Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pumpkin Juice or Pumpkin Apple Cider

I invite you to follow my stream of consciousness...

I love Harry Potter and the Wizarding World so much. I love fall with an equal amount of affection because it is the perfect time to listen to Harry Potter audiobooks. Apple cider is one of the best things about fall. How about I make Pumpkin Apple Cider and I'll call it Pumpkin Juice for all of my Harry Potter parties?

I really wanted to pull off a great Pumpkin Juice recipe Harry Potter movie night I was planning with my friend. (Yeah, it was a family movie night, but really it was an excuse for the moms to watch Harry Potter.) Unfortunately, my budget is on the small side and I have yet to make it to Harry Potter World, let alone taste actual Pumpkin Juice, so I had no idea what a great Pumpkin Juice recipe looked or tasted like. After doing some research online I decided I couldn't find what I was looking for- a recipe with no added sugars, all natural ingredients, and one that was easy to brew up. So, like the Little Red Hen that I am, I decided to make it myself!

Though the Harry Potter books talk about ice cold pumpkin juice, this recipe is for a warm version. It is a healthy pumpkin apple cider, full of cinnamon, freshly grated ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. That's it! The secret is to let the juice simmer for at least an hour, allowing the spices time to blossom and all flavors to intensify. I did try using ground cinnamon and ginger, but the drink felt too grainy. In a pinch though, it would work.

Because of the pumpkin puree, the cider is a little thick- think a creamy cup of cocoa or orange juice with pulp. If you are against drinks with texture, feel free to strain the Pumpkin Juice after simmering. However, I loved leaving the flakes of ginger, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks in the juice.

This Pumpkin Juice, (or Pumpkin Apple Cider), is fragrant, healthy, and delicious. Serve it up for a fall Potter-themed party, or be the cool house on Halloween with hot cider for chilly trick-or-treaters!

Pumpkin Juice or Pumpkin Apple Cider

  • 2 quarts (64 oz) apple juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot with a whisk over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low, uncovered.
  3. Let cider simmer for 1 hour, stirring occsionally. Feel free to let it simmer longer as the the longer the simmer, the more intense the flavor!
  4. Serve in mugs, with perhaps some Pumpkin Pie Blondies or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Bake the bread. Share the slices, my muggle friends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

No-Bake Muddy Buddies Cheesecake

Last week I made Muddy Buddies for the first time. Silly, but true. It is usually my sister's job to make the Muddy Buddies for our Thanksgiving and Christmas snack-a-thons because she is good at it. I usually bake, and she makes the addicting stuff.

After making the Muddy Buddies I had three thoughts:

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
  1. Why haven't I made these before?!! So good....
  2. I should never make these again...toooooo good. Someone stop me!
  3. These would make an incredible crust for a no-bake cheesecake. (BRILLIANT!)
So, I listened to number one and made another batch of Muddy Buddies. I ignored number 2 because it would take away from my joy. And, I trusted the inspiration of number 3 and made a peanut butter chocolate no-bake cheesecake. 

The best part of Muddy Buddies are the clumps of cereal that get more than their fair share of peanut butter and chocolate. I wanted that sensation in a no-bake cheesecake form. I am so excited because this dessert delivers that sensation!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake Ok, the structure: dense, crunchy Muddy Buddies crust, made from a batch of Muddy Buddies, peanut butter and chocolate cream cheese filling, topped with homemade whipped cream and a generous amount of Muddy Buddies for a little additional crunch. If you like Muddy Buddies and are into peanut butter/chocolate combinations, I have to say, with a satisfied smile, that this comes close to perfection.

The peanut butter chocolate cream cheese filling has a great texture- rich, creamy, and smooth. It isn't overly sweet, or peanut buttery, or chocolaty. And then, you hit the crust which stays crunchy, making it easy to prepare this pie the day before your big event. (I will add that chilling the cheesecake for at least 3 hours before serving is a must.) Every of my Muddy Buddies No-Bake Cheesecake is the best bite. The homemade whipped cream puts it really over the top, and I used some homemade vanilla my friend gave me. So much better than whipped topping...

The directions below are for one pie, but the recipe is easily doubled. I made two cheesecakes and still had enough Muddy Buddies left to top both cakes and leave in a bowl for social snacking. If you make just one pie, you'll just have more Muddy Buddies to spare. I don't really see a downside to making an entire batch of Muddy Buddies just to make one or two cheesecakes because the leftovers are Muddy Buddies!

