Saturday, July 26, 2014

Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies

Um, these are beyond amazing, and that's pretty much all I need to say.

I added some extra Nutella. Make sure you refrigerate it, seriously, because the Nutella needs to harden a little bit or it will melt everywhere.

I got six dozen of these magic discs of deliciousness.


Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies
The Sisters Cafe

2 sticks butter, room temperature
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/3 cup Nutella

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and add to butter mixture. Add Nutella in dollops over the top of the dough. Use a butter knife to swirl the Nutella through the dough. Do not over mix. Chill the dough in fridge for 15 minutes before spooning onto cookie sheet to firm the nutella. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Bake until slightly brown at edges. Let cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring.

Yield: 3-6 dozen depending on how big you make the cookie

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Whole Wheat S'Mores Cookies

I thought making a s'mores-themed cookie would be appropriate since we're in the middle of summer. I did this last summer, with the S'mores nipple cookies, but I forgot about that recipe and picked out this recipe from an old issue of Bon Appetit. I used some excellent buttermilk from a local farm, and I used semisweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I think that was a mistake. The cookies are not sweet at all, despite the marshmallows, so I think they would have been better with the milk chocolate. I also omitted the walnuts - too many people with allergies. When the cookies came out of the oven, they were very crunchy. I added some extra marshmallows on top before they cooled, just because. This turned out to be an excellent idea because, while they rested in the cookie box overnight, the marshmallows helped soften all the cookies to a much better texture. I didn't really like them but a lot of people did, which surprised me! I guess I just wish they had been sweeter. So American of me.


Whole Wheat S'more Cookies
Bon Appetit, February 2008

Whole wheat flour gives these clever cookie S'mores a graham-cracker flavor. Leave the marshmallows out for a day or two on a plate to get stale—they'll hold their shape better during baking.

3 cups whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon robust-flavored, dark molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (about 9 ounces)
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla extract in medium bowl; whisk in butter. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until dough is evenly moistened. Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown, dry to touch, but still slightly soft, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool (cookies will firm up). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: 3 dozen

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stuffed Shells

Last night I felt inspired to make dinner and discovered we had some large shell pasta in the back of the pantry. I had a huge tub of locally-made cottage cheese from the farmer's market, but it's a very fine curd, more like a ricotta. I decided to use that. I threw this together pretty quickly. Good for a weeknight dinner!

I took a picture but it looked like someone threw up Italian food so I figured no photo is better than that photo.

Stuffed Shells I

16 ounces jumbo pasta shells
4 cups large curd cottage cheese
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pinch garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
26 ounces spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook shells according to package directions. Place in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.

Mix together cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, and garlic powder. Rub the dried herbs in the palms of your hands to pulverize them, and stir into the cheese mixture. Stuff mixture into the shells.

Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 15 x 10 inch pan. Place shells open side up, and close together in pan. Spread remaining sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8

Ozark Mountain Berry Crumble Pie

We bought a ton of berries for a Fourth of July picnic because they were on sale, but then no one ended up eating them. What to do with a million pints of assorted berries? I decided to make a mixed-berry pie and found a great recipe on Taste of Home for Ozark Mountain Berry Pie. But it is a double-crust recipe and I only had one disc of pie dough left in the freezer, so I looked through my recipes until I found a berry crumble-topped pie. I used a recipe for Blueberry Crumble Pie from Bon Appetit and adapted it for the topping.

So I hacked together the two recipes. I will type up what I did. I linked to the originals above, so if you want to see them, go to those links. It was pretty phenomenal, I must say. I used two pints of blueberries, 2 quarts of strawberries, and half a pint of raspberries. So good! Sorry for the crappy photos.

berry pie

{Even Emmadog loved it!}

Ozark Mountain Berry Crumble Pie
Adapted from Taste of Home and Bon Appetit, as linked above

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
dash salt
1/3 cup water
4-5 cups of berries (we used blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon if desired, salt and water until smooth; add the blueberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool slightly.

Line a 9-in. pie plate with pie dough. Gently fold the rest of the berries and the lemon juice into the blueberry mixture. Pour into pastry.

For the topping, whisk flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; mix topping with fingertips to blend. Sprinkle evenly over pie.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chewies

I had some coconut leftover from last weekend's birthday cake, so it made sense to use it up in the cookies for Monday. I don't know what drew me to this recipe. It's just kind of unique. The funny thing about it, though, is that the cookies are not particularly "unique." They taste like a really, really, good sugar cookie with an interesting texture. You don't really taste the coconut, and you don't even really taste the oats. It's all just very subtle. This is another cookie that you need to UNDERbake in order to get the best texture. Nice and soft. These were surprisingly popular, even among people who usually avoid coconut (except the ones who are allergic to coconut, of course).


Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chewies
The Dough Will Rise Again via Pinterest

1 cup butter, slightly softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugars until they are well-combined.

Add one egg and mix until it is fully incorporated. Then add the second egg and the vanilla, and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.

Add baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the wet mixture. Mix until well-distributed.

