Peanut Blossom Cookies

IMG_5386

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. 

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.

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. 

Easy Skillet Baked Apples

Pancakes for dinner is one of our favorite meals, and so easy. It is normally our Sunday evening after church meal, though yesterday my husband made a fabulous crock pot roast, so we decided that since we have been cooking a few heavier meals lately we would go light tonight. I pulled this apple topping idea from a Tyler Florence recipe on foodnetwork.com, and it was amazing on top of our blueberry pancakes. I was just lucky enough to have freshly picked apples from a nearby farm to use. 

Easy Skillet Baked Apples

4 Golden Delicious Apples

1/3 C. maple syrup (the real stuff!)

1/4 C. butter

  • Preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Peel the apples, cut them into thirds or fourths, take out the core and seeds, and slice. With the apple cut in thirds I was able to get 4-5 slices per piece.
  • Melt the butter and mix in the maple syrup. Add the apples and combine. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are super soft and starting to caramelize. 

Barely adapted from Tyler Florence’s Roasted Golden Delicious apples. 

Butterscotch Banana Zucchini Bread

Here is a relatively simple, 1-bowl, banana bread. You could certainly use a mixer if you wanted to, but you need to make sure not to over mix the batter, especially once the flour has been added. Every so often it’s nice to mix by hand- reminds me of the real olden days when there was no Kitchen Aid mixer- no electricity for that matter. It makes me want to give the Kitchen Aid a nice big hug- but I restrain myself. What if someone came into the kitchen while I was hugging the mixer. Don’t worry about it, you’ll say, I’m just showing it how much I appreciate all the work it does around this place. 

Butterscotch Banana Zucchini Bread

1/4 C. butter, melted

3/4 C. granulated sugar

1/4 C. dark brown sugar

1/2 C. sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/2 C. shredded zucchini

3-4 ripe bananas, mashed

3.4 oz box of butterscotch instant pudding

2 C. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

  • Preheat the oven to 325°.
  • In a microwaveable bowl melt the butter. To the melted butter mix in the sugars, sour cream, egg, and vanilla and whisk to incorporate. Make sure to add the sugar into the melted butter before the egg, so that you do not get scrambled egg banana bread. Add in the zucchini and bananas, followed by the dry pudding mix.
  • Sift together the flour, salt and soda. Stir flour mix into the batter, mixing only until incorporated.
  • Divide the batter between the 4 mini loaf pans evenly, and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

You could probably use 1 full-size loaf pan for this bread, but I seem to have problems with my bread cooking all the way through without over-browning on the outside, and I really liked the mini loaf pans that I used to cook this bread in. I used 3, however they bubbled and ballooned out over the top and onto the pizza stone they were baking on, so I would suggest using 4 mini loaf pans. If you really wanted to you could cook the batter into muffins. 

Optional: Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, microwaved until soft

1/4 C. butter, softened

1 1/2 C. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

heavy cream to consistency

  • Beat the butter and cream cheese together in mixing bowl. Add in the vanilla. Sift the powdered sugar and add that to the butter mixture, drizzling in the cream to consistency. It should be creamy, smooth, yet slightly runny. It’s more of a glaze than a frosting. Frost the top of the loaves or have everyone use and knife and add their own frosting. My daughter wanted to just eat it straight out of the bowl with no bread. Maybe for her birthday I shouldn’t even bother with making a cake; I’ll just make her frosting. 

Adapted from Averie Cook’s Zucchini Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. 

 

Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies

*I have revised this cookie recipe slightly. I am tired of making the chocolate cookies that fall to bits and pieces after they are cooked. Trying to find the right consistency for the batter so that the cookies hold together has not been simple. I think, though, that I have finally solved the problem. I added another egg- making a total of 3 eggs, and took away the milk. I did not put the batter in the refrigerator, but I think chilling the batter would help it firm up and make getting the dough onto the sheet much easier. I ended up with sticky dough all over my fingers after shaping the dough the best I could, though what I really need is a cookie scoop. That item has made its way onto my essential kitchen equipment list- someday.

