Saturday, July 31, 2010

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies!!!!

I have so many stories about peanut butter I just don't know where to begin. Growing up you could always tell how my family was doing financially by the contents of our lunch bags. Ham and cheese - we were doing well, peanut butter and honey- not so well. : ) I remember walking around the grocery store with my mom trying to find the cheapest massive tub of peanut butter that existed...let me tell you, they sell some pretty big buckets of that stuff!! Now peanut butter is a strong force to be reckoned with...either you hate it, or you love it. : ) The usual accomplice of peanut butter is jelly, but for some reason we never were a jelly family. Don't get me wrong, I love jelly and jam...just not with peanut butter. Sometime during my college years I converted from the sugar filled, preservative filled peanut butter to the natural kind instead...and I have never looked back. My BFF and her husband are the real crunchy type, only eating things straight from the earth...which is awesome...wish I had that much discipline : )...anyway, the only common food in either of our fridges was always peanut when I visit them and refuse to eat their raw meat, I eat peanut butter instead...and then when they visit me and refuse to eat my semi hormone injected chicken...they eat peanut butter. : )

I used to always make this one peanut butter cookie recipe from page 277 of Talk about good cooking 2...but, they are just to darn flat for me now. So, I searched around, and combined a few recipes to come up with my NEW favorite Peanut Butter Cookies!!!

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies

In large bowl mix with mixer until smooth and fluffy...about 2 minutes:

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick + 2 TBS unsalted butter room temp

Scrape down bowl and mix a few seconds, then add and mix until combined:

1 cup natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

Scrape bowl and add the following and mix until smooth 2 minutes:

1 XL egg
2 TBS honey

Scrape down bowl and add the following:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix until combined and scoop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. At this point you can do 2 things...1) dip a fork into flour and do the traditional criss cross pattern...2) use your finger and make a well in the middle of each cookie...then fill with a few drops of honey, chocolate chips, or jam. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Italian kinda wedding soup...

So I always thought Italian wedding soup was called..."Italian wedding soup" because it is what everyone ate leading up to a wedding...I figured it is so brothy and healthy it helped people get in shape for the big day. : ) Apparently, I was wrong. The name "Wedding soup" actually comes from a mistranslation of the words, "minestra maritata", meaning "married soup." Referring to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together. Random...I mean, fish and chips go well together, maybe we should call them "wedding fish."

I got this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on I pretty much followed the recipe as is except I reduced the kosher salt to 3/4 tsp, used Kale instead of curly endive, and reduced the chicken broth to 8 cups instead of 12. Oh, and I got lazy half way through making the meatballs into balls and decided to just chuck the meat into the pot in one big clump. Worked out okay for me! : ) Served along side a hunk of crusty that's what I call "comfort."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pesto Pesto do your very besto!

Pesto, cheese, and pine nuts in sweet bowls my momma bought me in Newburyport, MA

The mother load of basil in the colander my parents got as a wedding gift 30 years ago

Every time I hear the word "Pesto" I automatically start singing that "Presto, Presto" song from the old school Cary Grant/Sophia Loren movie "Houseboat". If you haven't seen it yet, I highly suggest it!!! Here is a quick link to the song from the movie:

I have tried to grow my own herbs at home many a time, but this darn Texas heat kills everything I try to grow! However, my brother, Leif, recently planted a few herbs in the back yard...and success!!! We finally have our own fresh herbs! Thank you brother!!! We have three lovely basil plants that shot up wicked fast and yielded many a leaf for my culinary experiments. My absolute favorite thing to do with pesto is to make a chicken/goat cheese/pesto/spinach whole wheat so so awesome! I plan on making it this weekend in honor of my birthday so I will post that recipe soon. Anyway, pesto is very versatile, you can put it on...pasta, potatoes, veggies, sandwiches, crostinis, etc, etc...hum...I wonder if you could use it as a face mask as well?


4 cups packed fresh basil (washed and dried)
2/3 cup pine nuts

6 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

In food processor pulse basil, garlic, and pine nuts until desired chunkiness is achieved. While machine is running slowly drizzle in olive oil. Then add cheese, salt and pepper and pulse until combined. Store in air tight container in fridge. Should keep about 2 weeks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A tale of a pancake and a girl named Mimzer.

