TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

I have done very little baking this summer, due to my hectic summer schedule, and it shows! My cookie jar had been empty so long it was dusty. That is not the way to start a new school year! So I was very happy to see that Stephany of Proceed with Caution chose Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, which just happened to coincide with the first day of school. (Yes, technically, today is Wednesday, but let’s pretend I wrote this yesterday.) I was feeling a little ambivalent about starting school again, but boy did it ever help to know that I could finally reach into the cookie jar for a little pick-me-up when I got home! Perfect back to school cookies!

The only chance I made to the recipe was to use natural peanut butter despite the recipe specifically saying not to. I couldn’t see any reason that it would hurt the cookies, and have you ever read the ingredient list of unnatural peanut butter? It’s like a mile long! While I don’t have anything to compare them to, I think the natural peanut butter worked just fine.

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TWD: Black and White Banana Cake

Chocolate and banana is one of my very favorite flavor combinations. It all stems from a cake that my mom made much more frequently than she wanted to when I was growing up, black bottom banana cake. My poor mother, it was one of those recipes that she tried and didn’t like very much, but it was a huge hit with my sisters and me. She ended up making it all the time, even though she hated it. So I was very happy to see that this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was the Black and White Banana Cake, a marbled pound cake play on my favorite treat from childhood.

Black and White Banana Cake

The highlight of the cake was the rum, mainly because I was able to purchase it myself! I turned 21 last week, so I was pretty excited to be able to go into the liquor store myself. Up until now, I’ve been sending John to the liquor store for me every time I need alcohol for cooking, which is just plain annoying. Even now that I’m of legal age, I half expected the clerk to come running after me as I left the store to take back my rum! Buying alcohol still feels like breaking the rules.

I was also pretty excited to marble the cake, which isn’t something I’ve ever done before. It didn’t look nearly as nice as Dorie’s, but I think I accidentally added too much of the batter to the chocolate. Oh well, I supposed that means I’ll have to practice my marbling! Although this cake couldn’t hold a candle to my favorite black-bottom banana cake, it was really good as long as I tried not to compare the two!

This week’s pick was from Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen, and you can find the recipe on her blog.

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TWD: Chocolate Pudding

This is my first photo-less post, and I have Melissa from It’s Melissa’s Kitchen to thank for that. You see, she chose a recipe, chocolate pudding, for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie that was so delicious I ate it all before I managed to take a picture. Technically there is still some pudding left, in the form of frozen puddin’ pops, so perhaps when my self control fails and I venture into the freezer for some pudding goodness, I’ll remember to hold back long enough for a Kodak moment. Or perhaps not.

Obviously, this pudding was fantastic. Unlike Dorie, I was raised on homemade chocolate pudding, and I’m still wowed by this recipe! It was so very chocolatey and delicious. And the texture was fantastic. My mom’s pudding, prepared sans food processor, was never ever lumpy, but it also didn’t have the texture that this one did. Dorie says it best when she calls it velvety. With that said, the mess I made in the kitchen, between transferring the pudding to and from the food processor, was intense. By the end, I think I got more pudding on the counter, stove, food processor and myself than I did in the bowl! I may try using my stick blender next time to see if I can get the same texture with a little less mess.

Dorie suggests serving the pudding chilled, and while it was delicious that way, I also happen to be a big fan of a hot bowl of chocolate pudding. Preferably in a wide bowl to maximize the skin, since I am one of those people who thinks the best part of pudding is the skin. When I was little I used to take a small spoonful from the middle of the bowl and then scrape out all the pudding from underneath the skin, in order to save the skin for last! Since it’s been so hot out, I froze most of the pudding in popsicle molds. They are way tastier than anything we could get chasing after the ice cream truck!

Thanks, Melissa, for chosing such a great recipe! You can find the recipe here at her blog.

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Banana Bread

I realized the other day that I have owned Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here For More Food for over a year, and I have yet to cook anything out of it. I’ve read most of it and absorbed the science of baking, but never actually used any of the recipes. And that is just plain silly. Since I had three bananas rapidly approaching the peak of over-ripeness, and no particular recipe for them in mind, I decided to finally pull out I’m Just Here for More Food for something other than some light reading and made banana bread.

