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

Ingredients
  • 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

Instructions
  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.

 

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
 
Ingredients
  • 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

Instructions
  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.

 

How to Taste Craft Chocolate

I recently attended a craft chocolate tasting in the city hosted by Bar & Bean, and it was awesome! I learned so much about chocolate (the history, how it’s made, where it’s made, etc.). For instance, do you really know and understand what you’re choosing when you pick out a bar of “nice chocolate” at the store? I thought I did until this tasting session.

And the delicious perk for attending this event? I got to taste a BUNCH of small batch chocolate bars from all different places! :) Among some of the fun facts received, I learned that 80% cacao can mean different things, and that all chocolate bars are not created equal.

In honor of National Chocolate Day coming up on October 28, 2013, and with the help of Bar & Bean, I’m going to share some of the things I learned so you will know how to properly taste chocolate next time you eat a bar.

So let’s have Hershey’s sit this one out and focus on the good stuff. Ready? Let’s go!

A guide About Craft Chocolate

Fun Fact: The majority of the chocolate flavor depends on where the cacao is grown and how the beans are  fermented and dried. This all happens before the chocolate maker gets his or her hands on the raw ingredients and each part is really important; if parts are not properly monitored, the chocolate won’t reach its full potential.

Another fun fact (that completely threw me for a loop but I guess it’s not that surprising when you actually think about it, right?): Big corporate companies like Hershey’s dull down these unique flavors on purpose. Varying flavors are intentionally overshadowed so that Hershey’s chocolate bars will taste the same no matter where they are made. That sort of bums me out because Hershey’s is known as a go-to chocolate, and they’ve been keeping the good stuff from us all along.

So if you want to enjoy the taste of one-of-a-kind chocolate that was made to really bring out the flavors in a specific cacao bean, try a bar of craft chocolate. Plus, you’ll be helping out small batch makers by purchasing their bars! Craft chocolate is sort of like wine…you won’t get the same bar from the same chocolate maker year after year, even if the beans come from the same farm so that’s also fun to think about.

After tasting many craft chocolates in a row, it’s really easy to see how each bar is so unique. I learned that I really loved Escazu and Mast Brothers (learn about their  interesting story here), and then there were a few brands I didn’t care for. Nonetheless, I really developed an appreciation for these chocolate makers and their chocolate. Now, it’s time for you to learn! :)

Things you may not know about chocolate:

  • It takes one week for a chocolate maker to go from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar (in some cases, it’s longer)
  • Americans eat it in some form 107 times a year, on average.
  • There are more than 51 bean-to-bar chocolate makers in America.

Important Fun Fact: Cocoa Percentage is actually a combination of cacao butter, cacao powder, and cacao mass so it can affect the taste of the bar in many different ways. I never knew this! I assumed that there was a standard, and this information will definitely make me think again the next time I buy chocolate bars.

How to Host a Blind Chocolate Tasting

Now, most importantly…

How to properly taste chocolate in order to experience all of the flavors:

When you grab your next piece of chocolate…

  1. Don’t eat the piece immediately, but also don’t let it melt :)
  2. Take a look at its complexion. If it’s really shiny and dark, you know it’s going to have a good snap.
  3. Smell it. This is a sneak peek at the flavors you’ll taste when you dive in.
  4. Hold it on your tongue while it melts. Give the cocoa butter time to melt and release all those great aromatics.
  5. Taste the flavor profile as it develops.

(If you’re tasting multiple bars, write down what you’re tasting/smelling/seeing during these steps. It’s also really fun to compare these notes with others!)

Things that you’ll find are unique to each bar:

  • How it feels in your mouth
  • The flavors over time
  • What it tastes like afterwards

This was one of my favorite parts of the chocolate tasting. I never knew there was a technique! It’s awesome to share this information with friends and you could even grab a couple bars and host a blind chocolate tasting. Then after the tasting, bring out some wine, cheese, fruit, and nuts to make it a party.

Artisan Chocolate

There you go! You are now a craft chocolate tasting expert :) Let me know if you try these tasting techniques the next time you grab a bar!

Oh, and Happy (early) National Chocolate Day!!! Help spread the word about National Chocolate Day by linking up here!

[Bar & Bean provided the chocolate tasting, but all opinions are my own. Thanks Bar & Bean for teaching me all about chocolate!]

I was recently given the opportunity to work with Biscoff and create a recipe with their ridiculously delicious Biscoff Cookie Spreads. Let’s just say that I’ve been eating this stuff non-stop, and I could eat 10 more jars. No questions asked. I love Biscoff cookies but have never really tried the spreads. I was missing out–this stuff is addicting! I’ve been spreading it on crackers, eating it with apples, and just straight out of the jar via giant spoons. Someone help me. I normally don’t even like to eat too much sweet stuff at one time but what’s not to love about cookies in the form of a spread?! Genius.

And I could also make 10 more batches of this Biscoff apple crisp! But wait, it get’s better. Biscoff caramel sauce also happened. And it’s the most amazing caramel sauce ever!!! I hinted about it on Instagram but no one was able to guess that the secret ingredient was Biscoff :) The sauce makes the perfect topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt and it’s awesome to dip apples in. I also brought the left overs into the office and we’ve been making Biscoff caramel lattes with it (video by my colleague Peppe)! To top it off, you can also drizzle it over a batch of Biscoff apple crisp.

It’s really easy to make too. The most important thing is to watch the sugar at the beginning because sugar can burn and crystallize very easily. Creamy Biscoff Spread is then slightly melted and whisked into the caramel at the very end.

