Monday, April 29, 2013

Oreo Pudding Cookies

Usually by Sunday, I know what I'll be making for Cookie Monday. This week, all I knew was that I wanted to do something with Oreos. Not a cookie stuffed with Oreos, but a cookie made of Oreos. I searched on Pinterest until I found exactly what I wanted: a Cookies & Cream cookie made with instant pudding mix.

As I learned from the Reese's Pieces cookies last year, pudding mix gives cookies an excellent, wonderful texture. Finding this one with pudding mix made exactly the type of cookie I wanted. In order for it to taste right, you do NEED to use the Cookies & Cream flavor of pudding mix. Don't crap out and use vanilla. Get the Oreo kind.

Personally, I think these are my favorites I've made so far. I love their texture and I love that they taste like cookies & cream ice cream. I would definitely make these again!

pudding

Oreo Pudding Cookies
From Chef In Training via Pinterest

1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 (4.2 oz) package instant Oreo Cookies n’ Creme pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour
14 Oreos, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir together flour and baking soda and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Add in pudding package and beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture slowly until well incorporated. Stir in crushed Oreos. Roll into 1″ balls and place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 8-12 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on how big you make them)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Philadelphia Weekend

I spent this past weekend in Philadelphia with my gentleman and, while our goal was to visit the Philadelphia Science Festival, we still managed to explore some of the food in the city. Our food pretty much consisted of either bar food, food trucks, or hipster cafes. Let's review:

Bar Food
gastropub

This is a terrible picture, I know. It was hard to take pictures because it was so dark. This is a vegan sandwich I ate at the City Tap House on Saturday night. The menu describes it as "pickled vegetables, avocado, tofu mayo, lettuces, crispy wontons." It was pretty good, but the french fries were amazing. Gentleman got a burger and a salad and seemed to enjoy it. It was nice to have such tasty food to accompany craft brews. I like this fancy-bar-food movement.

yards

We also went to the Yards Brewery for a brewery tour and tasting. No food was had, but their offerings sounded wonderful. Here's what's so awesome about Yards: they make beer with grains, then take the slurry of leftover grains and give them to a local farmer. The farmer feeds the grains to his bison and uses some of the grains and yeast to make bread. Then he gives some of the bison and bread back to the Brewery. So you can order a bison burger, made from bison that have eaten the same grains that are in your beer, on bread from the same grains as well. Confusing? Yes. So goes the circle of life.

Food Trucks
truck

Our hotel was located in University City near Drexel and UPenn, so the trend of food trucks was inevitable (and welcomed). You may remember my obsession with food trucks from my trip to California last year. While most of the food trucks were closed for the weekend (not a busy time), the amazing Insomnia Cookies truck was open - serving freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies up until 3am (and OH MY GOSH they are delicious). We also had some falafel (for me) and cheesesteak (for Gentleman) from a food truck that I cannot seem to identify, but was run by two wonderfully humorous Afghani gentlemen. I loved it, but not s much as I loved my cookies.

**Side note: When I went to their website to link to the cookie truck, I learned that they DELIVER. OH MY GOSH. Why didn't this exist when I was in college????**

Hipster Cafes
blt

I guess we really only went to the one cafe, but it was enough hipsterness to fill our quota for the weekend. MilkCrate Cafe in Fishtown served delicious breakfast and lunch foods. We went there right before the Yards tour. I got a breakfast burrito of delicious eggs and beans and everything else. Gentleman got a fancy lil' BLT made on some really great rustic wheat bread. The only problem is that everything was covered in vinyl records and everyone present had Apple products and everything was all cutesy (the BLT was called the "RUN-BLT" etc). Cute and delicious, AMAZING coffee, good enough!

Our trip to Philly was lovely and I hope to go back sometime. While our goal this trip was to eat as cheaply as possible, perhaps in the future we will try some of the fancier restaurants in the city. So fun!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Double Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookies

This week I wasn't sure what to make for Cookie Monday, but a bunch of people mentioned maybe making some sort of chocolate cookie again. I pondered, and I looked on the Pinterest, and then out of nowhere my friend Mark posted a recipe on my Facebook. It was perfect! A brownie-like chocolate cookie with big pieces of Heath Bar in it. Delicious.

I added a tiny bit of espresso powder to make the chocolate flavor deeper, and I used full-size Heath Bars that I smashed with my pepper grinder (I'm classy). They sell the little Heath Bar brickle bits but I find that those are too small and tend to disappear when mixed into baked goods. I highly recommend using the real candy. I did add the sea salt to about half the cookies just to see what the reactions would be. Personally, I liked it better without the sea salt but some people really enjoyed it.