This banana bread was so good that I think I’ve found my go to recipe. Everything was balanced: it was moist, perfectly sweet, and had great banana flavor. It was like the banana bread my mom used to pack in my lunch, but better. This makes for a great, only slightly indulgent breakfast, or a positively saintly dessert!

I really can’t believe it took me this long to actually make something from this book (technically, my favorite buttermilk pancakes come from here, but John made them)! It’s a very well designed baking book, pretty much exactly what you would expect from Alton Brown. The chapters are based on technique, and you use the master technique for every recipe in each chapter. There’s also lots of science-y explanations of ingredients and how baking works. Not only is it a great recipe book, it’s also a very useful baking reference book.

Continue reading for the recipe.

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TWD: Apple Cheddar Scones

Apparently this isn’t a popular position, but I love having overnight guests. Even though my apartment is basically never company-clean, I love fussing around all day cooking and cleaning to get ready for company. But without a doubt, my favorite part of having friends stay the night is the excuse to make breakfast in the morning. That’s why I love the breakfast chapter of Baking, and it was a serious struggle to decide which recipe to pick for my long awaited Tuesdays with Dorie turn. It came down to Glorious Morning muffins or the Apple Cheddar Scones. I went with the scones, since I’ve never gotten around to making scones before. Dorie didn’t disappoint (holy alliteration!) and these scones were all kinds of delicious. Plus, I was lucky enough to have a guest staying with us to share them with!

Apple Cheddar Scones

My favorite fall snack, during the peak of apple season, is apple slices with smoked gouda melted over them. To die for! So I had no doubt the apple cheddar combination would be fantastic in scones. But I was pleasantly surprised at how good the dough encompassing the apple and cheddar was. The cornmeal gave it both flavor and texture, and the scone was ever so fluffy and moist. As Dorie said, they were at their very best straight from the oven, but even the single solitary one that survived until the next morning was still yummy. These will definitely be going into our regular breakfast rotation!

Continue reading for the recipe.

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TWD: Mixed Berry Cobbler

I don’t think I went in to this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Mixed Berry Cobbler, with an open mind. The recipe had so many negative reviews from other members that I was expecting the worst. What I got was a perfectly acceptable dessert. It wasn’t mind blowing, it didn’t wow, but John and his brother gobbled it up pretty quickly. I think we’ve all come to expect perfection from every single recipe in Baking, but the reality is that there are a couple of recipes that are just plain ho hum, and this is one of them.

Mixed Berry Cobbler

The problem is, I really wanted this one to be a star. My freezer is constantly full of half empty bags of frozen berries, and this recipe is a great way to use them before they get freezer burned beyond recognition. It’s also a great summery dessert that can be made in the dead of winter, and goodness knows I need that. So even though this one was a bit of a disappointment, I’ll probably keep making variations of it until I get it right. I’m envisioning blueberries and raspberries with vanilla sugar in the crust and the filling for next time.

You can find the recipe posted by Beth of Our Sweet Life or in Baking: From My Home to Yours, which is currently on a sweet sale at Amazon.

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Boston Baked Beans

While I believe that the price of gas right now is actually a good thing in the long run – I fully expect that my next vehicle will get a hundred miles to the gallon, maybe more -, it sucks right now. Due to the fact that gas costs a million dollars, and also that we have visited home more weekends than not for what feels like months, we did not see John’s father for Father’s Day. Which was sad, but also delightful because, seriously, we have not spent enough time just hanging out around the house on a Sunday afternoon recently. Since it was a rainy, gloomy, chill Sunday afternoon I decided it would be nice to have something soothing cooking. I considered soup, due to my romantic notions about pots of soup simmering away on a rainy day. But instead I decided to celebrate John’s dad, even if we weren’t actually with him, with one of his specialities: Boston baked beans.

Boston Baked Beans

Continue reading.

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