Jan 232014

Peanut Butter Cookies

I am really excited for this year! For some reason, it feels different…but I’m not sure why. Lots of thoughts rolling around in my head right now though. I hope to do some traveling, plan a few camping trips, and I want to run another half marathon. Completing a half last year was really challenging but it was totally worth it. Perhaps I am being too ambitious but I guess only time will tell. :)

I’m also in my second week of taking a nutrition class at the City College! So far, it’s really fun and interesting. We’ve learned a lot about the 6 classes of nutrients, the difference between calories from fat vs. calories from carbohydrates, and a few types of studies that are commonly used for nutritional research.

You might be thinking…Duh, Steph, everyone knows this stuff. LAME. Well, not meeee! I read a lot about nutrition in my free time but I really wanted to start from the basics and dig deeper into the subject. The science behind what we eat and how it effects ours bodies is just fascinating.

Which brings me to….peanut butter + cookie dough = magical. Scientific research says Trust me.

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Good ol’ fashioned peanut butter cookies are. simply. the best. They are crispy on the outside and super chewy once you take a bite. This recipe makes a large batch but you can easily cut it in half if needed.

Let’s start 2014 off with a full batch, shall we?

If you have any fun goals/plans for 2014 that you’d like to share, please do!

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
Serves: 3.5 dozen
  • 1 1/2 Cups crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter using a hand held mixer. Then mix in the eggs and vanilla extract.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet batter a little bit at a time while mixing in between.
  3. Once all of the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, put the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. When the dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I usually use two sheets so that i can switch them out of the oven more quickly).
  5. Roll dough into 1.5 inch balls. Place the dough balls on the lined baking sheet. Using a fork, flatten the dough ball by forming a criss cross. make sure there are about 2 inches between each cookie.
  6. Bake cookies for 10-12 mins or until the edges and bottom of the cookie are golden brown.
  7. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then move to a cookie rack to cool completely.


Dec 112013

Chocolate Nutella Cookies

It’s that time of the year again…cookie season! And my favorite way to kick it off is by participating in the Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap hosted by The Little Kitchen and Love and Olive Oil. This is my third year participating and I feel like it just gets better and better every year! Here are my cookies from Year 1 and Year 2 if any of you are curious.

The way it works: Food bloggers sign up online and then we receive 3 matches. We then make 3 dozen of the same cookie and send out 1 dozen to each match. In return, we get 3 different types of cookies (1 dozen each) from 3 other bloggers. It’s pretty amazing, especially when you have hundreds of bloggers participating from all over the world!

Also, this year Julie and Lindsay got some great sponsors who matched our donations, and we ended up raising over $13,000 for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer! I’d say it was a huge success!! :)

Chocolate Nutella Cookie Recipe

These cookies are chewy and chocolatey with a rich nutella undertone. Holiday baking with Nutella is a must!

If you’re looking for an easy, delicious cookie to whip up, give this recipe a try. It’s fantastic! For another twist, you could omit the powdered sugar and sprinkle on some sea salt to make it a salted nutella cookie :)

Also, does anyone have any great holiday cookie suggestions? I’d love to add them to my list!

Chocolate and Nutella Cookies

I received delicious cookies from Valentina (The Baking Fairy), Justine (Cooking & Beer), and Stacey (Treats 4 Ta-Tas). It’s always fun to get packages, and when they’re cookies, it’s even better! I had them delivered to my office so it was awesome to be able to share all the treats with my colleagues.

I hope Erin (Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts), Renee (Kudos Kitchen by Renee), and Corinne (Reverberations) enjoyed these chocolate nutella cookies! Sorry I didn’t include the powdered sugar on them…I didn’t think it would look too great when they arrived haha.

Recipe only slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Chocolate Nutella Cookies
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, gently packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Powdered Sugar for garnish
  1. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a hand held mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together until the mixture is creamy. Then mix in the vanilla extract and nutella.
  3. Pour half of the flour mixture into the butter/nutella bowl and mix until everything is incorporated. Add the milk and then the second half of the flour mix. Mix well.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and place the cookie mix in the fridge for at least 15 mins.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball.
  6. Place the balls on the sheet and press down on each one (using your hands or the bottom of a glass cup) until the balls are flat, disks aka cookie shaped :)
  7. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the the edges start to set. Remove cookies from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Once completely cooled, dust cookies with powdered sugar.


