Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies!

pbcookies2Mmm… double. Double can be good, double can be bad.

Double scoop of ice cream? Good. Double shift at work because someone called out sick? Probably bad. Double date? Well, that’s just awkward…

Throw aside any and all preconceptions you carry of things that are double, and allow yourself to embrace the peanutbutter on peanutbutter goodness that is these little sandwich cookies!

pbcookies1Inspired by these cookies, I’ve scaled down the size of the cookie and swapped out the marshmallow creme for a luscious peanutbutter buttercream found in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I normally stay far away from buttercream, as it tastes a little too much like pure butter for my taste (imagine that! buttercream tasting like butter! ha!), but I could not stop stealing swipes of this stuff straight from the bowl.

To sum this cookie up further, all I can say is: good thing I run!

This is the first of my Fancy Friday posts. And I had so much fun doing it! True, peanut butter cookies are probably the least fancy dessert I could have come up with- but that’s the beauty of these babies. They are simple at heart, but the filling takes them to the next level. Be sure to read my note about these cookies the very bottom of the page before you are ready to make them!

pbcookies3Peanutbutter Cookies*

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural, worked great)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Or, if you’re old-school, mix with a large wooden spoon until incorporated.
  2. Make 48 balls of dough, about 10 grams per piece. Spread out on a couple of cookie sheets, and press down with a fork.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F, or until edges are crispy. Mine were done at ten minutes.

Peanutbutter Buttercream Filling

  • 1 egg white (from an extra large egg)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 T + 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • 4 oz butter (at room temp)
  • 1/2 cup + 3 T creamy peanut butter
  • dash of salt
  1. Place the first measurement of sugar in a saucepan with the water. Stir to moisten the sugar, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. While sugar water is simmering, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with its whisk attachment. Start whipping at medium speed, and gradually add the remaining sugar. Whip until the whites are beginning to form loose peaks.
  3. (back to the stove!) When the sugar has dissolved into the water (should be at 248 F), remove the pan from the heat and begin adding the syrup to the whites, whipping on medium-low speed. Be sure to add the hot syrup slowly and to add it between the side of the bowl and the whites- so as not to cook the egg!
  4. When all the syrup is added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and allow to whip for 15 minutes, or until the whites are holding stiff peaks.
  5. Add the butter, in cut pieces, a few pieces at a time while the mixer is on medium speed.
  6. After all the butter is added, turn it up to top speed for a few second until it looks emulsified.
  7. Scrape all of the buttercream into a smaller container, and then measure 1 cup + 3 T back into the mixer bowl. Add the peanut butter and the salt, and use the paddle attachment to combine.
  8. Pipe the finished peanutbutter buttercream on top of the underside of one cookie and sandwich another half on top. Enjoy!

*Note: Mr. Webb and I agreed- this cookie was better the second day after spending the night at room temp in a covered container! They got softer overnight, preventing the buttercream from squishing out between the crispy cookies and making a mess. If you are going to bring these to a party or to a friend’s house, make them ahead!

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Open-faced blueberry, apple, and goat cheese quesadillas

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Happy ‘Whatever Wednesday!’

In case you missed it, I’ve started a new series in which I will be posting themed posts three times a week. Two days ago, I posted my first ‘Munchie Monday’ post, and two days from now will be ‘Fancy Friday.’ Today, however, is Wednesday. Traditionally, Mondays get the bad rap for being the toughest day of the week. To me, Wednesdays are more deserving of this title. So-called hump day: you’ve been working for two days, and you still have three to go. Sweet memories of a relaxing weekend have been overtaken by your mental to-do list, and the weekend ahead is still too far off to justify daydreaming over.

So, it’s Wednesday, and because my brain is often scattered in a hundred places by this time, my posts will be whatever I feel like. I bring you, then: Whatever Wednesday!

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Let’s talk about goat cheese for a second here: who else is absolutely in love with it!? I tried it for the first time last year in a salad, and I could not get over the unique tang and the creamy texture. Since then, I’ve been nothing short of addicted.

