Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm a contestant in the Harmons Sliced Cooking Competition!


So out of over 100 entries, I was selected to be one of 15 contestants in the Harmons 'Sliced' Cooking Competition!

It's a competition that's a lot like the Food Network's Chopped.  There are three divisions with 5 of the contestants cooking appetizers, 5 preparing entrees and 5 making desserts.  Guess which one the guy with a blog named That Means We Get Pie is in.... yes, desserts. 

 Each group will be given a black box with 4 mystery ingredients that must be incorporated into the dish you prepare for a panel of judges.  One person will be declared the winner in each category, win a $250 Harmons Gift Card, and will move onto the Final Dinner on May 10th.  Those three finalist will prepare their meal for 65 people and those diners will decide on one winner, who will win $500.  Also, there is a Judge's Award of $500 as well.  So if everything works out perfectly, you could walk away with $1,250.

They'll be filming the whole thing and releasing it on YouTube a few days later.  There's also a few promo spots that have been filmed as you can see at this link here.

I have a few ideas of what I could do, but there's are some definite obstacles.  There's a two hour time restriction, which makes a cream pie a little difficult.  Also, we're limited to their kitchen.  They have a pretty LARGE kitchen, but that could limit my options.  Basically.... I'm over-thinking it at this point.  I just need to calm down and be ready for whatever they throw at us.

So watch for more posts about the Sliced competition in the coming days.  Also, if you want to see me in action, I'll be cooking at the City Creek Harmons from 7:00 to 9:30 on Friday, May 2.  You can peer through the giant glass windows and watch the "magic".

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crock Pot Chili, Perfect for Smothering Potatoes

OK, we've done a few chili recipes on the blog already.  There's the Basic No Bean Chili that's thick, chunky and will feed the masses.  Then there's the Red Hot as Hell Chili that uses a little beer and whole lot of heat from habanero and jalapeno peppers.

Both of those are great for feeding the masses and work great in a large stock pot. But since they have large chunks of meat, they might not be the best for a dip or a topping for a giant baked potato.  And if you're going to be taking it to a party, why not use a crock pot?

You will need to brown some meat and chop a few vegetables, but beyond that, it's just filling the crock pot and cranking up the heat.

There are a lot of spices in this recipe.  If you don't have a lot of chili powder on hand, then I'd suggest going to a spice store or a grocery store that sells bulk spices.  As we talked about in our Spices post, it'll save you 80-90% if you buy spices in bulk and store them in small jars.  For example, the large bottle of chili powder needed for this recipe will be around $5.00 at the grocery store.  The price at WinCo for enough bulk chili powder to make this chili and another batch for your family in a week or so: $1.00

Crock Pot Chili


1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork or country sausage
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 chipotle peppers from a can and 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce packed with the peppers
3 14 ounce cans finely diced tomatoes
3 14 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
9 ounces (1 1/2 cans) tomato paste
1/2 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons cumin
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon oregano

Brown the sausage and the ground beef in a large pan.  Drain off the fat and then pour the meat into a large crock pot.  Chop the onion, green pepper, chipotle peppers and garlic, then add them to the crock pot. Drizzle the adobo sauce over the vegetables, then pour all of the tomatoes over the other ingredients and stir to combine.  Add all of the spices and sugar to the chili and stir one last time.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours, stirring about every hour or so to spread the heat around.  Then, drop the heat to Keep Warm and allow it to cool down for the next 1-2 hours.  This will allow it to thicken up to a consistency perfect for ladling over potatoes or serving in a bowl topped with cheese.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Easy Prime Rib... Yes, you read that right!

The holiday parties are in a couple of weeks.  And EVERYBODY's thinking about hams and turkeys.  Honeybaked has a line out the door and Costco has a gigantic freezer section filled to capacity with pig legs wrapped in red foil.

But if you're looking for a great option, just turn your back to the ham pile and look to the beef case.  You'll find probably the most prized cut of beef in the culinary world, the prime rib.  It may be named standing rib roast or something similar, but be assured, that's prime rib.

