Peanut Butter and Strawberry Cookies

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I feel like I haven’t posted a cookie round these parts for some time now, but truth be told…we went on a bit of a chocolate chip cookie bender for a bit and maybe had to slow it down in the ‘zerts department. I mean, when you freeze cookie dough into portions and have them stashed in the freezer, there’s not much stopping you from treating-yo-self nightly to a warm cookie or two. Cookie binge was followed by an ice cream binge…so, we had to take it a little easy on the sugar intake.

Then, I decided to make these cute little numbers because they’ve been knocking around in my brain for days and I just couldn’t ignore them any more. I’m gonna have to unload them on Sean’s office mates or something, because I cannot resist these guys.Even Sean, who claims to hate peanut butter cookies, couldn’t stop eating these. They’re thick and chewy and full of peanut butter flavor with little bits of intense strawberry throughout–like a pb&j in cookie form. These are best served with a tall glass of cold milk–the cow kind or the almond kind, or whatever kind you like. I even had one with horchata. GOOD STUFF. Cookie magic, cue the sparkle emoji!

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Peanut Butter & Strawberry Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Adapted from THIS recipe.

1 cup coarsely ground oatmeal, ground in a food processor so there are some large pieces and some powdery bits

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) softened, unsalted butter

2/3 cup peanut butter

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups freeze dried strawberries (plus more for topping)

1 cup peanut butter chips

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Beat in the dark brown sugar until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the oat and flour mixture, all at once, and beat on low speed until just combined. Fold in the freeze dried strawberries, peanut butter chips, and peanuts until distrubuted evenly throughout the dough.

Using a large cookie scoop (about 2 heaping tablespoons), scoop portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing an inch or so apart. Pat down the tops of the cookies using your fingertips or the bottom of a flat glass as these cookies will not really spread. Bake the cookies in the center of the oven for 13-15 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are golden brown when lifted from the baking sheet. While the cookies are still hot, carefully press a slice of freeze dried strawberry onto the top of each cookie. Cool about 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough. [/recipe]

Easter 2015 and a Ricotta-Berry Cake

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Now that we have Casper, holidays have taken on a renewed sense of whimsy and excitement. It’s so fun to be able to share old traditions and create new ones with him. I know that he’s not really old enough to know what’s going on, but we had a ton of fun making him a basket and making Easter a special day for all of us. I made marshmallow-cereal treats for some of our neighbors–Casper didn’t get any, but he thought they looked pretty cool because, SPRINKLES! We did get him some non-sweets-treats and packed his basket with some cute board books and Sean’s favorite Dr. Seuss book, plus a few plushies, and a fresh pair of moccasins. Sean and I dyed a bunch of eggs after Casper went to sleep on Saturday night. I LOVE dyeing Easter eggs and making the colors super vibrant and mixing colors. We “hid” Casper’s Easter basket underneath his favorite side table–it has cross bars under it that he likes to climb over all-day-every-day like some sort of baby obstacle course. We also dressed him up–which made my mother extremely happy.

For dinner we invited Sean’s brother, Geoff, and his girlfriend, Kelly, over for dinner. On the menu were deviled eggs (DUH!), a smoked pork shoulder with quince and sherry vinegar sauce (an idea we borrowed from a recent date at Toro Bravo), garlic-butter and vermouth shrimp (for Kelly, who doesn’t eat meat), potato gratin, spice roasted carrots with mint and feta, and a brussels sprout and kale salad that Kelly and Geoff made. The guys tried Sean and his friends home-brew (a super hoppy IPA), and I made kir royale to drink, as well. I also made this super moist Ricotta-Berry Cake. It’s so good, tender, and a perfect sweet slice to end a springtime meal. It’s so easy to put together, just 2 bowls, and is the type of effortless cake I think we all need in our arsenals. It’s perfect with a little dusting of powdered sugar or if you want to go crazy, which I did, a some barely sweetened whipped cream is the perfect accompaniment. I could also totally see making this cake with little chunks of rhubarb or even cherries in the summer.

In all, it was a pretty good day. Casper had fun, he was confused by all the happenings but got the hang of the festivities, was delighted by the basket full of goodies–especially the cookie monster Sean got him–and enjoyed showing off his pterydactyl-squawking skills for his Uncle and Kelly.

[recipe]

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Ricotta-Berry Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 Servings

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups ricotta

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted, unsalted butter

1 cup frozen mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-inch cake pan  (I used a spring form pan) with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Fold in the butter. Fold the ricotta mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in 2/3 of the berries. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan and scatter the top with the remaining berries. Bake the cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before un-molding. [/recipe]

 

 

Lemon Bar Ice Cream

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Are you guys watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix? I’ve been trying not to burn through the episodes, but I mean…I love a good binge watching session and for the last 2 nights Sean and I have been watching after we put Casper down for the night. (Side-note: he’s sleeping through the night most nights now…HALLELUJAH! Queue the choir of angels)! Anyway, I kind of love it. It’s a little cheesy in my favorite way, the theme song includes the line “Females are strong as hell!” (TRUE), and I always loved Ellie Kemper as Erin in The Office, plus Tina Fey is amazing, so needless to say I’ve become a quick fan of the show. Anyway, I feel like this ice cream might be something that would blow Kimmy’s mind and definitely elicit one of her 90’s throwback exclamations (possibly my favorite thing about her character).

I mean, this ice cream has a lot of good, exciting things happening: Lemon-scented vanilla bean ice cream base, tart meyer lemon curd ripples, and crunchy, buttery shortbread cookie crumbles! I definitely used the homemade Meyer Lemon Curd I shared last week, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use store-bought. It’s creamy, rich, sweet, tangy, and has a ton of texture and totally tastes like the ice cream version of a classic lemon bar without making a batch of lemon bars and churning them into a batch of ice cream. So, “By the power vested in me as an adult who is a grown-up”, maybe have ice cream for dinner (PS, don’t ever tell my son I okay’ed that). #hasbrown-nofilter

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Lemon Bar Ice Cream

This ice cream is a riff on my favorite, easy ice cream base from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

If you don’t have a vanilla bean, go ahead and use 2 teaspoons of extract and skip the steeping portion of the recipe.

2 cups whole milk

4 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split

zest of 1 lemon

1 cup Meyer Lemon Curd

1 1/2 cups crumbled, store-bought shortbread cookies

Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch, set slurry aside. Set the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir in the salt, place a mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan heat remaining milk with the cream. Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and add both the scraped beans and pod to the milk and cream, as well as the lemon zest. Heat to a simmer, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk mixture and add sugar and corn syrup, reheat to a low boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil, whisking, until thickened. Whisk a ladleful of the hot mixture into the cream cheese, before straining the remaining hot mixture into the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine. Prepare an ice bath and pour the hot ice cream base into a large plastic bag. Chill bag in ice bath until cooled and process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

Once the ice cream is processed, layer 1/3 of the ice cream in the bottom of a lidded container, spoon 1/3 of the lemon curd over the top and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crumbled shortbread cookies. Repeat these steps with the remaining ice cream, curd, and cookies. Fit the lid over the container and freeze for several hours, until set. Serve with additional cookies and lemon curd, if you want. [/recipe]