Mar 132013

Chocolate Stout Cake with Baileys Chocolate Ganache

It’s March. WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?! Life is weird and Mercury is in retrograde but this cake makes up for all of it. ;) Plus, this weekend is St. Paddy’s Day so it’s a perfect excuse to make some cake. This cake is delicious and super rich so all you need is a small slice (aka it will feed a huge group of people)! Three layers of a moist, fluffy chocolate stout cake with rich and creamy chocolate ganache in between. Oh, and did I mention that the ganache has irish cream in it???

If you’re looking for a cake that really tastes like Guinness or Baileys Irish Cream, you’re in the wrong place. The addition of stout and Irish cream in this particular recipe just really brings out a deeper and richer chocolate flavor overall. That’s actually one of my favorite aspects about it.

Ganache tip #1: There is a point where the ganache is too soft to spread on the cake but then too hard to spread evenly so I would test it out on the extra layer (YES, there’s an extra layer!) before you start putting it on the actual cake.

Ganache tip #2: You’ll want to but don’t eat too much of the ganache before you put it on the cake! This recipe makes JUST enough..but if you want thicker ganache, I suggest making 1.5-2x the recipe listed below.

Every once in a while I get the urge to make a dessert totally and completely over the top. This was one of those times. After contemplating on adding a 4th layer I resisted but only because I didn’t have enough chocolate ganache. So yeah, this cake comes with a bonus layer–do what you wish with it (cake pops, anyone?).

Let’s get festive for St. Paddy’s Day! :)

Chocolate Stout Cake with Baileys Ganache

This recipe was adapted from Oui, Chef.

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Chocolate Ganache
Serves: 12
For the Stout Cake:
  • 2 cups stout (A 14.9oz tall can of Guiness is the exact amount!)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
For the Ganache:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup baleys (optional but encouraged)
  • sprinkles (again, optional but encouraged)
For the Ganache
  1. In a large saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat and then whisk in the chocolate until everything is incorporated.
  3. Refrigerate the icing until it is at a good consistency to spread - about 2 hours (stirring every 20-30-mins).
  4. [you could also make this the night before and then microwave it for 15 second intervals until it softens to the right consistency - that's what I did!!].
For the Stout Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter 4 6-inch pans and dust with cocoa powder.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring the stout and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder while whisking until everything is incorporated. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together.
  5. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sour cream together using a hand mixer. Slowly add the Stout/chocolate mixture to the egg/sour cream bowl and beat just enough to combine.
  6. Then add the flour mixture a little at a time, using a rubber spatula to fold and mix everything together (don't overmix!).
  7. Divide the batter in the prepared pans (I filled mine about 2/3 of the way up).
  8. Bake for about 30-35 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean after being inserted in the middle. Then place the cakes on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. After that, release the cake from the pans and let them cool completely on the cooling rack.
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Once the cakes are cooled, even out the top of each layer so that it is flat by using a large knife.
  2. Place the first layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread a layer of ganache on the top. Repeat for the other two layers.
  3. To frost the top/outside of the cake, place a large amount of ganache on the top and then spread it from the center to the edges, allowing excess ganache to go over the edge and onto the side of the cake.
  4. Then add more ganache (as much as needed) to finish frosting the sides of the cake.
  5. Optional: Top with some fun festive sprinkles.
  6. Let ganache set (about 15-30 mins) and then serve!

SUCCESS: The 2012 Food Blogger/Reader Holiday Auction

 Baked Goods, Friendship, Health, Holiday, Life  Comments Off on SUCCESS: The 2012 Food Blogger/Reader Holiday Auction
Dec 142012

What an incredible week. With your help, kindness, and support:

We raised $3,000! 

