Friday, May 18, 2012

PB&J Cookies

Everything we like about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a cookie. Genius.  I remember PB&J sandwiches were my favorites in grade school.  I loved how by the time lunch time rolled around, the jelly had soaked into the bread, turning it a nice rosey color. Also, how the sweetness of the jelly was such a nice counterpart to the salty peanut butter.  I doubt I had that kind of culinary insight at eight years old but I do know I loved them.

As an adult it is rare that I have a PB&J sandwich.  A piece of toast in the morning with a smear of peanut butter is an occasional breakfast to get me out the door.  The Husband on the other hand, eats them all the time for dinner.  Am I a bad wife that I allow such a thing and don't see that we have dinner on the table every night after work?  No I am not.  He loves the PB&J.  So these cookies are for The Husband.  Because he never expects that I'll cook for him but is always appreciative when I do! 

P.S.  The Tazo Zen Green Tea is another one of my favorite teas for sipping on leisurely Sunday afternoons.
PB&J Cookies

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 2/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Jelly or jam flavor of your liking

Cream together the peanut butter, butter, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Add the egg and beat just until combined. In a separate bowl, add the flour, soda, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture. Place heaping tablespoonfuls, 2-3 inches apart on baking sheets and lightly press with your thumb. Fill hole with jelly. Bake at 375ยบ for 8-10 minutes. The jelly should set as it cools.  Makes approximately 3 dozen.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Italian Chopped Salad

A friend from work recently asked me to check on her house for a week while she was on vacation.  Not a problem as she lives just 3-4 blocks from me and I drove by her cute yellow cottage before and after work each day she was gone.  Well, that nice lady presented me with the most generous gift for my trouble (which was no trouble at all).  A lovely set of two knives; a serrated utility knife and a cheese knife from Cutco.  They're just so pretty I hardly wanted to break them out of their box. But that I did today as I decided to put the serrated one to good use making this Italian chopped salad.
I love to chop up ingredients. I find it almost meditative. I know. I'm weird.  This salad nearly had me in a trance as you may imagine from the name alone.  Chop. Chop. Chop.  The knife was extremely sharp and I got the ingredients prepped for this delicious salad in no time.  It's a wonderful meal-in-itself salad with some garlic bread on the side for a lunch or a light supper.  Thanks again Patty for the lovely gift!

Italian Chopped Salad

Salad Ingredients

4 romaine hearts, halved and chopped into small dice
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped into small dice
1/2 peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
1/2 red onion, chopped into small dice
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped into small dice
8 ounce ball fresh, all natural mozzarella cheese, chopped into small dice
4 ounces (about ¼ pound) Italian dry salami, chopped into small dice
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
Combine the romaine hearts through the parsley in a large bowl and set aside in fridge the vinaigrette is made.

Herbed Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon Italian seasoning
 Pinch ground black pepper
3/4  teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a medium bowl, add all ingredients through sugar, and whisk to combine; next begin slowly adding the oil, whisking until vinaigrette is emulsified.

Pour the vinaigrette over the chopped salad greens and thoroughly toss to coat; check and adjust the salt/pepper, if necessary, and divide the salad equally among 4 plates.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Clean Out The Fridge Quiche

I know I've posted about quiche before, but I had a different take on it today.  Sometimes quiche is such a great thing to make with leftovers.  In the fridge we had some leftover ham, a few green onions, and a small piece of cheddar cheese.  Making a quiche came to mind as a good way to use up these items in a different form other than an omelet, which was my initial thought. 

The pie crust I used this time was so fantastic.  As I have mentioned too many times before, pie crusts and I are not friends.  When I put this quiche together, I think we begrudgingly came to at least a cease fire.  I used a recipe in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook.  Plain and simple. I used butter, though shortening is acceptable.  I just prefer the taste of a butter crust.  After a 15 minute sit in the freezer, it rolled out perfectly.  It made me happy.

Fannie Farmer's Basic Pie Crust
(makes crust for one 9" pie)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening (butter or Crisco) well chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
4-5 Tbsp. ice water

Place flour and salt in food processor and give it a few pulses.  Add butter and pulse 10-15 times until mixture resembles small peas.  Add 3-4 Tbsp. water. Pulse until mixture comes together in a loose ball.  Add more water if needed.  Dump out onto plastic wrap and form into a disc.  Wrap well and place in freezer for 15 min.  Roll out into diameter, approximately 1/2 inch greater than pie dish.  Gently place into pie dish without stretching dough.  Cut off any excess around the edges and crimp as desired.
Quiche Recipe

Please refer to my recipe found here for the basics and add your own combinations of fillings or cheeses.  Be Creative!