Pesto – amazing 

pesto [pes-toh]

noun, Italian Cookery.
1. a sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated Parmesan blended together and served hot or cold over pasta, fish, or meat.
In college, I made some great friends, and one of them was a girl named Karen T. (cannot believe I remembered her whole name, but somehow that makes me feel good, but won’t divulge).
She threw excellent (read: grown up) parties. If you said you would attend, you were actually expected to do so. She was a great cook – the first person I knew to make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. She totally rocked, and she also introduced me to pesto. I think it was her mom’s recipe, photocopied, and I remember this most clearly, the recipe was called “Pesto by the food processor method.” Hysterical now, but at the time a totally new thing for me.
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It is basically the “recipe” I still make today, except I substitute walnuts for pine nuts. I don’t notice a difference, so it works for me. And I always have walnuts in the freezer.
It’s great for pasta, for pasta salad, add some sun-dried tomatoes and it is excellent in my sun-dried tomato pesto torte. Have I not made that for you? Damn, will rectify that situation soon.

Basil – 2 bunches, stems removed mostly
Garlic – 2 cloves or or more if you would like it
1 1/4 cups walnuts or there abouts – fear the pine nuts.
1/4 cup really good olive oil
A good bit of freshly grated Parmesan – indeed.

First chop the garlic in the food processor. Then add the walnuts and mix it up again   Do this before you add the basil. Because this is a good thing. It just seems to work so well. Then stream the olive oil in and the when it is all done, add the Parmesan. And if you want to go crazy add some sun-dried tomatoes. Because that is amazing. Yep.

I was to go to Italy with Karen and Dierdre in the spring of 1993, but giving birth to the Boy put those plans into a stall. Never regret it. And he was eating pesto as a 3 years-old – he was that kind of boy. Sushi, sure. Pesto, yep. Mushroom pate – always. Kids will try anything if you don’t make a big deal of it.
Karen moved to New Jersey and we lost touch, but some things stick with you in an important way. And I miss them both.

Dulce de Leche Krispies

I have always loved rice krispie treats. They taste amazing and are dead simple. My mom always made them around the holidays – I really do not remember them any other time to be honest, but I will make the when ever the mood strikes.  And make them you should because the store bought ones are vile.

The first time I made a mistake with rice krispie treats, it turned out to be an excellent depth to the general recipe on the box. I let the butter brown just a little bit – wow – that made a different.

So the next time, I did the same thing and then added some vanilla to the mix. Even better.

And then I did all of the above and salted them with crushed Maldon salt* and it was stunning.

I think this idea also will work for me. I am a huge fan of dulce de leche – so much that I will purchase dulce de leche ice cream and I am really not a fan of ice cream in general. That should be impressive. It is to me.D&D_1917

I got this recipe from Food & Wine magazine online and just had to give it a go. The author, Marcia Kiesel, switches out the marshmallows for the dulce de leche. The addition of nuts is also an interesting twist. I think that will inspire me to try different nuts – salted pistachios perhaps – in the future just so see how it works.

2 dozen krispies

3/4 cup crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
3 1/2 ounces blanched sliced almonds
5 tablespoons dulce de leche at room temperature, plus more for topping
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the rice cereal with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Spread the oiled rice cereal in an even layer on a large nonstick rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the rice cereal is very crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

In a the same large bowl, mix the sliced almonds with the toasted rice cereal. Using a rubber spatula, blend in the 5 tablespoons of dulce de leche and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil, stirring well to coat the rice cereal and almonds thoroughly.

Line nonstick rimmed baking sheets with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the rice-almond mixture onto the pan and gently flatten them into 2 1/2-inch-wide disks. Lightly sprinkle the krispies with salt. Bake them until they are lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

Let the krispies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute. Carefully transfer them to a platter to cool completely. Dollop each one with 1/4 teaspoon of the remaining dulce de leche and serve.

The krispies can be stored in an airtight container overnight. Guessing they won’t last much longer than that.

Source: Food & Wine

9 June 2017 – The Boy really liked them and they went over well in the test kitchen.

 

Peanut Butter Cornflake Cookies 

I am typically not a fan of no bake cookie things, excepting Rice Krispie treats, but I thought to give this a go. It reminds me of something completely random my mom made me as a child – one day, I will try to explain it, but I am sure it will not make any sense to anyone but me. That said, these are flavors of my childhood excepting the cornflakes. I think they are kind of cute in their on strange way.

D&D_19561 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups corn flakes

In a large saucepan, add sugar, then spray measuring cup with vegetable spray and add peanut butter and light corn syrup. Cook over medium to medium high (depending on your cooktop) until the middle of the mixture starts to boil. Stir constantly so sugar and peanut butter don’t burn. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cornflakes until evenly coated.

Spray a #20 disher with vegetable spray and scoop and drop on to waxed paper. Do this quickly before the mixture sets up. Let cool on waxed paper for 30 minutes. Store at room temperature.

Thoughts: These are super sugary. But in small doses are good. Hope The Boy and my test kitchen at the office enjoy them.

I think they work because corn flakes have, pretty much, no flavor.

And the votes from my test kitchen are in and they are very positive. I do wonder what this might be like with, wait for it, pretzels.

