Beth’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

It had been way too long since I’d made chocolate chip cookies, and I still have a few must-try recipes lingering in my head. Another one can now be checked off my mental list!

Beth showcased this cookie a few months ago, and since then, I’ve seen various other bloggers vouch for it as being quite a favorite. Ok, then, it sounded to me like I needed to jump on board and get to making this! So, last week I woke up around 6:00am and gave it a whirl before our short-lived heat wave showed its face.

I upped the amount of chips (we like chocolate a bit much over here), omitted the nuts and made the cookies a bit smaller than stated, so I ended up with around 25 instead of 16. Since mine were smaller, they only needed to bake for about 10 1/2 minutes

Right away, I knew it was going to be good. My whole apartment was basking in a most excellent aroma of fresh chocolate chip cookieness. I have never had it smell that strong before- it’s gotta be the extra strength from the browned butter and a bit more vanilla than usual. Warm out of the oven, they were AMAZING. Please make sure the take the cookies out of the oven right when you notice them starting to brown and still with a puffiness in the center. They overcook very quickly. Also, these cookies are at their best the day-of. The next day, they were still quite delicious, but they did seem to harden up quicker than your typical choco chip cookie.

Give ’em a try…and let me know how they work for you! And, since Beth introduced this, I’m changing the name here for her :) Have that baby, too, Beth!

Beth’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from Pretty By The Bay, who adapted it from Cooks Illustrated

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Put 10 tbsp of the butter in a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Allow the butter to melt for 2 minutes and begin to swirl it around the pan, allowing it to brown. Keep the butter moving so it doesn’t burn. Browning should take about 3 minutes and you’ll know it’s done when it smells nutty and it has a dark golden brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and use a heatsafe spatula to transfer the butter to a large, heatsafe mixing bowl. Add the remaining 4 tbsp of cold butter to the melted butter, and stir gently until it is melted.

Add the white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt to the butter and whisk the ingredients together. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk again until mixture is smooth, 30 seconds. Allow the batter to rest for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds more. Do this two more times; the end result should be thick and shiny.

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined, about 1 minute. Gently stir in chocolate chips. The batter will be soft.

Form each cookie with about 2 tablespoons of dough. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake one tray at a time, 10 to 12 minutes, on the middle rack of your oven. Rotate baking sheet after 5 minutes and check the cookies at 10; you want them to be golden brown and set around the edges, but puffy in the middle.

Allow to cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monkey Cupcakes

Ispent the past 10 days up in the Seattle area visiting my family. It was great. The weather was almost perfect, Lizzie got to meet most of my dad’s side of the family, I got to hang out with some old friends and I discovered my favorite Costco (in case you’re wondering, it’s the Seattle one)  :) For some reason, this time of the year brings back the most nostalgia of my childhood. Anticipating the Holiday season, school starting, trick-or-treating in the rain. Hmmm, maybe Washington wouldn’t be such a bad place to settle after all….

My parents had a little family get-together last week, and my mom had been wanting to make these cute cupcakes that are on the cover of a Taste of Home magazine called Fun Food. So, on one of our many shopping excursions, we picked up all the necessities and went to work.  They are actually super easy and would be the perfect make it yourself treat for a party where kids need to be kept occupied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we wanted to make these look identical to the photo on the magazine, we went to Kids’ Korner and bought the M&M’s that are sold by weight in every color you can imagine. Granted, this was more expensive, but you only need about 48 M&M’s total, so it really was a small investment. Or you could wait until Spring to make these, when the pastel M&M’s are everywhere.

Thank you to my mom and sister for decorating!

Monkey Cupcakes

1 package chocolate cake mix (or your favorite chocolate cake recipe)
1 can (16 oz) chocolate frosting (or your favorite chocolate frosting recipe)
24 vanilla wafers
Black and red decorating gel
48 pastel blue and/or green plain M&M’s
12 Nutter Butter cookies

Prepare and bake cake batter according to package directions for cupcakes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Set aside 1/4 cup frosting. Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting. With a serrated knife, cut off and discard a fourth from each vanilla wafer. Place a wafer on each cupcake, with the rounded edge of wafer near edge of cupcake, for face. Add dots of black gel for nostrils. With red gel, pipe a mouth on each.

