Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

The Boy asked for these and I always try to make things that make him happy. So I made these for Easter. It is a peanut butter cookie that I had never tried, but instead of peanut butter chips, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that is what the Boy requested.

It is an odd thing. I love peanut butter – peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter in my oatmeal – with raisins if possible – but I am not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. I think it is because so many of them have a dry, sandy texture. I also do not like peanut butter mixed with chocolate. As I have said over and over, I am not a chocolate person and there are only a couple of things I like mixed with my chocolate – caramel, toffee, or nuts – or some combination of the three. No peanut butter, no coconut, certainly not orange, oh dear lord, please no mint, blech. I know, I am seriously fussy – about just about everything.

Anyway, back to peanut butter – this is a recipe I’ve had for years and have never tried so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. This is … wait for it … a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe that I have modified, but I will qualify that by saying it is a recipe from her maternal grandmother that her grandfather loved. Family recipes are the vast majority of the time a very good thing. So I tried this – it’s easy to put together with things that I had on hand which to me is a huge bonus. If you compare it to the original, I did make a few changes (I only use light brown sugar for instance) and swapped out the peanut butter chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips, per the Boy’s request.D&D_1841

I have learned over the years that if you taste the raw dough you will get a good sense of what the cookie will taste like and I thought this worked out well. I also made a test cookie with no chocolate chips just to try it as a straight up peanut butter cookie. It worked well. That said, it is a soft cookie, so it is best to let it cool completely before moving it about too much.

Hood approved of, and ate half of, the plain peanut butter cookie – think there might be some dog treats with this in the future.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter **
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sanding sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (disher), place cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if your going for that thing (nice crunch). Bake about 10 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let rest on baking pan for at least 4 minutes then move to cooking rack to cool completely

* I always use unbleached, just a habit.

** I am a Jif PB person.

Source:  Modified from Epicurious

Reuben Roll Ups

I do love a good reuben. I think my favorite recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country. I find that I have not posted that here – an oversight I will have to remedy. But the flavors of a Reuben are some of my favorites. I make a Reuben casserole that is just – I will say it again – stupidly good. It is not exactly pretty food (no, really, it is not), but if you like a Reuben, it is pretty amazing. And the left-overs are, well, let’s just say they are better than the day you make it. I guess I make this in the early spring because it is still cool enough that a casserole works, and it seems to fit with St. Patrick’s Day – I mean, corned beef after all. Again, I have taken lessons from America’s Test Kitchen’s Reuben sandwich – read: no bottled thousand island dressing is involved.dd_1801

I am not typically a fan of crescent rolls, but it seemed to work here. Maybe allowances can be made? We shall see.

1 package of crescent rolls
4 ozs corned beef
4 ozs Swiss cheese
1 cup Boar’s Head sauerkraut*, drained and squeezed dry
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs chili sauce
2 Tbs sweet pickle relish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the crescents. On each roll, place 1 Tbs sauce, 1/2 oz corned beef, 1/2 oz Swiss cheese, and 2 Tbs sauerkraut. Roll up and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 13 – 15 minutes or until slightly browned.

Serve with extra sauce because that just makes it a lot better.
Modified from : spendwithpennies.com.reuben-roll-ups/

*My go to sauerkraut. Always.



Sour Cream Cornbread 

I make this cornbread every time I make chili – no, really, every time – I am not kidding. They go together like, I don’t know, but I am sure there is a phrase for it. These two things are just perfect together. At least to me. I am sharing this recipe with a good friend who is a chef at a place we like to go and his chili is just the best every – next to mine of course. Let’s put it this way, I always say when I eat his chili each winter that it is best because it tastes so much like mine, but I did not have to make it. This cornbread, from a great Southern friend, is just my go-to cornbread for chili. It is her family’s recipe and since she was raised in a small North Florida town, it really fits with my style of cooking – Southern, simple, but dead good cooking. I have other cornbread for cornbread dressing, but this is the kind you want to split and put in a toaster oven and smear with good European butter for breakfast – and yes, I do that – if there is any left over (not likely, but occasionally).

dd_17891 cup self- rising corn meal*
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 small can of creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients well.  Pour into greased 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

* 3/4 cup cornmeal + 3 Tbs
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt 

I do not buy self rising anything. There is no need. So I make my own rather than buying and just letting it go bad because I use it so infrequently. I guess it is just because I hate to waste things and I’d rather have control over my ingredients. 

 

Pi Day

This is a repeat of a pie that I love to make, but do not make often enough. Lots of people think that National Pie Day (January 23rd)** is Pie Day, but for me  – this is Pi Day. Yep. I am that nerd. 3.14D&D_9457

This is also Albert Einstein’s birthday if you can imagine that. Not that he really had much to do with Pi, but …. science nerdism.

i8Σπ – I am ate (me) some pie. It is a total nerd joke, but there it is.

I was young in one of my first jobs. This proper job, because I was not going to go to college (how things change), was at a regional office of a fast food restaurant. One of our things was birthday celebrations for those of us in the office. And celebrations equaled pies from Village Inn. While I’m not a huge chocolate fan, and it was not my pie to order (read: lemon), French Silk was a favorite of just about everyone. My friend Marie gave me her recipe at the time and I made and enjoyed it, and while I cannot find it now, this one is not to far off the mark, and also better than I remember. It’s not too sweet, light, but slightly rich too. Small pieces are in order.

