Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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GMB’s Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spending your first Christmas away from is home hard. Spending that Christmas overseas is even harder.

But I’m doing my best to enjoy the season and get into the holiday spirit. And nothing says holidays like a big plate of cookies!

Baking is one of my favorite things to do, and while the kitchen may look like a tornado hit it when I’m through, the results are worth it.

I hope the hubs and my mom (who arrives in Sofia tomorrow! EEK!) enjoy them. And if you make them, I hope you do too!

Without further ado…

GMB’s Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ c white sugar
  • ½ c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ c all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ c chopped walnuts

: : :

Preheat oven to 300F (174C)

Cream together white sugar, brown sugar, and softened butter. Stir in vanilla. Beat in egg until smooth. Add salt and baking soda, stir. Combine flour, chocolate chips, and walnuts until well mixed.

Drop large spoonfuls onto ungreased backing pan

Cook for 10 min. or until golden brown around edges

Makes: 2 dozen

*I usually double this recipe, but while we’d love to devour 48 cookies, 2 dozen is much more manageable!

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

Happy baking!

W.

: : :

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Fried Mozzarella Bites

Mmmmm!

Lately, I have been dying to cook something. I didn’t really care what, so long as it was delicious!

So, a few days ago, Vince and I kicked the parents out of the kitchen and got down to work making little bits of fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Well, to be fair, Vince stood around (he likes to think he was supervising). I did all the work!

I didn’t go off of one specific recipe for these fried mozzarella bites, rather I did what I usually do and just took bits and pieces of a bunch of different recipes.

Here’s what you need:

  • 230g/8.5 oz. mozzarella cheese (cut into bite size pieces)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 60ml/2.5 fl oz milk
  • 150g/5.5oz bread crumbs
  • 150g/5.5oz flour
  • 750ml/1.25 pt vegetable oil (for frying)
  • spices: we used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano (will omit oregano next time) to taste

Grams? ml? We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto! 😉

What to do:

  • Cut mozzarella cheese up into small chunks and dry them off with paper towels or napkins
  • Beat two eggs and stir in the milk
  • Mix desired spices into bread crumbs
  • Dip/coat pieces first in the flour, then egg, and finally the bread crumbs
  • Place on a plate or platter
  • If you want a thick breading, place the cheese bites into the freezer for 10-15 minutes then re-dip in egg and bread crumbs (no need for flour if you are doing a second coating).
  • If you don’t want to fry right away, place the breaded cheese bites into the fridge until ready to use
  • To fry: heat oil to about 350F (176C). Carefully drop cheese pieces into the oil. Fry for about 1 minute or until golden brown. (We used our deep fryer, which indicated when the oil was hot enough and also has a handy dandy basket, which made things really easy)
  • ENJOY!

Bite sized chunks

(R-L) flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs

This was before our second round of breading

The cheese turned out gooey and delicious

These cheese bites are best when eaten warm and with some type of sauce. We didn’t have any marinara or ranch, so we dipped them in my MIL’s homemade lyutenitsa (SO GOOD!).

I’ve never been a fan of fresh mozzarella. I always thought it had a weird texture and not much taste. But when it’s breaded and fried… YUM!

We definitely plan on making these again only next time we will not use any oregano (it overpowered the cheese) and we won’t do a second breading. Initially we thought that the cheese would leak out if we didn’t bread them twice, but I think they will turn out fine with just one coating of bread crumbs.

I can’t wait to get some more time in the kitchen!

W.


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Egg Muffins

Low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free, fast, easy, and delicious… these egg-celent (ha!) muffins are something I make again and again.

With just a few ingredients, it’s no sweat whipping up dozens of these muffins at a time. They also freeze well. What’s not to love?

OK, OK, so I’m not a huge egg fan, but these are starting to change my mind.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Eggs– it’s basically a 1:1 ratio. 1 egg=1 muffin
  • Cheese– I prefer shredded cheddar
  • Mix-ins– I usually use ham, onions, and canned diced green chilis; but the options here are endless. I have seen various recipes using goat cheese, olives, sausage, etc.
  • Half and Half– Totally preference. I have made them without it, but I find they are a better texture with the half and half. Another benefit is that you don’t have to use quite as many eggs (maybe one or two less). I use the fat-free h&h.
  • Spices– I use whatever I have on hand. Mrs. Dash is good, but basic salt and pepper will do.

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Dice up/prepare your mix-ins. For 24 muffins I used: 2 cans of diced green chilis, 1 medium sweet onion, 2 cups of ham, and 2 cups of cheese.

  • Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add spices and half and half (I used probably 2 Tbsp of h&h, a tsp of pepper, and a dash of salt). Beat until well blended.

  • Liberally spray muffin pan–muffin cups are a disaster with these. I find that just spraying the pan really well works much better.
  • Fill each cup 2/3 full with mix-ins.

  • With a spoon or measuring cup, fill each cup with the egg mixture until almost full.

  • Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

I like to put a dozen muffins in a large Ziploc bag and put them in the fridge. They’ll keep for about a week.

I put the rest in small sandwich bags, 2 two to a bag, and toss them in the freezer. They are great to grab on the go and can easily be defrosted either in the fridge or microwave.

Once they are thawed, zap them for 30 seconds in the microwave and you are good to go. I can remember many a morning eating these in my car on the way to work.

Try them with a dash of hot sauce and enjoy!

W.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s 1:02 am and I just finished a marathon baking session. As I am wide awake, I thought I would write a quick blog post wishing all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, I still want you to know that I am very thankful to have you stopping by my little ole’ blog. I truly appreciate it. The comments and support I have gotten over the past year have most definitely made the prospect of packing up my life and moving across an ocean seem a little less daunting.