So these went over well and even the people who are iffy about chocolate cookies were fans. I really liked the base of this cookie as well. You could easily add in other things instead of the Heath Bar, like peanut butter chips or Oreos or whatever. It's a solid chocolate cookie recipe.

cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookies
From CenterCutCook.com

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups cocoa powder (dutch process of you have it)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup Heath Bar Toffee Pieces
Pinch of sea salt for each cookie, if desired, for garnish

With your mixer, cream together softened butter and granulated sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and table salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet. At this point it should be a very thick dough! Fold in chocolate chips and Heath Bar toffee pieces.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop 1 rounded tablespoon of cookie dough for each cookie on ungreased baking sheets. Leave about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

Immediately after the cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle them with a pinch of sea salt, if desired. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Yields about 5 dozen cookies (so I doubled it, of course!)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekly Check-In

Things I've Made This Week:
*Spaghetti Pie
*Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomato, & Edamame
*Crisp & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (for a friend's family)

Things that are not expired:
Bread, milk, eggs
The milk WAS expired and the gentleman friend kept drinking it in his coffee but I'm going to place that responsibility on him because I'd already bought new milk at that point.

Places I've Eaten that were Wonderful
*IKEA - if you buy $150 worth of stuff (not hard to do), they deduct the price of your meal from your final check. So eat up! So many Swedish delights to be consumed!
*Dickeys! We had takeout barbecue on my new patio set on my deck and it was lovely. With all the baked potatoes and side dishes, there certainly is enough for a vegetarian to eat! And ohhhhhh the sweet tea...

Produce In My Refrigerator:
Ummmmmmm I think I have some carrots. I'm failing at this part. But I'm trying!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Cookie Monday: Cheesecake Thumbprints

I went to a party this weekend with a lot of people who work at the hospital, and the topic of Cookie Monday came up. I suggested making either blueberry muffin cookies or a chocolate chip cheesecake-y cookie, but then people started fixating on the cheesecake. And they didn't want things that taste like cheesecake; they wanted actual cheesecake. I can't bring cheesecake to work. To feed 90 people? Bar cookies and cheesecakes just won't work. But I remembered this delicious recipe for cheesecake thumbprints that I made five years ago and informed them I'd be making it. A friend added it to his freestyle rap during the evening, which solidified the decision.

Truthfully, making these was tedious. I tripled the recipe, so it took forever to bake everything because there are so many steps. It's worth it, though! These are delicious and buttery and addicting. Hooray!

thumbprint

Cheesecake Thumbprints
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook via DesertCulinary

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

For the cookie dough
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour

To prepare cheesecake filling:
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar and salt until smooth. Mix in egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla - cover and place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the cookie dough:
In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and salt until creamy and combined. Mix in egg yolk until incorporated. Gradually add flour and mix just until combined.

Scoop out level tablespoons worth of the dough and roll into balls. Place balls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Using the handle end of a thick wooden spoon, lightly dipped in flour, make an indentation in the center of each ball.

Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully use your thumb (or the end of the same wooden spoon) to press the middle of the cookies back down, remaking the indentations. Place cookies back into the oven, rotating them from their original position, and continue to bake until slightly golden around the edges, about 7 minutes.

Remove cookies from the oven and fill the indentations with the cheesecake filling using a teaspoon. Place back into the oven and bake for 7 more minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cook completely. When cool, place cookies into the refrigerator to chill before serving.

Yield: 30 cookies

Monday, April 01, 2013

COOKIE MONDAY: Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

While not a cookie, I thought these little bite-size, portable treats would work out well for Cookie Monday this week. I was intrigued by them because they remind me a little bit of Take 5 Bars, which are delicious. I also am a sucker for anything with sea salt. PLUS: it involves no cooking at all. It was time-consuming because it's completely hands-on, as you have to assemble everything and then spoon chocolate over every little pretzel, but it was ultimately easier than baking 8 dozen cookies.

Plus you probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry already.

I used regular pretzels but I also bought a small bag of gluten-free pretzels so I could include some of my coworkers who usually miss out. I used milk chocolate from the bulk bin at the grocery store, and my beloved grey fleur de sel from Penzeys (a little goes a long way!). I doubled the recipe and got nearly 120 little pretzels.

Of note is that the recipe never calls for refrigerating these, but I found that they NEEDED to be refrigerated in order to really harden. I let them dry for a few hours on the counter but then I refrigerated them for about 15 minutes before putting them into my cookie container. I then put the cookie box into the refrigerator overnight. Worked perfectly!

People said they really liked them! Despite the simplicity, they accomplished their goal. Another successful Cookie Monday!

pretzels

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
From I Wash You Dry, via Pinterest

50 or more small twisty pretzels
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces chopped semisweet or milk chocolate
Coarse Sea Salt

1. In a small bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until incorporated and mixture is crumbly.

2. Lay out all the pretzels on a large piece of parchment paper. Take about 1/2 tsp of the peanut butter mixture and roll it into a ball. Place it on top of the pretzel. Repeat until finished (you can save any extra filling in plastic wrap in the freezer for later).

3. Use your finger to gently press the peanut butter mixture into the pretzel, making it slightly flat on top.

4. Melt the chocolate according to package instructions. Spoon the melted chocolate on top until it runs down the sides. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of coarse sea salt and let dry until firm. (Note: This is where you would refrigerate them if you decided that was needed.)