Peanut Blossom Cookies

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Nothing welcomes in the holiday season quite like Peanut Blossom cookies. I have finally perfected the art of cooking these finicky cookies, since you have to make sure they are mostly cooked before placing the kiss on top, but not under-cooked or over-cooked. I remember well the year that I burnt the whole first batch. I will admit that I was so upset that I actually flipped a few of them behind the refrigerator. Thankfully I have not had the need to become violent with my cookies since that unfortunate incident, since figuring out the tricks to cooking them just right. One of the main cookie cooking tips that I have is to place the cookie sheet onto a hot pizza stone for baking, along with the cookies being placed onto parchment paper. For this batch my husband had  purchased the dark chocolate Hershey’s kiss and after using them I doubt I can go back to making these with milk chocolate kisses. I do not like milk chocolate as a general rule, and these dark chocolate kisses add a bit more zing to an already delicious cookie. I also added another scoopful of peanut butter to amp up the peanut buttery taste. 

Peanut Blossom Cookies

1/4 C. lard

1/4 C. butter

1/2 C. + 2 Tbs. creamy peanut butter 

1/2 C. sugar

1/2 C. brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/3 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 bag dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Cream together the butter, lard, and peanut butter. If not using lard replace with 1/4 C. butter. Add in the sugars, vanilla, and egg, creaming for a couple of minutes on lower speed.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients. Add slowly to the mixture in the mixer. 
  • Once the batter is made roll into small balls, aprox. 2″, and roll in extra granulated sugar. Place the round ball onto the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. 
  • Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, until almost cooked all the way, and remove from the oven. Push a Hershey kiss into the center of each cookie, and bake for another 1.5-2 minutes. 

My sister gave me her recipe, which I have adapted, though I am not sure where she got it from. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I find that the more that I bake the more comfortable I have become in adjusting recipes to my tastes. I found a recipe on Pinterest for Peanut Butter Banana Bread, but was not crazy for her recipe, so I decided to make my own. It is so good! I am going to make this one again, for sure. Make it, it will not disappoint you, even if you do not get everything you listed in your letter to Santa Claus.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

2 C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 C. butter

2 Tbs. sour cream

1/3 C. creamy peanut butter

1 C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 ripe bananas, mushed, aprox. 1 1/2 C.

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Cream the butter, sour cream, and peanut butter. Add in the sugar and cream until fluffy, followed by the eggs and vanilla.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together. Add into the mixer, alternating with the bananas, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • Once everything is incorporated mix in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans, or 1 loaf pan and some muffins. The batter should reach halfway up the pan. I found that it fully cooks the inside and does not brown too much on the outside when they are not as full. Muffins would be another great way to use this batter.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Delicious Breadsticks

Now here is a fantastic recipe for breadsticks. My husband and I have decided that the dough used for pizza is not good for breadsticks. Why they are usually in the same category we are not sure because the dough for pizza is all wrong for good, fluffy breadsticks. I found the blog Cooking Classy through, what else, Pinterest and this recipe tastes just as good as it looks. We had a basic dinner of spaghetti, sauce, and spinach as a salad, when my husband suggested making breadsticks to round out the meal. I jumped at the chance to try out this recipe and it turned an okay dinner into a great one. 

Delicious Breadsticks

1 C. + 2 Tbs. hot water (110-115°)

1 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast

1/2 tsp. sugar

3 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. canola oil

Topping

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • In the bowl of your mixer put in the water, yeast, and sugar. Mix with a whisk attachment until both sugar and yeast are dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam.
  • Sift 1 1/2 C. flour and salt. 
  • Switch to the dough hook and mix the flour and canola oil into the yeast mixture. Add the rest of the flour. The dough should be slightly sticky. Put the dough into a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise for 1- 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. I let my dough rise in the oven after turning it on to warm slightly. The dough will take longer to rise if it is not warm enough.
  • Once the dough has doubled turn it onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into 12 pieces (aprox. 2 oz. a piece), and roll into 9″ breadsticks. Keep the dough and the formed breadsticks covered while finishing. Place the finished breadsticks onto a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper. 
  • Let the breadsticks rise for 45 minutes to an hour, turning on the oven to 425° for the last 20 minutes of the rise. 
  • Once the breadsticks have risen the desired amount bake them for 13-15 minutes. 
  • As soon as they come out of the oven brush them with butter and sprinkle with the mixture of salt and garlic powder. 

Barely adapted from Cooking Classy’s Olive Garden Breadsticks Copycat Recipe. 

Tinolang Manok

Pronounced: Tee-no-long mah-noke. 