17 June 17

Source: www.spendwithpennies.com/peanut-butter-cornflake-cookies/

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

Salted White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

The Boy loves white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and I get that to a certain degree. This recipe intrigued me because of the flaky salt on top and, for me, that is always Maldon. This year is Maldon’s 135-year anniversary. To me that is just slightly, no, mostly,  amazing. But even better –  they have been harvesting salt in that area of England* since the Romans occupied the country. You just cannot beat that kind of history.dd_1781

When The Boy and I lived in England it was so strange to me to live somewhere where everything was pretty much older than everything in the United States. We lived in Coventry – in the Midlands, a lovely, if slightly industrial town, but there were some buildings in the City Centre that were medieval timber-framed houses and were beautiful and so close to the original St. Michael’s. The original St. Michael’s was destroyed during the Blitz of World War II, so they just left it that way. That was impressive and chilling at the same time. I would go shopping in the city centre and then just go hang out at the bombed out St. Michaels. I went into the new cathedral, but the part I liked best about the “new” version was the sculpture of Michael on the outside. It is pretty much just bad ass. But we all know Michael was the angel version of a total badass.dd_st-michael-devil-sculpture

How did this go from salt to Coventry and then to St. Michael? It got away from me. Just like the Doctor.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roughly-chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt – Maldon, my go to for flaky

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Add in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips by hand until combined.

Use a large cookie scoop or dishers as they are called, I used a #30 size. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a bit of the flaky sea salt. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 10-20 minutes, or until the dough is chilled completely through. This is pretty important. Also just add a few white chocolate chips on the top just to make it look nice.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are just set.  Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Gimmesomeoven  – Amazingly creative name, yeah, really amazing.

* Maldon is a town on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, England. It is the seat of the Maldon District and starting point of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. It is most renowned for Maldon Sea Salt which is produced in the area.

 

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Blondies

I think my favorite kind of recipe is one where I have all the ingredients on hand – no need to go to the grocery store. It also helps if it something that, in general I like, but made a little better because of a twist. I think that definition suits this recipe exactly. I had pretzels from a non-starter recipe for, well, something. I cannot remember, but I’m sure it was a good idea at the time. And there we are. This was my Friday night baking. I only do that if I have had a good week – and – have everything on hand. This was so not a disappointment. It has gone over well with everyone I’ve shared it with.

dd_1675

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup  brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
12 ozs semi sweet chocolate chips (1 bag) Ghiradelli
1 1/2 cup chopped pretzels

Line a 9 x 13 inch metal pan with parchment to overhang the long sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Over waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together both sugars and butter until light. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients. Stir in chips and pretzels.

Spread batter in baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Run a plastic knife around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. Then make into squares.

I made these for The Boy – we are just going to call it a Friday night special –  and I really loved them and The Boy did too. He is a huge fan of the blondies. But so am I.

The recipe says they can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks. They will not last that long.

Thank you Food & Wine – even though your website is more annoying than I had any idea of. Really – rethink your advertising. Left your site more often than stayed. I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

How do we teach our kids how to eat?

When I was a kid, you sat down for dinner (supper in our case) and you ate what was on the table. If you did not like something, (green beans – ugh – even though my Mom was a great cook, I just never could get past this),  you ate more of something else that you did like (rice and corn mixed together with lots of butter or homemade mac n cheese or anything else). But there was not a separate meal for us kids. To be honest, I do not remember kids’ menus at restaurants either.

We had to try things (rutabagas, which I loved with lots of butter and black pepper), and we could certainly doctor things. My great aunt Rhodie’s chow chow made black-eyed peas amazing and now I cannot figure out how to eat them without that. Collards with home-made hot pepper vinegar* – amazing.

But supper was what was on the table. There it was. Your food. Enjoy.

To a large degree, we did that with The Boy and at a very early age, he ate pesto and sushi at 3-ish. In England he did what we did – trying lots of new vegetarian things (because I was, at that time, a vegetarian). Indian samosas were great and cheese and onion pasty (no sniggering –  it is what they call them) was simply and stupidly good. I’d like to think that The Boy still tries new things (in all honesty, I know he does). He is still a fan of salt and vinegar potato chips because we had chips (in the UK version of the word) with malt vinegar – something sublime about that. Okay – damn it. Now I have a craving. Crap.

Do we do our kids a disservice by catering too much to them for supper? In my case, there were nights where we had “fend for yourself” nights. For all of us – me, the Boy and the MotH. Go in the kitchen and make your dinner out of what was there. That is still one of my favorite things. Tonight, I think popcorn.

In my family, the only time you could just get around the – eat what is on the table rule – was when it was your birthday. That day you got whatever you wanted. I think that is totally valid.  But my mix of food was so weird. I mean, tacos and pecan pie. Who does that? Sounds so ugh at this point. But it did make me really, stupidly, happy. I am glad there are no pictures from this point in my life. My brother’s birthday food was even better. Roast beef, gravy, rice, and carrot and raisin salad. What a way better choice than mine. But I got the benefit of his birthday – I was smart.

I am sure we need a picture or two here, but, I’ve got nothing. Which is probably for the best.

*Home-made hot pepper vinegar is so easy. And so good.