Tuesday, November 30, 2010

peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel cookies

Salty sweet is a favorite combination of mine.  Some things are just made to be together.  They have that one perfect match.  In my mind chocolate just can't settle down.  It pairs so well with creamy peanut butter and it also looks quite good blanketing a salty, crunchy pretzel.  Why should chocolate have to choose between peanut butter or pretzels?  Can't we have it all?  These cookies are a merger of two fantastic partnerships which make a creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty treat.  The base of the cookie is a bit crispier and the shape is a bit taller then I like my peanut butter cookies but, these minor issues are not stopping them from flying out of the cookie jar.

peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel cookies
adapted: everyday with rachel ray
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 cups miniature pretzels, chopped


  1. Line 2 cookie sheets with silpat. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just combined; stir in the chips and pretzel pieces.
  3. Using a cookie scoop to scoop and drop balls on to prepared sheets.  Bake for 12 minutes, until golden but still soft to the touch. Let cool slightly before transferring to racks to cool.

Monday, November 29, 2010

green monster

I keep hearing about juicing, smoothies and cleanses.  I have always favored food over a drink but, on my constant quest for better health and my abundance of fresh organic fruits and veggies from my box delivery I decided to give these green monsters a try .  I was so surprised at how much I liked them and how full and energized I felt after having one.  I may be kinda hooked and the combinations are endless.  This is a step in my process to better living.  I have decided to get rid myself of numbers.  I need to listen to what my body needs and not let my life be run by constant number crunching.  The days of how many calories in, how many minutes at the gym, how much body fat, target heart rate zone, and what number is staring back at me from the scale are going to be in the past.  Although many think knowledge of those numbers make a person "healthy" I am going to disagree. Living a life run by numbers is not a way to live for me.  I am going to try to listen to my body and stop living by the numbers and just enjoy life.

spinach banana pumpkin green monster

2 cups spinach
1/2 banana
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 scoop green super food
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
ice ~1cup

Add ingredients in the following order into the blender: super food, pumpkin pie spice, spinach, pumpkin, banana, and milk.  Puree.  Add ice and pulse again until desired consistency.

swiss chard apple green monster

2 cups swiss chard
1 apple peeled and chopped
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 scoop green super food
ice ~1 cup

Add ingredients in the following order into the blender: super food, spinach, apple, and milk.  Puree.  Add ice and pulse again until desired consistency.

spinach green apple and green grape monster

2 cups spinach
1 green apple peeled and chopped (~100 grams)
10 frozen green grapes
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 scoop green super food
ice ~1 cup

Add ingredients in the following order into the blender: super food, spinach, apple, and milk.  Puree.  Add ice and pulse again until desired consistency.  Approx. 150 calories

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

gooey butter cookies

Brad came with me to the grocery store the other day which is rare these days.  When we first got married we shopped only on the days we were going to cook which wasn't often.  We only bought food for that meal.  As I put cream of mushroom soup and boxed cake mix in the cart he made the comment "I remember when almost every meal you made had cream of something soup, stove top stuffing and boxed cake mix".  I thought back and it was true.  I had no idea how to cook so I relied on processed kitchen staples to make meals like tuna noodle casserole, chicken and stuffing, spaghetti pie and cupcakes with canned premade frosting.  I felt so proud that I have come so far in the kitchen and excited for how much farther I have to go on this food journey.  The boxed cake mix required to make the gooey butter cookies also made me smile because they are comfort food to me.  I realized the comfort food is about a feeling.  The feeling that you get when you taste the food and the place it brings you to.  I will forever remember our sliver of a kitchen in our 797 square foot San Francisco condo and the begining of my marriage.  No matter how bad the food tasted Brad always ate it and that is just one of the reasons I love him.  He is my comfort so, there will always be a place in my heart for boxed cake mix and cream of mushroom soup. 