Almost to the penny! I wasn’t exactly sure how this auction was going to turn out when I was brainstorming the idea about a month ago but from the time I sent out initial emails to the last minute of the auction, I was stunned by how much love and generosity we received from fellow bloggers, friends, and total strangers. I also caught myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions at the playful competition going on between bidders…so amazing! Everyone wanted to help, and it was truly inspiring to see individuals (from all over the country) come together to make this Holiday Auction a reality!

Between 25 food bloggers, 20 friends/readers, and a total of 54 items up for bid, I think it’s safe to say that this event was a great success!! For those who have met Lori, you know that she is a fighter and that her positive spirit has never broken, regardless of the obstacles she’s encountered. Her unwavering strength and loving personality are truly inspiring to everyone she meets. I am very lucky to have Lori in my life and am so thankful for everyone who helped make this season so special!

A HUGE, gigantic shout out to everyone (listed below) who contributed items to the auction. Not only did they donate a delicious good but they are also covering the shipping cost of the item they contributed (and some have more than one item!). Without the contributors, this auction wouldn’t have been possible. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this Holiday Auction so successful. I am entirely grateful to feel the warmth and generosity from so many fantastic people this holiday season. :-)

– Steph

A Message from Lori 


When Stephanie approached me with this idea a little while back, I have to admit I thought it was brilliant.  I was very touched by her thoughtfulness then and tonight I sit even more touched by the generosity of all of you! It was a smashing success and I am so incredibly thankful to everyone who participated!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who donated their baking talents, crafting skills, and cookbooks!! You made everything sound and look so irresistible that it would have been impossible to visit the site and not want to bid!! Many of you I have never met before, but with the wonders of technology and a mutual love for all things delicious, I felt my support community expand and when you truly feel that, well, its like I got to enjoy a little bit of all these treats at once—just warmed me through and through.   And to all my friends who participated and even got their families to whip up a few things— you just make me feel so blessed everyday, and it keeps me fighting and positive. THANK YOU ALL!

Thank you so much to everyone who bid and donated!!! I am still a little shocked at all the generosity that just came pouring in over this last week! I know you will all thoroughly enjoy your winnings, and if you were out bid I am also sure that the good karma for your participation will see that many wonderful baked goods surround you this holiday season.

Thank you so much to everyone who spread the word and led the bidders to the site!! All of you social media gurus really made this an epic turnout!!

And of course, thank you so VERY much to Stephanie and Life Tastes Like Food for hosting such a wonderful auction.  The pages were beautiful, the idea was genius, and the whole thing epitomized what an amazing combination love, creativity, and good eats can be! You are the best!

Sincerest thanks,
Lori Hammond

P.S. In recent news, there was a major breakthrough in Leukemia treatment! Here is a story of a young girl who was saved by a new treatment! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/health/a-breakthrough-against-leukemia-using-altered-t-cells.html?_r=0

Thanks to people who donate to cancer research, like everyone who participated in this auction, hopefully more life saving treatments will come to fruition and save many more lives!!




Bloggers Who Contributed to The 2012 Holiday Auction:

52 Kitchen Adventures — Bakerella — Bakerita —Bites Out of Life — Brown Eyed Baker
Cookinfood.com — Family Spice — Foodness Gracious — Iowa Girl Eats —Kath Eats Real Food
Life Tastes Like Food — Love and Olive Oil —Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen — Pass the Sushi — Savory Simple
Skinnytaste.com — Smitten Kitchen — Social Potato Chips — Spoon Fork Bacon — Steph’s Bite by Bite
Teatime Adventures — The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen —The Picky Eater — White on Rice Couple

Reader/Friends Who Contributed to The 2012 Holiday Auction:

Amanda — Armen — Caitlin — Camilla — Carolyn and Liz — Caty — Celia
Claudia — Dinah — Jenna — Kristin — Lauren — Lori — Meghan
Monica — Nicole — Rachel — Sheeter — Shelly — Val

Dec 122012

Exactly one year ago, I posted my gingersnaps with chai icing and crystalized ginger for the 2011 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  Time has really flown by and I’m happy to be participating in the cookie swap once again!

