Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

I like peanut butter, I like chocolate. These cookies were an instant hit. Jill made them for me--I'm forever in her debt! They are not difficult cookies but you must pay attention to the recipe. I only say this because I have been known to get sidetracked. So read the instructions, stay on track and you will have the best chocolate/peanut butter cookie ever.

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup peanut butter
To make the 'chocolate' cookie. Mix together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Beat sugar, butter, 1/4 cup peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg. Stir in flour mixture just until blended--don't over mix.Chill dough.
To make Peanut butter filling. Combine the confectioners sugar and 1 cup peanut butter. Blend well. Roll filling into 30, 1 inch balls. Freeze balls for at least an hour.

 This recipe make 30 cookies so form the chilled chocolate dough in a log. Divide into 30 pieces. Or if you can think of a better way to get 30 cookies let me know!
Working with 5 cookies at a time (keep the rest of the peanut butter balls in the freezer, they thaw quickly and are difficult to work with) flatten the chocolate cookie. Put the frozen peanut butter ball in the center of the cookie, wrap the ball completely with chocolate dough. Roll in sparkling sugar and flatten with a small glass.

Bake cookies at 375 for about 7-9 minutes. The cookies will be set and starting to crack. Repeat process for remaining cookies.
Cool cookies on a wire rack--serve with a tall glass of milk. This is one yummy cookie, enjoy!
Jill will you make these for the wedding weekend?? 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wedding Gift

We have a large family, I come from a large family my brothers have large families. My friends have large families. We have lived in the same small town for 35 years. So what does all this mean?? It means we get invited to a lot of wedding receptions. Sometimes 3 or more a month. Now I would love to spoil every couple with a large gift but reality shouts.
So I try to get the most for my gift dollar. I wish I could scour the stores for great bargins but I can't so I have to be clever. I am a strong believer that presentation is everything. Wrap most anything in cellophane and tie a big bow--you have a beautiful gift. I keep a well stocked 'wrapping' closet. Cellophane, tissue paper, wrapping paper, lots of rolls of ribbon from Costco and spools of tuille. Little gift cards, twine and fun toppers round out my wrapping closet.

Here is what is in my gift closet right now:
Green cleaning totes
Green dish soap
Green cleaning brushes
Yellow kitchen towels
Magic Erasers
Rubber gloves
Clorox wipes
The green items were purchased at the dollar store. The other cleaning supplies were purchased at Walmart. I buy my favorite kitchen towels at Williams and Sanoma, on sale with free shipping.
I purchased enough supplies to fill about 6 baskets. So I always have a gift ready for a wedding or shower and I didn't break the bank!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pasta Salad with a Story

My blog started out as a place to journal my favorite recipes--my kids were leaving home for missions, college and marriage. It wasn't long till they got hungry, it happens you know. So I would field  several cooking questions each week or day as needed. Now I was happy to do this, I love chatting with my kids as they turned into awesome adults. 

Along came my blog--a place to journal family favorite recipes and some new recipes along the way. I occasionally put in a few family photos because my kids and grand kids are just so darn cute.
Then I thought, as long as I'm writing why not tell a few stories along the way. Food stories, family stories etc. That's the fun thing about a blog--it's yours to do as you please.

So the Pasta Salad Story:
In 1970 a new store moved to the small town of Pleasant Grove, that of itself was big news. Story Pharmacy moved to Main Street just a few doors south of Rexall Drug (it had been the only drug store in Pleasant Grove for about 100 years).
Story Pharmacy was run by the pharmacist Mr. Story. Mrs. Story ran the soda fountain I loved the soda fountain, they made a mean 'wild hourse' drink. But my favorite item on the menu was the pasta salad. It was served to go in a small plastic cup, it came with a slice of buttered toast cut in triangles. I really don't know why one would serve toast with pasta salad--but they did.
One must understand that the only kind of pasta served at my house (remember there are 5 brothers) was drenched in red sauce and had plenty of meat balls along side. So to be able to buy a cup of delicious pasta salad full of crunchy veggies, small shrimp, certainly from a can and a light sauce was delightful. As soon as I could drive in 1971 I often visited Story Pharmacy, just for their pasta salad. That is one great memory.
So when Candise made a pasta salad for a family party, I ate some in a cup and was taken right back to Story's sitting on the orange upholstered stools wishing I had a triangle of toast!