My husband bought me some mint and chocolate chips that were on sale once the Christmas season had ended. Unfortunately, this bag is, seasonal- as I have not seen them any other time of the year, because they were delicious! I simply made the cookie recipe on the bag and the resulting cookie was chocolate, almost cake-like in texture, with the soft bite of the mint and chocolate morsel. I made this same recipe my own way with a bag of Semi-Sweet Chocolate morsels and it is a chocolatey delight! I am thinking I should add Health toffee pieces, pretzels, nuts, white chocolate pieces, peanut butter chips, and all sorts of other goodies to this delicious cookie recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C. All purpose flour

2/3 C. Hershey’s cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 C. softened butter

2/3 C. granulated sugar

2/3 C. packed dark brown sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla

3 large eggs

1 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips, or Andes Mint Chocolate chips

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°.
  • Cream together butter and lard.
  • Meanwhile, sift together dry ingredients. I like to get my cocoa powder into the measuring cup with a spoon over wax paper, so what falls on the counter I can add back into the container easily. Otherwise I end up with a cocoa counter mess.
  • Add both sugars to the butter in the Kitchen Aid, followed by the vanilla and eggs.
  • Add milk until the dough is the correct consistency: slightly wet and sticky. The cocoa powder makes the dough a tad dry ad the cookies crumble when they are done. I am trying to modify the recipe to be less crumbly, though the humidity in the East does contribute to the crumbly-ness of the cookies.
  • Mix in the chocolate chips, spoon them onto the parchment paper.
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes. Pat down the puffed cookies with the back of the spatula once they come out of the oven. Use a knife, or other utensil, to help get the cookie onto the cooling rack without it falling apart.
Adapted from the Very Best Baking recipe online for Mint Chocolate Delights. 

Upside Down Apple Cake

I know it is a little early in the season for apple desserts, but I just could not wait to make this cake again. We went to the local market for the agricultural college in our town and got a whole bunch of freshly picked apples- Macintosh, Ginger Gold, and Sunrise. The Macintosh I plan to use in making applesauce, so I tried the other two in the cake. Even though they were softer apples they held up very nicely in the cake and did not turn overly mushy. The Pioneer Woman recommends using Granny Smith, and in other circumstance that would be my preference- for eating and for baking, however I used what I had and it was real tasty. My mother had hers with a little drizzle of heavy whipping cream, while I ate mine plain. Ala mode or caramel sauce would also be delicious additions to have with this cake. 

Upside Down Apple Cake

4-5 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 6 pieces

3/4 C. butter

1/2 C. sugar

1/4 C. light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cake:

1/2 C. butter

1/2 C. brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 C. sour cream

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • In a cast-iron pan or stainless steel skillet melt the butter. Once the butter is melted stir in the next 3 ingredients until well mixed. Place the apples in the pan, wedge side down. Cook over medium-low/medium heat for about 15 minutes, until they are soft, making sure the sugar does not burn. 
  • While the apples are cooking on the stovetop mix the cake batter. Beat the butter and sugar together, adding in the next 3 ingredients. Sift together the dry ingredients, then slowly mix in the flour mixture. Finish it off by adding in the chopped apple. 
  • Remove the apples from the stovetop and spread the cake batter evenly over the top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick coms out of the cake clean. Either flip it out onto a cake plate, or scoop out of the pan to serve. Drizzle with cold whipping cream if desired. 

Adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Apple Cake in an Iron Skillet.

Cornmeal Double Pie Crust

As I was perusing the Farm Journal pie recipe book I came across a recipe for a cornmeal pie crust. I thought it was a great idea, and based this recipe off of that idea. I think any more than what I have listed for cornmeal will make the crust too gritty. I enjoyed the small amount of grit to the texture when I used this in my peach pie. This is an instance of the principle of less is more.

Cornmeal Double Pie Crust

2 C. all-purpose flour

1/4 C. + 2 Tbs. finely ground cornmeal, divided

1 tsp. salt

Just about 2/3 C. lard

3 Tbs. ice water

  • Sift together the dry ingredients, leaving out the 2 Tbs. of cornmeal.
  • Using your hands or a pastry blender cut in the lard until the mixture resembled peas. When squeezing a handful in your hands the top end should crumble off, while the rest stays together. This will assure that your crust does not come out like a cracker, which it will if there is too much flour. I would use slightly less than 2/3 C. of lard. If it is too sticky add the 2 Tbs. of cornmeal or more flour.
  • Mix in the ice water until the dough comes together. Separate into 2 balls and finished adding water by hand to seal any cracks. 
  • Roll them out in-between 2 pieces of well floured wax paper until they are the right size for your pie dish. I have been using a 10″ deep dish plate in order to hold all of the yummy pie filling, so I have to roll the dough out a little bit more than with other dishes. 
  • Chill the discs of rolled out dough for at least 30 minutes, removing them before needing to use them in order to bring them back up to room temperature. 

Based on 2 pie dough recipes from the Farm Journal Pie recipe book.