Place M&M’s above wafers for eyes; add dots of black gel for pupils. Using reserved frosting and a #16 star tip, pipe hair. Carefully separate Nutter Butters; cut each in half. Position one on each side of cupcakes for ears.

You can subscribe to Taste of Home where I got this delicious and fun recipe!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pretzel Pieces

Have you ever been to Fresh and Easy?? It’s a smaller grocery chain with the likes of Trader Joe’s, but is more spacious and bright. They also carry brand-name products other than their own. It is awesome. Throughout the store, there are bargain areas with leftovers from the previous day that are greatly discounted. And it’s not just picked-over stuff! There’s been sushi, salmon, ciabattas, fruit gummies and produce, to name a few. Don’t forget to stop by the tasting counter in the back-they always have a few items ready to sample :)   The first time I went to Fresh and Easy was in April in Las Vegas. It seems like a store you’d find in California, so I was surprised I’d never seen one before. Thankfully, I came across one in Walnut Creek! And I am really, really hoping more come to the Bay Area asap.

What does Fresh and Easy have to do with homemade chocolate chip cookies?

Well, I bought these chocolate covered pretzel pieces there (for just $1.99!) and I thought they’d be a great add-in for the cookies. A friend makes some awesome cookies in which she adds some extra salt, so I thought the saltiness of the pretzel with the chocolate and sugar would blend deliciously. I used a tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie recipe that I realized I hadn’t put on the blog yet. The secret ingredient is a small box of instant vanilla pudding. It gives the cookies an extra depth of sweetness and strong vanilla flavor.

Because the dough is quite thick, I found it easier to roll these in balls instead of using two spoons and scooping them onto the pans (my usual method). I also like to refrigerate my cookie dough at least an hour, as it makes the dough less sticky and the cookies spread less. This is totally optional, however, so if you gotta get the cookies going right away, no worries.

These are definitely a chewy chocolate chip  cookie, with the center melting in your mouth. I don’t think there are many people out there who like crispy chocolate chip cookies, but I could very well be wrong. Anyway, we’re all chewy people out here, so these were hard to resist.

Alex decided to get a little creative with the photos and practiced some action shots in a bowl of milk. Pretty nifty I gotta say :)

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pretzel Pieces
 
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (3 1/2 oz. or so) vanilla instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate covered pretzel pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Mixture will be thick.
Blend in the flour mixture. Then, stir in chocolate chips and chocolate pretzel pieces. If time allows, refrigerate cookie dough, covered with plastic wrap, for at least one hour.
Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Baked Eggs with Tomato & Parmesan Sauce

Meatless Mondays! Does anyone out there participate in this tradition?? Occasionally, by subconscious default do we end up going meat-free (i.e., grilled cheese, pb&j, cereal, etc.) on more than just Monday nights.

I was browsing through the April 2009 issue of Everyday Food, my current favorite recipe digest, and caught sight of this dish. Eggs are a fantastic dinner option- relatively inexpensive (although they have noticeably gone up in price, along with everything else…), versatile and easy to whip up. Frittatas, omelets, scrambled, salads- they really are incredible and edible :)

The above photos are what the eggs look like just prior to entering the oven. The original recipe calls for 2 eggs in each ramekin, which would make this dish more realistic as a main course. My ramekins are too small to house 2 eggs each, so I just went with one. With the one egg, these would be great as an appetizer or side dish. Also, I didn’t have dried rosemary, so I used oregano- it worked great!  So much, in fact, that I made it my adaptation below. If you prefer rosemary, just use the same amount I list instead of oregano.

These photos are the first that we’ve taken using our new make-shift photography studio that Jenna suggested.  We found the clamps at Home Depot, a simple card table and extra foam boards at Target and went to work. SO easy. Seriously, why did it take us so long to get a card table, I will never know. Jenna is a genius.

P.S. Happy Birthday to me ;)

Baked Eggs in Tomato-Parmesan Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
4 large eggs (or 8 if using larger ramekins)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Set 4 ramekins on a large rimmed baking sheet. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and oregano; cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes (with juice), crushed tomatoes and 2 tablespoons Parmesan; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Season tomato sauce with salt and pepper.

