Thursday, December 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap was, yet another, success. This year's swap propelled me into the holiday season and marked the first of several evenings of cookie baking over the past few weeks.

For my part, I was excited to bake and send Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Smitten Kitchen to food bloggers in New York City, California, and Texas. Twitter confirmation of cookie arrivals was received from both NYC and CA - a fun bonus of social media. These cookies tout peanut butter, peanut butter chips, and chocolate chips, with a look and smell that is mouth-watering.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
from Smitten Kitchen
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

Directions here!

I was lucky enough to receive Pennsylvania Dutch Sand Tarts from Spinach Tiger, Coconut Cranberry Chews from What Mickey Eats, and Maple Oatmeal Cookies from Kristie's Creative Touch

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potato pie wasn't a commonplace on our holiday tables growing up. In fact I often scoffed at Sweet Potato Pie's first-cousin, the classic Pumpkin Pie, in favor of my Mom's ice cream pumpkin pies. Thankfully I've expanded my holiday pie horizons over the past few years and now give equal attention to all pies at holiday celebrations. This week, I was thrilled to be able to try my hand at sweet potato pie and pie making  for the first time during the second annual #pieweek celebration (more information at the end of this post).

Sunday brought the threat of big storms to SE Michigan. I happily steered clear of the elements to stay home learning all about pie making. The smell of sweet potatoes, cinnamon and nutmeg wafted through my apartment while the wind howled through the cracks in our windows all afternoon. I stood by nervously crossing my fingers that our power wouldn't go out.

In the end, power was spared and this pie was enjoyed during a movie night (The Count of Monte Cristo) with friends alongside Puppy Pop and Ginger Lemon Hot Toddies.

Sweet Potato Pie
a mash up of Smitten Kitchen's all butter, really flakey pie dough and Food 52's Fall Harvest Sweet Potato Pie

from Smitten Kitchen
2 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour.)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold

from Food 52
pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cups dark brown sugar ( packed)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
egg yolks
pinches salt 
cup chopped roasted pecans (I used walnuts.)
tablespoons maple syrup

  1. Do-ahead: Mix and refrigerate your pie dough before rolling it out. Deb at Smitten Kitchen offers several great pie crust tutorials on her website, as does #pieweek's emcee Kristen at Comfortably Domestic.
  2. Boil and peel cooled sweet potatoes, and then process them in a blender or food processor. 
  3. Once smooth, mix the sweet potato puree, yogurt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg yolks and salt by hand or in a standing mixer.
  4. Pour the sweet potato filling into an uncooked pie shell and top with drizzles of maple syrup and pecans.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.

Looking for a new holiday pie recipe? There's a great sampling of classic pies with a few modern spins in this year's #pieweek line-up:

Monday 11/18

Kirsten / Comfortably Domestic – Mile High Apple Pie
Katie / The Hill Country Cook – New Mexico Apple Pie
Anne / From My Sweet Heart – Cranberry Cherry Ricotta Pie
Haley / The Girlie Girl Cooks – Coconut Cream Pie

Tuesday 11/19

Jeanne / Inside NanaBread’s Head – Black and White Coconut Tart
Mads / La Petite Pancake – Pineapple Pie
Monica / The Grommom – Papaya Pie

Wednesday 11/20

Carrie / Bakeaholic Mama – Chocolate Cream Pie
Kat / Tenaciously Yours – Grandma’s Chocolate Pie
Kirsten / Comfortably Domestic – Maple Sweet Potato Pie with Toasted Swiss Meringue

Thursday 11/21

Shanna / Pineapple Coconut – Boozy Pumpkin Egg Nog Pie
Carrie / Bakeaholic Mama – Sweet Potato Tartlets
Christina / Buffy and George – Deep Dish Apple Pie

Friday 11/22

Madeline / Munching in the Mitten – Sweet Potato Pie (me!)

Saturday 11/23

Megan / Country Cleaver - Biscoff Pie with Whiskey Mallow Fluff
Kirsten / Comfortably Domestic – Very Berry Cherry Pie

Friday, October 4, 2013

Savory Pumpkin Tart

Fall is here! I don't think I could have asked for more beautiful fall weather than what we've been experiencing here in Michigan during the past few weeks. Last weekend I went to the farmer's market fully prepared to embrace the fall harvest and came home with a pumpkin, enough apples for a family of 5, onions, sage, rosemary, peppers, kale, and salad greens. In my mind, fall + farmers markets = happiness.

On top of all of that, another exciting thing has happened in Ann Arbor  - Sur la Table, my favorite kitchen store, has opened up. My first purchase? A tart pan. It's been my most used kitchen item this fall with the tart below being my fourth tart of the season.

This week some of my best food blogging friends and I are celebrating Pumpkin Week for the second year in a row. You'll find all of the recipes and links to #pumpkinweek below. Given the tart obsession that’s taken over my cooking, there was little question that I would be transforming this iconic fall squash into a pretty, tart form to celebrate tart week. 