So, on this fine Wednesday, if you’re anything like me, you probably come home from work and are: a) exhausted b) hungry c) hoping that delicious food will appear on a plate in front of you with minimal effort on your part. I can’t do anything about the exhaustion except recommend a good, long nap, but I have a feeling that these open-faced quesadillas will appease the emptiest of bellies. If you’ve already made the salsa on Monday and you have some store-bought tortillas on hand, these are a breeze to put together.

If you are up for a tiny tortilla-making adventure, I’ve got you covered as well.

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I rolled three tortillas at once to save time…

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Cornmeal tortillas

1/4 cup + 2 T cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water

1) Combine cornmeal, flour, and salt. Pour in oil and boiling water. Mix with a spoon until cool enough to handle, and then combine with hands until a dough is formed. Allow to cool, and then shape into 10 balls, about 1 oz each.
2) Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high.
3) Place three balls between two sheets of parchment paper (with space for rolling out, as pictured above), flattening with your palm and then rolling out with a rolling pin until 3-4 inches in diameter. 4) Gently peel off the top piece of parchment, and invert the three circles onto the skillet with the parchment paper still attached. After about ten seconds, you should be able to peel off the top parchment easily. Cook the tortillas until a few brown spots appear on the bottom, and then flip over to cook the other side.

Open-faced blueberry, apple, and goat cheese quesadillas

10 mini tortillas
One recipe blueberry-apple salsa
5 oz goat cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Line a baking sheet with the ten tortillas. Top each tortilla with a generous spoonful of salsa, and bake for ten minutes.
3) Remove sheet from oven, and crumble 1/2 oz of goat cheese on top of each quesadilla. Bake for two more minutes.
4) Sprinkle with a touch of salt, and serve warm!

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Just wait till a warm blueberry explodes all over the inside of your mouth… And that melty cheese… Mmmm! Dinner tonight consisted of these and this salad… Which was amazing!

Blueberry-Apple Salsa… And a New Series!

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Who loves work perks?

Due to the nature of my work, I end up coming home often with free food items…sometimes unexpectedly awesome (jalepeno mustard? Yes please!), sometimes unexpectedly not so awesome (I’ve tried some nasty tasting energy bars), and sometimes just regular ol’ awesome. The two cartons of perfect blueberries I brought home today are clearly an example of the latter!

So yes, I am aware that it is the middle of winter and fresh blueberries are so totally not in season and definitely nowhere near the forefront of your mind… But I am not one to make waste when something is given to me freely! Bookmark this guy for when you happen to have a box of blueberries in your hot little hands!

Before I wax poetic about the loveliness that is fruit salsa, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my first ‘series!’ To give myself a challenge and some loose guidelines for posting, I will aim to post three times a week: ‘Munchie Monday’ will revolve around healthy fare ideal for snacking/small meals. ‘Whatever Wednesday’ is just what it sounds like: whatever I feel like making and posting about. ‘Fancy Friday’ will be indulgent and (hopefully!) pretty, probably a dessert.

I hope that excites you just a fraction of how it excites me! I’m a checklist girl, and I like making goals and guidelines for myself. Three times a week compared to my sporadic postings thus far will be a challenge!

And, for my first ever Munchie Monday, I bring you…

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Blueberry-apple Salsa

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and diced
5 green onions, chopped tiny
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced
Hearty dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Scant tablespoon sugar
Juice of three limes

Combine all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour (ideally more) to allow the flavors to blend and the fruit to release their liquids.

This combo was super fresh tasting and was wonderful for scooping up with chips! Stay tuned on Wednesday for what I smeared this goodness on as a meal…

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Vegan Banana-Cornmeal Muffins (that won’t ruin your New Years resolution!)

bananacornmuffin5Hello blogging world! It’s been a while.

Last time I showed my face around these parts (three weeks ago now!), we were all in the midst of holiday joy and the accompanying holiday gluttony. I don’t know about you, but it is now mid-January, and I refuse to give up on my “starting off the New Years right” health kick.