Divide tomato sauce among bowls, reserving 1 cup. Crack one (or two, if space allows) into each bowl. Dividing evenly, top with reserved sauce and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until egg whites are just opaque (yolks should still be soft), 24 to 26 minutes.

Serves 4

Peanut Butter Cookies 3 Ways

“I don’t know, I can’t decide.” That seems to be my answer lately when Alex asks me what I’m going to make next, or even just what to have for dinner. Finally last week, I decided to cook up a Bertolli frozen shrimp dinner with Marie Callender’s cornbread. Yeah, I know, it’s not really cooking, but at least it got me back into the kitchen and motivated me to cook more “from scratch”. We gotta eat something besides pb&j’s and grilled cheese sandwiches.

These cookies are a perfect example of my fickleness. I had 5 different peanut butter cookie recipes opened up with the cookbooks stacked on top of each other. The book that happened to be on top (The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook) was used as my framework for these cookies.  Have you ever tried Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter? If not, pick some up! I’ve seen a select few of the flavors at Super Walmart and at the local market. White Chocolate Wonderful and Dark Chocolate Dreams are both excellent choices. And guess what? The cookbook gives the recipes for those, too! Very easy, I might add :) Anyway, I started with a basic peanut butter cookie. I had about 1/3 of a bag of white chocolate chips out so I stirred those in the last half of the batter that I’d saved in the fridge. Then, I thought, let’s throw in some Craisins, too. Why the heck not- I get 3 cookies out of one. Just what this indecisive girl needs!

Adaptable Peanut Butter Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour (I used 2 cups all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 cup white chocolate chips, optional
3/4 cup dried cranberries, optional

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the peanut butter, butter and vanilla. Add the sugars and mix until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until the dough is firm. Stir in the white chocolate chips and/or the dried cranberries, if using.

Use a tablespoon to make 1-inch  balls of dough and set them 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. If you have no mix-ins, use a fork to press down on each cookie twice, making a crisscross pattern on the top of each cookie.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from the sheet.

Argentina Empanadas

It’s taken *quite* some time, but I’m back and ready to blog! We spent the whole month of April in Las Vegas and it was glorious. Alex went back to work this month, so Lizzie and I took a quick trip to WA. It’s hard getting back to normal life….While we were in Vegas, Alex’s family spoiled us with tasty eats and treats. I can’t even count all the delicious meals his sister Kirsten made. Alex’s mom was from Argentina and empanadas were one of her specialties. Always made the same, and always perfect :) Kirsten and Tasha were kind enough to share the recipe- lucky me!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of Tasha (Alex’s younger sis) at all.  But here’s one of Kirsten, Lizzie and me at the most amazing Vegas buffet at the Cosmopolitan.

The easiest way to make the empanada tapas is to try and find them at a hispanic market, pre-made and in this package:

However, if you don’t have access to a Hispanic market, here is a recipe you could try. Also, it’s not uncommon that some people don’t like the green olive. It is totally acceptable to do half with and half without, or just leave it out all together (I’m one of those who goes without).

Silvia’s Argentine Empanadas, makes one dozen

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
About 6 green olives, pitted and cut into slices
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into rounds
salt and pepper, to taste

12 empanada rounds (tapas)
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
1 glass water, to seal edges

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Put the onions in a frying pan. Saute until they start to become translucent, then add in the beef. Cook the ground beef, chopping as it cooks with a flat spatula to maintain its texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the beef has cooked through, then taste for salt and pepper, and stir in the paprika & cumin and mix well.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the tapas on a lightly floured work surface. With a tablespoon, put a little of the meat filling in the center of the dough round. Add a slice of the olive and a piece of the hard boiled egg.

For sealing, you’ll need a small glass of water. Moisten the edge on the top half of the round with a little water on your finger. Fold the bottom half of the dough up until the edges meet and seal with your fingers by pressing down. The empanada should have a half-moon shape.

Use the palms of the hands to pack the filling firmly in the center. Next, fold the edges. Using your fingertip, fold one corner of the empanada over, pressing down firmly. Go to the edge again and repeat, pressing firmly each time. Go around the edge of the empanada and you’ll get a spiral pattern. Alternately, you can use a fork-seal instead.