And this time of year, the prices for this cut can be downright amazing.  Watch your local grocery ads.  You'll see roasts for as cheap as $5.99 per pound.  A 7 pound roast can feed 8-10 people and if there are leftovers, consider yourself lucky.  You have the perfect ingredient for awesome sandwiches, stews, or even one of our chilis.

The key to a great prime rib is the slow cooking  You MUST have some sort of thermometer inserted into the meat so you know exactly what the temperature is in the middle of the roast.  The difference between rare and medium rare is 5 degrees.  And the different between that perfect medium rare and a medium that is a little less juicy is also 5 degrees, as you can see in the photo above.  So you need to monitor it's temperature constantly.  You could use a mechanical thermometer, but that means checking it constantly and who really wants to do that.  For the chronically lazy like myself, a digital thermometer is the perfect solution.  Most have an alert built in so it will beep as soon as it hits the perfect temp.

So set your thermometer to beep at 122 degrees, then you can pull it from the oven and let the carryover heat take it to just the right temperature.

Perfectly Easy Prime Rib

Plan for 2 1/2-3 hours of total cooking time

One 6-7 pound prime rib or standing rib roast
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon sage
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, add all the spices and the olive oil and stir until combined.  Then place the roast on a roasting pan or in a roasting rack inside a 13x9 inch pan.  Baste the entire roast with the spice and oil mixture.

Cook the roast in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes to give the cooking a kickstart, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and continue to roast until the internal temperature hits 122 degrees, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours for a 7-8 pound roast.  At that point remove it from the oven, place a tent of tin foil over the meat and then lay a couple of dishtowels over the tin foil.  This will create a miniature oven so the carryover heat can do it's job.

And now,  the most vital part of the process.... patience.

It will smell delicious, it will stir every ounce of the carnivore within you.  But you must refrain with every fiber of your being from slicing into that for at least fifteen minutes.  You'll need to leave the thermometer in the roast, cover it in tin foil and let it cook the rest of the way on the counter.  There's so much heat in that slab of meat and in the pan it sits in, that the residual heat will carryover and raise the temperature to the final internal temperature of 130 degrees.  This should take that requisite 15 minutes, but as soon as it hits 130, remove the foil and let it sit for another 10 minutes.  This will allow the juices to relocate inside the meat and hunker down.  Slice it too soon, and your carving plate will be full of the meaty juices and your roast will not.

So buy a Prime Rib and cook it for the holiday masses.  Just Remember:  NO cutting the roast until after it rests or it'll go all Game of Thrones Red Wedding on you.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

8 Christmas Food Gifts for Your Friends and Neighbors


For a long time, I had this picture as one of the photos on the blog's header.  That's because when I was done with my Christmas candy creations, we were shocked at the volume we made.  Twelve cookie sheets filled with pretzel sticks, truffles, barks, chocolate covered cherries and all sort of dipped treats, like cinnamon bears, gummi bears and Oreos.  We were making candy boxes for a few dozen people, friends and family of my family, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It was amazing how much work we did in the space of a couple of hours.  And they were a hit with everyone. 

If you're looking for some great neighbor gifts, or just need something to give to reciprocate when a co-worker "unexpectedly" gives you a gift, any combination of the items below will work wonders

Now since Thanksgiving came so early this year, we have a few more days this holiday to make snacks for the masses.  Schedule a weekend or at least a Saturday to make what you need.  And then make more than what you need so you can eat whatever you want.


Frosted Sugar Cookie Pie


The answer to the question: "What does my mind do when it's left to its own devices."  It's the super sweet and more festive cousin of the Toll House Cookie Pie, this converts this masterpiece into a variation of a Christmas classic.  The frosting and sprinkles are optional, but I think that it adds the perfect touch.  You can use a regular pie crust or if you want, you can roll out a thin later of the next item on the list, pour in the pie filling and then cook it all together.  A little cookie on cookie action to put you in a diabetic coma throughout the holiday season.