gooey butter cookies
source: paula deen

1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Add cake mix, and stir until well blended. Roll into 1inch balls and roll the balls in the confectioners' sugar. Place 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
3.Bake for 10 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

deep dish pepperoni pizza

I am fairly indifferent to pizza ... weird I know.  I like it but, I rarely crave it.  Brad and the kids love it so, I need to learn appreciate pizza.   This gives me an opportunity to learn to make pizza.  I got a pizza stone last Christmas.  I have tried to make pizza numerous times since and for the most part they have been flops.  First off I have not found my go to dough.  There are so many pizza dough recipes out there and I have tried many but, have not found the one.  I will continue to search and practice.  The hardest part for me is rolling out the dough. When pizza is on a cooking show I watch in hopes to pick up tips.  I have gathered some tips and findings during this journey which have helped but, I am still dough rolling challenged.  This is what I know as of now.  You need to shape and roll the dough.  It helps to shape the dough with you hands to begin.  Gently pull and shape the ball of dough into the general shape you are trying to achieve.  You may be able to get to the final shape using your hands which I think would be the ultimate goal.  If you can't (like me) then once you have the general shape you can use the rolling pin to get to the finish line.  If you mess up and need to gather dough back into a ball you need to let the dough ball sit for a few minutes (~10) to relax before attempting again.  If you go at it again right away the dough snaps back and produces a tough crust (yuck!).  Once you have rolled out the dough if you are using a baking pan like the following recipe it helps to let the pressed dough sit for about 20 minutes before you add the toppings.  These are my discoveries and I actually have no idea if they are accurate but, they have helped me produce better crust ... far from perfect but, certainly better.  If anyone has tips ... help a girl out!

deep dish pepperoni pizza
adapted: cooking light
  • 1  cup  warm water (100° to 110°), divided
  • 12  ounces  bread flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4  cups  (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2  cups basic pizza sauce
  • 2  ounces  pepperoni slices
  • 2  tablespoons  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Pour 3/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour to 3/4 cup water; mix until combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and yeast in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add yeast mixture, oil, and salt to flour mixture; mix 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; cover surface of dough with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, 1 hour or until dough comes to room temperature. Punch dough down. Roll and shape dough out to a 14 x 11–inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Press dough into bottom and partially up sides of a 13 x 9–inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for ~20 minutes.
3. Place a baking sheet in oven on bottom rack. Preheat oven to 450°.
4. Arrange 3/4 cup mozzarella evenly over dough; top with Basic Pizza Sauce, pepperoni, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Place pan on baking sheet in oven; bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until crust is golden. Cut pizza into 6 rectangles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

basic pizza sauce

A recent goal is to make more at home and eat less canned and processed food.  As you can see basic has been in the title of two posts recently.  I am just putting my toe in pond and testing the waters of so many recipes. This is a journey right?  Pizza making is going to take me awhile to perfect but, I am going to keep trying.  These recipes are a starting point as I become more comfortable with the pizza making process.  I like these recipes but, I hope to try some more in the future to compare.  Recently I have been using my bread hook and pizza stone.  See family I know I ask for a lot of kitchen items but, I do use them and I do LOVE them.   (Check out my new all-clad 2 quart saucepan .... LOVE!!) Brad and the kids love pizza.  I thought I was just so so on pizza but, what I realized is there is such a thing as bad pizza and I have had a lot of bad pizza.  Homemade pizza is really good and the best part is you can control the ingredients.  You can eat a slice of pizza knowing what went into it and not feel guilty.  The garlic really shines in this simple sauce which adds a lot to the flavor of the pizza.

basic pizza sauce
adapted: cooking light

  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove tomatoes from can using a slotted spoon, reserving juices. Crush tomatoes. Stir tomatoes, juices, salt, and oregano into garlic mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

s'mores ice cream

With the homemade marshmallows we made oven s'mores, dipped them  in chocolate fondue and floated them  in hot chocolate.  Every variation was enjoyed.  I am excited to make them again for the holidays with a bit of peppermint and use in my snugglers!  We still had some left and I was debating between s'mores cookie bars and s'mores ice cream.  The combination of the 90 degree weather in November and my odd fascination with my ice cream maker pushed the scale toward ice cream.  I used a vanilla ice cream base from the perfect scoop.  It is a little more involved then the other ice creams I have made but, it is SO much better.  This ice cream is worth the process.  I am so glad that I have a go to vanilla bean ice cream. Everyone needs one of those in their cooking arsenal.   After the base was made I hand folded in the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.  This ice cream is good.  Brad said a few times I can't believe you made this.  It is that good but, I think I can make it even better by toasting the marshmallows slightly and melting the milk chocolate into a swirl.  Can't wait to try this again with the potential improvements.  YUM!