Inspired by a few great looking recipes - here, here, and here - I created a savory pumpkin and goat cheese tart and shared it with my friends at book club earlier this week. My dear friend Taylor hosted the book club and my tart was in good company with Taylor's mulled cider, minestrone, homemade focaccia, peach galette, and chocolate salami. I may not have finished the book yet, but I ate well. Special thanks to my roommate Julia, who helped me relay this tart from oven to box to Taylor's house in less than 10 minutes. 

Savory Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Tart
Prep Work: Preparing the tart shell and roasting the pumpkin could easily be done one or two days ahead of time to make for quick, easy tart assembly later. 
  1. Per tart instructions, the tart dough should be mixed, pressed into a pan, and chilled for an hour or so before baking for 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees. 
  2. Roast pumpkin, onion, and sage on a large baking sheet for 30-35 minutes at 450 degrees. 
Tart Assembly
1 easy press-in olive oil tart crust (your favorite dough or puff pastry could work here)
1 medium-sized pie pumpkin roasted in 1-inch cubes with onions and sage
1 small log of goat cheese
4 eggs
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1-2 teaspoons of assorted herbs (I added in more sage, and some dried time)
salt and pepper

  1. With your tart shell completely cooled, layer crumbled goat cheese, roasted pumpkin, onions and sage in the tart shell. 
  2. Whisk 4 eggs, heavy cream, herbs, and salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl and then pour the mixture over the pumpkin and goat cheese in the pan. 
  3. Bake the tart on a baking sheet for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees until the eggy mixture is set in the middle, cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cherry Clafoutis

One of my favorite Michigan maps comes from American Spoon, a Michigan company that produces small batches of preserves, fruit butters and more (James Beard Awards are involved here, people). On the map along the Lake Michigan shoreline counties are listed by the major fruits produced there. My future kitchen has this poster prominently displayed on the wall. Dreamy.

All of this to say that Michigan is well endowed when it comes to fruit. Cherries have been at the farmer's markets for a few weeks now, and berries are making their way there, as are peaches. Before we know it plums, pears, and apples will be here too.

Clafoutis is a rustic French dessert that I would classify somewhere between flan and bread pudding. I think it was Michael Chiarello who introduced me to the term "clafouti" on Food Network back in the day. This Cherry Clafoutis recipe can be adapted to accommodate what's in season, or your favorite  combination of stone fruits and berries year-round. In short, I advise that you make clafoutis everything. Oh, and did I mention it's perfect way to celebrate the end of #BerryWeek?

Cherry Clafoutis
from Sweet Sugar Bean

2 tablespoons of butter
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of pitted cherries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and melt the butter in 8-10 inch baking dish or cast iron skillet in the oven as it heats up. Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla together into an eggy batter before adding in the flour, sugar and salt. Swirl the melted butter around your baking dish covering all the sides and pour the batter into the dish, topping it off with your pitted cherries or fruit and a sprinkle of granulated sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes until your clafoutis is golden brown. Serve lukewarm. 

For more berry great (ha, get it?) recipes check out these wonderful blogs:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Caramel Week: Caramel Cake

The word caramel has been associated with a sweet family memory for many years. I vividly remember sitting at a high-top table with my mom and three of my sisters while our other sister was serving us at a local restaurant. It came time to order dessert and my youngest sister who wasn't more than eight years old at the time said, with complete seriousness, something along the lines of "I'll have the Caramel Sundae, you know, I think I'm a caramel-alcoholic." What followed was both laughter and embarrassment, while most of us thought it was cute and endearing that this little person was claiming such a deep love of caramel, my little sister was dead serious.

As it turns out Molly was ahead of her time. It took me a few more years to warm up to caramel. For too long I thought you had to choose between Team Chocolate and Team Caramel (and there was little chance of me giving chocolate a cold shoulder). The good news is you don't have to choose, numerous recent studies (see Caramel Week, the latest Theme Weaver production, more information below) have shown the ease, versatility, and compatability of carmelized sugar. 

For my Caramel Week contribution, I made a classic southern caramel cake rescued from the pages of Gourmet magazine (via Smitten Kitchen). This cake combines homemade yellow cake and warm brown sugar caramel glaze. Best enjoyed with coffee and friends. Hop over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe. Enjoy!

For more caramel week decadence visit some of the awesome blogs below. . .

Monday, April 8, 2013

Food Bloggers Against Hunger + Recipe: Spinach Rice Pilaf

A few weeks ago I received a text message from a co-worker (actually, my boss, she's great) asking if I wanted to go see A Place at the Table at our local theater. It was a well created and important film that provided a good glimpse into the many factors contributing to hunger in our country. I like to think I'm well versed when it comes to food and farming issues. Most of the issues that arose in the film pertaining to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or "food stamps") benefits, food insecurity, and school lunch programs were familiar to me, but the numbers were much larger than I could have imagined. Seeing all of these statistics next to each other was staggering.