I have been blessed that my husband is such a terrific cook, and sous chef. After serving in the Philippines for 2 years he came home with a love for the people, culture, and especially the food. Over time we have been cooking more of the recipes that he loved when he was living there, and this particular recipe has been made, remade, and tweaked to be the delicious recipe it is now. My almost 1 year-old son gobbled it up, and fussed when it was all gone. I love finding happiness through food in items that are peculiar to the American kitchen- like the chayote. We do not have any problem finding the chayote in your average grocery store, though you can substitute a green papaya if you like. My husband does not like their flavor and prefers the chayote, and I agree. It is a squash that doesn’t taste overly squashy, if that is a real term. We substituted the fish sauce for soy sauce, which is used in place of salt, and adds a little more flavor. If you are looking for a meal that is new to your routine then give this a try. You will not be disappointed. 

Tinolang Manok

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

.3 lbs ginger, peeled, bruised, and chopped into large pieces

A few Tbs. of canola oil

26 oz. chicken stock (1 box)

14 oz. chicken broth

soy sauce, as desired

2 large or 3 medium chayote, peeled, removing the pit and surrounding white part from the center, and cubed

a couple handfuls of baby spinach, washed

white rice, cooked

  • Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute a couple minutes, until beginning to be translucent. Add in the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, after which add the ginger. Saute together until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken pieces, and desired amount of sea salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until it is done, aprox. 3 minutes, and add a dash or two of soy sauce, stock and broth. Bring to a boil, put a lid on it and turn the heat on a low setting. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add in the chayote, turn the heat up to medium, recover the pot and cook until the chayote is soft, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the baby spinach and turn the heat off. Scoop out the pieces of ginger, and serve over white rice.

From our kitchen to yours.

My Mother-in-Law’s Super Sugar Cookies

I never knew just how lucky I would be when I married my husband. Not only because he is the most wonderful man in the world, perfect for me in every way, but because his mother is a fantastic cook/baker and has a plethora of recipes. This is one of the great recipes that I married into. My husband’s sugar cookies are the best- he did get the recipe from his mother after all. 

My Mother-in-Law’s Super Sugar Cookies

1 stick of butter

1 C. lard

2 C. granulated sugar

2 tsp. almond flavoring

4 eggs, one at a time until blended

5 C. flour

2 tsps. Baking powder

2 tsp. salt

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°.
  • Cream the first 4 ingredients together until smooth, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer.
  • Sift Together dry ingredients and then resift 2 more times.
  • Add dry ingredients to cookie batter in the Kitchen Aid and blend well.
  • Chill for 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • Roll out to ¼” thickness onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.

*This recipe is doubled. Cut in half if you do not want so many cookies. We just LOVE frosted sugar cookies out of the freezer. They keep very well in the freezer, and last a long time. 

Sugar Cookie Frosting

1 stick butter

4 C. sifted powdered sugar

1 tsp. almond flavoring

½ tsp. kosher salt

whipping cream to consistency

food coloring if desired

  • Cream butter, salt and flavoring until light and fluffy.  Mix in powdered sugar.
  • Add whipping cream a little at a time until proper consistency.  Frost and decorate as desired.

Chicken Chili Verde

Updated 11/11 for a spicier, and not too clumpy, chili. Leave out the serrano chilies if you do not want a spicy chili. The spice level is not that hot, but more tongue tingly. 

Do you want to eat a delicious and tangy chili, different from any chili you have ever eaten? Good, then this recipe should be on your menu for next week. If you don’t, then I cannot help you. This chili is delightful, tangy, and straight-up yummy. There is no terrific story behind this recipe. I found it in the recent issue of Southern Living and I knew I had to make it. My husband only likes Chicken and White Bean chili because it has no base of tomato sauce, and when I saw this one knowing how much he loves making salsa verde I had a feeling it would be a hit. If I was not also cooking if for my parents we would have added a couple Serrano peppers, to add some heat. Although if we had done that I would not have been able to feed it to my son, and he loved it! He just loves food that comes from our plate and is not baby food. Such a little man, even at his age. 

Chicken Chili Verde

3 C. chicken, cooked and chopped*

14 tomatillos (about 3 lbs), rinsed with husks removed

3 garlic cloves

1 large chicken bouillon cube

3 C. water

1 large onion, chopped

2 Tbs. olive oil

2-3 poblano peppers

3 serrano chilies

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

2 (15 oz.) cans great northern white beans

2 (15 oz.) can pinto beans

3 Tbs. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

*I used 8 drumsticks, cooked them for a few hours in the crock pot, mostly on low, covering them with water to prevent the tops from overcooking, and add a light sprinkling of salt. I took the cooked meat and chopped it up for the soup. Cooking dark meat in the crock pot is a perfect way (not to mention easy) of cooking chicken for soups and stews. 