Chocolate Caramel Covered Pretzel Sticks


These are a standard around the house now.  A salty pretzel stick, bathed in sweet caramel, then coated in a shell of milk or dark chocolate.  And from there, decoration is all up to you.  I've used the colored meltable candies placed in a ziploc bag.  You snip out a small hole in the bottom corner and then just drizzle it over the cooling chocolate so it will adhere.  Allow them to completely cool, wrap them up in a pretty box or bag and hand out to family and friends.  Or be greedy and eat them all as you watch Christmas specials on Netflix, whatever works for you.  They take a little bit of time to make, just because you have cooling time for the caramel, but they are definitely worth the wait.


You have to make a batch of these for Santa, but why not expand it and turn it into a party with family or friends.  We've had one person make the cookies, one person make a couple batches of different colors of frosting and one person do a Winco run and buy a whole bunch of different bulk candies.  We'll get together on a Saturday morning and make a dozen dozen to split amongst everyone.  The kids have a blast and they're great to give away on the candy plates.

Great as cookies, awesome as Christmas tree decorations!  I've made a few batches of these for us to eat, but I've taken a large frosting piping tip and poked a hole in the head before cooking them.  It leaves a small hole after they cook so you can thread some ribbon through and hole and tie them onto the tree.  Decorate them any way you want.  Use the frosting to make the faces and frills, but you can also use it as glue to stick candies wherever you want.  Just know that if they hang from the tree long enough, they have a tendency of losing arms and legs to marauding 3 and 5 year olds.


Peanut Butter (or any other flavor) Truffles


It's one of the first posts on the site, so the picture's a little old, but it's one of the richest little bites you'll ever try.  It's greatly adaptable to whatever taste you prefer.  You can add any extract or flavoring you want.  This recipe also explains the basics of tempering of chocolate, which is the basic for any chocolate dipped items.  And you don't have to leave them plain.  Roll them in nuts, sprinkles, candies, cookie bits, whatever you want that you think will taste good and look decorative.


Liz's Caramel Popcorn Balls


This is my wife's recipe, and for the love of god, they are addictive.  They're the most delicious popcorn balls I have ever tasted.  Sweet, slightly salty, and SOFT!  It takes them a long time exposed to the open air to get to that rigid crunchy stage.  If you wrap them up in a little plastic wrap and tie some curling ribbon to the top, not only are they perfect for gift giving, but they'll stay moist and chewy for a week or two.  This is the one item that you may need to start away from little hands.  The caramel is a little molten and napalm-like at the beginning, but once it mixes with the popcorn and cools, definitely bring the kids in and have them help you form up the balls.  If for no other reason than they can eat some as they go.  Want to make them as addictive as crack?  Drizzle melted chocolate all over them.  You'll eat your weight in popcorn balls in about an hour.


Chocolate Covered Christmas Shortbread Cookies


The reason I gain 8 pounds every Christmas season.  These large shortbread cookies dipped in whatever version of chocolate you crave are hidden away in my desk drawer so I can get me sugar rush amid the craziness of the holiday workday.  You can make them any size you wish, Use the large sugar cookie cutters if you want, or just place it all into a large 13 x 9 in ban, bake it and then slice it up while they are still warm. They're simple to make and if you follow the tempering instructions, the chocolate will have a glossy sheen that will impress anyone you give them to... if you decide to share.

Oreo, Peppermint or Assorted Nut Bark


The easiest Christmas candy to make and the most versatile option in the bunch.  I list three different variations here,(including my favorite, the Peppermint bark) but the sky is the limit,  You can use any type of candy, cookie, nut, or other confection you want.  Just pair it with your favorite version of chocolate and allow it to cool.  Break it into small pieces and add it to any plate of goodies to impress the neighbors.  My favorite, break it into large pieces and stash it somewhere safe from little prying eyes.  Then I can portion out just the amount I want when I want it.

So there are a couple ideas for your Christmas snack plate.  And as an added gift, you can check out my scientific explanation of Santa's powers here, just in case you have inquisitive little ones. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santa's Magic Explained Through Science and Science Fiction

I wrote this last year, but I think it still applies.  Santa's state of the art and here's an explanation on how he does what he does through scientific principals and examples in science fiction.



