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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is for all my valentines out there. Strawberry and cream cheese filled brownies, with, of course, a love bird.
Hope it’s a good one!



by | February 13, 2012 · 11:30 pm

Serendipity Cookies

ser·en·dip·i·ty [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]  Show IPA



an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first jobshe applied for.
Today, I wanted to make these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Apparently, I was feeling rebellious and decided to change the amount of flour from 1/2 cup to 2 cups. Oops. So, I knew that wasn’t going to work. I scrambled to fix the cookies, since I didn’t want to start over and I really wanted cookies! My first fix was not so good, but then I got it. And they are delicious, beautiful cookies. I quickly wrote down what I did and  wanted to share. If you make them, please let me know how you like them! I think I will be making these again.
The Accidental Cookie

Serendipity Cookies

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 – 1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 lb butter, melted (1 stick)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1  tsp vanilla

Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar

Add eggs, salt, vanilla and baking powder

Add oats and flour, mix until just combined

Add chocolate chips, drop by spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 8 minutes results in chewy cookies, 10 in crispy. I prefer 9: right in between.

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Marshmallow Fluff

Breaking eggs is easy, separating eggs is only slightly harder. Today, however, I had a real issue with it. I went through two eggs before I stopped breaking the yolks and actually separated out four whites. Not to be wasteful, I made some scrambled eggs.

Then I really got cracking (pun completely intended) on the recipe for Fluff. I got the recipe out of Retro Desserts by Wayne Harley Brachman. It involves bringing corn syrup, sugar and water to 246 degrees (what’s known as a “hard ball” state, it says) and then adding it to stiff egg whites. Not being the pastry chef of the family, I was a little weary of the turn sugar into a hard ball state, as that is pretty darn close to candy making. I did it, though! The fluff was warm and delicious and now lives in my refrigerator. When it runs out, I think I’ll be making more. There’s only one downside to the ooey gooey goodness is the clean up, which I am putting off for a little while.

Things I’m considering doing with the fluff:

Buying (Baking?) Brioche and making a sandwich of fluff and nutella. If I French Toast that, do I go to diet hell or breakfast heaven?

Fluffernutters, of course.

Spread on top of brownies and the ganache the whole thing.

Scoop it up with my finger.

Melt a little and pour it over ice cream, or blueberry pie, I’m not sure why, but that just popped into my head and now I must have it.


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Growing up with an Irish/American mother, I naturally ate fantastic home cooked Italian dinners most nights of the week. No, my dad didn’t cook. My mom was lucky enough to have been taught by a lovely Italian woman who lived in her building. I never tire of my mother’s cooking and I love to cook Italian food myself, but I as I grew older, I wondered about “American” food. When I was a kid, I dreaded eating at friend’s houses. I had seen mothers preparing Hamburger Helper and Tuna Noodle Casserole, and I was less than interested. As I grew older, those classics begin to pique my interest.

John works in really nice places filled with really great food. It didn’t intimidate me too much, just a little. After trying to compete for a while, I decided that what he needed was the furthest thing from fine dining that I could create. So, I started to learn how to make casseroles. I will grant that one doesn’t “learn” casseroles, rather one figures out which ingredients taste nice together when thrown into a dish with condensed cream soup. It all started with Summer Zucchini Casserole. John loved it and so did I (I will admit I had flashbacks of tuna noodle casseroles – I hear people really enjoy them, but I don’t like tuna so I’ve never tried it). Since then, I’ve assembled many a casserole and highly recommend them especially for busy moms. All you need is a mixing bowl and casserole dish. You don’t have to worry about dishes, you can use up leftovers and they’re done in about 30 minutes. It’s also a great way to pack a lot of veggies into yourself (or the kids).

Tonight, I made possibly the best casserole yet, even if it was the least healthy. It included Velveeta Cheese, Stove Top Stuffing, Cream of Chicken Soup, Roasted Broccoli, and Leftover Chicken. I still am a little frightened of hamburger helper, but I do make a lot of meals that involve cheese sauce, ground meat and noodles.

