyyyyy better.


Once the cupcakes are cooled, whip up some strawberry cream cheese frosting, made a bit fluffy with the addition of some whipped topping.  This was the key to a frosting the way I wanted it ... whipped topping.  I didn't want the 'density' of a butter cream or true cream cheese frosting ... don't get me wrong, I love both those types of frosting.  It's just not the texture I wanted for these cupcakes.  I also tried a Swiss meringue ... total fail.  I'm thinking I may not have done it right.

Anyway, whip up this strawberry cream cheese frosting ... 


... and pipe it onto your beautiful 1/2-and-1/2 cupcakes.  Sprinkle on a few pink sugar pearls, just for fun.

Then unwrap and indulge.  Mmmm, mmmm ... it's a yummy birthday party in your mouth!


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Neapolitan Cupcakes
Source: Cupcake batters adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook , Strawberry Frosting adapted from Southern Lady magazine, March/April 2011
Ingredients
Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
1 c. all-purpose flour
A scant 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 T. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. whole milk (I also tried it with 2% milk, and it worked fine)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
A scant 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 T. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. whole milk (I also tried it with 2% milk, and it worked fine)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract



Strawberry Frosting:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened (I do not recommend using reduced fat)
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. strawberry jam
1 tsp. strawberry extract (optional*)
1 (8 oz.) container whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)
1 c. confectioners' sugar



Directions
Prepare the Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
1.  Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency. Gradually pour in half of the milk; beat until the milk is just incorporated.

2.  Whisk together the remaining milk (1/4 cup), egg, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.

Prepare the Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
3.  Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency.

4.  Whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Slowly pour about half into the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Turn the mixer up to high speed for a few seconds to beat out any lumps.

5.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture.  Beat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.

Cupcake Assembly:
6.  Spoon a little chocolate batter into one side of a muffin pan cup lined with a paper cupcake liner; then spoon a little vanilla batter into the other side.  Repeat with remaining muffin cups, filling each cup a total of 1/2 full. 

7.   Bake at 325 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool slightly in the pan before removing cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.


Prepare the Strawberry Frosting:
8.  Combine cream cheese and butter; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in strawberry jam and strawberry extract until well combined.  Beat in whipped topping and confectioners' sugar.

9.  Pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  I found it good to chill the frosting for about 20 to 30 minutes before piping onto the cupcakes.


NOTES: 
- This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. And it really does make 24! Fill your cups only 1/2 full, as this batter rises quite a bit. When I divided the batter between only 20 or so muffin cups, I had several that rose over the sides of the cups way too much. If you're like me, you'll feel like there's not enough batter to stretch to 24 cupcakes ... but there really is.

*-I've made this frosting both with and without strawberry extract.  Strawberry extract can be difficult to find (here's a link to strawberry extract on Amazon.com ... you can order it).  If you're unable to find it, you can go ahead and make the frosting without it.  While the strawberry flavor won't be quite as prominent, the frosting is still great without it.


Enjoy!



18

Couscous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Mint

September 14, 2012

It's Eating the Alphabet challenge time!  This month's letters? ... P, Q, or R.  Oh, wow, there were so many possibilities with this letter set.  Despite that, though, it was not hard for me to choose my dish to share ... I immediately knew I was going to share this Couscous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Mint.  It's one of my all-time absolute favorites!

I know, I know ... the flavor combination may sound a bit, well, ... odd.  But believe me, it's soooooo good.  The sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and dried currants, with the 'refreshingness' (yup, I think I just made that word up) of the fresh mint is wonderful.  And the pomegranate seeds and walnuts also bring a fantabulous crunch.  Mmmmmmm, mmmmm ... yummy for my tummy.  It makes my tummy do a little happy dance.

Now, you can certainly seed your own pomegranate ... click here for a great tutorial on that.  One word of caution on this topic ... do heed the advice to do this with the pomegranate underwater.  I may have learned this lesson the hard way.  I plead the 5th.

And this may .. or may not ... be why I now cheat with this little task.  See?  Beautiful pomegranate seeds all already out of their pomegranate wrapper.  Ahhhhhhh, you gotta love Trader Joe's.


