Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I made these on a whim. My kids love chocolate chip muffins and in my quest to make more from scratch and less from boxes, as well as this challenge to try new recipes, I found this recipe on and adapted it for our tastes. Rather than semi-sweet chips, I used milk chocolate chips. I also cut back on the amount of vanilla. Originally the muffins were sprinkled with coarse sugar but that’s not something I buy or would use so I used regular sugar.

These muffins are bursting with chocolate. Melt the butter and let cool while you prepare the other ingredients. While they are moist and sweet, they are not too sweet. Warm, with a little butter and they are a perfect addition to a breakfast spread or brunch. So, now I present the week 23 recipe in the 52 week new recipe challenge…

Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon+ 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Using cooking spray coat a 12 cup muffin pan covering the top of the pan too, so the muffins don’t stick. Place paper muffin cups into the pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, combine the cooled melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla, making sure the eggs are well incorporated. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. Don’t over mix or muffins will be dense. You want them moist and fluffy.

Evenly fill each section of the muffin pan, about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with remaining chocolate chips.

Bake at 475 degrees F. for 7 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and continue to bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs. Remove forgiven and cool in the pan for 5 – 10 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

Recipe adapted from

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Olive Garden’s Salad Dressing (Copycat Version)

I find it just as easy, more tasty and far more economical to make my own salad dressing. The salad dressing at Olive Garden is probably my husband’s favorite. I actually found this by accident when I went looking for a new homemade dressing to make to complement a meal I was making for a friend after surgery. The week 22 recipe in the 52 Week New Recipe Challenge is a copycat version of Olive Garden’s salad dressing. My husband, the expert on this dressing, was pleasantly surprised.

Olive Garden's Salad Dressing (Copycat Version)

Olive Garden’s Salad Dressing (Copycat Version)

Olive Garden Salad Dressing (Copycat Version)

1 packet Good Season’s Italian Dressing Mix

3/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon real mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously, holding lid, until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Shake before serving.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

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Even More Comfort Food – Chicken and Biscuits (Or biscuit topped chicken pot pie)!

Chicken and Biscuits hot from the oven!

Week 21 of the 52 Week New Recipe Challenge brings a recipe that has been in my to try file for some time. It’s from the Barefoot Contessa. By now, you’re probably seeing a  trend here…I have a lot of chicken recipes posted. This is a totally made from scratch recipe. I love to make meals from scratch but I like shortcuts along the way too. If you really wanted, you could use Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits but it just won’t be the same. You’ve already committed to make the filling, go all the way and make the biscuits! You’ll be glad you did. This is delicious comfort food perfect for cooler evenings.

You can make the filling and biscuits ahead to save on long preparation.

(Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa)

Chicken and Biscuits

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 cups chicken stock, homemade OK

2 chicken bouillon cubes

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups chopped yellow onions

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups medium-dices carrots, blanched for 2 minutes

1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)

1 1/2 cups frozen whole pearl onions

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced

3/4 cup half and half

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You should have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 minute more, stirring until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or foil. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bow of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter.

Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Make ahead: Refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, then place the biscuits on top and bake another 3o minutes until done.

Makes 8 servings.

Posted in 52 Week Challenge, Chicken, Comfort Food, Company Worthy, Entrees, Sunday Dinner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Individual Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies

On a Memorial Day trip to North Carolina we stopped at the Lodge Factory store in Commerce, GA. It was a good thing our car was pretty well packed because these mini skillets were about all I could fit into it. I have the next size up too, but they are a bit big for an individual dessert. See the brownie skillet post. The week 20 recipe in the 52 Week New Recipe Challenge is mini skillet chocolate chip cookies. Now, if you don’t have the 5-inch cast iron skillets you can make one big cookie in a 10-inch cast iron skillet.  I served this treat to my family on the last Saturday of summer vacation. The family consensus was this recipe is a keeper. My oldest son even saying it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. If you’re using the mini skillets you could substitute mini-chocolate chips but I used the regular size. I gave my kids a choice of semi-sweet chips or milk chocolate and they chose the milk chocolate. Either would be fine and you could even use white chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter chips to mix things up. The original recipe, from Everyday Food, said it served 8. I got 4 servings which was perfect for my family in the mini skillets. (Using the larger 10-inch skillet would yield more servings.) While you could enjoy this in one sitting, I chose to save some for another treat. I covered the skillet with foil and kept it on the counter. Just as tasty the next day. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an even more decadent dessert.

Mini Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie warm from the oven.

Mini Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie warm from the oven.

Mini-Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet or white)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine butter and sugars in a bowl with electric mixer on medium speed. Mix until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

Transfer dough to four 5-inch cast iron skillets or one 10-inch cast iron skillet. Spread evenly and smooth top.