My parents are out of town and as a result dinner is always random and weird. My little sister, Mimzer Head and her bff, Haley...were kind enough to make dinner for us all last night. What was on the menu you ask? Chocolate chip pancakes. So delicious and wonderful were they that I thought they deserved a blog post. Not only was I relieved to not have to make dinner, I was always very pleased with how my dinner tasted. Good job girls! Now Mimzer is quite a good little cook...but no matter what she makes people always assume I made it and compliment me...honestly, I do feel bad that she tries and succeeds and never gets the credit. So here's to Mimzer, a good cook and a wonderful little sister!!

I suffer from a horrible habit...I like to "tweak" recipes. I mostly do this because I like general ideas and recipes, but adjust them to what I like. Crunchy, chewy, grainy...chocolate. Sometimes this habit serves me well and I create some pretty wicked awesome stuff...other times it is such a curse and I end up with weird concoctions. Anyways, Mimzer is really good at following recipes to the letter, and as a result she made these wonderful pancakes. Now mind you, if you like plain white super fluffy pancakes...this is your recipe! I like lots of grains in my pancakes so I always have a crunchier more wheaty pancake...but these are pretty awesome pancakes!!!

Buttermilk Pancakes
From the Good Housekeeping Cookbook

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated...whites in one bowl, yolks in another
2 cups buttermilk
2 TBS melted butter

In small bowl sift flour, soda, and salt-set aside. In medium bowl beat egg whites with mixer until soft peaks are formed. Set aside. In separate bowl beat egg yolks and buttermilk until blended. Add flour mix to yolks/buttermilk bowl and stir until smooth. Add melted butter and mix until smooth. Then fold in the egg whites with a spatula until just combined. To make them chocolate chip, spoon batter onto hot griddle and then sprinkle a few chips onto each pancake.

Monday, July 12, 2010

White Bean Dip

Call me weird, but I love beans. Back in the day when we were a super broke family we would eat beans and rice for dinner at least three times a week. If we were lucky and money was okay we would get hot dogs with the beans. Good times. Now that I am all grown up and once again super broke, I often enjoy beans and rice for dinner.

I first had this dip when I briefly worked for a caterer here in Texas. It is wicked easy to make, and a welcome addition to any party. I made this at our summer home had a few bites...walked away for a few minutes and returned to an empty bowl...vultures...they are all vultures...I swear sometimes they act like they have never eaten food before.

White Bean and Sage dip

2 cans drained Cannellini beans (or any white bean you can find at the store)
olive oil
3 TBS chopped fresh Sage

1 1/2 TBS chopped fresh garlic

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of cayenne pepper

In medium saute pan heat about 2 TBS olive oil. Add chopped sage and cook for about two minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add drained beans and cook 1-2 minutes. Add salt and Cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Remove from heat and place in food processor, add 3 TBS olive oil and process until smooth. Add additional salt if you like...I usually do, but I like salty things. Place in bowl and drizzle with additional oil and chopped sage for garnish. Serve warmed with warm pitas cut into wedges.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mediterranean Salsa

Hello vacation, goodbye skinny jeans! I always gain weight during our summer vacations mostly because I add an extra meal each day...appetizers! As soon as I arrived on my island I quickly compiled a list of "recipes to test"...of course I always forget that our beach house kitchen is seriously lacking in my mixer, good knives, measuring cups...etc. So, my list quickly shrank as I figured out what I could and could not make in our vacation kitchen.

I just went to a Greek and Lebanese wedding and have been craving feta cheese...very strange indeed. I found this recipe for feta salsa on Smitten Kitchen and absolutely loved it. It was so popular here that 1/2 the people in the house didn't even get to try time I plan on doubling it. I suggest making it ahead of time and allowing all the flavors to really meld together for a few hours or overnight. I served this with warmed up pitas cut into triangles.

Mediterranean Salsa
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8oz feta cheese (diced into pea sized pieces)
2/3 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives cut into quarters

3 TBSP of flat leaf parsley chopped

2 scallions sliced into thin disks
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix in medium bowl and enjoy with pitas or crackers.