I am going to participate in my first blog event!  Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Beanilla.

s'mores ice cream
vanilla ice cream base: the perfect scoop

1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups graham crackers chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (~ 8 full sheets)
1 cup homemade marshmallows cut into 1/4 inch squares
1 cup finely chopped hershey's milk chocolate bars (~2.5 king size bars)

Prepare Ice Cream:

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer ice cream to a large bowl and slowly stir in the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Transfer to freezer save container and freeze until hardened.

Monday, November 8, 2010

basic banana bread

Omega 3s what are they, what do they do?  I am not really sure but, I keep hearing you need to eat them.  I buy the milk with omega 3s and the brown eggs with omega 3s.  Am I the only one that thinks brown eggs are healthier then white?  I have no idea why I think that but, then toss in organic and omega 3 and I am buying them.  I continue to hear about the benefits of flaxseed which  provides both omega 3s and fiber.  I don't cook much fish which is a major source of omega 3s because my house is small and it makes our home smell like fish.  No matter how good the fish is a home that smells like fish is not good.  Carter does not like fish, eggs or vegetables so, I worry about his omega 3s and fiber.  I am always looking for new ways to sneak more into his food without him noticing.  The flaxseed in this banana bread adds a nutty undertone which is tasty.  This banana bread is moist,  flavorful and the light glaze on the top adds enough sweetness that you don't need to spread cream cheese or anything else on this bread.  I typically bake quick bread in four mini pans because I hate wasting food and we don't get through a whole loaf but, this was baked as one big loaf and every crumb is gone. 

basic banana bread
adapted: cooking light
  • 1 1/2  cups  mashed ripe banana (~2 large)
  • 1/3  cup  plain fat-free greek yogurt
  • 5  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 6.75  ounces  all-purpose flour (~ 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4  cup  ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground allspice
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  1% low-fat milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice). Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely. Combine powdered sugar and milk, stirring until smooth; drizzle over bread.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

homemade marshmallows

I have been curious about making marshmallows from scratch.  I have read several blog entries talking about the sticky mess the process leaves both you and your kitchen.  I am not the neatest person in the kitchen so I was assuming I was going to be washing marshmallow strings off the ceiling.  I wasn't sure which step caused the big mess so, I was more cautious then I normally am when baking.  I watched the candy thermometer like a hawk as the mixture bubbled and boiled to the soft ball stage.  I restrained myself from giving in to the urge to stir.  Mixture reached 240 and not a drop on the stove top.  I was then certain it was when I poured it into the mixer but, nope the hot syrup was incorporated without a mess.  I turned the mixer to high and left the kitchen to wash my face and brush my teeth.  A thumping noise started to be heard in the back ground.  I went out to the kitchen to find the kitchen aid working up a sweat.  The sticky marshmallow mixture really puts the mixer to work.  I poured the marshmallow into the pan and there was still quite a bit on the sides of the bowl so, I got out my spatula as I always do in order to scrape the mix stuck to the sides of the bowl into the pan.  As I scraped and pushed the marshmallow mix long strands of white sticky marshmallow began to form.  I made the mistake of trying to break them with my finger.  Before I knew it I had marshmallow strings on my hands, my PJ's, my face and of course eventually in my hair.  I found the messy step!  Cleaned up for the second time that night and let the pan sit over night.  In the morning I turned out with a little help from my fingers a large beautiful white marshmallow pillow on to the cutting board.  I cut, dusted with sugar and tasted.  They were good!  Springy, fluffy, soft bites of marshmallow.  We made homemade s'mores that night and I have had them in cocoa and they take those both up a notch.  Of course now I want to make homemade graham crackers and I know I will be making these again this winter for our annual Mammoth fondue dinner and my snuggler is definitely going to an elevated apres ski drink with these tossed on top. 

homemade marshmallows
adapted: sticky, chewy, messy, gooey

1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
confectioners sugar for dusting

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin evenly over the water and allow the gelatin to sit and absorb the water for 45-60 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cold water, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and let the mixture come to a boil.  Cook the syrup without stirring until it reaches 240 F on a candy thermometer.  Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly beat into gelatin mixture on low speed with whisk attachment.  Increase mixer to high and continue to beat until mixture is very thick, white and still warm (~15 minutes). Beat in the vanilla.