Bake 18 – 20 minutes, a little longer for the 10-inch skillet, until golden brown and just set in the center. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Note: The center will fall a bit but the taste is not affected.

Makes 4 servings in the mini skillet. Makes 8 servings in the 10-inch skillet.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food.

Posted in 52 Week Challenge, Company Worthy, Cookies, Desserts, Entertaining, Kid's Favorites, Sunday Dinner | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cups

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cups

Oreo Cookies and Cream Cups

Kids of all ages will love this recipe. If you’re looking for a way to cool off during the dog days of summer, this cookies and cream cups recipe, the week 19 recipe for the 52 Week New Recipe Challenge, will help. Inspired by a recipe from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, they are simple enough for kids to make. No sharp tools are involved. The original recipe calls for the reserved Oreo cookies to be crushed and sprinkled over the top but I thought half a cookie would be a fun way to go. Once they are frozen, place the pan in a rimmed sheet pan and pour a bit of almost hot water, very warm, around the pan to loosen the cups. Serve as many as you need and put the remainder in a freezer safe container and store in the freezer. They will keep a few days without getting freezer burn. This is a great treat to make in advance of a pool party or backyard BBQ.

Cookies and Cream Cups

26 Chocolate sandwich cookies (I used Oreo’s)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream, slightly softened (I used Breyer’s)

Crush 15 of the cookies into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter mixing to combine. Press some of the crumbs into a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.

Break up 6 more cookies and mix into the softened vanilla ice cream. Soon some of the ice cream mixture into each muffin cup. Break remaining 6 cookies in half and put half in each muffin cup to garnish.

Freeze until firm, then remove them from the pan. Place in airtight container and store in freezer.

Makes 12 servings.


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Cornbread Muffins

Cornbread muffin

Cornbread Muffin

Cornbread is a great accompaniment to many meals. I truly enjoy a really good cornbread, no matter how it’s made…in a loaf, muffins or a cast iron skillet. It’s the Southern girl in me. Recently I had a friend over and served these muffins as a side with main salad. The week 18 recipe for the 52 Week New Recipe Challenge comes from the Once Upon a Chef blog. They were the perfect texture and, by not using paper muffin liners, they get a crispy edge. Reheating them is easy. In the oven is best. I just put them on a baking sheet and reheated in a 350 degree F. oven for about 8 minutes. The edge was crispier after reheating. Serve these muffins with fried chicken, an entree salad, salisbury steak, soups, chili or any comfort food.

Cornbread Muffins

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup milk

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. (You can use muffin liners but the edges will not be crispy.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl break up the eggs with a whisk. Whisk in the honey and then the milk. Add the milk mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Stir just until blended. Do not over mix, lumps are OK. Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin pan, filling each well almost full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and set. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack and serve warm.

To reheat: Place muffin on baking sheet in preheated 350 degree oven for 5 – 8 minutes or until hot. This produces a crispy edge.


Posted in 52 Week Challenge, Comfort Food, Muffins, Pot Luck, Side Dishes, Soups | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Whipped Key Lime Pie

I love Key limes, also known as the Mexican lime or West Indian lime, as you may know if you’ve perused this blog. After about 20 years, my beloved Key lime tree needed to be replaced. It produced so much beautiful fruit through the years, I was sad to see it go. You never know what you will get in a new fruit tree. Well, the new tree we planted almost 3 years ago has yet to disappoint. Last season was a bumper crop of the juicy, yellow delicacy. Yes, Key limes are meant to be yellow. Not green like you find in stores. When you pick them, they should easily twist off the branch. If they do not, they are not ready. I don’t even test the green ones. I had so much fruit that I couldn’t use it all so I juiced the limes and froze the juice for later use.

With only four ingredients, this recipe is perfect for any skill level. So week 17 in the 52 Week New Recipe Challenge is a new to me recipe for Key lime pie. I have made others in the past but this one is frozen. The texture is smooth and creamy. Very refreshing on a hot Florida day.

Whipped Key Lime Pie

Whipped Key Lime Pie

Whipped Key Lime Pie

1 prepared graham cracker crust, 9-inch size

1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk

1 /2 cup Key lime juice

1 cup whipping cream

In a medium bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk and Key lime juice. It will take a bit to combine them well. The juice should be well incorporated.

In a separate bowl beat the whipping cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. The tips should curl. Fold whipped cream into lime mixture until thoroughly combined. Spoon filling into graham cracker crust, smoothing evenly. Cover and freeze up to 4 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving to make serving easier.  Return leftovers to freezer, covered.

Makes 8 servings.


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