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Peanut(ty) Butter Cookies

Otherwise know as “Whole Jar” Peanut Butter Cookies, this recipe is my very favorite.  Having had a “peanut free” bakery, I often found myself craving peanut butter.  Occasionally on my day off the car would lead me to a nearby bakery, aptly named “Happiness Is..” for their delicious peanut butter cookie, which I believe to be this recipe.  I’m guessing the original recipe came from one of the peanut butter companies, because of the “whole jar” of peanut butter called for.

As an aside, who didn’t grow up eating peanut butter??!!  Really, we practically lived on peanut butter sandwiches as did every other kid in my school.  For what I believe must be environmental, many children find themselves allergic, so Perfect Endings Bakery was a peanut-free bakery.

If you are fortunate enough to not have a loved one with a peanut allergy, do enjoy these cookies, as you won’t get any more peanut butter flavor than this.

In a mixer bowl, cream:
1 cup Butter, room temp.
 
Add to the butter and cream well:
1 cup Sugar
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
 
Add to above and mix well:
2 Eggs, whole
1 Egg Yolk
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 whole jar (18 ounce) Peanut Butter, creamy
 
Combine dry ingredients in another bowl and then add to above:
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
 
Stir in:
1 cup Peanuts, coarse chopped
 
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.  Roll into 1-1/2″ balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving room for spread.   Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 9-12 minutes, or until lightly browned, but still soft in the center.  When removed from the oven, immediately press down the cookie with a flat spatula.  As with most cookies, these freeze well. 
 
  
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Pumpkin Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Perfect for any fall or Thanksgiving meal, the pumpkin roll appeals to all. Rather than serve a pumpkin pie, or maybe in addition to a pumpkin pie, this cake is soft and slightly spicy and has a creamy cream cheese filling.  The maple extract really compliments the pumpkin, but if you don’t like maple, just use the vanilla extract.

Traditionally, the recipe says to dump the cake out on to a towel while it is hot from the oven and then roll the cake lengthwise.  Did you know there is an easier way?  Use parchment on the bottom of the sheet pan.  Then allow to cool before removing – It works great and there’s no chance of getting burned on a hot pan.

 

 

 

In a mixer bowl, whip until light colored and fluffy and doubled in volume:      
3 Eggs, whole
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Pumpkin
 
Sift and fold into above ingredients:
¾ cup Cake Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie spice or ½ tsp. Cinnamon and ¼ tsp. Ground Cloves and 1/4 tsp. Ginger

Spread the mixture into a parchment lined 1” sided cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or until it springs back when touched.

Allow the cake to cool completely, remove cake from the pan by pulling the parchment off on to the counter.  Flip over the cold cake and remove the parchment.

Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
Cream until smooth:
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tabl. Butter, softened
 
Add:
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
½ tsp. Maple Extract
 
Add and beat until smooth:
1 cup powdered Sugar
 

Spread the filling onto the cooled cake.  Roll the cake lengthwise, rolling it tight.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Place on serving tray and cut into 1″ slices to serve.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

One of the recipes floating around the internet, which is by Abigail Dodge, that I’ve wanted to try is a “skillet” cookie.  Called so, because it is made, mixed, baked in and served from, a cast iron skillet.  The picture on the right pretty much sums up how much your family and guests will enjoy this quick dessert.  My two and a half year old grandson, Joey, was so excited he kept exclaiming “giant cookie!!” and decided to lick his plate clean (NOT something I’ve seen him do ever before)!

Within a half hour, you can whip up this dessert because it truly mixes up in less than 5 minutes and is baked for 18-20 minutes.  Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I made this in a 12″ cast iron pan and it served 10.  If you have a smaller skillet, cut the recipe in half.

 

In a 12″ cast iron skillet, melt:
1- 1/2 sticks Butter
 
Stir into the butter and allow to melt:
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

  

Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes and then stir in:
2 Eggs
 
Add and stir:
2-1/4 cups AP Flour
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

  

Stir in:
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Pecans (optional)

Pat the dough down to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.  Place the pan in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.  Cool briefly before serving.

     

Baked Apples with Apple Caramel

On a cool, fall day, nothing beats the aroma of cinnamon and apples baking.  In fact, sometimes I just place some apple peels, a cinnamon stick and some lemon on the stove in a bit of water to simmer – just so the house smells wonderful (fewer calories that way too)!  After a trip to a local farm, I decided to make baked apples for the family.  Baked apples are easy to make and healthier than apple pie.  these are so delicious, you won’t even miss the rich pastry of a pie.

Not quite a “recipe” but more a method, this makes 4 servings.