One more note: I increased the amount of chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in the Muddy Buddies recipe to ensure the crust would stick together. General Mills' recipe also only calls for 9 cups of cereal, leaving you 3 cups that will surely go stale in your cupboard. Just use the entire box of cereal, all 12 cups, and you won't regret it.

This should be your easy, go-to holiday pie. Perfect for parties, potlucks, or even Thanksgiving dinner, Little Red Hen's Muddy Buddies Cheesecake will make you grateful for dessert!

No-Bake Muddy Buddies Cheesecake

Yield- 1 cheesecake, but can easily be doubled!

For the Muddy Buddies
  • 12 cups Chex cereal, corn or rice
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
For the Cheesecake
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbs butter
For Topping
  • whipped cream
  • Muddy Buddies
  1. Make the Muddy Buddies: in a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, microwave an 30 more seconds, stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Pour Chex cereal in a large bowl, preferably with a lid. Pour chocolate peanut butter over Chex. Stir to coat evenly. Dust with powdered sugar. Put lid on bowl and gently shake unil all cereal is coated with powdered sugar. ** you can use a couple large Ziplock bags if your bowl doesn't have a lid**
  3. Prepare a 9" pie tin with non-stick spray. Scoop 4 cups of Muddy Buddies into the pie tin.
  4. Crush and press the Muddy Buddies into the pie tin, being sure to go up the sides of the pie tin. Repeatedly press firmly until the Muddy Buddies are evenly and tightly distributed. This will be messy, and maybe not pretty. :)
  5. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese, sour cream, peanut butter and powdered sugar with a hand mixer. Set aside.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips and butter in microwave, about 30 seconds, until smooth. Stir and pour into cream cheese filling.
  7. Mix chocolate into filling until just combined. Using a spatula, spoon the filling into pie tin, smoothing on top. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
  8. Immediately before serving, top cheesecake with whipped cream and another 1 1/2 cups of Muddy Buddies. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Bake the bread. Share the slices.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Blondies

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies

This recipe smells and tastes like Thanksgiving. Actually, it smells and tastes like pumpkin pie, which is what you eat at Thanksgiving, so I think that is the connection. The beautiful thing about Pumpkin Pie Blondies is that you have a moist, slightly dense blondie surrounding and swirled with pumpkin pie that tastes, if I do say so myself, better than Costco's pumpkin pie.

Sounds like a small compliment, but I think Costco's pumpkin pie is pretty near perfect. About 9.5 on a scale of 1-10 based on taste, texture, and its floor routine. Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie that you just thaw and serve is a 10.0. (Its performance on the bar is outstanding.) Seriously though, my Pumpkin Pie Blondies deserve a Spinal Tap 11.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies

I discovered this great recipe for Cream Cheese Blondies a few years ago in Martha Stewart's Cookies and I fell in love with it. These blondies are, again, some of my trigger foods. I shared them with my friend Alicia, the baker upstairs, and we brainstormed to make them pumpkin. The results were delicious and they were appropriately named Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies.

Aside: Having a best friend who loves to bake and talk about food as much as I do is one of the greatest blessings of my life. She is also talented, intelligent, a really great photographer, and she pays attention to detail which makes her blog simply beautiful. The fact that she lives 5 minutes away makes swapping food successes even better. She's the ant- Here is a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondie in an adorable treat box tied with matching baking string;  and I'm the grasshopper- Oh crap! I-want-you-to-try-this-treat-that-I-just-pulled-out-of-the-oven-and-I'll-wad-it-up-in-a-paper-towel-because-I'm-out-of-baggies-and-paper-plates-sorry-if-it-is-smushed! End of Aside

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies

This year, I wanted to try again. I knew that pumpkin and cream cheese are made for each other. Cream cheese and blondies are made for each other. So, logically, pumpkin and blondies are made for each other. But how to make it work? Martha Stewart's blondies needed no improvement, and adding pumpkin to the actual blondies change the consistency of the whole bar. So, the pumpkin needed to go in the filling, but I wanted the pumpkin to headline this show, not the cream cheese. I doubled the pumpkin, added a slightly intense amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. I ended up with pumpkin pie layered inside a blondie

Blondie Batter

The swirling looks complicated, but really when the Pumpkin Pie Blondies are baked up, any attempt at swirling is adequate. This recipe makes quite a bite of pumpkin pie "filling", so if you don't use all of it and need to eat the last 1/2 cup with a spoon out of the bowl, you just do what you need to do.

Happy pumpkin season, friends! I now present Little Red Hen's Pumpkin Pie Blondies! May they haunt all of your holiday dreams and be at every party or dinner from now until the New Year!