I have very inquisitive kids.  They ask all sorts of questions, because some of the Santa legends just don't add up in their minds.  We used to rely on the holiday specials, but explanations from stop-motion reindeer and snowmen just don't cut it nowadays.  So I've done my research and I've found real-world ways and some science fiction examples to explain all of Santa's "Magic".  It's not that's he's a mystical being, he's a man of science.  He's used his resources and large coterie of elves to adapt scientific theories and examples from the world of science fiction to deliver toys to billions of children in one night.  Here are answers for some of the more popular questions posed by my kids.

Santa Questions explained through Science and the World of Geek



*How does he remember what every child in the world wants? – It’s called Eiditic Memory. like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory.  It’s the ability to see or hear something once and instantly remember it forever.  Santa gathers all the information from his helpers, elves, etc., and can recall the wishes of every child (and whether they’re naughty or nice) in an instant. 

Do you want to know how he thinks you’re doing?  He’ll take the time to film a special video for each child that requests it.  Tell your parents to go to www.PortableNorthPole.com and ask Santa to send you an update on how nice you’ve been.  It’s free, and he’ll do it in just a couple of minutes



*Does he really read every letter that's sent to him?  Yes!  Or at least one of his workers does.  Every letter is processed through Santa’s Mailroom, staffed by thousands of data entry specialists and database administrators.  Ever wonder why most of the IT staff at your office seem to go on vacation at the end of the year?  It’s not because they haven’t been able to take their vacation due to endless projects heaped on them by ineffective management.  No, they have a more important job to do! 

There’s a clause in their database certifications that requires them to donate a day, a week, sometimes two weeks around the holidays to Santa.  They’re brought to the North Pole to help build the immense toy list.  When letters are received in the North Pole’s central Post Office, they are individually scanned.  The contents are then read and entered by these IT professionals into the world’s largest database, installed across a server farm that would make Google jealous.   Each request is sorted by child, family, city, and region, creating a comprehensive master toy list that allows the toy fabrication department and delivery prep departments to be much more efficient.  Santa reviews the list once, then twice, just to look for data anomalies.  He then forwards the toy orders to the massive workshop where the toys are created/received and then stored for delivery. 

Oh, and this also explains why most IT professionals have some sort of toy or plaything at their desk.  It’s not just something to keep their minds occupied after stressful situations.  Each of them is a personal gift from Santa for a job well done during their furlough at the North Pole.  So remember, be nice to the IT techs in your office all year long.  They’re volunteering their time to make sure your kids get exactly what they want.


*How does he know whether you’ve been naughty or nice? – It used to be a lot harder.  Sure, he could use the old-fashioned magic and a network of stealth elves, traveling the world to collect intel.  But with the technological advantages available to him today, he’s created a worldwide data gathering network that puts the NSA to shame.  Sure, the Elf on the Shelves are still a valuable source of information, but they’re not the only tool at Santa’s disposal.  His Internet Monitoring Project (IMP) allows him to monitor every blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and website to see what kind of little boy or girl you are. When Mom posts how you helped her clean the house without being asked, you score some nice points.  Bully someone over the web or post naughty pictures of yourself?  He’ll know your naughty and coal’s coming your way.  He didn’t build the network all by himself.  Thanks to a provision in the Patriot Act, he now has access to all the intelligence gathered by the governments of the world.  Which means the IMP can access any security camera or any cell phone in the world at any time to gather naughty/nice information.  So the next time you throw a fit in the toy aisle of Toys ‘R Us, look up at that security camera.  Santa’s watching…



*How is Santa at every mall, Christmas party, and school at the same time? It’s true that most of the Santas at the malls are Helpers, but his “special” transportation system (explained in the paragraph below) allows him to make many personal appearances in one day.  If he’s not there, then a certified and licensed Santa Helper is there collecting the information for him.  Now these Helpers aren’t collecting the information and personally telling Santa, they’re acting like microphones.  You see, Santa hears, sees and records every child's interaction with a Helper.  It’s all stored in a giant communication system located in his main office.  Think of the giant sonar tracking system in Dark Knight Returns where Batman could turn every cell phone in Gotham into a tracking device.  It’s essentially the same principle.  Santa reviews all of the recorded conversations daily at super high speed.  And with that special Super Sheldon Eiditic memory, he can remember every single request almost instantly.