Beat an egg in a small bowl and paint the top of each sealed empanada so that when they bake, they have a shiny, golden shell. Spread flour lightly over several cookie sheets, and place the finished empanadas on top. Put the empanadas in to bake for 12 to 15 minutes-they should be sizzling and very golden brown on top. Take out and try to eat when as fresh as possible. However, they can easily be covered and refrigerated to be microwaved as a tasty leftover!

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Happy First Week of the New Year! I’ve really been slacking. It’s time to get on the resolution train. I’m thinking of some fun ideas I could do in the food realm this year and may just have to write a little list with the possibilities :)

Homemade chili has been on my mind since the beginning of winter. I had a package of ground turkey breast in the freezer that was begging to be used. And, I’m kinda out of the pumpkin cookie routine right now, so I wanted to use my stash of pumpkin as best as I could. ‘Tis the season for a comforting, healthy, but hearty bowl of chili.

You can’t even taste the pumpkin in this, but it adds the perfect amount of thickness to give this chili its satisfying texture. With the turkey breast, veggies and beans, this is a complete meal in a bowl. The pumpkin has tons of fiber, too, so it’s quite filling.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1.25 pounds ground turkey
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 dash salt

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion, bell peppers and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey, and cook until evenly brown. Drain, and mix in tomatoes, pumpkin and black beans. Season with chili powder, pepper and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve topped with cheese, chips or nothing!

Cranberry Banana Bread

This bread was a surprise hit. It was made for absolutely no reason, other than to use up some ingredients in the kitchen. I had frozen bananas that were getting a bit too freezer-burnt, a Costco bag of Craisins that hadn’t been touched and just a handful of almonds that I couldn’t snack on anymore. So I browsed the web, found a workable recipe and whipped this up in no time. I had no expectations. It was moist and nut-crunchy with a perfect level of sweetness. The almonds really make this bread. It’d be a perfect easy Christmas morning snack to hold you over for your holiday feast!

Cranberry Banana Bread, adapted from Ocean Spray

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup milk (I used fat-free)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
6-ounce package Craisins

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 -inch loaf pan.

Mix sugar and butter together in a medium mixing bowl until completely blended. Add banana, milk and eggs, mixing well. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until moist. Stir in almonds and dried cranberries. Spread batter evenly in a loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool.

Potato Dinner Rolls

As I mentioned in my cinnamon rolls post, I’m slowly coming around to working with yeast. Baby steps…

For Thanksgiving, we were asked to bring pumpkin pie (thank you, Costco) and rolls. Since I went the easy route with the pie (pie crust is another harboring fear), I decided to make up for it by trying my hand at from scratch rolls. I didn’t have much confidence in this endeavor, so while I was out buying potato flakes, I also picked up 4 rolls of Pillsbury crescent rolls as backup. Thankfully, those rolls are still hanging out in the fridge.

The rolls worked! I read through all the comments on Mel’s blog, and did the best I could to combat any possible mishaps. I made the dough the night before, put the shaped rolls in the fridge and baked in the morning.

Yeast is probably one of the tastiest ingredients ever.

Potato Dinner Rolls, adapted From Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

2 1/2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons instant yeast
6 cups all-purpose flour (I’ve had great results using half white, half wheat flour, also)
1 cup instant potato flakes
3 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Whisk water, oil, sugar, and yeast together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup until the yeast dissolves. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, potato flakes, and  salt until well combined. Add water mixture in a steady stream with the mixer on low until the dough comes together, about one minute. Knead the dough until it is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes (add additional flour if absolutely necessary to make a soft dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl while kneading). Knead the dough briefly until it forms a smooth ball.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour and a half. (For a quicker rising method, before you start making the dough, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. When the oven has reached 200 degrees, turn the oven off. Place the covered bowl in the oven and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.)

Punch down the dough and divide it into 24 equal pieces (divide into quarters and cut each quarter into thirds). Form each piece of dough into a ball by lightly cupping the dough in the palm of your hand and rolling it on an unfloured surface in a circular motion until it forms a smooth ball.

Transfer to a parchment-lined or lightly greased rimmed baking sheet. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about an hour). If you are making them the night before, do not let them go through this rise, instead transfer to the refrigerator. Take the rolls out 2 hours before baking to allow them to come to room temperature and rise.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush rolls with lightly beaten egg and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve.