Pumpkin Pie Blondies


For the blondies:

  • 9 tbs butter, room temperature 
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbs butter
  •  1 egg
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Make the blondie batter: In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the vanilla and 2 eggs. Cream until combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well combined.
  5. Make the Pumpkin Pie Filling: In a medium sized bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, spices, and flour with an electric mixture until smooth. 
  6. Put half of the blondie batter  into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula or fingers. Pour 2/3 of the pumpkin pie filling on top of the blondie batter.
  7. Drop the remaining blondie batter by spoonfuls on top of the pumpkin and spread across the top. (It'll be a bit messy :). 
  8. Top with remaining pumpkin filling, dropping in dollops on the blondie batter. Using a butter knife, lightly cut the pumpkin filling into the blondie batter, creating a swirl pattern. (If it looks a smushed up, don't worry.) 

  9. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean, with just a few little crumbs attached. 
  10. Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then lift parchment paper and blondies out of pan. Continue to cool completely before cutting, if you can wait. :)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies

Bake the bread. Share the slices. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

50/50 Bread

half whole wheat, half white homemade bread

Frankly, it is inexcusable that I have not yet posted a bread receipe when I call myself the Little Red Hen. After all, she's famous for making bread. Actually, she's most famous for eating it all by herself and I explored that a while ago in The Little Red Hen Wanted Bread.

This recipe is easy and family friendly. My littles, and my husband, are not entirely whole wheat bread fans, but when I use half whole wheat and half white flour, they eat it up. 50/50 bread. I feel better about it, and they will eat it. Win-win!

This recipe for Half Whole Wheat Half White Bread is pretty great. It does call for dough enhancer. While I don't typically bake bread with dough enhancer, or oil for that matter, this recipe is worth it. Before I tried using it, I would have groaned and fought against it. But, it really is good. I used Augason Farm Dough Enhancer, and it works great. This bread can hold up in a sandwich, tastes awesome with butter straight out of the oven, and makes killer toast the next morning. The best part it this bread stays fresh for about a week!  I don't know if that sells this 50/50 Bread, but it should.

Bread Making Disclaimer:

I'm sure you're aware, but bread making is not an exact science and I'm not claiming to be an expert. But, I have made my fair share of bread, so I've figured a few things out. The temperature outside and the temperature in your house can affect how warm you need the water to be and how long it takes your dough to rise. The humidity in the air can affect how much flour you need. Also, be sure your yeast is still fresh. That being said, don't fret! If it is cooler outside, your water will need to be warmer. If you've added a bit too much water, or it is especially humid, you may need a bit more flour. Bread dough is all about feeling.  You'll know the dough is right when it pulls away from the sides of your mixing bowl and it doesn't stick totally to your finger when you touch it.

Plan on having 2 full, beautiful loaves when you're done. Maybe one to keep, and one to share with a neighbor or friend. You know, 50/50!

Little Red Hen 50/50 Bread

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 tbs active rise yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1/2 tbs dough enhancer 
  • 4-5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4-5 cups white flour
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water, honey or sugar, oil, and yeast. Let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add 4 cups of whole wheat flour, salt, and dough enhancer. Start mixer on low speed. 
  3. Continue mixing the dough, adding white flour one cup at a time. As needed, turn the mixer up to medium speed. Add flour until the dough no longer totally sticks to your finger when you touch it, and it pulls cleanly away from the side of the mixing bowl. 
  4. Knead in mixer for about 8 minutes. (No joke.)
  5. Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured surface. Form into 2 equal loaves and place into 2 greased 9 inch loaf pans.
  6. Let dough rise until doubled in a warm place. (I start preheating my oven at this point and let the loaves raise on top of the stove.) 
  7. Bake loaves at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden on top. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove beautiful loaves from pans and continue to cool loaves on a cooling rack. 
  8. Final hint: the longer you wait to cut into the loaf, the better the texture of the bread. Maybe slice into one right away, and the other wait until completely cool before slicing. You'll taste and see the difference. 

Bake the bread. Share the slices. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before I moved to the Wasatch Mountains, I had never even heard of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, let alone tasted them. I thought it was a weird local thing. I'm not sure if that really is the case, but it no longer matters. The important thing to know is that pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are wonderful! 

I know there are simple versions of this cookie that just involve a cake mix and canned pumpkin. Can I just say that making them from scratch is better? Period. The butter gives you a slight crispiness on the outside. The combination of baking powder, soda, and use of only white sugar gives you a light, cakey texture. The chocolate chips are delectable with the spiciness of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Its worth the extra 2 minutes in the kitchen

I can't resist these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Some people coat these cookies with cream cheese frosting.  If you're into that, knock yourself out!  While they are still delicious the next day, these cookies are best the day you make them.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies taste like fall, though I bet you'll be making them all year long!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 18 large cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk chocolate
  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. 
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla.
  4. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are firm to touch and may start to crack a bit on top.

