Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I recently discovered that I like peanut butter when paired with chocolate,  The creamy peanut butter gives the cookies extra body and creamy flavor.  You all should know that I like my cookies soft and chewy.  So, this cookie is just that.   You can really bring it up a notch using peanut butter chips along with crunchy peanut butter.  Or better yet, toss in some crushed Reeses peanut butter cups as well.  On a hot day like today, a scoop of vanilla ice cream ( Breyers) sandwiched between these cookies will be delicious.  Now, if only I can find a way to incorporate some jelly into these cookies.  I suppose you can make mini cookies sandwiches with jelly spread in between. Go in your kitchen and make some of these…and pack them in your lunch bag.   Now what kid (or big kid) would not like that surprise in their lunch sack once in awhile?  I know I would not trade my lunch with anyone.

Peanut Butter cookie (source: Magnolia bakery cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern (I used the back of a small offset spatula to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

 

 


Buttermilk cake with raspberry swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate ganache

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Let’s celebrate my nephew Lucas 1st birthday.  May he come to enjoy the sweetest things in life has to offer.  Auntie will help him acquire good taste once he tried this cake I made him.  This is my first time making swiss meringue buttercream.  It will definitely be my go to frosting besides cream cheese frosting.  It is not too sweet like the ordinary buttercream that uses powdered sugar.  I can see the endless possibilities with this such as chocolate, mocha, oreos, etc.

But, I did have a hard time at first.  My second batch curdles like cottage cheese and I became frustrated.  But I remembered reading that this would happen, so I kept at it.  I cranked up the kitchen aid mixer and behold:  It came together in a fluffy frosting.  Whew!  I could feel the sweat from my forehead.  I may have got carried away with the chocolate ganache but me like chocolate.  Surprise someone with this cake on their birthday.  Afterall, a homemade cake with raspberries is like the cherry on top of any great dessert.

 

 


Waffles with raspberry and maple syrup

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Happy Father’s day to all those fathers out there!  We have a tradition that whenever it’s mothers day or father’s day, my kids would make breakfast in bed.  When my husbands help them it is usually just two sunny side eyes and a happy smile with ketchup. So, the two yolks are the eyes.  It was really sweet.  Well, today, I am helping them, so he is getting the deluxe:  traditional two sunny eyed eggs with smiley ketchup mouth, homemade waffles, guava juice, and fresh rambutan fruit.  My daughter got out the breakfast tray and tried to fit them in.  It is a nice tradition that was started when they were 2 years old.  She remembers it as soon as she woke up this morning and exclaimed to her younger brother ” It’s father’s day, Lets surprise daddy with breakfast in bed”  It made my heart swell up to hear that.   So, breakfast in bread with waffles and raspberries is a red cherry on top to start off a perfect father’s day.

Waffles recipe: (source: Emeril)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonstick cooking spray, optional
  • Strawberry Syrup, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow. Add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the egg-milk mixture and whisk just until blended. Do not overmix. In a third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter, being careful not to overmix. Coat the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, if required, and pour enough batter in the iron to just cover the waffle grid. Close and cook as per the manufacturer’s instructions until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (Do not open the waffle iron for at least 1 minute.) Repeat with the remaining batter.


Strawberry pancake souffle

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I was watching food network again.  It is not good to watch any cooking shows when you are hungry.  I am one of those that can eat breakfast food anytime of the day.  I just find pancakes, waffles, and biscuits with gravy so comforting.  I just like my food dipped in syrup or gravy.  So, I saw a diner that made this pancake”souffle”.  Yeah, it sounds kinda cool and unique.  But, when it has berries too?  I was hooked.  I literally made an excuse to go to the grocery to pick up some strawberries.  This dish is has ripe strawberries, sliced bananas and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.  Is that beautiful food poetry or what?   Anyhow, the pancake took a little more time since the extra step of cooking from stove top and finishing it off in the oven.  These extra steps will result in a fluffy texture of a souffle.  This pancake taste more eggish than I would have preferred..but that typical of any souffle.  To make this more decadent, I would drizzle chocolate syrup and add a dollop of whipped cream..now that is the red cherry on top of any good pancake!

Souffle Pancake (adapted from the culinary life)

Summary: Soufflé pancakes are light and airy while remaining incredibly decadent. Feel free to smother yours in powdered sugar, chocolate syrup, or your favorite fruit. A pan that can go from stovetop to oven is essential to making this dish correctly – 10-inch cast iron skillets are your best, and cheapest, bet.