Add about half of the flour, and mix until the flour is JUST incorporated. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, and then add the second half of your flour, mixing until just incorporated. Don't overmix or else you'll end up with tough cookies.

Add oats and coconut, mixing until they’re JUST incorporated.

Roll dough into balls, or use a cookie scoop to evenly portion out the dough. If you are rolling the dough by hand, you’ll want a ball that is a little over an inch in diameter, and this should give you about 6 dozen cookies.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat liner, leaving about 2" between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are very lightly brown but the center is still light in color and puffy. This will result in a very moist, very chewy cookie.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack. Once they’re fully cooled, they can be stored in a ziploc bag or airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 6 dozen

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Coconut Layer Cake with Malibu Buttercream Frosting

I turned 30 yesterday. I am 30 years old. I was born in 1984, this is 2014, I am now 30.

The first thing I did to celebrate was to go skydiving. I did that, I survived, I threw up when I landed on the ground because the parachute floats like a gently rocking boat and I got extremely motion sick from it. But it was worth it, because I've been planning to skydive for my 30th birthday for at least 15 years now. (And yes, I'd do it again!)

I also have been planning for years to make Alton Brown's recipe for Coconut Cake. I saw him make it on an episode of Good Eats in 2007 and declared that I MUST HAVE IT for my birthday, but I never did. I was never around people for my birthday who would help me eat a cake made of coconut (because you have to LOVE coconut to love this cake). I never felt like I could make this cake and just eat it myself; I compromised and made other cakes that could be shared by everyone.

NOT THIS YEAR. I'm fucking 30. I can do whatever I want. SO I MADE THIS CAKE. (As it turns out, my gentleman likes coconut and my dad is visiting later this week so I don't have to eat it all alone after all - but I WOULD HAVE.)

So I start collecting the ingredients for Alton Brown's recipe and I discovered that the ingredients call for all home-made coconut products - coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water, toasted coconut ... all coming from the initial instruction of cracking open a fresh coconut. Hell no. So I modified it! I used canned coconut milk, canned cream of coconut, and some coconut oil for greasing the cake pans. This all worked out fine. OH! And instead of the coconut water, I sprinkled the cake layers with some Malibu coconut rum. It didn't taste boozy AT ALL, but it was perfect.

The other thing is that Alton's recipe (and most of the others on the internet) call for "7-Minute Frosting," which a frosting cooked in a double-boiler and beaten with a hand-mixer. Of all the things I own in my house, I do not have a handheld mixer. I panicked and googled and eventually combined a couple of different recipes to create a buttercream frosting including coconut extract and Malibu. It was perfect. So the recipe I will include for the frosting is MINE! Wow!

So 30 is off to a good start.


Coconut Cake with Malibu Buttercream Frosting
Cake adapted from Alton Brown

For the Cake:
Coconut oil, for cake pan
3 cups cake flour, plus extra for cake pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
4 egg whites
1/3 cup coconut water or about 1/4 cup Malibu coconut rum

For the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum (or milk)
1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper and then flour the pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers. Sprinkle each layer with some of the rum (or coconut water) using a pastry brush or a spoon. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the coconut extract. Add rum (or milk) as needed until frosting is at desired thickness.

Spread some of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu

The other day we wanted to grill, so I found this recipe for grilled tofu to try and got the tofu marinating. But then it started raining so my gentleman made his own dinner and I grilled my tofu on my little Le Creuset grill pan. It's been so long since I busted this beauty out. Maybe I didn't marinate the tofu long enough, but it didn't absorb much of the sauce and wasn't as spicy as I would have preferred. I had it with some rice and broccoli, and it was tasty, just not spicy. I'd like to try this again on the actual outdoor grill sometime to see how it differs.


Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu
Tablespoon via Pinterest

1 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

In a medium bowl, combine sriracha, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, black pepper and ginger. Whisk until combined.

Carefully stir a few pieces of tofu into the sauce mixture to coat, then thread tofu onto skewers and set aside. Repeat with remaining tofu and sauce. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours. (Reserve extra marinade for grilling.)

Heat grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat. Cook skewers for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until seared and cooked through, brushing with extra sauce while cooking if desired. Serve warm.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a very busy weekend so I wanted to stick with something easy and simple. I decided to go "back to basics" and make a standard chocolate chip cookie. I'm not sure what makes these cookies different. No white sugar? Maybe a different ratio of butter to flour? No idea, but these make perfectly soft, chewy, delicious cookies. I loved them a lot. I have some extras and I want to make ice cream sandwiches with them, because why not?

Of note: Based on a suggestion in a review, I reduced the oven temperature to 375 and I baked them for 8 minutes. They looked slightly underdone when I took them out, which was the correct thing to do. Slightly underbake them! It's the best!


Thick, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (1/2 lb.) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz.)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional, I omitted them)

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans, if using.

Drop dough in 2-tablespoon (1/8-cup) portions, 2 inches apart, onto buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 400° oven until cookies are lightly browned and no longer wet in the center (break one open to check), 6 to 8 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.

With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thin spatula under them to release; let stand on pan to firm up, 2 to 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: 28 cookies