 

4 Apples, washed and cored, hollowed out – but not cut all the way through. 
In a small bowl, mix together:
4 Tabl. Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tabl. Raisins or Currents
2 Tabl. Pecans or Walnuts (optional)

Place the apples in a 8″ X 8″ pan.  Divide the sugar and spice mixture between the four apples, stuffing it down in the hollow.  Place 1 tsp. cold butter on top of each apple.  Pour 1/2 cup of Apple Cider in the pan.  Without covering, place the apple sin a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until tender.

        

     

Remove the warm apples from the pan and plate.  Empty the remaining cider into a small pan and on medium temperature, reduce the cider by half.  Whisk in 2 Tabl. cold butter to form the caramel.  Spoon the caramel over the apples and serve.

Banana Layer Cake

Sometimes in life, we make a mistake and find out that it wasn’t a mistake after all.  Recently, I offered to bring a celebration cake to a dinner.  The Birthday celebrants were men, so I chose my go-to favorite: Banana Cake with a Browned Butter Icing.

Since we were a small group, I opted to make only half of this recipe to make a single layer cake.  In full disclosure, I mistakenly added only 1/2 as much butter as called for and I did not realize my mistake until after baking.  All of the guests were told of my “mistake” in advance and all agreed the cake was perfectly moist, and not dry as I expected.  So, if you are trying to reduce fat, feel free to make this same “mistake”, otherwise enjoy the recipe as written!

 
 
In a mixer bowl, cream with paddle attachment:
1 cup Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
 
Switch to the whip attachment and add:
4 Eggs

Whip on high speed for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together:
2 cups Banana Pulp
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2/3 cup Buttermilk
 
In another small bowl sift together:
4 cups Cake Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt

Add to the creamed mixture the dry and wet ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

     

Pour the batter into 2-9″ cake pans, lined with parchment paper and greased.  Bake in a 350 degree oven 40-45 minutes or until tests done with a toothpick.  Cool completely on a rack.   Run a knife around the edge of each cake pan and remove the cake from the pans.  Fill and frost the cake with the following Browned Butter Frosting:

  

Browned Butter Frosting:

In a small pan, slowly brown:
6 Tabl. Butter, stirring constantly
 
Beat in the mixer bowl using the whip attachment:
2# Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
Browned Butter from above

While mixer is mixing, slowly add 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk to nice spreading consistency.  Ice the cake quickly as soon as the frosting is made as this is a “crusting” recipe (meaning it dries to the touch). I placed walnuts on this cake by cupping them in my hand and pressing against the sides of the cake.

 

Caramel Apples

Do you want to make some child(ren) very happy???  Can you be patient knowing that a big pay-off is coming?  Then you need to make these Caramel Apples!  I know you could unwrap store bought caramels, melt them down with a little water in the microwave and make a caramel for dipping apples, but…do you know how long it takes to unwrap all those little individual caramels?  Actually, Kraft now makes Caramel Bits which is a bag of caramels unwrapped for baking purposes.   Kraft has solved the unwrapping problem, but the taste of homemade caramel far surpasses the store bought.

Making your own caramel from scratch, while requiring some patience, is quite gratifying.  The recipe is simple, the process takes about a half hour, the dipping can be a bit messy…but the result is AMAZING!  Plan now to make these with your loved ones, or maybe for the neighbor kids ; )

Wash, thoroughly dry and place sticks in 8-10 apples*.  (I used wooden chopsticks in mine)  Place the apples on a parchment lined cookie sheet. *Use any crisp apple variety.

In a small, tall pan, melt:
1/2 cup Butter
 
Add to the pan:
2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup Dark Corn Syrup
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
 
Stir continuously until the above reaches a boil.  Add to the pan:
1 can Condensed Milk (not evaporated)

Attach a thermometer to the side of the pan and while stirring on low heat, bring up to a temperature of 248 degrees F.  The process of getting to the right temp takes at least 20 minutes but more like 30 minutes depending on your stove.   When the temp gets to 248 degrees F, remove from the stove and add 1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract.  Stir to incorporate.

     

Dip the apples in the caramel, turning to coat well.  Place the apples back on the parchment to set.  Roll in garnishes if you wish: nuts, choc. chips, small candies, sprinkles, ,etc..

     

If you have any caramel left, pour it on top of parchment in a shallow pan.  Allow to set up and cut with sharp knife for individual caramels.  OR: wrap it in a plastic bag and re-melt slowly in the microwave for dipping again in a couple of days when the kids start pestering you for MORE CARAMEL APPLES!!!