Yield: 1 10-inch pancake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • Chopped fresh fruit
  • Powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

Recipe method:

1. Preheat the broiler in your oven. Alternately, preheat your oven to 400F.

2. Beat the egg yolks and half & half in a large bowl until well mixed. Slowly whisk in the flour, stirring just until combined, then whisk in the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric beater until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the whites into the batter, folding just until the whites disappear. You don’t want to flatten your egg whites, lest you compromise the fluffiness of your lovely soufflé.

4. Lightly grease a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof pan and set it over medium-high heat for one minute. Pour the batter into the hot pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook the pancake for 5 minutes, until the batter begins to firm up a bit. Drop chunks of chopped fruit onto the surface of the pancake.

5. Place the pan 5 inches below the hot broiler, or if you don’t have a broiler, slide the pan into the preheated oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed up and center is set but still soft. Watch carefully to make sure the top doesn’t burn! These things tend to head south pretty quickly, so don’t walk away from your oven while the soufflé pancake is baking.

6. Slide the pancake onto a plate using a spatula. Dust with powdered sugar and more fruit, if you like. Eat immediately.


Thai glass noodle soup

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I finally cracked open the beautiful Thai cookbook that a friend gave me.  Besides, the beautiful photographs of Thailand, it also has great pictures of the food.  I am like a kid who always go for the picture book.  Heck, why not a pop up cook book?  Now, that is an idea.  I must say that a good cook book should have recipes that has been tested and work for a home cook like myself.  But that is why I hope that this food journal can help you since I have tested the recipes already.

The glass cellophane noodles comes in tiny bundles that needs to be soaked in warm tap water for a few minutes.  It really adds body to any soup.  I really like soups that used cabbage since I never seem to use enough of it.


 

Thai Glass noodle soup (source: Thailand beautiful cookbook)

Marinade for meatballs:

  • 1 tbsp maggi seasonings ( I would reduce this since kind of salty for my taste)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 8oz ground pork

Soup broth:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of fish sauce
  • 2 green onions, cut into 1 inch
  • cilantro for garnish

Combine marinade ingredients along with pork.  roll into 1 inch meatballs.  Set aside.

Put a little vegetable oil in pan and fry garlic, drain on paper towel and reserve for garnish.

Pour water into pot and boil.  Place meatballs in pot and cook until it floats.  Bring to boil.  Add remaining ingredients.  Garnish with cilantro and fried garlic


Berry buttermilk cake

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What says summer more than fresh berries?   This is a simple every day cake that can be made with any summer berries.  It is basic cake that is the platform for your imagination.   I made it with blueberries since I had plenty on hand, but next time I will make it triple berries with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  I find that strawberries tend to get mushy when baked.   Better yet, you can top it off with fresh strawberries once baked.  I love using buttermilk in baked goods.  That is part of reason that I went with this particular recipe since it uses buttermilk and butter.  Although most cakes, uses vegetable oil to make it moist, I like butter in my cakes since it’s more flavorful.  It is only one stick which is not really much for an entire cake.  Also, the buttermilk gives a tangy flavor to any cakes even pancakes!  So visit your local farmers market or u pick it farm for fresh berries.  Once you make this cake, let me know how yours turn out.  Remember, summer berries are like the red cherry on top of any great dessert!

I sprinkle the blueberries and turbinado sugar on the batter.  Use can use regular sugar or even sugar in the raw.  But, I like turbinado sugar since it is larger and does not disappear after baking.

Berry buttermilk cake (Source: Gourmet 2009)

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (146 grams) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large (57 grams) egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) fresh berries

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter berries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more.


Green papaya salad

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If you are ever in a mood for a salad that is a combination of spicy and tangy, consider making green papaya salad.  It is a great alternative to your same old salads.  Whole green papaya can be found at Vietnamese supermarkets.  You can find them already shredded but it is quick and easy using a papaya peeler pictured below.  This salad is crunchy from the green papaya and spicy from the fresh thai chili and tangy from fresh lime juice.  But there is an asian flavor from the the dried shrimp, shrimp sauce, and fish sauce.  You can omit the dried shrimp but you gotta have the fish sauce ( I used the good three crabs brand).  There are cherry tomatoes ( I used roma tomatoes on hand) to balance out the flavors and give the dish a splash of color.  I may even try yellow grape tomatoes next time.  Some recipe even uses long green beans but I kept it simple.  If you keep it chilled in the fridge overnight, the flavors come together.  Gotta warn you that the subtle and strong flavors can be addictive!  Go ahead and put a few red cherry (tomatoes) on top.

