June 23, 2017

Recipe: Hello Dolly Cookies

Imagine if you will, a Magic Cookie Bar and a Chocolate Chip Cookie got together and made a delicious little baby cookie. That's what we have here.

The "Hello Dolly Cookie", also known as the "Magic Cookie Bar" has been around since the 1960s. The origin is up for debate, but no matter what you call it, the original bar-like treat is inarguably delicious and easy to make. The recipe below is an actual cookie version of the classic bar. They look a lot like chocolate chip cookies, but are chewier and have that whole salty/sweet thing going on.

This is a great recipe for kids because it's so easy to make. If you want your cookies to look professional (and bake-up evenly), invest in a few portion scoops. I recommend a #30 for cookies. It's a generous size cookie, like the ones you get at Mrs. Fields or Nestle stores.

Here's one I recommend:

Hello Dolly Cookies
(yield:  approx. 28)

1 ½ cups fine Graham Cracker Crumbs
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup (one stick) salted butter, softened
1 ⅓ cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted and salted pecans, chopped

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.

Step 1:  In a medium bowl, whisk together crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Step 2:  With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and condensed milk till smooth and fluffy.

Step 3:  Add dry mixture and beat till just combined.

Step 4:  Add remaining ingredients and beat till just combined.

Step 5:  Portion onto the baking sheets using a #30 scoop (2 Tablespoons), about 9 to a sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Cookies will puff and brown on the underside, but will look slightly underdone on top.  They will set as they cool.  Remove to a cooling rack after 5 minutes out of the oven.  

June 12, 2017

Recipe: "Dirty" Rice with Chicken and Andouille Sausage {a one-pot family favorite}

Aww geez, has it really been since December since I last posted?  Where has the time gone?  Well, school's out, which means that this teacher has a little more time on her hands.  I've been enjoying a little me-time, and in the process of sitting back and enjoying the silence, I realized how much I've missed connecting and sharing through my blog. So, over the summer, I'm hoping to share some of the recipes that I developed for my family and my students over the course of the school year.  

I'm starting with an absolute family and kids-of-all-ages-approved one-pot dinner:  "Dirty Rice and Chicken".  This dish ranks high on my list of ultimate comfort foods.  It is so delicious, so flavorful, and very easy to make.  We always make a double-batch in our oversized Bayou Classic cast iron pan (love this thing!!) so the kids can enjoy leftovers all week.  My kids enjoy it simply warmed up, but I've been know to shred the chicken and wrap it all up in a warm flour tortilla, top it with fried eggs for a quick breakfast hash, or fold into pasty rounds and deep fry for some out-of-this-world empanadas!

Well, enough talking.  Here's the recipe.  Try it.  If you like it spicier, add some cayenne, some hot sauce, some red pepper flakes...you get the idea.  If you hate red pepper, go with green.  If you hate all bell peppers, go kiss an artichoke. 


Okay, busted.  You got me.  This isn't true "Dirty Rice", the cajun classic with giblets.  This recipe is giblet-free, okay?  Your kids will thank me.

Mo’s One Pot Chicken and Dirty Rice

(adapted from The Chunky Chef)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 5 servings*

Chicken Marinade
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (if you have it)
Juice of ½  a large lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, fat trimmed

Dirty Rice, Etc.
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 link Andouille or Louisiana hot sausage, sliced into ¼” rounds
½ medium onion, diced
½ red or orange bell pepper, julienne cut (thin 1/4" strips)
1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 ¼ cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add chicken thighs and turn to coat. Set aside.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon  of olive oil to dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices, cooking till brown on both sides, then transfer sausage to a plate.
  3. Add chicken thighs to the now empty pan, skin side down, and sear for 2-3 minutes per side, to develop a crispy, golden brown skin.  The chicken should look cooked, even though it isn't. Transfer chicken to a separate bowl.
  4. Lower heat to medium-low and add in chopped onion and bell pepper to the now empty pan.  Saute for about 2-3 minutes, until softened.  
  5. Add rice and garlic and cook till the rice begins to toast slightly.
  6. Add chicken stock, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few cranks of black pepper; stir, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the cooked sausage.  Nestle the chicken thighs on top of the rice.  Pour the remaining oil and juices from the bowl back into the pan.  Return to a simmer, then cover.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (covered).  Remove cover and bake another 10-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed into the rice.  Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.

*This recipe can be doubled and cooked in a large paella style pan.  When ready to cook, cover with foil.  Remove foil for the final 15 minutes. I recommend the Bayou Classic as the ultimate family-style all-purpose pan.

P.S. My students and kids call me "Mo".

December 27, 2016

The Party Dip Your Guests will Flip For -- Warm Pimento Cheese Dip

This Christmas, we decided to change things
up in the dinner department with a completely 
Southern-inspired menu:

Warm Pimento Cheese Dip
Cheddar Biscuits
Jambalaya with Louisiana Hot Links
Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
Yukon Gold Whipped Pototaoes
Potlikker (Collard) Greens with Pork Jowl Bacon

It was marvelous!  I've hyperlinked the recipes we used in the menu above -- all very highly recommended.

Here is our recipe for Warm Pimento Cheese Dip  -- our riff on a Southern classic.  We warmed up this traditionally cold cheese dip and got it all gooey and melty.  Serve it like a fondue with chunks of  French bread, or with tortilla chips like Queso dip. 

Warm Pimento Cheese Dip

Prep Time:  8-10 minutes
Cooking Time:  8-10 minutes
Total Time:  15-20 minutes

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 Tablespoon stone-ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • A pinch of paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely diced roasted red bell pepper

1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (for topping)

Step 1:  In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine first 11 ingredients.  Microwave* in 30 second increments, stirring each time, till cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.

Step 2:  Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish or serving bowl.  Sprinkle with the reserved ounce of cheese.  Bake at 400 until golden brown and bubbling.  Serve with tortilla chips or chunks of French bread.

*The microwave method speeds up the process a bit, allowing you to get this delicious dip from kitchen to table more quickly.  However, the entire thing can simply be baked as well.

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