Aren't the colors of this salad gorgeous?  I think so! ... Little currant, pomegranate, and mint leaf gems sprinkled throughout to make your eyes ... and tummy ... happy.  So go ahead ... grab some pomegranate seeds and fresh mint and give your tummy a little happy dance! 
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Couscous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Mint
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
(Printable recipe)
Ingredients
1 (10 oz.) box plain couscous
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. pomegranate seeds (approximately 1/2 of a pomegranate)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
About 1/3 c. chopped fresh mint
About 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. dried currants


Directions
1.  Prepare couscous according to package directions.  Fluff couscous with a fork and place in a large bowl.  Mix in remaining ingredients.

2.  Chill for about an hour prior to serving.

Note:  This is also wonderful served immediately, while still hot, as a side dish.

Enjoy!



12

Pear-Walnut Crisp

September 13, 2012


This dessert holds a very special place in my heart.  Not only do I usually make it with pears from my mother-in-law's farm ...

... see them growing on her trees? ...




... it's also the dessert I served the night my parents and my husband (then boyfriend!) met for the first time ... back in February, 2003.  Hard to believe Mark and I have been together for almost ten years now!

We had been dating for only about five weeks when these all-important introductions were made.  My parents and I were leaving on a cruise to celebrate my Dad's retirement, so they had traveled to my place in Charlotte the night before we left.  I invited Mark over for dessert so the three of them could meet.

Meeting-the-boyfriend-or-girlfriend's-parents is so nerve-wracking, isn't it??  I'm sooooo glad I don't have to go through that anymore!

Anyway, apparently the introductions evening went well ... 'cause just four months later, Mark and I were engaged ... and Mom, Dad, and Mark get along fabulously.

Now, that night's Pear-Walnut Crisp was made with store-bought pears.  But now ... now I'm fortunate to have a supply of late-summer home-grown pears.

We've found that our home-grown pears have a thicker skin than store-bought ones and are too 'chewy' in the crisp, so we peel them.  When working with store-bought pears there's no need to peel.  Unless, you know, you have an issue with pear skin.  Then by all means, peel away to your heart's content.
Just toss pear slices with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, top with an oats-and-brown-sugar-and-butter topping, toss in some chopped walnuts, bake it up ...


... and you've got one delicious and comforting dessert.



Throw on a scoop of vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or a little whipped cream ... or go plain ...whatever you prefer.   Mmmmmmm ... one of my favorite desserts.  And not just because of the wonderful memory that goes with it.


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Pear-Walnut Crisp
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
(Printable recipe)
Ingredients
  • 6 c. sliced pears (about 3 lbs.)
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 T. cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1/3 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Core pears and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. (You don't need to peel the pears unless they have a thick skin.) Combine pears and lemon juice in a 2-quart baking dish; toss gently to coat the pears with lemon juice.
  2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon; stir together with a whisk. Add this mixture to the pears, tossing well to coat the pears.
  3. Combine flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. With a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers, work in the butter pieces until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add oats and chopped walnuts. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pears.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until pears are tender and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This crisp is delicious plain, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, or with freshly whipped cream.

Enjoy!


10

7-Layer Greek Dip

September 9, 2012
7-Layer Greek Dip ~  layers and layers of greek flavors ... hummus, tzatziki sauce, cucumbers, dill, kalamata olives, and lemon, to name a few ... all in one delicious dip.

 


Are you ready for some football?!?!!  Oh, yes, it's the first Sunday of football season!  I'm excited ... but my husband is not.

See, our household is ... well, ... a bit 'backward' when it comes to sports.  I'm the sports fan of the family.  My husband is decidedly not.  I've always thought it's kind of funny that a woman who loves sports (me, that is) married a man who couldn't care less about them.  Do you know how many men out there would be thrilled to have a sports-loving wife??  Oh well.

In honor of the first Sunday of football season, I'm sharing this absolutely delicious 7-Layer Greek Dip adapted from How Sweet It Is.  I love that it's a Greek-flavors twist on the usual Tex-Mex layered dip.  And - BONUS! - it's healthy!  Love it when delicious and healthy come together.

