Monthly Archives: January 2012

Peanut Butter Blossoms

My mom used to make peanut butter cookies on occasion when I was little.  Though I’m not a HUGE peanut butter person, there is something about biting into a moist cookie with the comfort of peanut butter that is quite satisfying.  I think it was my sister who started making these in my house and I have simply modified her recipe, which comes from the Hershey kitchen, to make the variation pictured above.  Rather than using chocolate kisses, I recommend “hugs” – it reminds me of the classic combo of milk and peanut butter.  It’s a very simple recipe but a word to the wise – it’s time consuming.  Don’t make these if you want a quick cookie.  The rolling and the unwrapping and the placing of the hugs can be a bit tedious (but it’s worth it !)

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INGREDIENTS

1 bag of Hersheys’s HUGS
1 1/4 cups peanut butter (I prefer the creamy/smooth variety but chunky/crunchy works just as well. Also, no need to buy “Reese’s peanut butter” as that’s just  over-sweetened goop.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar ( + 1/2 more for dusting)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 flour (depending on the oiliness of the peanut butter…)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Beat the butter and the peanut butter together until creamy.  Add the sugar(s), white and brown, slowly.  Make sure to beat well after each addition – the dough should lighten in color and be quite fluffy.

Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, beating well.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat again to make sure that everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

NOTE :  I often add spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, to this recipe.  However, I rarely measure.  I would guess that about a tsp of cinnamon and a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg find their way into my mixture.  If you wish to add these flavors, do so now and mix in with the flour.

Add the flour mixture to the batter, stirirng slowly as to prevent “flour clouds”.  This makes cleanup a pain and everyone knows how much I love to clean…grumble.  😉

Pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl.  Then, using a tablespoon, scoop out some of the dough.  Roll the dough between your two palms, making the dough into a ball.  Drop this into the bowl of sugar and coat. Then, place the rolled dough onto a baking sheet, making a small impression in the center with your thumb.

Cook for around 10 minutes – the cookies will puff slightly and turn a golden color when ready.  However, these are “better under than over” – meaning underdone – as if they are overcooked they will be dry.  Dry cookies are not happy cookies. Unless they are shortbread.  Or ginger snaps.

When cooked, remove from oven.  Place in the center of each cookie an unwrapped HUG, pressing down to firmly “mount” the chocolate.  It’s handy to have the hugs unwrapped prior to cooking…but I am never that organized so I unwrap them while the cookies are in the oven.

Make sure to sample one when warm – the chocolate will melt but still hold its shape (oh the bizarre would of Hershey’s waxy chocolate) – so while it might get messy, it’s usually a worry-free nibble.

Happy eating !

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Homemade Pizza with Veggies and Goat Cheese

In my family, homemade pizza is a Sunday evening tradition.  From the crust to the topping, we love to get inventive. My favorite variation is currently a sweet, rosemary crust topped with onions, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, mushrooms, garlic, and goat cheese…though since it’s pizza, you can put essentially anything on top and it will taste delicious.  I’ll put the recipe for the crust in a separate post.

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FOR THE TOPPING

5 onions
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts
Pancetta or bacon or ham or prosciutto
Cherry tomatoes (grape tomatoes are just as nice)
Sundried tomatoes
Mushrooms (optional)
3 cloves Garlic
Mozzarella cheese (I like to use fresh but the shredded kind is fine….or a mix is good too)
Goat cheese

McCormick Italian herbs seasoning.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, put 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil. Cut the onions into little strips, quartering them then cutting those quarters into three. Add the garlic, diced, to the pan. Start by sauteing the onions until they are caramelized, meaning they take on a light brown color. Be sure to stir them constantly to prevent them from burning.  Add a few turns of McCormick Italian Herbs seasoning.

Add the tomatoes, halved, into the onion mixture. Cook until just softened…maybe 5 minutes. Take the artichoke hearts and cut them into small pieces….they are usually too big in the store-bought container, so I snip them in half with kitchen scissors. Add those to the mushroom/tomato/onion mix. A little grated Parmesan is nice to add, as well as a liberal amount of seasoning.

In a separate pan, cook the mushrooms (if desired).  Make sure not to put too many in the pan and cook these only in butter. They will shrink and turn brown. Once they have done so, add them to the mix.

If you are using pancetta or ham, give it a quick fry in a pan. No grease necessary for pancetta……..a little butter for ham. Just a tiny bit. Reserve this.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.  On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough.  On the pizza dough, spread a wee bit of sauce by using the back of a large spoon. Then, add the shredded mozzarella cheese. On top of this, put the topping. Then the meat. Then the fresh mozzarella or goat cheese and top with a little Parmesan.

Cook the pizza for 20 minutes or until the crust and the cheese are a nice brown color.  Allow the pizza to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting – otherwise, the pizza will ooze everywhere and make a mess on the stovetop…not fun.

Happy eating !

Categories: English | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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