Do you make casseroles often? Do you have happy childhood memories of them? Are you skittish about trying them? What’s your favorite recipe?

Please let me know by leaving a comment!

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Something for Everyone

Tonight we had an orange sort of dinner. John and I had pumpkin risotto (his garnished with fennel and mine with carrots) and the baby had a nice carrot puree. “Wait, what about the toddler?” you ask. She had a red dinner. Red-faced angry that she was supposed to eat anything at all.

At least the baby eats.




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As a kid, I remember Thanksgiving being boring. I didn’t like football, the grownups always booted me out and I wasn’t that into sitting and eating for hours (I learned the error of my ways on that one, eventually).
Now that I’m a grown up who loves cooking and eating all day long, I try to remember what it was like for me as a child and think of some ways to keep interesting for my children, as well as my niece and nephew. I remember being in kindergarten and shaking a jar of heavy cream until it was butter. Every student in the class has to shake for one minute until we had butter. And then we all got to taste it on some bread my teacher had brought in. Since it stuck with me, I figured I must have thought it was pretty fun/cool.
I told my niece and nephew the day before that we would be doing a food science experiment on Thanksgiving, without telling them what it was exactly, and they were pretty excited. So excited, in fact, I thought the “truth” would disappoint them, but thankfully it didn’t. We all took turns shaking the jar and after about 20 minutes, we had butter! We had postulated that it would take 30 minutes and it was very exciting to test the theory that cream would make butter when shaken, and the time it would take.
Then, not only did we taste the butter, but John and my nephew tasted the buttermilk!
Here’s a little photo essay of the experience:

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Cookbook Review:

The Summertime Anytime Cookbook, Recipes from Shutters on the Beach

by Diane Slatkin

When I think of summertime, I think of light breezes, humidity and doing not a whole lot. When I think of summer food, I think of crisp salads, light lunches and cold treats. Summertime Anytime has recipes that look like they deliver – unless you happen to be the one making them. The recipes are loaded with ingredients and preparation. As an advanced home cook, I knew that I could tackle the recipes in this book but I don’t know why anyone would want to in the summer. I’ll get to the recipes later, though. The photographs are beautiful and inspiring. The chapters are interspersed with tips and fun information to help make your home and life summery at any time. There’s a playlist filled with songs that might make you think of summer, decorating tips and a page dedicated to stocking your bar. While these pages are interesting, they really feel out of place, like page fillers almost. One page is titled “Ten Ways to Decorate a Glass Hurricane” and, as a cook (one who takes pride in my home, too) I really don’t care. If I was looking for decorating advice, I wouldn’t be reading a cookbook. Another non-sequitor are the pages relaying recipes for body scrubs. I know many cooks who are crafty and might be interested by this, but I don’t think its presence serves to better this particular cookbook. As for the recipes, there are too many ingredients in everything. When I looked at the photos, I wanted to eat what was there, when I saw the ingredients list, I wondered where all that stuff was in the photo. In the Roasted Halibut with Fennel-Tomato sauce, a large portion of the half page long ingredients list are strained out of the sauce, which seems incredibly wasteful. I also was reluctant to roast the fish, as it is summer and it was sweltering that day in New Jersey. The Barley Risotto with Carrot-Corn Broth looked beautiful in the photograph, and sounded delightful. The list of ingredients was also daunting, and the fact that the risotto is packed with five different kids of vegetables sounds both healthy and delicious, but prepping them all took a long time. After executing the dish, the broth was largely flavorless and the risotto was good but the Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup) overpowered the delicate flavors of the barley and vegetables. Barley risotto is definitely something I will try again, but I don’t think it needs a broth and it will become a Fall/Winter/Spring dish as it was far too hot stand over the stove stirring it for as long as was necessary. I quickly lost interest in trying anything in the cookbook again. Sad to say, but that’s a mark of a not very good cookbook, isn’t it?

This book was provided by The Daring Kitchen and reviewed for them.

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