I was surprised to find that the name French Silk Pie didn’t translate to everyone. By definition, French Silk is a mousse-like chocolate pie. Am I being, as I’m often accused, a food snob again? Probably. And yes, raw eggs are used – get over it.

French Silk Pie
1 9″ pie crust, baked and cooled *
4 ozs bittersweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks, unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
Additional whipping cream, for topping – which I never seem to make.

Heat the chocolate in a microwave on medium power until melted. Whisk in vanilla and espresso powder, if using, and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream on high until stiff peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for one minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and beat until incorporated. Add 2 eggs and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the remaining egg and beat for another 3 minutes until the mixture is silly and smooth.

Fold the chilled whipped cream into chocolate filling until no visible white streaks remain. Pour filling into prepared pie crust and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Decorate with freshly whipped cream – again – never seem to do. Sigh.

Source: The Kitchn

Notes: I used my graham cracker crust* from the Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake, my go to cheesecake recipe that never fails to impress. Here are the details:

5 ozs graham crackers (1 sleeve)
5 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse crackers, sugar, and salt to mix together. Add melted butter, and pulse to incorporate. Press into pie plate and refrigerate until needed.

** I shall disabuse you of this idea, because honestly it just too easy. And you may say this is too easy too – repeating something you’ve done before, but I think this the funny bit – to be honest. And I have to go out of town this week, so there is no one to make pie for at this point. And that makes me slightly sad. But this pie really is worth a repeat.

Do you sometimes feel like you have hit the wall?

I think that is what I am feeling lately. We have kitchen (dishwasher/cabinets/island) issues and everything I want to make seems like a chore. I just think I need a little break, but then I feel bad for taking a break because I have some good things to make on the horizon.

So I need to work myself back in a mood to do some cooking/baking and what better time for that than spring??

Somehow I feel like if I write it all down, it will force me to act and get my butt in gear here. And it makes me a bit sad that it has come to this. I think another thing I need to do is plan a little better for food days – you know, the days where everyone expects there to be something special on a food blog. So I have a couple more ideas for St. Patrick’s Day that is coming up and I have even made one of them and that does make me feel good. The bad thing is that I have to go out of town for three days in March – and it happens to be for St. Patrick’s Day – Damn it.

So here are the things on the list, starting with St. Patrick’s Day.

Guinness Cake with cream cheese frosting
And if I am feeling really ambition and can keep the Guinness from the MotH, Guinness Brownies.
Reuben Dip in a bread bowl – might be a good dinner, if you think about it.
Maybe some clover-shaped sugar cookies in the colors of the Irish flag.

And after St. Patrick’s Day ….
Polenta with asparagus, prosciutto, spring onions, and lemon
Butterscotch pudding – my favorite kind, um, pretty much, ever
Twix Thumbprints – this idea will work, but I am concerned about the caramel involved. This seems like the kind of idea I will over think – a lot.
And this idea is something I really want to make for the people at my office – Apple French Toast Muffins.
Mini Cake Donuts – I bought a donut pan. Yep, I did.

D&D_1165

Mardi Gras Cookies – sugar cookies after all.

I have local fresh eggs – amazing!

My friend Tony told me his friend Dusty raises chickens and sells eggs. Finally, a source for farm fresh eggs  – that is so great! I know there have been several places in Milton that have signs out for fresh eggs, but I just do not go into Milton that often. Tony speaks very highly of his friend and from the description the chickens are kept in, it is the kind of environment that I think is great for chickens. I mentioned it at work and someone called them yard eggs, and I guess when you get right down to it, that is really what they are. Though I have never heard that phrase before.

dd_1787

The colors are so amazing. It is like Easter eggs without dying them.

This is just in time for my Meyer lemons to come in from California so I can make all kinds of lemon curd. And lemon curd tartlets – oh yes, this is going to be a good couple of baking weeks. Or just a good couple of weeks in general. Yep.

I think Meyer lemon curd has to be first because the two most important things are egg yolks and Meyer (or any lemon, but prefer Meyer) lemon juice. I think the only other thing that will be made more outstanding is hollandaise because, again, egg yolks. And fresh ones have to be so superior.

Pecan Pie Cookies

It is a well-known fact that I will try any kind of “pecan pie” anything. Pecan pie muffins – so there. Pecan pie cookies, hell, even pecan sandies ^ of all sorts of varieties. I just cannot help myself. I am not a huge ice cream person, but the one thing in the ice cream world I do love is butter pecan ice cream, as long as the pecans have a bit of salt on them. dd_1798

If I were not so cheap, I would buy an ice cream machine and figure out how to make the best butter pecan ice cream, but then I might just end up being as big as a house and that serves one well in the grand scheme of things.

So here we have a new pecan pie cookie. One I really like. I also make my pecan pie muffins the same week – do we see a theme? Yep.

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 (12 Tbs) cup unsalted butter, softened
1  large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Filling
1 cup chopped pecans (Renfroes *)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Sift together flour,  baking powder, and salt and beat in at low speed until well mixed. Chill 2 hours.

Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Make indentation in each cookie with a measuring teaspoon; rotate to hollow out slightly

Combine all filling ingredients in bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Source: Modified from Land o’ Lakes

* Having local fresh pecans is just an absolute joy. I guess simple things make me happy.

^Make these. No really, do this.