 So please enjoy Pasta Salad with a Story--served with a toast triangle if desired.
16 ounces small pasta, small shells, ditalini
1/2 cup roasted red pepper,chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet/spicy pickles I used Famous Dave's
1/2 cup chopped green onion--whites and greens
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup milk to thin dressing
pickle juice to thin and add flavor
Garnish with 1/2 cup chopped parsley
Cook pasta in boiling salted water till done--don't overcook. Rinse in cold water till pasta is cool. Add the chopped veggies. Make the sauce by mixing the mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Thin to pourable consistency by adding milk and pickle juice. Pour dressing over salad and stir. If more dressing is needed just take a couple of tablespoons of mayo and thin down with pickle juice. Stir all ingredients together. Chill.
Before serving add small cooked shrimp and diced tomatoes. This makes a big salad--plenty to share.
The Pampered Chef Chopper is made for salads like this. Sometime I like a fine dice--this salad isn't that time. Chop things, no need to clean the chopper between. The chopper makes this salad a quick meal. Quick is good.
This recipe was inspired by Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Semolina Bread TWD/BWJ

Stepping outside my comfort zone often happens as a result of being in a baking group. Take Semolina flour for instance. I've been baking for over 35 years and never used it. Does one admit such things on a public blog?? But I'm happy I accepted the challenge because this bread was delicious. I will make it often.

This is not a quick recipe but it is not a difficult recipe either. It comes together easily in your food processor or mixer. It does have 3 rising times, each for about 2 hours. But patience pays off with a beautiful loaf of sunny, slightly nutty bread. It was perfect with a bowl of Cream of Broccoli Soup.
Our hostesses this week are Anna, she blogs at Keep it Luce, and Renee from The Way to My Family's Heart check their blogs for the complete recipe.

Now that I think about it I did decrease the salt a bit. The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of salt, I cut it down to 1 1/2 teaspoon. I think it would have been fine either way. I also made White Loaves while I had things out. 3 beautiful loaves of bread in one day--what a treat!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread

My goal when making banana bread is to camouflage the banana flavor. Did I ever succeed with this recipe!! Imagine a nice banana bread base with a little peanut butter stirred in for flavor and 8 ounces of Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! Now we are taking serious banana bread.
This is fun, delicious and just may become your new favorite banana bread recipe. Try it today.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread
Mix together in a large bowl:
3 very ripe bananas--mashed
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
In a small bowl mix together:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix oh so gently, You really just don't want to over mix quick breads. Gently fold in an 8 ounce package of Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups. Spray pans with Pam for Baking, I love that stuff. This recipe fills 3 loafs in a Pampered Chef Mini Loaf Pan. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes. Tooth pick will come out mostly clean when done.
I only use mini loaf pans because they are so dang cute, they are easy to share and I have poor luck with regular size loaf pans. Edges burnt, gooey center, center won't rise etc. It doesn't take too many failures for me to find a plan B. In my case when making quick breads plan B is Mini Loaf Pans! I also wonder if altitude may play a part??
Yes, I do sell Pampered Chef. If you live locally and need something I'm sending an order in Saturday. 

Thanks Cookies and Cups for sharing a  great recipe!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chicken, Bacon. Avocado Quesadilla--30 Minute Meal

I love it when I try a new recipe for dinner and it's good, good enough that I will make it again! This is a  simple recipe that uses ingredients that are usually in my pantry.