*How does he visit every house in the world? It is true that hyper-powered reindeer may have allowed him to make all his rounds in one night in the past. When there were 150 million stops a couple hundred years ago maybe, but with almost 2 billion people to visit, it’s impossible without a little “magic”.  And by magic, I mean science.  You see, Santa has mastered wormhole technology.  If you watched Star Trek: Deep Space 9 or if you listen to Neil Degrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Podcast, you understand that a wormhole is a shortcut between two points in space that are miles, or even light years apart.  These distant points become much closer if you just fold space, making the journey shorter.  Think of space as being like a large tortilla.  Imagine LA is on one edge of the tortilla and New York is on the other.  Traveling across the face of the tortilla may take a long time, but what if you could fold up that tortilla like a taco?  Then you can just generate a portal from one egde of the tortilla to the other and the trip is infinitely shorter.  Wormholes allows Santa to travel long distances in less than a second.  This makes the reindeer’s job easier too.  While they still pull the sleigh short distances, the elements laced into the reigns contain the catalyst that creates the wormhole.  Santa fires up the wormhole generator and the Rudolph is just along for the ride.


*If Santa flies through the air, couldn't he be hit by airplanes?  It’s been a risk of the job since the 1930’s.  Up until the mid-1990’s, Santa and the airlines had to rely on radar, radio chatter and visual conformations to avoid any unfortunate accidents.  In 1997, there was a close call.  A late flight out of Miami piloted by a man with a little too much egg nog in his system almost caused a mid-air collision.  Dasher lost the top point of his left antler that day. 

This incident spurred a high-level summit with Santa and the President.  A directive was created between the North Pole and NORAD to create a global tracking system just for Santa.  Santa installed the special GPS-like mechanism in the sleigh a few years back and now NORAD can track Santa wherever he may be in the world.

NORAD has made this information public so the airlines can re-route around him.  And you can track his movements on Christmas Eve.  Just go to www.NORADSanta.com to see where he is on his travels.




*How does he carry all the gifts for all of the children of the world at once?  He doesn’t need to, because what he needs is automatically loaded up just as he needs it.  There are two technologies in play to allow this magical just-in-time delivery to occur.

Now all of the presents created in a year are loaded into the massive storage warehouse according to the giant toy list mentioned earlier.  They’re ordered by child and in sequential order of Santa’s Delivery route.

On Christmas Eve, Santa activates a special trans-dimensional gateway between the back wall of his workshop to the inner wall of histoy sack.  It’s a version of his wormhole technology and looks a lot like the gateways generated by the portal gun in the video game conveniently named Portal. 

One gentleman in Washington stole the technology a few years back.  He decided to post a few pictures on his Facebook page, as you can see with this unique Christmas Tree display.  It was reclaimed quickly by a squadron of S.E.A.L. elves and this poor soul has received coal ever since…

Anyway, the portal allows for easy loading of the sack at any moment.  Computers in the warehouse can track Santa thanks to the NORAD GPS.  A series of conveyor belts and robotic arms immediately load the sack with the proper presents according to wherever Santa is in the world.  So once he’s inside, he can unload everything in a flash.

Now I know you’re asking, “But Travis, how does something like a 70” OLED Flat-Screen TV fit in a 9 cubic foot bag?”  That’s where the second technology comes in.  Santa’s been a watching Doctor Who since the Tom Baker days.  Why do you think he gives out so many scarves?  

Anyway, this Northern Lights Whovian loved the idea of the space differential within the Tardis.  “It’s bigger on the inside”.   So he set his elves to creating a satchel that can be easily hefted on the shoulder, but could hold six thousand square feet of gifts at any given time.  

So with the Portal linking the Tardis-like bag to the warehouse, no matter how many presents are being delivered to a household, he can carry it all with ease and unload in a second.  This helps keep him on schedule and avoids massive lower back pain.


*How does he get into my house if I don't have a fireplace?  OK, I know the traditional explanation you’ve heard is similar to what’s seen in the Santa Clause, where he could go down the piping and a fireplace magically appears.  But that’s just myth.  The methods displayed in Arthur Christmas explain how it really happens.  Santa will use any way possible to get into your house.  Sure, your house may be locked, but Santa has a number of ways he can get through a locked door.  

