Monday, July 22, 2013

Cookie Monday: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

First I will discuss dinner. Last night I made Two Potato & Beet Hash with Poached Eggs for dinner and it was wonderful. I made an extra-huge batch of the potatoes and beets so I would have something delicious to eat the rest of this week. My gentleman has made the switch to overnight shift and as a result does not cook for me as much :( (Wah wah poor Lauren.) I've lapsed in cooking for myself again but felt strongly that by making this, I would eat delicious dinners for the next few nights. But then I woke up and found out that my gentleman had, in fact, eaten all of it while I slept. All of the food. I'm glad he enjoyed it, particularly since he thought it looked scary at first, but now I'm SOL with dinner tonight. Canned ravioli?

In Cookie Monday news, I made cookies.

My decision of which cookie to make was influenced solely by my friend A. I was putting together a little care package for her, and, as she lives far away, I thought I should find a cookie recipe that I could also mail to her (in addition to bringing to work). After discussing at length the types of cookies she likes, I decided I needed to find a chocolate pudding cookie recipe. I found this one from Inside BruCrew Life, but decided to substitute peanut butter chips for the Reese's Pieces.

Oh my goodness! They are delicious. Chocolate pudding mix makes for an excellent cookie. Remember when I made the Butterfinger cookies and said that they had a solid chocolate cookie recipe as a base? No. This one trumps it for sure. I really liked these and they would be very versatile with other add-ins besides the peanut butter chips. Everyone at work liked them. I hope they mail well to A!

No picture because they look like cornpoop :( :( :(

Chocolate Reese's Pudding Cookies
Inside BruCrewLife

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box instant Hershey's chocolate pudding mix (3.5 oz)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Reese's Pieces (Lauren's note: or peanut butter chips!)
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the egg, sour cream, and vanilla and beat again. Sift together the pudding mix, flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to the creamed mixture beating on low until everything is combined. Stir in the Reese's and chocolate chips by hand. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/2 - 2 inch balls. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375* for 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet for about 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack or wax paper. Let cool. Store in a sealed container on the counter for 4-5 days.

Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cookie Monday: Strawberries & Cream Cookies

I will talk about Cookie Monday in a second, but first I need to tell you about my marathon cooking day. I was in charge of providing this week's meal to a coworker out on medical leave, so I decided to go with a nice, safe ginormous dish of macaroni & cheese. I used this recipe since it's simple and she has young kids, and I subbed a special "mac & cheese" mix (cheddar, mozzarella, and American shredded) for all the other cheeses. I used whole milk, and I did not add the cayenne. I also made two little ramekins of it for myself and my gentleman. It was tasty. I hope they liked it too!

While I was baking that, I also decided to make a huge batch of cheesy hash brown casserole. Confession: I forgot the cheese. I have to add it to the top of the one I already cooked. It's an easy fix since I have most of it frozen in pans anyway so there's an opportunity to mix in cheese before it's baked, but I still feel stupid. Cheesy casserole, and I forget the cheese. Typical.

At the same time, I also made a small batch of Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies because I thought that would be a festive little dessert for my coworker's family. How can I provide a dinner without including cookies? I kept half the batch to take to work to give to the nurses on my unit at work because it had been an especially difficult day and I wanted to apologize for my role in it. That worked out well.

SO let's rewind then to Monday, when I brought a bunch of cookies. It's a cheater recipe and I feel terrible about it, but I worked all weekend and I'm on-call and I'm tired so it was amazing that I managed to bring cookies at all. And these were LOVELY. If you like strawberry cake, you will like these cookies. They were delicious and sweet and summery. I actually will keep this recipe around because it's SO FAST and so easy to make, but they look so impressive. Yum!

cookie

Strawberry and Cream Butter Cookies
Tasty Kitchen via Pinterest

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 package (18.25 Oz.) Strawberry Boxed Cake Mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Mix in the vanilla extract. Lastly, mix in the cake mix until thoroughly incorporated.

3. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.

4. Roll the chilled batter into 1? sized balls and then roll them in powdered sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and gooey.

5. Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Yield: 3 dozen

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Beer Battered Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I felt inspired to make dinner for my gentleman the other day, especially after I found this recipe on Pinterest. Oh my goodness. It's gluttonous and cheesy and buttery and it doesn't even matter. I put bacon on his but not on mine. I used Sam Adams Boston Lager because I didn't have any lighter beer available. It worked beautifully and was very tasty. I wouldn't make it again because omg so unhealthy, but it was fun!

sandwich

Beer Battered Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Key Ingredient via Pinterest

6 slices hickory-smoked bacon
4 slices rustic white bread
2 slices provolone cheese (¾ oz each)
2 slices Cheddar cheese (¾ oz each)
1 egg
¾ cup pale ale beer
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon butter

1. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towel.

2. On 2 of the bread slices, place 1 slice provolone cheese, 3 slices bacon and 1 slice Cheddar cheese on each. Top with remaining bread slices.

3. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or to 375°F. In shallow bowl, beat egg, beer, flour and chili powder with fork until smooth. Dip each sandwich into batter, giving it a few seconds on each side to absorb the batter; drain excess batter back into bowl.