Now, hubby may not love football - but he sure loved this 7-Layer Greek Dip.  It's definitely earned the hubby seal of approval.



With layers of hummus, creamy feta, tzatziki, kalamata olives, artichokes, cucumber, and tomatoes ... all laced with fresh dill and lemon, ... it's definitely got my seal of approval too.


So, layer away, dig on in, and let me know if 7-Layer Greek Dip wins your seal of approval, too! 

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7-Layer Greek Dip
Source:  Adapted from How Sweet It Is
(Printable recipe)
Ingredients
2 c. plain Greek yogurt, divided
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. very finely chopped seeded cucumber
About 1 c. peeled & seeded coarsely chopped cucumber
3 T. chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 1/2 c. (6.5 oz. jar) kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c. (12 oz. container) hummus (or make your own if you have a favorite recipe)
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke hearts, well drained and coarsely chopped
5 oz. package feta cheese crumbles
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
Salt & pepper


Directions
1.  Grab a pretty good-sized glass bowl (this makes quite a bit of dip) ... and get started layering in the ingredients.  Layer #1 - Tzatziki:  Use paper towels to pat dry the 1/4 up very finely chopped cucumber*.  In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons olive oil, the 1/4 cup very finely chopped cucumber, chopped fresh dill, minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Spoon into the glass bowl, spreading evenly along the bottom of the bowl.

2.  Layer #2 - Kalamata Olives:  Sprinkle the chopped kalamata olives evenly over the tzatziki layer.

3.  Layer #3 - Hummus:  Spread hummus evenly over the olive layer.

4.  Layer #4 - Artichoke Hearts:  Use paper towels to pat dry the chopped artichokes.  Layer on top of the hummus.

5.  Layer #5 - Cucumbers:  Use paper towels to pat dry the coarsely chopped cucumber.  Sprinkle with a pinch of pepper and layer in evenly over the artichokes.

6.  Layer #6 - Creamy Feta:  In a small mixing bowl, combine feta crumbles, remaining 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper.  Spread evenly over the cucumber layer.

7.  Layer #7 - Tomatoes:  While chopping tomatoes, remove some of the large 'clumps' of seeds.  Use paper towels to pat chopped tomatoes dry, and then place tomatoes on top of the creamy feta layer.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Chill for about an hour to let the flavors meld.

8.  Garnish with a fresh dill sprig and a bit of lemon zest, if desired.  Serve with pita chips or crackers.


Notes:
- *Patting the ingredients dry is optional, but I recommend doing this.  As this dip sits, it will tend to get watery ... so I do all I can to get as much water out & away from the ingredients as I'm making this.  Don't worry - if/when it gets a bit watery, it's still absolutely delicious ... just a tad more messy to 'dip' out.
- Due to the possibility of 'wateriness,' I usual make this the day I'm serving it, not the day (or couple of days) before.
- This is a very 'flexible' dip - change up the ingredients to suit your taste!


Enjoy!

Please enjoy these other delicious dips from The Kitchen is My Playground ...



13

Insanely Delicious Turtle Cookies

September 5, 2012
The classic flavors of turtle candy ... chocolate, pecans, and caramel ... in soft and insanely delicious  Turtle Cookies.

Insanely Delicious Turtle Cookies image ... soft chocolate-pecan thumbprint cookies filled with caramel.  Yum! www.thekitchenismyplayground


There.  Are.  No.  Words.

Nope.

Absolutely no words to describe how insanely delicious these cookies are.

The classic flavors of turtle candy ... chocolate, pecans, and caramel ... in a soft and insanely delicious cookie.

These are, honestly, THE best cookies I've ever had.  Of course, when a recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen, I expect no less.


A soft, chocolate-y, pecan-coated cookie filled with smooth-&-creamy caramel.  Oh, and drizzled with chocolate drizzle if you so desire.  I so desired, so I added a touch of chocolate drizzle to the original recipe. 

Insanely Delicious Turtle Cookies photo

The chocolate drizzle on these cookies adds a just a little extra touch that looks so pretty on top of the ooey-gooey caramel.  And it takes pretty much not time at all to add that little chocolate drizzle.