The bottom line:  hunger has been on the rise in the United States over the last several decades. At this very moment 50 million Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from. Funding for SNAP benefits and to school lunch programs has decreased over this same time period. To add insult to injury, the price of fresh fruits and vegetables has increased as have subsidies on commodity crops like corn (read: sugar), soy, and wheat. All of this essentially makes junk food cheaper and fresh food more, and more inaccessible. This article from Civil Eats provides a great recap of the issues and film, although I encourage you to see A Place at the Table if its available in your area.

Today, with the help of the folks at The Giving Table, over 200 food bloggers are dedicating their posts to the growing problem of hunger in America. Our purpose is two-fold. First, we're posting budget-friendly recipes that lend themselves to the $3-4 per person per day supplement SNAP beneficiaries receive. Some bloggers are taking $4 to the grocery store and documenting their shopping trips, others are sharing personal experiences with federal nutrition programs. Second, we want YOU to write letters to your senators and representatives asking them to protect SNAP funding and make eradicating hunger in America a priority. Submission is easy, click here to send a letter!

For my recipe contribution, I chose to make something with ingredients on hand. Any special trips to the grocery store just for this post would not happen if I were on a tighter food budget. The recipe I chose to make below (from 101 Cookbooks) lends itself well to variations and can be made quickly. I tried to use inexpensive ingredients, those that are available in bulk (rice) and ones that can be easily substituted and swapped (spinach, cheese).

Spinach Rice Gratin 
slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks
2 1/2 cups leftover or precooked brown (or white)
1 1/2 cups cups well finely chopped spinach (or kale, collards, chard)

4 ounces of firm tofu, crumbled (I omitted. You could also use ham, black beans, or other protein.)
10 black olives, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded swiss style cheese (or parmesan, cheddar, your favorite)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and lightly grease a 10-inch round baking dish.

Mix rice, spinach, tofu (or protein) in a large bowl. Add most of the chopped olives, onions, and almonds, reserving a bit for your garnish. Add half of the cheese to the large bowl. Whisk the eggs and salt in a separate bowl before folding it into your rice mixture. Put the mixture into the baking dish, top with remaining cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining onions, olives and nuts (I added a bit of parsley too).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fig, Fontina, and Pecan Flatbread for 50

Happy Birthday, Jeanne! That's right friends, the sweet and sassy, Texas-dwelling blogger behind Inside NanaBread's Head is turning 50 today. 

In honor of this exciting day, my theme-loving friends and I (see Cocktail Week, Crepe Week, Beer Week, etc.) are hosting a surprise (virtual) birthday party for Jeanne. Today we're sharing all sorts of great recipes fit for a fun, fabulous party.  

While I haven't known Jeanne long, I feel like I know her so much better after combing through her blog in preparation for today's recipe. I was looking for an affinity toward a certain ingredient or dish from Jeanne's posts. A sign! Something! And there they were. . . pecans.  With pecans as an inspiration and endless possibilities, I figured I could do no wrong. This sweet and savory combination comes from my cheese mongering days where I learned fig + cheese = happiness.  I hope you'll agree, Jeanne! Happy Birthday!

Fig, Fontina and Pecan Flatbread
1 lb. prepared pizza dough, or use your favorite recipe
cornmeal for baking pan or pizza stone
1 red onion, thinly sliced and caramelized
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup of fig jam
1/2 cup of raw pecans, halves and pieces
2 cups of shredded fontina cheese
arugula, optional

  1. Prepare your pizza dough, rolling it out to make one large flatbread or several (4) small flatbreads. Move pizza dough to a cornmeal dusted, preheated baking sheet or pizza stone. I opted to use Smitten Kitchen's gussied-up pizza dough and roll out four small flatbreads. Pro-tip: Do NOT substitute grits for cornmeal. Bad bad idea. 
  2. Heat butter in a skillet on medium high heat to caramelize the red onion. Once the butter is warmed through and fully melted, add the sliced onion, stirring to coat the onions. Turn the heat down somewhere between low to medium heat and let the onions caramelize slowly. I added a little bit of balsamic jam here, I highly recommend it if you can get your paws on some. 
  3. Once the onions are done, begin dressing your unbaked flatbread(s). I layered the onions first, then small half-teaspoon dollops of fig jam, followed by pecans and fontina.  Make sure the pecans are tucked well underneath the cheese, otherwise they'll burn. Alternately, skip the pecans in your assembly and top hot-out-of-the-oven flatbreads with toasted pecans.
  4. Bake your flatbread(s) at your ovens highest heat or per dough instructions. 
  5. Top your flatbread(s) with bright, crisp spinach or arugula and enjoy. I did!

Great news! The party doesn't stop here. See who else is celebrating Jeanne's 50th today. . .