4. Melt butter on hot griddle. Place sandwiches on griddle. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Cookie Monday: Fruity Pebble Pudding Cookies

Awhile ago I made some Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cookies for Cookie Monday that involved crushed-up cinnamon toast crunch cereal and some white chocolate chips. The recipe I picked this week is very similar except with Fruity Pebbles instead of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. With the cinnamon cookies, my complaint was that the cereal didn't stay crunchy but didn't quite soften, and it was kind of weird to me but no one else seemed to care. Same thing with the Fruity Pebbles: they got a softer texture but didn't quite blend in with the cookie, which was off to me, but no one else cared. Which was fine. The cookies were delicious. I love pudding cookies. I love them so much.

cookies

Fruity Pebble Pudding Cookies
Crazy For Crust via Pinterest

1 ½ sticks butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour
2 cups Fruity Pebbles cereal
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together baking soda and flour and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugars. Add the pudding package and beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour and mix until just combined. Stir in Fruity Pebbles and white chocolate chips.

Scoop 1” balls and place on your cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Yield: I doubled this and got about 60 cookies.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Las Vegas Food Post

Last week my gentleman and I took a trip to Las Vegas for my birthday. Though Vegas is brimming with fancy-pants restaurants, we decided to try to keep the costs as low as possible. Lots of drinks and small meals, with a few more costly ones here and there. It was a good decision and we had the opportunity to try a lot of new food. We took pictures of the notable things, which I will now discuss.

Hash House A Go Go
hash

For breakfast the first day after we got to Vegas, I knew we needed to go to the Hash House A Go Go in the Quad. I had seen it on Man Vs Food and, while I wasn't going to order the ginormous chicken-waffle meal Adam Richman ate, I desperately wanted to eat their breakfast. I went for a heavier meal, and my gentleman went for a more conservative granola.

hash
It was not just any granola, though. It is the Sticky Granola, and it was one of the best breakfasts I've ever tasted. It was a delightful, warm granola topped with an enormous amount of fresh fruit, with a little carafe of milk on the side to pour on top. It was just wonderful.

hash
My meal was a vegetarian breakfast hash (mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes) with some scrambled eggs and a fresh biscuit. It also came with some homemade peach jam, which was amazing. I love breakfast more than any other meal so I was super happy with this.

Jean-Philippe Chocolate & Pastries
crepe

Prior to going to Vegas, I asked all of my friends to list all of their favorite things to do, eat, and see. This pastry shop in the Bellagio was mentioned several times, both for its crepes and for its world-famous chocolate fountain (pictures above), so when we went exploring in the Bellagio, my gentleman insisted we stop for crepes. He picked out the bananas foster crepe, which was made to order.

crepe

So yummy!!!!
crepe


Tacos & Tequila
taco

Although the casinos in Vegas are open 100% of the time, not all of the restaurants are. We got back to our hotel very late one night and wanted some food, and the only place we could get food in the hotel was one of the restaurants, Tacos & Tequila. They only had their late-night small-plate menu so we went with that. Gentleman got some of the tiniest chicken quesadillas ever, and I got a big bowl of delicious nachos. Good enough.

Hofbräuhaus
hofbrauhaus

For my 29th birthday, we went to the Hofbräuhaus off the strip. My coworker had told me about the wonders of it - a beer garden modeled after the royal beer garden in Munich. I was disappointed to learn that it has expanded into a chain and can be found in most major cities, particularly since one opened up in Philadelphia so technically we could have gone to the one here instead of all the way in Vegas, but whatever.

hofbrauhaus
The atmosphere in the beer hall is loud and boisterous. Everyone is yelling and drinking beer and standing on tables. Guys in lederhosen are playing accordions and giant horns, and a lady walks around spanking people with a giant paddle in exchange for tips. It was really fun.

hofbrauhaus
I started with a giant pretzel. Gentleman said I should only order it if I was going to eat the entire thing, and I swore I would. I did, but it took awhile (I had to take it back to the hotel and eat it later that night). It came with delicious onion mustard, homemade sweet mustard, and a German cheese spread ("Obazter" cheese). Love love love. Best soft pretzel I've ever had.

hofbrauhaus
As if that wasn't enough carbs, for my meal I ordered the Allgäuer Käsespäetzle. These are little freeform noodles baked into a casserole with onions and cheese. SO GOOD. I ate this later at the hotel as well, mostly because I got too drunk to finish it at the restaurant. Shut up, it's a beer garden.

hofbrauhaus
Gentleman got a riesenbratwurst, which does not have any sauerkraut on it in this picture but he did put some on it. Though it's at a German restaurant, we live in PA Dutch country so it was not very different from food he eats here at home. But he reports it was very good!

Flamingo Hotel
brunch

Las Vegas is known for its buffets, so obviously we had to partake in at least one during our stay. We made the poor choice of going to brunch buffet on a Saturday, which means all the prices were inflated. I sat down at Caesars Palace and googled the cheapest brunches on the Strip - the Flamingo Hotel was having a brunch buffet that was about half the cost of most of the other hotels, AND it included mimosas. This was an easy decision. We had our Vegas buffet experience (including more crepes), looked at some flamingos and koi fish outside, and then stopped by Sin City Beer for some more beer.

Vegas was fun but I doubt we'll go back. It's expensive and trashy, and there are so many places in the world to explore. But we had a great time!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Yesterday for the 4th of July I was suddenly inspired to make a pie. I thought I'd make the Raspberry-Rhubarb Pie I made last summer, but when I got to the store the raspberries were expensive and the strawberries were buy-1-get-1, so my decision was made. I adapted the recipe to be a strawberry-rhubarb pie. Because strawberries are sweeter than raspberries, I didn't add any extra sugar. I did heed my own advice from my post and added the full amount of topping. I really liked it a lot, and my gentleman has already eaten half of it. I like it better with the strawberries than with the raspberries. Yum!

Before the oven:
pie