I buy an insane amount of bananas at one time- a habit that began sometime last year when I realized how wonderful they were for freezing and adding to smoothies (and my Costco membership allowed and encouraged me to buy everything in bulk). When I leave the store with four large bunches of bananas, I often think about what I would assume about myself if I was the onlooker… poor girl who got picked to supply snack for the kids in her Sunday school class and can only afford bananas? Far too young mother of five children? Chimpanzee trainer?

I don’t know what it looks like to strangers, but it is for sure that I end up looking like a madwoman to my friends who come over and spy heaps of brown bananas sitting on the counter. However, I know that they are actually at their sweetest when they are almost entirely brown. When my sweet tooth began to tingle on a cold day in January, I decided to utilize their browned, sweet perfection for a basket of muffins instead of confining them to the freezer as usual.

I cannot believe how moist these turned out to be despite their typically dry whole grains and lack of added fats. The texture is definitely on the more dense side of the muffin spectrum, but the somewhat gritty feel of the cornmeal suits this very well. This is a serious breakfast muffin that will leave you full and happy and your sweet-tooth satisfied without making you feel as if you had digested rocks for breakfast!

bananacornmuffin3Vegan Banana Cornbread Muffins
makes 9-12 muffins, depending on preferred size!

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium bananas (12.5 oz), mashed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 T flaxseed meal mixed with 3 T water
  • 3/4 cup light soymilk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a muffin tin with 9-12 muffin liners.
  2. Whisk flax and water together, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Mash bananas (should be 12.5 oz out of the peel), and combine with maple syrup, flaxseed “egg”, and soymilk.
  4. Combine cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda, and then add to the banana mixture. Combine just until all is incorporated, being sure not to over-mix.
  5. For 9 muffins of the size pictured, drop muffin batter into each liner until it is almost level with the top of the liner.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick!

According to caloriecount.com, each muffin (if making 9) has only 150 calories. I preferred these at room temperature and thought that they were actually better the second day! Make sure you keep them in an air-tight container to prevent from drying out!

Ina Garten’s Maple Oat Scones

mapleoatsconesDo heart-shaped baked goods make your heart as happy as they make mine? In my book, it doesn’t even have to be February to bust out the heart-shaped cookie cutter and go to town! A delicious recipe and a loved one to share it with is reason enough for me.

My love for Ina Garten and her style of cooking began back in college, when I had five roommates and one television. Most of the time, majority ruled and the TV was dominated by Sixteen and Pregnant, Gossip Girls, Days of Our Lives, and other shows that I didn’t care for. Once in a while, I would somehow gain access to the remote control for a minute and flip it to the Food Network- naturally, my station of choice. We were a silly bunch of girls that liked to laugh, and when I got my roommates to watch with me, it was 75% poking fun at the cheesy celebrity chefs, and 25% drooling over the recipes. I secretly loved every minute of watching the ease at which these chefs seemed to talk about and execute their craft. Ina Garten, in particular, conveyed a true understanding of what it meant to love both people and food with her incredibly simple and comforting yet stunningly elegant dishes.

I feel like these scones are the embodiment of her cooking style: made with simple ingredients, invoke feelings of love and comfort at first bite, and styled beautifully enough for a photo shoot. While the butter inside these would not allow me to call these a healthy breakfast, they are laced with whole wheat flour and oats to give you a bit of lasting power until lunch. Paired with a platter of fruit and some coffee or tea, these would make a gorgeous addition to a fancy brunch or would be great for a weekend morning with your sweetie.

Do you think if I had offered these as a bribe during college my roommates would have surrendered the remote more willingly? 😉

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Maple Oat Scones
For the scones:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup cold buttermilk*
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash

For the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, if you have one).
  3. Blend (or cut in, if no stand mixer) in the cold butter with mixer at lowest speed until butter chunks are the size of peas.
  4. Combine the buttermilk, syrup, and eggs, and add all at once to the bowl. Combine just until incorporated.
  5. As the dough will be sticky, heavily flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Roll or pat out (I patted) the dough until it is 3/4-1 inch tall. Lumps of butter are ok to be in the dough. Cut out 7 to 9 scones, using whatever biscuit cutter you have handy or think is cute! My heart was about 3 1/2 inches across and I got nine, but a plain 3 inch round biscuit cutter should work just fine as well.
  6. Leaving an inch of space between each scone, place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Use a pastry brush to egg wash the biscuits, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Tops should be golden.
  7. Meanwhile, use a little whisk or fork to beat the glaze ingredients together. After the scones have cooled for at least five minutes, drip a tablespoon of glaze onto each scone. Garnish with a sprinkling of dry oats!