Bake the bread. Share the slices.

Monday, October 19, 2015

One-Pot Butternut Squash Alfredo

I love squash. It is a love that came late in life, but maybe that is why my affection is that much stronger. When I saw this recipe pop up on Facebook I knew I had to try it. So, thanks Tasty for the brilliant idea! 

One-Pot Butternut Squash Alfredo. Beautiful! And delicious. And my kids ate it without complaints. 
Have I mentioned I have 4 kids? They are great. Charming, cute, clever, creative children. But, taking them all to the grocery store at 6:00 on a Friday evening is not my idea of a great time, so when I discovered that I was missing some of the ingredients for this Tasty Butternut Squash Alfredo I had two choices: serve cereal for dinner, or improvise. Since the squash was already hacked apart, improvise it was. The end result was a family of happy, full tummies. 

Saucy, flavorful, with a wonderful consistency, this is a fantastic dish! And, it makes a ton. 16 oz is a lot of pasta, so be prepared for equally scrumptious leftovers.

A word to the wise: make sure you use a large pot. It will make it easier to stir the noodles while they are cooking with the sauce. One more tip- it does take a while for the noodles to cook. I stirred for for 25-30 minutes. It is pretty amazing watching the sauce and noodles come together. When I first put the noodles into the pot, I thought I was making a complete mess, but as I kept stirring everything came together. Don't let the long stir-time put you off. Think about the all the pots and pans you would have to scrub if you made the sauce and noodles separately! This One-Pot Butternut Squash Alfredo is worth the stirring! 

One-Pot Butternut Squash Alfredo

Inspired by Tasty
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked pepper 
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 16 oz fettuccine noodles, uncooked
  1. In a large stockpot, melt butter and saute garlic until fragrant over a medium-high heat, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add onion powder, sage, rosemary, chicken broth, and butternut squash. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender.
  3. Mash the squash in the pot. Add 2 cups of milk, asiago cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add the noodles, remaining milk, and water. Begin stirring.
  5. Stir the noodles in the sauce continuously, until noodles are al dente. This takes about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Top with fresh rosemary and more asiago cheese if desired.

Bake the bread. Share the slices. 

Baked Blooming Apples

I'm starting to love these food videos that pop up on Facebook. This Blooming Baked Apples  recipe from TipHero looked easy and delicious. Turns out, IT IS! Truly, this took me all of 5 minutes to throw together and then I just let it bake for half an hour. While this should probably be a dessert, it was such an easy recipe that it becomes a sweet little after-school snack. I topped mine with vanilla ice cream, but for after-school purposes, vanilla yogurt would be equally delicious.

I used extra large Fuji apples for these Baked Blooming Apples so that I could easily cut layers into the apples. I also don't have a melon baller, (I don't seem to be balling many melons), so I hacked out the core with a small paring knife and a teaspoon.

My apple didn't look as lovely as the tutorial before I baked it. It looked more like a potential Pinterest fail, but it pulled through! The apples turned out tender, tart, and cinnamony. And the carmel in the middle stayed soft and chewy, newly infused with baked apple juices.

Don't forget to scrape the baked apple juices and sugary goodness from the bottom of the pan!

Blooming Baked Apples

from TipHero

2 large apples, (smaller apples will work as well)
2 tbs butter, melted
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs flour
2 carmels

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a small baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Slice the top off apples. Remove core with a melon baller or knife.
  3. Cut 3 rings inside the apple, being careful not to pierce through outside skin.
  4. On the outside skin, make 5-6 vertical cuts through the apple, but not all the way to the bottom of the apple. 
  5. Place carmel, (take it out of the wrapper first), into center of the apple.
  6. In a small bowl, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Pour over prepared apples.
  7. Bake apples for 25-30 minutes. Larger apples seem to take longer. Top with ice cream!

Bake the bread. Share the slices. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was 8, my dad got a bunch of Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough with white chocolate chips. It seemed like we had pounds of the stuff! At the time, I would ask my mom to bake them, eat one, think I was done with them, and then ask her to bake up another batch. As I'm writing this, I am realizing how prophetic that experience was. It prefigures my relationship with the pre-packaged Rice Krispies Treats, which though I initially thought I didn't like them, turned into a beautiful love affair. Similarly, I developed the same relationship with Mississippi Mud Cake. I guess my affection for chocolate chocolate chip cookies, (and Rice Krispies and mud cake), developed like a good rom-com: the two parties beginning with something like indifference or loathing and then growing into an inordinate affection.

Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
Alicia and I decided that if high class brownies and high brow cookies married for the money and produced an heir to secure the family fortune and position, it would be this cookie. Delicious, elegant, and ready to impress in any social situation, these chocolate chocolate chip cookies are addictive to say the least.

Mixing the cocoa powder with melted butter and sugar intensifies the chocolaty flavor, and while regular cocoa powder works brilliantly,  I am now crushing on the intensity of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder. The dough was almost black with chocolate force, and it gave the cookies the depth of flavor you should find in quality chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I also loved mixing milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips for the triple threat chocolate option. When using white chocolate chips, I've discovered that Private Selection Velvety Smooth White Chocolate Chips are the way to go. I picked them up at my local Smith's grocery store. They melt beautifully without becoming grainy. 

Can I say too that the texture of these chocolate chocolate chip cookies is other worldly? When I lost my car keys the other day I easily devoured 8 of these in about half an hour, no problem! Because that was going to make the situation better, right? -sigh- I love the texture of these cookies! Slightly crisp on the outside, thick, chewy. I borrowed the corn starch tip from Sally's Baking Addiction so these chocolate chocolate chip cookies qualify as soft batch, and the stacking-no-mixer-extra-egg-yolk tip from the baker upstairs, plus my own baking brilliance and the result is a cookie trifecta ready to conquer even the most sophisticated of palates. Or, at the very least, a heart ready to love a good cookie again.

Who knew I could say so much about a little cookie?! (Actually, it is a big cookie because big is best.)

This Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe it my tribute to those Otis Spunkmeyers I devoured all those years ago. It was developed through much testing, trial, and error. I tried some other recipes, but they always left me feeling like I deserved better. And I was right! With a little patience I created my own perfect chocolate chocolate chip partner. What bliss!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 18 terrific cookies

  • 14 tbs butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup cocoa, Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips, or milk chocolate chips
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a smallish bowl, melt butter. Whisk in cocoa powder. Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Once cooled a bit, use a spatula to transfer cocoa butter to a mixing bowl. Mix in sugars.
  4. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  5. Stir in salt, cornstarch, baking soda, and flour. Dough should be pretty thick.
  6. Throw in the chocolate chips. You may need to use your hands a bit!
  7. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, form cookies and place on a baking sheet, flattening dough slightly.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and barely begin to crack. Do not overbake! Underdone is better once you allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling, if you can wait that long!

Bake the bread. Share the slices!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Pepper Salad

vegan, olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, salad,

Recently, I discovered I like red, orange and yellow bell peppers. It turns out they are rather sweet, pleasantly crunchy, and much better for snacking than their green counterparts.

I also discovered that I like vinaigrettes. When I was about 12, my dad took me to Trader Joe's and he bought a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Boring story, except that on the way home, while stopped at a red light, my dad opens the bottle, pours vinegar into the cap and drinks it. Plain. He then says, "Try this," and gives me a capful of balsamic vinegar to drink.

I drink it. Blech! It is gross. I sputter. I gag! It ruins any sort of vinegar or vinaigrette until I am 32 years old. Funny, right?

This Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Pepper Salad doesn't exactly have a vinaigrette. Well, maybe it is. I love how savory the dressing is without being overpowering. I adore feta, so unless you are a hard-core vegan, add it in. The peppers are sweet and flavorful. Try using english cucumbers, or a home-grown aremenian cucumber, because they seem to weep less after being tossed with the dressing and they stay crisper longer.

Also, may I brag for a moment about my garden tomatoes? We grew over 30 tomato plants this year because I can tomatoes for my husband's spaghetti habit. We have spaghetti once a week and then my husband eats the leftovers for lunch all week long. This requires 1 quart of garden-grown, home-canned tomatoes each week. 52 quarts a year. Lots of tomatoes. Today, after canning 13 quarts, I wanted to eat some fresh tomatoes. So, I went out back to the garden, picked 3 beautiful tomatoes, and made this delicious and fresh Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Pepper Salad.

If you want to take this Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Pepper Salad to the main dish level, add chickpeas or even grilled chicken. Either way, try it soon while the farmers markets are still full of fresh and flavorful produce!

Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Pepper Salad


  • 4 cups cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz crumbled feta
  • fresh cilantro, mint, or basil, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine chopped vegetables. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, juice, garlic, salt. Pour over vegetables and toss. 
  3. Add feta and fresh herbs, if desired. 

Bake the bread. Share the slices.