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d also like to mention that I am ever thankful for:

  • My husband. Without whom I wouldn’t be about to take this grand journey in life.
  • My mom. Whose love, support, and acceptance these past few years has gotten me to where I am today.
  • My friends and family. Whose love (on a daily basis) and enthusiastic support of my decision to move has shown me how much they care for me and for Vince. This may be my last Thanksgiving with you for a while, but know I will think of you often.

This year, more than ever, I have so much to be thankful for in my life.

It most certainly does not go unnoticed.

So, wherever you happen to find yourself today, dear reader, take the time to count your blessings. I sure count you as one of mine!

Much love,

W.

 

P.S. In case you were wondering, I made:

 

Praline Sweet Potatoes

 AND…

Forgotten Kiss Cookies (which I found on Pinterest)

There's a Hershey's Kiss hiding inside them! (via tastykitchen.com--click for recipe)

They look much better when all packaged up.

YUM!

 


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The Palmer House Brownie Recipe

I came across the recipe for the Palmer House Brownie on Epicurious, and in keeping with my Chicago theme lately, I thought I would post it on my blog.

I haven’t made the brownies yet, but definitely plan on it!

The “Bertha Brownie” A. and I ate at the Palmer House was delicious. Too bad it was about $15 for a single serving! Think I could make at least a batch or two of this recipe for that much.

If you end up making these brownies, let me know how they turn out!

♥W.

Ingredients:

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate
1 pound butter
1 pound granulated sugar (3 1/2 cups)
8 oz. cake flour (2 cups)
1 tablespoons baking powder
4 whole eggs
1 pound crushed walnuts

Glaze:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt chocolate with the butter in a double
boiler or in a bowl set over barely simmering water. Mix dry ingredients
except the walnuts– in a large mixer bowl on low speed for 4-5 minutes.

Add the eggs and mix until blended. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking
sheet and sprinkle with the walnuts, pressing nuts down lightly into
the mixture with the palm of your hand. Bake in the preheated 300 degree
oven for 40 minutes. You will know when it is done because the edges
start to become a little crispy and the brownie has raised about ¼ inch.
Note that even when the brownie is properly baked, it will test “gooey”
with a toothpick in the middle due to the richness of the mixture.

After removing from the oven, allow to cool at least 30 minutes.

To make glaze: Mix together water, preserves and gelatin in a saucepan,
mix thoroughly and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Use while hot. Spread
the glaze in a thin layer over the brownies using a pastry brush.

The brownies are easiest to cut if you can place the whole pan into the
freezer for 3 – 4 hours after glazing, then remove and cut with a serrated
knife.


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October Traditions: Carving Pumpkins and Roasting Seeds

Last night, for my cousin birthday, I went over to my aunt and uncles house for our annual pumpkin carve-a-thon.

We went to a couple local stores and picked out the best carvin’ beauties we could find and lugged them home.

Usually, “gutting” the pumpkin is my least favorite part, but this time I didn’t mind at all. I was intent on gathering all of the seeds from my pumpkin so I could roast them. I’ve done it in years past but for some reason they never turned out very well.

By the time I was done picking pumpkin goo off of all my seeds, everyone else was done carving so I carved mine at lightning speed. It turned out pretty cute, I think!

My pumpkin is on the bottom – SMILE!

I put all the seeds into a bowl full of water then we carried our jack-o-lanterns outside and my uncle lit the candles with a butane torch. Yep. A torch!

After that, I got to work roasting my seeds!

I googled how to do it  and used a few pointers from a couple of websites. In the end they turned out amazing!

Here’s my “recipe” for some delicious roasted pumpkin seeds:

  • Soak the seeds in a bowl of cold water for 10-15 minutes
  • Pour the seeds into a strainer and rub them between your fingers under running water (to clean off any remaining pumpkin bits)
  • Lay seeds out on paper towels and pat dry
  • Spread seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in a warm oven for 10 minutes to ensure they are completely dry (stir after 5 minutes)
  • Remove from oven
  • With a spatula, group the seeds in the middle of the cookie sheet
  • Gather your spices (I used seasoned salt, garlic powder and fresh ground sea salt)
  • Melt butter or margarine in the microwave and pour over seeds (I used about 3 Tbsp for all of the seeds from one large pumpkin)
  • Sprinkle desired amount of spices over the seeds
  • Spread seeds evenly back out over the cookie sheet (I ground some sea salt over them at this point)
  • Place in oven, stirring every 5 minutes, until the seeds start to look golden brown (mine took 30 min.)
  • Remove from oven and let cool. OR…
  • Stand and eat directly from the hot cookie sheet (if you are anything like my aunt and I!)

Oh man. They are SO yummy! I highly recommend you try roasting your own. I found lots of spice combinations online. You can do savory, sweet, “Halloweeny” (cinnamon, ginger and allspice), lemon flavored, and lots more!

As I write this I am eating more seeds! Mmm.

What are your October/fall traditions?

W.


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Oreo Truffle Balls & Pumpkin Muffins

This past weekend I got together with some friends for a pot luck.

I volunteered to make Oreo Truffle Balls. I have made them quite a bit in the past and people always love them.

I don’t know where I originally got the recipe, somewhere online I am sure. Over the past few years of making them I have tweaked the recipe a bit and figured out what does and doesn’t work.

My favorite thing about them is how elegant they can look with not too much effort. They aren’t as easy as just popping a box cake into the oven, but they aren’t much harder! Continue reading