Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These Peanut Butter Cup Cookies are a trifecta of peanutty flavour - peanut butter in the batter, peanut butter cups mixed in and Reeses Pieces sprinkled on top! Beware who you make these for... They'll be back!

I have always loved peanut butter, in any form. As a kid I would take to the jar of Kraft (smooth, always smooth!) with a spoon, smear it thickly on mom's Challah bread, or (my personal favourite) make sandwiches with honey or even corn syrup and enjoy with a tall glass of milk. However, every so often mom would break out the big guns and make peanut butter cookies. Studded with chocolate chips, hers melted away in your mouth and were scented ever so slightly with vanilla.

When it came time to making cookies for my (now) fiance, I knew that peanut butter cookies were going to be number one because he waxed poetic about the grand combination of peanut butter and chocolate as well. I wanted a recipe that was peanut buttery but also chewy with almost a chocolate chipper texture. Once I stumbled onto the official Reese's website I knew I had hit the jackpot. A mixture of butter and peanut butter made for a rich cookie that still spread, and the brown sugar added extra chew. The only change I made was doubling the vanilla and swapping out the Reese's Pieces with chopped peanut butter cups. The secret to using the PB cups was freezing them post-chop, which kept them from falling apart during the folding process. A quick chill after mixing helps the dough keep from spreading too much, and allows the dry ingredients to fully hydrate. In the interest of texture, I did keep the original Reese's Pieces as decoration on the top, which not only added crunch but colour!

In the end, the cookies have been devoured each and every time they've been made - and I will be making them for years to come! I can't wait to see how they hold up as ice cream sandwiches too... where's Summer?!

Chopped up peanut butter cups can mean only one thing...  Peanut Butter Cup Cookies!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Apple Whiskey (or Rum) Conserve - Toast Topper #83

Apple Whiskey (or Rum) Raisin Conserve. Your morning toast never HAD it so good!

Okay, so first things first - I cannot believe I didn't post a single Toast Topper in all of 2018! I really have no real excuse - I cooked and canned (albeit not as much as previous years) but I simply have lacked the time and energy to put together blog posts like I used to. As some of you know (if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram) 2018 was a pretty busy year for me - and things show no signs of slowing down! I'm now three terms away from graduating with my degree in Sociology and will be undertaking my Masters of Teaching in September of next year... then after all that I'm planning a wedding! So for those of you who have stayed with me throughout this shift, thanks! For those of you who are new to this blog, welcome and I hope you can find some inspiration in the 1958 posts I've written since 2007.

The second thing I wanted to say is Happy St. Patty's Day! While it's unknown if I have any Irish in me at all (Grandma was adopted so she's a wild card) the fact remains that my ginger haired cousin and I have still been pegged as being from the Emerald Isle. Even if I'm not part leprechaun, I do enjoy the festivities around this holiday, especially the music and dancing! Of course, alcohol is a factor this time of year too (green beer, anyone?) but the Irish are also known for decent spirits, and after hearing my mom mention some Irish whiskey she had tried I remembered the apple whiskey I had bought last year but not opened. Why not give it a shot in a lovely, sticky-sweet preserve perfect for dolloping over butter on some hearty soda bread or scones?

This conserve is originally from Best of Bridge Home Preserving, but (of course) I took several liberties when it came to specific ingredients. I kept the sugar ratio the same, but since I was out of brown sugar (yes, I'm a baking heathen) I dolloped in some molasses for flavour and a touch of honey too, because I love honey! I had no apple juice, but I did have an apple flavoured herbal tea, which when brewed triple strength tasted strikingly similar to apple juice, so in that went too. Apple whiskey made it's way in place of the rum and I nixed the walnuts because nobody here likes them. All in all, the mixture was rich, thick, spiced, and perfectly sweet, with just enough apple and raisin texture running through it. A perfect Toast Topper for St. Patty's Day if you ask me!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Baked Farro Casserole

Baked Farro Casserole is filled with chicken thighs, beet greens, tomatoes and dried hedgehog mushrooms. Perfect comfort food for the cold and dreary days,

One of my favourite things to whip up for Mom's lunches during the week is the one-dish wonder. As a student, it simplifies the meal prep process since I get carbs, veggies and protein all in one without extra prep time, and for her it makes for easier eating between all her activities as a busy grandma! Casseroles are also a fantastic opportunity to use up all the leftover bits and pieces lying around the kitchen and in the freezer - so although I'm giving you a "recipe", it is truly more of a guideline than anything else.

The original inspiration for this casserole came from Veganomicon via Diannes Vegan Kitchen and, if you couldn't already guess, was a vegan recipe that I picked because mom has recently discovered (and fallen in love with) farro and was looking for ways to utilize the earthy, healthy whole grain. However, we also had a couple chicken thighs sitting in the fridge from the weekend (after dinner invitees had to cancel) and a container of homemade chicken stock as well as homegrown beet greens in the freezer. Pawing through the pantry I found dried hedgehog mushrooms (my favourite kind) and a handful of red lentils. The fridge yielded a red pepper and a carrot that were looking somewhat sad, so they found their way in too. All the extra ingredients required extra liquid, so I used a second (smaller) can of tomatoes that I drained along with the undrained big can already called for.

The whole process from the initial saute to when I lifted the dishes (I only had two shallow ones at the time) out of the oven smelled like heaven - herbs, veggies, roasting grains and chickeny aromas abounded. Even my year-old neice was intrigued, and while she didn't get a taste test this time around, I'm sure she'll eventually convince one of us to give her a bowl too!