  • In a large pot bring the tomatillos and next 3 ingredients to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, uncovered, until the tomatillos are soft.
  • Meanwhile, put the olive oil into a dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the peppers and cook for a few minutes before adding the onion. Cook for around 10 minutes, until they are soft. Take off the heat and process in a food processor. Put back into the dutch oven.
  • Puree the tomatillos with some of the broth, until smooth. If you want a runnier broth use all of the water. I left about 3/4 C. of liquid when I pureed the tomatillos so it would be a thicker chili. 
  • Add the pureed tomatillos into the dutch oven with the peppers and onion. Turn the heat onto medium and add in the chicken, beans, spices, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes over medium, stirring infrequently. 
  • This dish can be served with shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese, avocados, and fresh, crunchy tortilla chips. 

Adapted from Southern Livings Chicken-and-Three-Bean Chili Verde. 

Cheese & Broccoli Soup

Autumn is the perfect time to start making yummy soups, and this has always been one of my favorites, though in the past the best I could do was open a can of it in condensed form, which is never very satisfactory. I modified the liquid in this recipe, since I find that too much milk in this soup make it taste funny; the more broth the better. So I amped up the broth, toned down the milk, and increased the cheese. Honestly I could have added cream cheese, but this is at least a start to having a recipe for this soup that I want to make more than one time. My baby boy adored it and ate it in large quantities, which is good since neither my husband or daughter liked it.

Cheese and Broccoli Soup

2 3/4 C. chicken broth

1 onion, diced small

1/4 C. butter

1/3 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 1/3 C. milk, warmed 1 min. in microwave

2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

3 C. chopped broccoli, steamed until tender

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

  • In a large pot or dutch oven bring the chicken broth to a boil with the onions in it. Turn the temperature down to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the onion is soft.
  • Meanwhile steam the broccoli and set aside.
  • In a small pot melt the butter. Add in the flour and next 2 ingredients and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes until smooth. Whisk in the heated milk and stir until smooth and thickened. Pour this mixture into the chicken broth and onions and combine. Add in the cheese, stirring until the cheese is completely melted in, and the broccoli.
  • Process the hot soup mixture, being super careful not to overfill in the blender, blending until smooth. Return to the pot and mix in the softened cream cheese. Serve warm with more shredded cheese on top, if desired.

Adapted from Melskichencafe.com’s recipe for Broccoli Cheese soup.  

What to do with a Cold Baked Potato

Have you ever wondered what to do with a cold baked potato? There are almost always some left over from a dinner involving baked potatoes hot from the oven that get stuck in the refrigerator afterwards, but do you ever use them? I love having leftover cold potatoes because it means that I can make hot country-style hash browns for lunch the next day. I take the potato, skin and all, and slice them in half. Then I turn the halves over, flat side on the cutting board, cut them in half and each of the halves into half. Then I start at one end and slice them up into fairly small pieces, cutting down any piece that might be too large, depending on the thickness of the potato. I leave on some of the skin, while taking out pieces of skin that have already fallen off of the potato. I also dice up an onion, usually red, and get about 3 Tbs. butter melting in a skillet over medium/med.high heat. Once the butter is melted I add the onion and start that cooking for a couple minutes, and then add in my potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get a good crust, flipping often enough to brown the potatoes and get a nice crust, while not burning the hash. I love the ease of making and the yumminess of this hash served with eggs over medium. What do you do with a cold baked potato?

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

Autumn is my favorite season by far, though I do enjoy it when the cold, bitter of winter gives way to warmth, new buds and flowers. Early in the season I start to get cravings for all things Autumn-y, like Apple pie and Beef stew. After making a large apple pie with the peck of mixed apples from the farm I knew that I wanted to do something different, and could not find the right crisp recipe to satisfy me. I love oatmeal in crumb toppings, I really do, however I just wanted a non-oatmeal basic topping. So I turned to a recipe in the Farm Journal Pie cookbook that I have been wanting to try, and I made my own crisp twist on it. This would be yummy in pie form, too, or with more seasoning. I just wanted the apple-y taste to shine through without the often-overpowering taste of cinnamon to dilute it. 

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

6-7 large apples

6 oz. butterscotch chips

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 C. all-purpose flour

3/4 C. brown sugar

1/2 C. butter, cold and cut into slices

  • Preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Peel, core, and slice apples into very thin slices. Toss in a bowl with lemon juice and butterscotch chips. 
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Cut in the cold butter pieces, working with a pastry blender or fingers to combine until the mixture is coarse crumbles.
  • Put the apples into a buttered 11 by 7 pan, or whatever size pan works best, and completely cover with crumble mixture.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crisp is golden brown and bubbly. 

Adapted from the Farm Journal Pie cookbook.