 1) He does employ elves, so if there is any access port large enough, they can get in and unlock the doors from the inside.  Be it a cold air return, a dog or cat door, or a loose window, it can be used for easy access.

2)  If that doesn’t work, he has a liquid metal key, similar to the metal that makes up the T-1000 in Terminator 2.  It changes to fit the lock perfectly and Santa's in the house in seconds.  And I can hear you saying, what if we have a chain lock or some other locking mechanism that doesn’t require a key? Well...

3) Santa has Jedi-like powers.  If Darth Vader can crush a trachea and Luke can pull a lightsaber across the room with a wave of the hand, Santa can flip a lock, move a chain or pull a door brace from the other side of the door.  Jedi powers also explain how he can lay out the presents so fast, easily move extremely heavy gifts and jump up and down a chimney with no effort whatsoever. 







*What snacks does Santa really like? -  It used to be that Santa was just a cookie man, but it’s a little known fact that Santa’s a HUGE fan of the Food Network. And since he's a man of science, his favorite personality is Alton Brown.  When he some downtime, he’ll watch Iron Chef America and all of his DVR'ed episodes of Good Eats.  Now he wasn't sure if Alton was naughty or nice when he heard he created Cutthroat Kitchen, but after watching one episode, he was hooked and decided he'd leave an extra bottle of 21 year High West Rocky Mountain Rye in his stocking.

Thanks to watching way too much Alton, his palette has expanded and he wants to try every candy and snack in the world. 

He's a big fan of the sweets on Christmas night, only because he's literally covering millions of miles and burning millions of calories.   The customary Sugar Cookies are great, but he'll eat almost anything, like Frosted Sugar Cookie Pie, Chocolate Dipped Shortbread CookiesGingerbread MenChocolate Covered Pretzel SticksChocolate BarkPopcorn BallsTruffles or anything else you want to make.  (you knew I’d get a recipe link or two in here, didn’t you.)


I hope that these explanations have cleared up even the most persistent child's questions.  Remember, Santa is real, and he's smart enough to adapt to almost any situation using existing science or adapting ideas from science fiction.  If the kids still have questions, ask them to come up with their own theory. I've found that when my kids come up with an inventive way to explain the "magic" of Santa, they're *ALWAYS* right, no matter what.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

I always gain a few pounds over the holidays.  With all the options readily available, either in the stores or in the break rooms of the office, it's easy to gorge yourselves.

I can usually say 'no' to most of the snacks and pies and cookies out there.  But A 16th Century Japanese philospoher,  or maybe it was Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, once said to know your weakness.  These are mine.

Ever since I received that first tin of Walker's Shortbread cookies, I've had no restraint.  I can eat a whole tin in one sitting.  And with this recipe, I can now make my own and stash them in a giant ziploc bag in the bottom drawer of my desk.  Yessss... special they are...  must protect them... my favorite... my own...  my Precious....

This recipe is easy and will make delicious 1/2 inch thick nuggets o' heaven.  And then if you want to make them almost illegal in 17 states, temper a little chocolate and dip them.

Shortbread Cookies


1 pound unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups flour
Chocolate for dipping (optional)

Using the beater attachment, add the butter, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until combined.  Add the flour and salt and mix until everything's well incorporated.  Dump out the dough and flatten it into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap or a large ziploc bag and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes

After the chill-down time, roll the dough out to 1/2 in thickness.  Use whatever cookie cutters you'd like to make the shapes you want.  Place the cookie dough on a ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with some sugar, if you'd like.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.  Allow them to cool on a cookie sheet.

If you want to coat them in chocolate, nuke the chopped chocolate pieces in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir.  Nuke for another 30 seconds and stir again.  Check the temperature.  If it's between 115 and 120, you're done.  If it's not, nuke in 15 second intervals until it reaches that point.  Don't go over 120 or the chocolate will burn.  Allow the chocolate to cool to between 90 and 95 degrees.  At this point, dip the cookies in the chocolate or use a spoon to pour the molten chocolate over each cookie.  Set them in a cool place for 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set.