Chicken, Bacon, Avocado Quesadillas
8 slices bacon-diced
1 pound chicken tenders-diced
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 avocado-diced
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
4 flour tortillas-I used uncooked

Cooked diced bacon until crisp, remove from pan. Using 2 teaspoons of bacon grease cook green onions for 2 minutes. Add diced chicken and cook till brown and done about 5 minutes. Cook flour tortilla in hot pan, flip and top with shredded cheese, bacon, chicken and avocado. Fold tortilla cut in thirds with a pizza cutter and serve with salsa.
Want to make this even quicker?? Use precooked bacon, rotisserie chicken and pre-made refrigerated guacamole. This will turn this 30 minute meal into a 15 minute meal.
Thanks Cook with Sara--this is a great dish.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pecan Pie Bars from Jill

I received an urgent e-mail from my daughter. It was short--Mom, you have got to make these Pecan Pie Bars NOW! Jill is a great cook so I did just what she said and made them. The recipe started out with 3 cubes of butter...they had to be good.  It has a shortbread crust and a delicious pecan topping. Luckily I had lots of company so it disappeared quickly.
This is a perfect treat for your next picnic or barbeque. Consider this your urgent message!

Pecan Pie Bars
For the crust
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

 For the topping
1 stick butter
1 cup light brown sugar (7 ounces)*
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350, line a 9x13 pan with foil, leave a 2 inch overhang--this will make for an easy removal. Spray the foil.
Make the crust by creaming the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the flour and salt--mix until crumbly.
Press the crust in the foil lined pan and bake for 20 minutes. Crust will be golden brown.
While the crust bakes prepare the filling. Combine butter, brown sugar, honey and cream in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat, simmer the mixture for 1 minute then add pecans.
Pour the hot filling over the hot crust, spread as needed. Bake an additional 20 minutes. Allow bars to cool completely in pan (I may have speed the process by putting them in the freezer--I'm an inpatient soul). Use the foil to lift the cool bars out of the pan. Remove foil, place on cutting board and cut in nice neat squares.
Serve to your friends and family--they will love you forever!

*Why do I give the brown sugar in ounces? I've always packed the brown sugar in the measuring cup as the recipe directs. I guess there must be many levels of 'packed' because  I measured my 'packed' brown sugar and found I had almost an ounce too much! Doesn't sound like much but it made all the difference in the cookie bars I was making. So now I measure my brown sugar on my scale. A scale is a great thing to have. Give your husband one for his birthday!
**My crust was thicker than the original recipe. It was good but I just may adjust the crust in the future--maybe make 3/4 the recipe. The topping was perfect!
 Thanks Just a Taste for a great recipe

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chicken and Spinach Farfalle

Who doesn't need a light, yummy meal in less than 30 minutes. We are all busy--but hungry for good food. This quick pasta fits the bill. I found the recipe in a proven cookbook. America's Best--The Best Simple Recipe. I made a few adjustments, I used less pasta and a little more cheese, it was delicious!

Chicken and Spinach Farflle
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
8 ounces mini farfalle
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmigino-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in  large skillet over medium high heat. Cook half of the chicken until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate Repeat with the remaining chicken and butter.
2.  Add the garlic to the empty skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in cream, lemon zest and lemon juice, simmer till slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
3.  Meanwhile add 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water. Add mini Farflle and cook till al dente. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, return to pot. Add sauce, spinach, cheese, pine nuts and cooked chicken--add reserved water if needed. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Devilish Shortcakes--TWD

We have been watching our friends house. They happen to have a large raspberry patch; we have been enjoying delicious fresh picked raspberries. What a perk!
Somehow I missed making Devilish Shortcakes, this was a mistake! These are just slightly sweet with a hint of chocolate, light as a feather and most delicious. Served with sweetened berries and whipped cream this is a perfect summer dessert.
Love Big Bake Often was our hostess the week we baked this delicious dessert. She has the complete recipe on her blog. Check it out, this really is a yummy dessert.
Just a note--the recipe said it makes 10 shortcakes. I used my large Pampered Chef Scoop and got 18 shortcakes--they were very large servings. I baked off a few for dessert today; the rest were quick frozen to be baked and enjoyed when company comes. I do love having a few treats in the freezer--ready for a busy day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Family Time!

And a good time was had by all!