Makes 24 rolls

Mini Pumpkin Donuts

If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to get my pumpkin posts in before Thanksgiving arrives. Awhile back, Macy’s had this cute little donut maker on sale and I just had to have one. Actually, when Alex asked me what I wanted for my birthday, the donut maker was the only thing that crossed my mind. Talk about an easy birthday prep for the husband! Since then (my birthday is in June), I had only used my wonderful gift one time, which was the day I had received it.

Thankfully, I’ve been using the extra-large cans of pumpkin, so there was some lingering in the fridge that I wanted to use before it molded up on me. I used the little recipe guide that came with the maker as a starting point for this recipe, but made quite a few tweaks to make it pumpkin-ish.

 

The glaze tastes like what you’d find on a maple bar. Because the donut maker is similar in design to a waffler, I’d think this batter would work well for pumpkin waffles, too. These would be the perfect way to start off your Thanksgiving morning!

Mini Pumpkin Donuts

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 to 4 tsp milk
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Makes about 22 Mini Donuts

Heat your mini donut maker. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. Add pumpkin, eggs, milk, and butter; beat with an electric mixer on low speed until mixed. Spray donut maker with cooking spray. Pour batter into each donut circle in the donut maker. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove donuts from maker and cool on a rack over waxed paper.

Prepare glaze: In a small mixing bowl stir together powdered sugar, maple flavoring and vanilla. Stir in enough milk to make a smooth icing of glazing consistency. Spoon glaze over donuts.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I know I’m a bit late to jump on the pumpkin baking bandwagon, but I feel as though I can’t hop off! I’ve been up in Washington at my parents’ for a couple weeks, and the other day my sisters and I decided to get baking. Thankfully, my one sister has a lot of persistence and forged into making these beauties. Because if it was just me, I would’ve thought of some excuse to shy away. I have a weird fear of yeast. But now, it’s slowly subsiding after she proved how easy these rolls were! I have to admit, I was a bit shocked that they turned out, and they rose with such perfection. Why didn’t I just trust her from the start?

The pumpkin flavor was spot on. Not too much, and not too little. Baked goods with yeast are the absolute best! Definitely worth any extra effort it requires. I think I will be making cinnamon rolls much more often after eating about 5 of these while I’ve been here.

My sister followed the recipe to the letter, so just click on over to Baking and Boys and check it out!

P.S.: My other sister is learning how to use her new camera, and since Alex is working away back home, she’s been practicing with my goods :)

Frosted Banana Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bananas,bananas, bananas. Somehow I always seem to end up with way too many stashed in the freezer. Probably because I insist on buying them at Costco since they’re around half the price of Safeway. And, I have good intentions of eating one or so a day, and counting on Alex to at least eat one or two, but it never happens before they go brown and mushy. So, the peels come off, they get thrown into freezer bags and saved for whenever I remember they’re there, which is a chore in and of itself. We’re just a couple months away from having a 3rd banana eater, so maybe then my freezer stash will diminish.

This cake is great. Not only is it delicious, but it uses up a whole 3 bananas!! Super moist and teeming with banana flavor. The frosting turned out amazing and brought the banana taste to another level. My cake stacking ability is severely lacking, so the sliced almonds helped beautify my endeavor :)

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Frosted Banana Cake, adapted from The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You’ll Ever Need

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; stir to mix. Add the sugar, mashed bananas, butter and buttermilk. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack, then remove the layers from the pans and cool completely on the wire rack before frosting.

Meanwhile, make the banana buttercream frosting…

Banana Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mashed rips banana (about 1 medium banana)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, mashed banana, and half of the powdered sugar until creamy. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer running, add the remaining powdered sugar, beating until smooth and creamy.

Frost the top of one cooled layer, then stack the 2nd layer on top. Frost the sides then the top of the cake and you’re ready to eat!

Monster Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First off, after uploading these photos, I realized from my google reader that one of the most famous bloggers had just posted a recipe on these insane cookies herself! Our recipes are different, however, so of course I can only recommend trying both and going from there.