*as I had no buttermilk on hand, I used the old lemon juice combined with milk trick to make faux buttermilk. I just squeezed a half tablespoon worth of lemon juice into a 1/4 cup measuring cup, filled the rest with regular milk, and let it sit for five minutes before I incorporated it.

Gingerbread cake with molasses-lemon cream cheese frosting.

gingercake4Have you heard? Ginger is the new black carrot. Ginger is spicy, sassy, and the perfect vehicle for luscious cream cheese frosting. I believe that ginger, although seemingly usurped by other seasonal flavors (I’m looking at you, peppermint and eggnog!), deserves a spot amongst the best of the Christmas-time desserts.

So why should ginger, such a regal and bold spice, be confined to boy and girl cutouts?

If you’ve never had crystallized ginger, let this cake be the reason you finally try some out. The little spicy, tan-colored jewels were actually the inspiration for this cake. Chatting with a coworker about how we liked to pop them like candy, I suddenly envisioned a cream-cheese covered cake studded with nuts and surprising bits of spicy crystallized ginger. And I could not get the idea out of my head until the cake was sitting on the counter in my kitchen!

This cake is definitely a rip-off of carrot cake with a seasonal spin. But a rip-off never tasted so good!

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Gingerbread Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup milk

Molasses-lemon cream cheese frosting/garnish

  • 8 oz cream cheese (can come straight from refrigerator if butter is soft)
  • 5 T butter, room temperature
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 cup each of pecans and walnuts, measured and then processed/chopped smallish
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, measured and then chopped, plus extra whole for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray and flour an 8-inch springform pan (which I did), or a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each egg. Add molasses and lemon zest, combine.
  4. Add the milk and flour mixture alternatively, mixing after each addition, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake, checking at 45 minutes. Mine took over an hour, probably because of the tall 8-inch pan.
  6. Meanwhile, in a new bowl, cream together the butter, softened cream cheese, molasses, and extract. Add powdered sugar a little at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
  7. When cake is turned out of pan and completely cool, torte the cake (slice it in half horizontally.) Spread frosting in between the cake layers and sandwich back together; frost the entire cake. (If cream cheese frosting is difficult to work with, microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring after each 15 seconds, until consistency is spreadable and workable.)
  8. Combine the chopped pecans, walnuts, and ginger. Press into the side of the cake, and sprinkle onto the top center. Garnish with large chunks of ginger.

Enjoy, from my kitchen to yours! ❤

Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

I’m warning you.

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I may be getting ahead of myself, as these are only the second batch of cookies I’ve baked this season, but these may be the mother of all Christmas cookies.

A brownie-like texture with crispy edges. Rich chocolatey goodness begging for a glass of milk to take a dip into. Crunchy peppermint shards gracing the top.

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Ohhhh, yeah. Let’s just say… Santa’s going to need Mrs. Claus to tailor the waist of his pants after he visits our house this year. I may need to do some sewing of my own, at the rate Mr. Webb and I have been consuming these cookies…

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Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

7 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 oz crushed peppermint candy, plus more for top

1) Melt 4 oz. of chocolate, set aside.
2) Beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
3) Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each. Add both extracts.
4) Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture.
5) Stir in remaining 3 oz. of chocolate chips and 1 oz. of peppermint candy.
6) Drop large spoonfuls of dough (about 2 T) onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, allowing plenty of room to spread. Push a sprinkling of crushed peppermint into the top of each dough ball.
7) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are firm and dry.

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you…