You can certainly leave it off if you'd like, and go with just the "plain" caramel.  To me, though, the cookies look more "finished" with the chocolate drizzle.

Taste-wise?  There's no noticeable difference in taste with or without the chocolate drizzle.  So if you do decide to go without it, rest assured all the insanely delicious turtle cookies' flavor is still there.

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies image

While they do involve several steps, these insanely delicious beauties are actually pretty easy to make.

Each step is not hard, but the cookies will take a bit of time to fully put together.

While they do involve several steps, these insanely delicious beauties are actually pretty easy to make.

The base is a pretty standard chocolate cookie dough.  The chocolate cookie itself is strongly chocolate-flavored and not overly sweet, which very nicely compliments the pecans and sweetness of the caramel filling. 

Whip up the dough, chill it for about an hour, and then roll scoops of the dough into balls.  A cookie scoop helps with keeping the size of the cookies consistent.

Turtle Cookies Chocolate Cookie Dough image

Dip each dough ball in egg whites, ...

How to Make Turtle Cookies image

... and roll in chopped pecans, ...

How to Make Turtle Cookies with Pecans image

... squish an indentation in the middle, and then bake.

How to Make Indentation in Turtle Thumbprint Cookies image

{Side note:  I get asked all the time about this pretty little measuring spoon in the photo.  It's from a Crosby & Taylor pewter measuring spoon set in their bamboo pattern.}

Melt some caramel candies and cream together, ...

How to Make Caramel Filling for Turtle Cookies image

... and, after the cookies are baked, put a dollop of caramel in each cookie's indentation.

Filling Turtle Cookies with Caramel image

Total yum.

Now, you could stop there.  But I didn't.  I decided a little chocolate drizzle was the way to go.

Turtle Cookies picture

Melt some semi-sweet chocolate with a tiny bit of shortening.  I just put these in a zip-top baggie and place the baggie in a bowl of warm water until melty.

How to Melt Chocolate in Warm Water image

Then gently massage the baggie until the chocolate is melted and ready for drizzling.

How to Drizzle Chocolate from a Ziploc bag image

Snip a very tiny hole in the corner of the zip-top baggie and drizzle away.

Chocolate Drizzled on Cookies image

Mmmmmmm.  A little chocolate drizzle makes everything better. 

These beautiful little cookies are such a tasty turtle treat.  I just love the flavor combination of the chocolate cookie, crunchy pecans, and creamy caramel center.

Make these.  Seriously.  It's truly insane how delicious they are.

Turtle Cookies with Caramel Middles image
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Watch us make these cookies:





Turtle Cookies
Source:  Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
(Printable recipe)
Ingredients
Cookies:
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 T. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 additional egg white
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c. pecans, finely chopped
Caramel Filling:
Chocolate Drizzle (optional):
Directions
  1. Prepare the Cookies: Combine flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside.
  2. With a stand mixer or electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla; mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
  4. Whisk the 2 egg whites in a bowl until frothy. Place chopped pecans in another bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls (a cookie scoop helps with this), dip each dough ball in egg whites, and then roll in pecans. Place balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until set, about 12 minutes.
  6. Prepare the Caramel Filling: Microwave caramels and cream together in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Once cookies are removed from the oven, gently re-press the indentations. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of the caramel mixture. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Prepare the Chocolate Drizzle (optional): Place chocolate and shortening in a small zip-top plastic bag. Set bag in a bowl of warm water to soften. Gently knead the chocolate with your fingers until melted and smooth, placing back in the warm water for a minute or two as needed.
  9. Snip a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. Drizzle chocolate over the cooled Turtle Cookies.
Makes about 30 cookies.

Enjoy!







Enjoy these other favorite cookies from The Kitchen is My Playground ...


Pound Cake Cookies

Grandma's Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies



Insanely Delicious Turtle Cookies ~ Soft chocolate-pecan thumbprint cookies filled with caramel.  Perfect as a year-round or Christmas cookie treat. #cookies #favoritecookies #cookierecipes #turtles #turtlecookies #Christmas #Christmascookies #thekitchenismyplayground  www.thekitchenismyplayground
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