A friend of ours made these as a treat to herself after meeting a goal of running a half marathon. Am I sure glad she accomplished it and was willing to share her reward :) So naturally, I had to ask where she got the recipe since I literally ate 5 of them that night.

Plain M&M’s taste the best in cookies, by far. They have just a little extra bite on the shell with a slight burnt taste that is barely traceable to the tongue. It probably helps that the cookies burst with color as well.  I’ve learned to love plain M&M’s lately, which hasn’t always been the case. Peanut or peanut butter always seemed the go-to, but now give me plain and I’ll be just as content. Do you ever eat plain peanuts and plain M&M’s as a makeshift peanut version? Yep, totally works. Actually, it’s even better if you use salted peanuts!

Back to the cookies…. The depth of flavor in these babies is astounding. Customize away with whatever you have lying around- add some raisins, dried cranberries, nuts of some sort, pb chips, etc etc. Make these your monster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Cookies, adapted from Paula Deen on Food Network

eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup plain M & M’s
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the M&M’s , chocolate chips, baking soda and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. Store in large resealable plastic bags.

Bette’s Buttermilk Pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where has this week gone? This is the first time since Lizzie’s been around that I’ve actually thought that. Usually, the weeks seem to go by slower than I’d like, and I almost always think that it’s Friday when it’s really only Thursday. Maybe because we have a whirlwind weekend approaching for which I’ve been preparing that it’s gone faster….I really do like being busy, and I tend to get way more done when I have more going on- kinda ironic how that works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bette’s Oceanview Diner is  about a 5 minute drive from my place, and I have yet to try it. What’s up with that?! It is insanely popular and has quite the following. I saw this cookbook at the Berkeley library, so I thought that in case I never get my booty  over to that hoppin’ place,  I better at least try to make some of their pancakes at home. These are perfect for a lazy Saturday. Super easy to whip up and just an all-around reliable buttermilk pancake. I added some vanilla to give them a bit of a sweet edge. But, you could also try half the amount of almond extract, or omit it altogether. And, of course, top them with whatever you like! We didn’t have any syrup on hand (so sad) so I found some whipped cream and jam in the fridge. I’m sure these would also be excellent with a dollop of peanut butter and a sprinkle of chocolate chips :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buttermilk Pancakes, adapted from The Pancake Handbook

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, buttermilk, milk, vanilla and butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just to blend. The batter should be slightly lumpy and quite thick. Let the batter rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat (375 degrees on an electric griddle). Portion 1/4 cup measures of batter onto the hot griddle, spacing them apart. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles cover the surface of the pancakes, and their undersides are lightly browned. Gently turn the over and cook for about two minutes more, until the other sides are browned.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake

So I know this blog is called Sweet and Savory Tooth, but I have a definite preference for the sweet side. Really, I promise, I cook real food and not just make treats (sometimes…)! But, desserts and such are just so much more exciting and pretty to me :) No, I’m not abandoning savory dishes at all, I just tend to end up with sweet stuff more often. My dinners during the week are usually quite boring. I’m not going to show you how I “made” a Boca burger, or scrambled eggs with spinach, or cereal, or peanut butter pretzels and animal crackers, or whatever else I can scrounge up when Alex is working late.  But, he did just get me a sweet cast iron pot, and I know he’s waiting for his roast to be made very soon….

Anyway, onto the cake! I wanted to make something super decadent as we were having dinner at some friends’ and I volunteered to make dessert. Also, my obsession with peanut butter is still going strong. I was browsing Baking Bites and found this divine masterpiece. Her description of it drew me in and I knew I had to try it. And, yes, it was silky and creamy, just as Nicole said! I spread on a layer of melted Trader Joe’s dark chocolate that made it extra rich. And more than just your everyday cake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake, adapted from Baking Bites

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for pan
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and 8-inch round cake pan, then dust pan with cocoa powder. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Pour in the rest of the ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Slide a butter knife around the outer edge of cake, remove it from the pan, then reinvert cake on rack to cool completely before filling.

Peanut Butter Filling
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp milk

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add a little extra powdered sugar if necessary (Some peanut butters are less thick than others).

Cut cooled cake in half with a serrated knife, and spread peanut butter filling between the layers. Drizzle with melted chocolate (3-oz dark or milk), if desired.

Serves 8-10