Monday, June 28, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Necessity is the mother of invention, so I came up with this recipe when I had some leftover peanut butter chips and strawberry jelly that I needed to get rid of. I figured if I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, why wouldn't I like them together in a cookie?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies


1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1-1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/3 cups peanut butter chips
a small jar of jelly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl.

Mix in the white and brown sugars. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Then add them to the rest of the dough and mix it all up.

Add the flour gradually and stir as you go. Then add the peanut butter chips and stir until they are well distributed.

Grease your cookie sheets. Roll the dough by teaspoonfuls and place on the greased cookie sheet. Use your (clean!) thumb to make an indentation in the center. Add a small amount of jelly to the indentation. (Don't use too much. Probably a quarter of a teaspoon is enough. Too much jelly and the center of your cookie will get soggy pretty quickly. Cookies with a little less jelly will last longer.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Cool for two minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Yields 4-5 dozen cookies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

No Bake Cake

I made this cake for Father's Day. My hope was to create an egg-free, nut-free cake that my nephew could still eat despite his allergies. Wouldn't you know all he ate was the Cool Whip frosting? That's O.K. Everyone else liked it! :)

No Bake Cake
a box of graham crackers
4 small packages of Jello Instant Pudding (I used chocolate)
5 cups of whole milk
one tub of Cool Whip

I started with a 2-1/2 quart bowl, but you could easily adjust this recipe for a bigger or smaller bowl.

1. Line the bowl with two long sheets of plastic wrap. Leave enough hanging on the edge so that you can cover the top later.

2. In another bowl of about the same size, mix the packages of pudding with the five cups of milk. Whisk for at least two minutes and let set for a few minutes.

3. Put a layer of graham crackers on the bottom of the bowl lined with plastic wrap. Cover these crackers with some of the pudding. Keep layering the graham crackers and the pudding until you reach the top (or run out of pudding). Just be sure you have enough graham crackers to make a double layer on the top.

4. Fold over the extra plastic wrap to cover your creation. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. It helps if you place a plate with a weight (like a heavy bottle or can of pop) on top of the bowl. This will push the graham crackers down some and help them to soak up the pudding.

5. When you are ready to serve, lift off the top layer of plastic wrap. Place a serving tray on top of the bowl and quickly flip the two of them over together. Lift off the bowl and remove the plastic wrap.

6. Frost your creation with Cool Whip. Sprinkle with candy decorations, if desired.

Serves 12.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Basic Cake Frosting

Here's my basic recipe for cake icing. It holds its shape well, and the almond extract adds an unusual touch you won't find in store or bakery frosting.

Cake Icing

1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract*
1/2 teaspoon almond extract**
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco)
1/2 cup margarine
1 tablespoon meringue powder***
4 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer, cream vanilla extract, almond extract, shortening, margarine, and water. Gradually add meringue powder and powdered sugar. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly blended. Keep mixing until smooth and creamy.

*You might be wondering, "What's up with the the clear vanilla extract?" Clear vanilla extract won't affect the color. Regular vanilla extract may result in your "white" icing being a bit off-white. If this doesn't matter to you, use the regular stuff. If you want to keep your color "pure," pick up some clear extract at your local craft store.

**If any cake eaters have nut allergies, skip the almond extract. Instead, use 1 full teaspoon of vanilla extract (in place of the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla + 1/2 teaspoon almond).

***Meringue powder acts as a stabilizer. It helps the icing keep its shape and consistency. Warning: meringue powder contains a small amount of egg whites, so don't use if someone has an egg allergy. (I learned this one the hard way!) You can skip the meringue powder if necessary. However, if you are making flowers with your icing, you might want to include it. Like clear vanilla extract, you can find meringue powder at a craft store.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Banana Nut Cookies

If you like banana bread, you will love these cookies. With a slightly crunchy edge and a soft, chewy center, these cookies are too die for! Some extra cinnamon and sugar make them extra nice!

Banana Nut Cookies


2/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 large banana should do it)
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 ¾ cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
some extra cinnamon and sugar for rolling cookies

In a small bowl, mash the banana until it’s smooth. Set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the two sticks of butter. Stir in the white sugar, beaten egg, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the mashed banana and mix thoroughly. Stir in the flour. Then add the nuts.

Refrigerate the dough for at least four hours.

Once the dough has had a chance to chill, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheets.

In a small bowl (the smaller the better), mix four parts white sugar to one part cinnamon. The ratio does not need to be exact. Just try for a nice mix of sugar and cinnamon as shown in the photo to the right. Of course, if you want more cinnamon flavor in your cookies, just lower the ratio.

Roll the dough into small balls (Use a small scooper or a tablespoon for measuring). Then roll the dough in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. The dough needs to be cold, or it gets too sticky to roll. If this happens, put it back in the refrigerator for a bit.

Place the sugar-coated balls on the greased cookie sheet. Press down on them slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown on the edge and lighter colored in the middle.

Allow cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Your home will smell like freshly baked banana bread!

Yields about 6 dozen cookies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bliss Cookies

Thanks to my friend Tom for coming up with the name for these cookies! I hope you find them blissful, too!

Bliss Cookies


1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs (beaten)
2 ½ cups flour
¾ cups chocolate chips
¾ cups peanut butter chips
2 cups coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl.

Then mix in the white sugar and the brown sugar. Add the salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix well.

In a small bowl, beat the two eggs. (I like beating the eggs in a separate bowl just in case any eggshell pieces fall in.)

Add the beaten eggs to the mixture in the large bowl and stir thoroughly.

Add about half of the flour and incorporate it into the dough. Then add the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and coconut. Stir until the chips are evenly distributed.

Finally add the remainder of the flour and mix well.

Drops by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. (I like to use a cookie scooper. It’s like an ice cream scooper but much smaller.) If the dough is too sticky to handle, refrigerate it for a while first.

Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. To make sure your cookies remain moist, remove them before they start to really brown.

Cool cookies for two minutes before transferring from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Yields about 5 dozen cookies.