Calvados Apple Muffins

The calendar and the weather are both telling us: Fall is here.  The beauty of fall makes up for the loss of the warmth of  summer.  We tend to find warmth and comfort in foods during these cold(er) months.

Each of us has heard of, tasted and/or made an apple cake, as they are quite popular.  I determined to make mine “better than” by replacing some of the oil with yogurt to add flavor and moisture and sauteing my apples before adding them to the batter.  A splash of Calvados or Applejack – an apple brandy, intensifies and accentuates the apples.

I made this recipe into muffins for a special brunch, but have made it in a bundt pan for years.  Just sprinkle the top of cooled cake with powdered sugar – it’s taste can stand on its own!

In a Saute pan, melt:
2 Tabl. Butter
 
Add to hot pan:
3 Apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 Tabl. Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Saute apples until just soft.

Toss into the saute pan:
2 Tabl. Apple Brandy (Calvados or Applejack) * Optional

Toss the brandy with apples, and allow to flame a bit (this burns off alcohol).  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

     
 
In a large bowl, whisk together:
1-1/4 cups Sugar
2/3 cup Yogurt, plain
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
 
  
 
In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
 
        

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.  Add the cooled apples and stir to coat.  Place in muffin cups by scoop.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until done.

     

If baking in a bundt pan, bake in 350 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until tests done with toothpick.  Cool cake and dust with powdered sugar.

Peach Hand Pies

What tastes like a pie, but fits into a hand?  A “Hand Pie”!  Hand pies are perfect for those who don’t want to make an entire pie, or those who just like the compact, individualized size.  Hand Pies can be made with any pie filling and are perfect for picnics, road trips, or (dare I say it?) the kids lunch boxes.

 

I chose peaches for this blog since a dear friend gave me a peck of tree-ripe peaches fresh off the farm!  You don’t need a peck of peaches for this recipe as 4 medium sized peaches will make 6 hand pies.

 

In a strainer place and allow to drain for 15 minutes:
4 medium – large Peaches, peeled and diced
 
To drained peaches add:
3 Tabl. Brown Sugar
2 Tabl. AP Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 drop of Almond Extract (optional)
 
     
Thaw and roll out 1 sheet of frozen puff dough.  Cut into 6″ circles (re-roll the dough if necessary).  Place a large spoonful of peaches on 1/2 of the circle of pastry.  Brush egg wash* on the edges of one half.  Fold the dough over and use a fork to seal the edge.  Place these on a parchment lined baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm.

      

   

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove frozen pastries from the freezer.  Brush each with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in each.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and lightly browned.

*Egg wash – 1 egg and 1 Tabl. water

Mocha Fudgesicles

Is it HOT where you live?  We actually have a slight reprieve from the heat this week, but it is August, and that means more oppressive heat is on the way.  Not to worry, I’ve got a cold, smooth Mocha recipe for adults and if you leave out the coffee, kids will love these “fudgesicles”.

Most fudgesicle recipes call for  sweetened condensed milk or instant pudding.  I wanted to make a slightly healthier, less sweet version.  My experimenting led me to make these which turned out, oh so creamy and yummy.  This recipe made 6 Zoku popsicles – feel free to double or triple the batch.

 

In a 2 cup measuring cup place:
1/2 cup Yogurt, (I used plain, but you could use chocolate)
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Tabl. Instant Coffee granules
1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup

Whisk the above ingredients well.  Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze until firm.  Since I have the Zoku Popsicle maker I didn’t have to wait long.

        

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Often found in diners and family restaurants, this fresh strawberry pie is quick and easy to make.  Calling for a pre-baked pie shell, you can make your own crust or purchase one, it’s the only baking required.  On these hot days, bake your shell early in the morning, while it is still cool.

Ten short minutes standing over the stove and you’ll be putting this baby in the refrigerator to serve up on a hot summer night. Serve a slice of pie with fresh whipped cream, and enjoy!

This recipe is based on Sarah’s from “Short Stop”.

 
1 pre-baked pie crust
 
   
 
2 Qts. Fresh Strawberries, washed, hulled, divided in half
 
In a food processor, pulse 1 Qt. of Strawberries to small chunks
    
 
Place the processed berries in a pan and add:
3/4 cup sugar 
3 Tabl. Cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Salt
 
Stir to incorporate and add:
1/2 Lemon, squeezed

   

Cook for approx. 10 minutes until it is very thick.  You’ll notice that initially the berry mixture is whitish.  Once the cornstarch has cooked, the mixture will turn red and glossy.

   

Remove the sauce from the heat and cool for 20 minutes.  Stir in the remaining berries, sliced.  Place  the filling in the baked pie shell and smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 4 hours before serving.

   

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