Generously oil a 9x13 baking pan and then dust with confectioners sugar.  Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top with spatula, and dust the top with confectioners sugar.  Let marshmallows sit uncovered at room temperature for 8-12 hours.  Turn marshmallow out of pan onto parchment dusted with confectioners sugar.  Cut into 2 inch pieces.  Put cubes back into pan, dust with confectioners sugar and toss to coat.  Store the marshmallows in an air tight container.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

fonitina stuffed potato skins

I don't like potatoes, I have never like potatoes, I swear I am allergic to potatoes but, that is still an ongoing family debate.  Regardless of my dislike for potatoes my husband loves potatoes.  There is an ongoing joke amongst our friends about Brad's love for potatoes and his mom's killer twice baked potatoes.  The guys that Brad grew up with still talk about these twice baked potatoes ... they are a legend.  Brad's mom still makes them for him on special occasions and I still get ridiculed from the guys that Brad will never truly love me until I can replicate or surpass this famous twice baked potato.  I know I will never match these potatoes but, when my organic box was delivered this week with 4 beautiful russet potatoes I knew I had to attempt to make a stuffed potato.  This is a different spin then the aforementioned famous spud and certainly a lighter version but, all in all I think a good first entry in the world of twice baked.  I made up a full batch and then cooked them off during the week and let me tell you having a side ready to go in the refrigerator was awesome and made the dinner prep so much easier.  I think you could even freeze these before the second bake (need to cross reference with the legendary cook).  Brad liked these.  I know he did not want to hurt my feelings and say they did not compare to his moms but, he did finish every last bite and said his only complaint was they were too small.

fontina stuffed potato skins
source: cooking light
  • 3 1/4  pounds  russet potatoes (4-6 potatoes)
  • 1  cup  whole milk
  • 1/3  cup  light sour cream
  • 1/4  cup  reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped chives
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 6  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh, leaving about a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Combine flesh, milk, sour cream, and buttermilk; mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Stir in fontina and next 4 ingredients (through pepper). Divide mixture evenly among shells. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle potatoes evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until heated.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Broil potatoes 2 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Note:  You can bake and fill potatoes up to 2 days in advance.  Bring to room temperature, sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano cheese and pop in the oven.

Monday, November 1, 2010

pumpkin icebox pie

I love pumpkin.  It is my flavor.  I pretty much deem all foods which highlight pumpkin as delicious.  I love the fall because I can start indulging in my pumpkin love without guilt.  I have a small stack of pumpkin recipes to try.  To my disappointment I made two which were flops.  They were edible but, they were not out of this world.  I made this on my third pumpkin dessert attempt.  It took longer to setup in the refrigerator for me than 3-4 hours so, I started to panic thinking I had 3 flops in a row.  Eventually it did setup and it was yummy!  It is slightly sweeter then pumpkin pie but, has the same silky texture.  The graham cracker crust is thick, buttery and delicious.  The pumpkin icebox pie is gone and no squeaker the mouse did not eat any.  He (or Carter) just wanted to be included in the picture.  Happy fall!

pumpkin icebox pie
adapted: everyday food
  • 16 cinnamon graham crackers, broken into large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin (from 2 packets)
  • 1 can (29 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, combine graham crackers, sugar, and salt; process until fine crumbs form. With machine running, slowly pour butter through feed tube and process until mixture resembles wet sand. Press crumbs in bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square baking dish or 9" pie plate. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fragrant, 20 minutes. Let cool completely in baking dish on a wire rack.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling: Place cup cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and cream cheese until smooth. In a small saucepan, combine evaporated milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; bring to a simmer over medium. Add gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Pour milk mixture into pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely smooth.  Pour mixed filling through a fine meshed sieve to remove any clumps.
  3. Pour filling into cooled crust and refrigerate until chilled and completely set, about 3-4 hours (or wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate, up to 2 days). To serve, whip cream with confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.
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