Pull-Apart Cheesy Garlic Bread

This is the third version I’ve made since this past fall, but only the first version I’ve been relatively happy with. There might be still more work to be done, but I will keep at it like the trooper that I am. D&D_1643

Things I’ve learned:
-You need a sturdy bread. A round is okay, but I like a Chicago Italian loaf the best so far. A white bread (version #2, I used White Mountain Bread round) and it was just too soft. You can’t really pull-apart the bread. Sort of defeats the purpose.
-Roast the head of garlic. Great flavor and compliments the minced garlic. Yes.
-Melt the butter in a pot and add all flavorings. Keep on low to infuse the butter with lots of flavor.
-Use sliced cheese in the lower part of the cross-hatched of bread. Use grated cheese above.
-Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
-Fresh herbs – your choice but I like chives, parsley, and finely minced rosemary.
-Red pepper flakes are a must, even if it’s just a tiny pinch.
-Make the cross-hatch pattern large – it’s easier to stuff than a tight cross-hatch pattern.

Loaf of Chicago Italian Bread
Head of garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 Tbs minced parsley
1 tsp finely minced rosemary
I Tbs Dijon mustard
1/3 pound provolone, sliced kind of thick
1/3 pound colby, grated on large holes of box grater
minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut top 1/2 inch of head of garlic to expose cloves. Place on piece of foil, pour olive oil on garlic, wrap tightly in foil and bake about 40 minutes, until garlic head is soft. Remove and set aside. Leave oven on.

Melt butter over medium low heat in saucepan, add in minced garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper, zest and juice from lemon. Add in parsley, rosemary, and Dijon mustard. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place bread on foil and make a large cross-hatch pattern, slicing most of the way, but not all the way through. Brush tops and sides with butter. Slide provolone in crevices, then squish roasted garlic in with the provolone, and then stuff the colby as well. Spread remaining butter with herbs into crevices and on top.

Bake until cheese melts, 18 – 20 minutes. Top with chives and serve.

15 January 2018

January 2018 – recap


Well it just had to be Hood, right? The recipes are good, but he is kind of fun to look at.

2 January – Sausage Ball’s – Cook’s Country

3 January – Hashbrown Casserole

6 January – M & M Cookies – a Christmas Eve tradition

8 January – Pecan Tassies

9 January – Stupidly Easy Chocolate Fudge

10 January – Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

11 January – Buttery Sugar Cookies

12 January – Spinach Dip

13 January – Banana Nut Bread

14 January – Haystacks

15 January – Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

16 January – Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

17 January – Brownie Roll Out Cookies

18 January – Pistachio Oatmeal Lace Cookies

19 January – Turkey Tea Sandwiches

21 January – Roast Beef and Avocado Finger Sandwiches

23 January – Toffee Cookies with Dark Chocolate Glaze

24 January – Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

30 January – My Christmas Ding Dong Dog

Butterscotch Blondie Muffins

So how do you make a warning:

D&D_2651I pretty much love everything butterscotch. It’s a long time thing, but I have dedicatedly made these muffins twice now and they just don’t cut it for me. I hate to say that about any recipe, but this did not work.

The first time I made them in paper liners – well they stuck. Ugh. So I tried to fix the idea, foil liners sprayed with cooking spray and removed the muffins as soon as possible. Still within a few minutes the were just too hard to deal with.

The flavor was good, but, sad to say, I just could not get past the texture/hardness.

Yield: 12 to 15 cupcakes

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners (see notes above). Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt over a piece of waxed paper.

In a stand mixer*, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in butterscotch chips by hand.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tin halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with only a few moist (but not wet) crumbs, about 30 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack. Cool for a few minutes; remove cupcakes from tin and remove cupcake liners before serving. Cupcakes can be stored up to 5 days in airtight containers at room temperature.

Source: Redacted. 

* You do know that every time I say a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer and be fine. I just don’t have any idea where my hand mixer is, if I even have one. That said, it would be kind of nice to have one because cleaning a stand mixer is a big pita (pain-in-the-ass), but I do it just the same.


Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have never cooked an acorn squash – or any winter squash for that matter. Therefore this was a completely new experience for me. It did not hurt that I make rice just about every week and make mushrooms pretty much every week too. Rice, mushrooms, shallots, lemon – just my kind of go to lunch.

I would rather take lunch to work than to go out for it (or breakfast). I think I make pretty good food and I make what I like and that works for me. Why go out and buy something if you are happy with the things you make. And for me, I like to mix things up a bit. Sometimes it is toasted bread with mushrooms and some cheese,  or rice with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. I always have cheese and butter at work – and always always a fresh lemon. I also have a salt and pepper grinders – makes a difference.

I guess that is where my lunch hacks come from. Take something you have and turn it into something new with just what you have, appliance wise, at the office. In my case – toaster, toaster oven, and a microwave. Looking forward to the new office where will have a warming oven. Hoping it gets hot enough to make cookies (350 degrees). That will just smell great.

D&D_24931 acorn squash, cut in half stem to root and scoop out seeds/strings
1/2 cup grain, jasmine rice, cooked, finished w/lemon juice/zest
1 cup vegetables, cooked (crimini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, lemon juice/zest)
1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar
Additional filling ingredients as desired, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (convection).

Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the middle of the oven.

Roast the squash until easily pierced by a paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size of your squash.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and any other spice you would like. Or add some dried fruits (I’m thinking cranberry here) or nuts.

Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves — mound the filling on top.

Cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

15 minutes at 375 convection, turn 15 more – done.

This was pretty cool. Will be trying more winter squashes. Such a new thing for me. I kind of like the speckled look of the acorn squash. Looks like stars.

Source: thekitchen.com

Toffee Cookies with Dark Chocolate Glaze

Here I am with another roll-out cookie. Why do I keep doing this to myself? This is my least favorite part of baking – cookies, crackers, pie crusts – rolling things out – even if I do have a great rolling pin – which I do. French rolling pin – made in America. Yep. D&D-9181

You get the idea. Ugh. But this just seems like such a good idea that I could not help myself.

I also plan to do this in my two day method to see if it works – make dough day one, and bake and chocolate on day two. We’ll see, as always.

Baked the cookies one day and did the chocolate bit the next day and then had way too much fun with the toppings – walnuts, Maldon salt, red sprinkles, and a little cayenne. And then did pretty much an evil thing. Mixed up all the cookies in the same container. Take a risk and see what you get. Let’s just say I put the cayenne on the smallest cookies. I think I really like bittersweet chocolate with cayenne. But pretty sure not all my friends will. Like I’ve said before my “test kitchen tasters.”


16 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate – Ghirardelli
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Fleur de sel / Maldon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well. Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl, then add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until well combined.

Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.*

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles with a 2-inch round cutter and place the cookies on the baking sheet.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Bring water to a simmer in a double boiler, or set up a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with water in the bottom. Melt the chocolate over the simmering water. When the cookies are cool, spread them gently with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle lightly with the pecans and a few grains of fleur de sel. Let the chocolate set. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 20 – 24 cookies.

Source: The Kitchn adapted from Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson. I think you could sub out other nuts. I did – used walnuts but pecans were called for in the original recipe. Pistachios might be excellent as well, especially with the color contrast on the dark chocolate. Love me some pistachios, but I am keeping this bag for baking not for just munching on. Maybe. We shall see.

*Well, 10 minutes in the fridge was no where near enough. I did, sort of, leave the butter out for a couple of many days. So I left the dough in the fridge overnight and it worked out just fine. Not as an easy dough as the chocolate sugar cookie dough from the other day, but not too difficult.

Turkey Tea Sandwiches

I tried this on a total fluke and I’ll be damned it they were not delicious. They are one of the Boy’s favorite things. They make no sense, but still work in a simple way – a mixture of flavors that just, oddly, work.

D&D_2578I have no expectation that any of you will try it, but sometimes you just have to let that kitchen curiosity loose and do something for the hell of it. I do that a lot – hell, experimenting in the kitchen is the best part, in my opinion.

12 ounces (1 bar and a half)^ cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf dense cranberry-walnut bread, thinly sliced at the bakery
1/3 pound thin slices smoked turkey breast – from the deli

Combine the cream cheese, scallions and the salt and pepper in an stand mixer and mix together.*

Lay out 8 slices of bread and spread them all with a decent layer of scallion cream cheese. Place a generous layer of turkey on those slices. Basically just make a sandwich with bread, cream cheese spread, in whatever form it takes, and turkey. This is not rocket science people.

put the sandwiches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, cover with damp paper towels and wrap the sheet with the ever difficult cling film. Refrigerate until the cream cheese is firm.

Cut off the crusts of each sandwich with a serrated knife and cut each sandwich in half diagonally and then cut each half diagonally again, to make small triangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature (my preference)

Source: Ina Garten with my some few changes.

^Or go all in with two bars of softened cream cheese – why not?

*I added a few extra chopped dried cranberries and some minced chives to the mix.

If you cannot find a dried fruit/nut bread, just find a bread you like – something hearty – and add the dried fruits and nuts to the cream cheese. It works and I have done it several times.

Make sure a decent amount of salt is involved. Some lemon zest probably would not go amiss. A thought for next time perhaps.

Pistachio Oatmeal Lace Cookies

I just cannot resist an oatmeal cookie – with one exception – no chocolate chips in an oatmeal cookie. That is just a very cruel joke – you know what I mean, right. Think it is a raisin and – groan – chocolate.

I know the oatmeal cookie is the red-headed step child of cookies, but it is one of my favorites. Besides, if you like them, you get lots of them when someone brings in cookies from the Publix. The chocolate chip goes right away and the M&M ones too. Leaving poor sad oatmeal cookies just for me (and my friend Dana). Then you can feel superior eating cookies for breakfast. Yes, indeed.

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt

D&D_2588Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt and then stir in oats.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and melted butter until combined. Crack in the egg and pour in the vanilla. Whisk one more time until the egg is thoroughly incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring in between additions until combined. Lastly, fold in the pistachios.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough, spacing them about 2 1/2-inches from one another on a the baking sheets. These cookies read a lot, so be sure to leave enough room. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they spread and the edges are lightly golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully move the cookies onto a cooling rack.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and salt. When the cookies are cool, drizzle the icing on top.

Source: A Cozy Kitchen.com


They are also good without any icing at all. Like a cool breakfast cookie – that makes it sound healthy, right? Yum.