   

Green papaya salad

Tips and Techniques

For a vegetarian som tum, omit the dried shrimp and substitute soy sauce for fish sauce.

The balance of fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and peppers listed here are guidelines. Som tum is an individual dish that you will find you might like yours with more, say, lime juice than what the recipe calls for.

In Thailand, green papaya salad is made using a clay mortar, wooden pestle and a spatula. Smash a clove of garlic first. Then add halved cherry tomatoes. Pound a few times to get the juice out of the tomatoes. Add chili peppers and crush them just enough to release the hotness, unless you like your salad really hot. Add the green papaya, dried shrimp, toasted peanuts, fish sauce, shrimp sauce, lime juice and sugar. Use the pestle to push the mixture up in the mortar and the spatula to push it down so that the mixture is mixed well.

However, if you do not have a big enough mortar you can crush garlic and tomatoes Set them aside in a large bowl. Add dried shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to the bowl. Add green papaya and mix well. Serve with sticky rice, green beans and Thai basil.


Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie..with chocolate chips

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So, I have a few containers of Quaker’s old fashion oats in my pantry.  Also, it has been raining all evening.  What is more cozy than good old fashion oatmeal raisins cookie.  It also happens to be my coworkers favorite kind.  I have never liked oatmeal raisin cookies but that was before I had a chewy soft kind.  The ones from the store are hard and dry (and overly sweet).  This recipe is similar to my favorite chocolate chip cookie but maybe slightly healthier.  Hey, it has oats and raisins!  I topped each cookie with a few chocolate chip before baking them.  I needed my chocolate fix. After all, the chocolate chip is like the red cherry on top of any great dessert.

  

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (source: All recipes)
2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted (1½ sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 heaping cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Your cookies turn out so much better with parchment paper. Believe me! Buy some!

Melt butter and let cool slightly.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Add the oats, nuts, and raisins. Mix until just blended.

Place 1/4 cup balls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes. Do not over bake. The edges should look brown and the centers still slightly soft. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It’s friday and what would be a better way to end the week then whipping up everyone’s favorite comfort dessert.. triple C’s or Chocolate chip cookies.  Yes, I’m talking about the soft and chewy kind that simply melts on your fingertips when it comes straight outta the oven.  I seem to have eaten a few before it gets to see a tall glass of cold milk.  I simply love nuts in most of my cookies.   Try toasting the walnuts to gives the cookies an aromatic flavor.   Heck, toast some coconut flakes at the same time.  You can toast the nuts for a few minutes while the oven is preheating and then toss them in your batter before baking.  In my quest for the all time favorite chocolate chip cookies, I have three favorite recipes.  Depending on the size  that I want will determine which recipe I will use.  Sometimes, I want a big fat cookie that you find at the bakery.  But, when I need  a lot of cookies for cookie favors, a regular size cookie fits better in the treat bags.  I try to avoid doubling a recipe whenever possible.  I do not like math.  Fractions scares me.  Thus, I try to find recipes with easy to remember measurements such as 1 cup of this and 1 tbsp of that.  So here is the recipe for a chewy cookie version.  If you are looking for a crispy version, search elsewhere.  Happy Friday and eat more cookies!

Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (source: All recipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Very Blueberry muffins

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It is the start of summer here in Dallas.  I just made my weekly visit to local market and came across some fresh blueberries on sale.  I have been waiting all winter (short one here) for fresh blueberries.  I usually buy extras and freeze them so I have them on hand for breakfast muffins.  Last year, my sister in Oregon would go berry picking and she had tons leftover.   Frozen blueberries are easier and cleaner to work with in batter such as pancakes, crepes, muffins, and even smoothies.  Since they are frozen, they do not get mushy and turn the batter blue (I end up with smurf fingers).   I am always drawn to those big muffins at the coffee shop and could not help but wonder how they do it.  My favorite part is the muffin top.  It is crunchy around the edges.  But, most of the store bought are lacking in berry flavor.  It has that box mix after taste and way too much additives.     I have tried many muffins recipes.  But, I think I may have found the taste I was hoping for.  Here is my recent baking attemps using the  recipe from Cooks Illustrated.  Their secret is making a jam and swirling in the batter before baking.  It does give an extra burst of blueberries.  They also made a lemon zest and sugar topping that I did not really care for.  Next time, I will use a standard walnut struesel topping instead for a crunch texture.

 

Best Blueberry Muffins

Source: Cooks Illustrated

Makes 12 Muffins

Lemon Sugar Topping

1/3 c. (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

Muffins

2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. For the muffins: Adust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room remperature, 10-15 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 c. sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4.Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.