Apple crisp will always have a special place in my heart because it’s one of the first dishes I ever made in my high school’s Food and Nutrition class. That was the only cooking class I’ve ever taken, and I’m so glad I learned so many basic skills that I still use everyday when cooking. I love making apple crisp because it’s simple to whip up, tastes fantastic, and can easily serve a big group. Adding a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream on top doesn’t hurt either.

This apple crisp has the crunchy version of the Biscoff Spread added to the topping which gives the crisp such a wonderful and warm flavor. When baking the apple crisp, I like to maintain a (very slight) crunch factor in the apples themselves so I take the crisp out after about 30 minutes in the oven. If you like your apples in the crisp completely softened, bake it a few minutes longer and test by piercing an apple slice with a fork.

Also, Biscoff is currently running a “Spread the Love” photo contest! If you love Biscoff Spread, submit a picture of how you enjoy it for a chance to win a trip for 2 to Belgium!

Does anyone have any favorite recipes with Biscoff Spread? I’ve love hear so please share!

Biscoff Caramel Sauce 

  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
  • 1 Cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 Cup creamy Biscoff Cookie Spread, heated just sliiiightly warmer than room temp.
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  1. Heat sugar on medium to medium-high heat in a tall sauce pan while constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.
  2. Stir until the sugar is melted and turning a dark amber color (this could take anywhere from 3-10 minutes depending on your stove/heat level so watch closely! It can burn quickly but a little smoke is ok).
  3. Once the sugar is ready, remove from heat and wait about 30 seconds.Then give it a stir and whisk in the butter. The mixture will bubble up so this is where using a tall sauce pan comes in handy.
  4. Once the butter and sugar are melted and incorporated, slowly pour in the heavy cream while constantly whisking.
  5. After everything is mixed together, stir in the softened Biscoff Spread and a pinch of salt.
  6. Then let caramel cool in the pot for about 10-15 minutes–you can stir it a little throughout this time. You can then transfer the sauce to a jar to cool to room temp before storing. You can store the sauce in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Biscoff Apple Crisp 

  • 5 Medium-sized Granny Smith apples
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

For the topping:

  • 1 Cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Crunchy Biscoff Spread
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (slightly warmer than room temperature)
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Optional: Biscoff caramel sauce (Recipe above)
  1. Slice the apples into 1 inch slices and then place them in a 9×13 baking dish. You can peel or leave the skin on, it’s up to you! 
  2. Pour lemon juice evenly over the apples and toss or mix with your hands.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg together until they are well incorporated.
  4. Melt the butter and let it cool until it is slightly warmer than room temperature. Add the Crunchy Biscoff Spread to the butter and mix until they are combined (leaving cookie chunks from the crunchy spread is fine). 
  5. Pour the butter/Biscoff mix over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is mixed together. 
  6. Then spread the oats/biscoff mixture over the top of the apples–it’s ok (and a good thing!) if the topping goes between the apples.
  7. Place dish in oven and bake for about 30 mins or until the apples are softened. To make sure you don’t over cook the apples, you can test by sticking a fork in a slice to see how soft it is. 
  8. Once the crisp is cooked, remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve with homemade Biscoff caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. 

Biscoff Spread is a sweet, creamy spread made with Biscoff Cookies. Try this delicious European alternative to peanut butter or chocolate spread. Upload your Biscoff Spread photo to enter Biscoff’s “Spread the Love” contest for a chance to win a trip for 2 to Belgium!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Biscoff . The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Biscoff .  The opinions and text are all mine.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale with Fried Egg

First of all…Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there! My dad actually passed away when I was 5 years old. I think about him often but I am also lucky enough to have a Stepdad in my life so this day is exceptionally meaningful to me. I hope everyone is celebrating and having a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!

Second, I am leaving for Peru tonight with my best friend Megan! IAMSOEXCITED! We’ll be spending some time in Peru and then a few days in Quito, Ecuador where we’ll meet up with our good friend Kristina who’s been living there. This blog will be a little quiet for the next two weeks but I’ll be sure to post about my Sudamerica adventures as soon as I can! You can also follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Finally, this dish. Roasted sweet potatoes and kale are some of my favorite veggies to add to any meal. Top it off with a fried egg and I am in heaven. This recipe was inspired by my I’m-too-broke-to-eat-brunch-every-weekend meal plan. Combined with a piping hot cup of good coffee, and maybe a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar (or lots of hot sauce), you’ll have a delicious, healthy, and cheap(!) brunch dish in no time. It’s also easy to double, triple, quadruple, etc. the recipe if you’re having friends over.

Tiny cubes of sweet potato, kale leaves, and onions are roasted until the kale comes out crispy, the sweet potatoes are soft, and the onions are caramelized. Then you just add a fried egg! You could also make this a scramble or poach your eggs instead if you’re not into frying eggs.

South America, HERE WE COME. Talk to you guys soon! :)

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale with a Fried Egg

Brunch: Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale with a Fried Egg
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 1 Sweet potato
  • 1/2 Medium sized red onion
  • 1 Handful of kale leaves (about 1 cup), cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the sweet potato and red onion into small, 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onions and kale.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over the mix and toss until the veggies are well coated.
  5. Lay everything on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes and salt over everything evenly.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft and the edges are starting to brown.
  8. About 10 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done, fry up the two eggs. You can actually make them however you’d like (poached, fried, scrambled, etc.).
  9. When the sweet potatoes are done, split the mixture between two plate, top each plate with an egg and then finish off with a small sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  10. Serve immediately (and with hot sauce if that’s your thing!).

 

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