One of my favorite things about this event (hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen) is that thousands of cookies are flying in the air all at once! It’s an amazing thought if you think about it. This year, we were also required to donate $4 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer  upon sign up which I think is a great idea! What’s even better is that OXO is going to match the amount raised. :)

I also received 3 dozen cookies in return! Thanks Brigitt from cook With B for the Black and White Cookies, Christina from The Dough Will Rise Again for the chewy ginger sparklers, and Karla from Forty Cakes for the rolo filled chocolate cookies!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

These cranberry hazelnut cookies with chocolate were actually inspired by…crackers! Have you ever tried Raincoast Crisps??? They’re basically the tastiest crackers in the world. Unfortunately, these crackers are are super expensive!! When we were in college, my old roommate and I would buy a box every 3 months or so (to treat ourselves) along with a big, fat wedge of brie cheese and indulge all night long. It was seriously so delicious so I decided to create a cookie version for this year’s cookie swap!

I love the sweet, nutty, and salty combo of this cookie. They were really easy and fun to make and I thought the added cranberry made them a little festive! I hope that Kathia from Pink Little Cake, Nancy from Rivertree Kitchen, and Dana from Food for Thought enjoyed them as much as I did!

I actually loved these cookies so much that I’ve decided to contribute a dozen of them to the Food Blogger/Reader Holiday Auction that’s going on right now on the blog! Click here to bid on them. 

Also, Quick Auction Update!
  • Two new items have been added to the auction: The cookies on this post and Homemade English Toffee!
  • The bid for Lori’s contribution (Salted Caramel Pecan Bark and Dark Chocolate Fudge) is up to $100!!! Can anyone beat it? :)
  • The highest bidder overall will also receive an 8×10 print of this farmers market veggies photo (or a print of any other original photograph on my site) so bid your heart out! The watermark will be removed when printed.
  • Bidding getting too high for you? No problem. These amazing photo cards, Date Nut Spice Bread, and high quality Persian Saffron are calling your name. They’re all great items–check them out!
  • OR YOU CAN DONATE DIRECTLY (!!) ..if you want to skip the bidding. The donate button is on the main auction page or you can click here.
  • REMINDER: Shipping is free for the winning bidder of each item! The contributors have generously donated shipping costs to make this auction possible so a HUGE thank you to them! The amount you bid will be the final amount due at the end of the auction.

Thanks for everyone who’s stopped by the auction already! Remember, it ends tomorrow at 10pm PST so there’s still plenty of time to get your bid on! :-)

Back to the cookies! I hope you try out this recipe soon. It’s wonderful and reminds me of the holiday season even though it’s not a traditional holiday cookie. This recipe was adapted from my Salted Dark Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies.

Hazelnut Cranberry Cookies with a Chocolate Drizzle
Serves: 18-24 cookies
  • ½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, half roughly chopped and half finely chopped into very tiny pieces
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, beat the softened butter and sugars together with an electric handheld mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy (about a minute).
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate for about 1 minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dump the mixture slowly into the butter/sugar mixture and mix (using a rubber spatula) until everything is thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the dried cranberries and nuts. Mix well.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, scoop 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough at a time onto the baking sheet. Repeat until the sheet is full (about 5-6 cookies). Make sure the dough is rounded so it bakes nicely and leave about 2 inches between each ball of dough. Then sprinkle each ball of dough with a little bit of sea salt.
  7. Bake for 18-22 minutes. The cookies are ready when they start to get golden brown on the edges.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.
  9. Let cookies cool completely. While cookies are cooling place the white and dark chocolate (in separate bowls) in the microwave.
  10. Melt the chocolate for 30 seconds and then stir. Repeat until chocolate is just melted but not very hot.
  11. Place the chocolate in individual piping bags (or ziplocks with a corner cut off).
  12. Drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookies and let the chocolate harden completely.
  13. Enjoy!
– To easily make the hazelnuts the right size, put half in a ziplock bag and use a wooden spoon or hard object to hit the bag until the pieces are nice and small. Repeat with the second half of the hazelnuts but only hit them enough to crack the nuts in half or quarters. This method sounds brutal but it works! – Check the cookies after 15 minutes. Depending on the size you make them and your oven, they may cook a little quicker. Mine took 19 minutes every time.

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