Tag Archives: Recipe

Serendipity Cookies


http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [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.
(Source: dictionary.com)
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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Big Day in the Kitchen

John’s birthday is May 31st so it falls on Memorial Day frequently, or that ends up being the weekend we can celebrate. This is a good and bad thing. Good, because he sometimes has off on his birthday. Bad, because most people have long standing traditions for  Memorial Day and we can’t often have large gatherings for him. Also, John’s childhood was not filled with over the top fun filled friend laden birthdays, so I do everything I can to make it special each year for him. Since I’m now in my ninth month of pregnancy, though, it had to be small this year, and pretty much just immediately family.

By small, did you think I wasn’t cooking a lot? Hahaha – fooled you! While I did (am) make(ing) quite a bit of food, it really is less than I would normally prepare.

Here’s the menu:

Sausage & Peppers

Hot Dogs

Burgers (Beef & Turkey)

Baked Potato Salad

Black Bean Salad

Zucchini Pie


M&M Cookies

Banana Pudding

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Are you surprised that the dessert menu is almost as long as the dinner menu? You shouldn’t be! It doesn’t matter if John is cooking or not, (and he didn’t for his birthday) we can’t help trying out different recipes.

The sausage and peppers recipe is one my sister and I have cultivated and perfected, and I’m not quite willing to share that. Also, there really isn’t a recipe so much as a feeling, so without you standing next to me, I’m not sure I could explain it!

The Baked Potato Salad was inspired by the recipe from Wegmans, but of course, I made changes. I combined the new recipe with the way that I usually make potato salad. The things I kept from the new recipe: roasting the spuds, bacon and sour cream. What I didn’t use: Cheese. John and I thought cheese would make the salad be full of weird in the end. What I added: Celery, Lovage, and Parsley for color, that classic potato salad flavor and crunch.

The black bean salad is something I threw together one day when I didn’t know what to make as a side dish. I took inspiration from a bunch of different recipes and adapted them to what I had.

Black Bean Salad


2 cans black beans

2 ears of corn (or one larger can if its not in season)

1-2 tomatoes, depending on the size and how much you like tomatoes

1/2 red onion or 3 scallions

Juice of 1 lime

Olive Oil


Cilantro (if you like it; we don’t, so I don’t put it in)

Salt and Pepper to taste


If using fresh corn, cut it from the cob and roast it in a hot pan for a few minutes to bring the flavor out.

Chop tomatoes and avocado into bite sized pieces.

Combine all ingredients except the lime, avocado and oil.

If serving right away, add the avocado. If making ahead, reserve the avocado until just before serving.

Toss with about 1/4 cup olive oil and the lime juice. Serve right away if avocado is involved. Can be made a day ahead without it.

A note on the M&M cookies – we didn’t make them XXL size. We made them regular, and they were awesome. We like chewy cookies and this recipe achieved it perfectly, when the cookies are just hardly brown on the bottom. As for the banana pudding, if you like banana pudding, just make this recipe and your life will change. That’s all there is to it.

And the piece de resistance – Salted Caramel Buttercream

It’s as easy as – Start with your favorite buttercream recipe, cutting back on the sugar. Add about 1/2 cup caramel sauce and 1 tsp salt. When you frost your cupcakes, top with a little fleur de sel. And it might change your life again.

Due to all the excitement of the day, I forgot to take photos of some of the food, but I will share with you what I’ve got:


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If you can’t go to the Caribbean…

you can certainly cook some Caribbean inspired food!

We’re grilling Chorizo and chicken, with sides of black bean and corn salad and some plantain chips!
Our neighbors are awesome, too, and usually run their snow blower over our half of the driveway we share when they do theirs. I happened to peak out a little while ago and noticed the gentleman who lives there was actually shoveling our driveway!
So, I ran into the kitchen and whipped up some pasta with tomato sauce, white beans and peas.
Top that off with the the pumpernickel bread John is baking and the sugar cookies I whipped up earlier this afternoon and the house smells great and is nice and warm!
What a busy day for us!
Are you looking for some recipes? Photos, perhaps?
No problem!

Black Bean and Corn Salad:

I make this in the summer time as a meal with rice mixed in, too. We are trying to go easy on the starches, though, so we decided to skip that part tonight.

Rinse one can of black beans

Strain one can of corn kernels (in the summer, I like to scrape the kernels off a fresh cob and give them a roast)

Chop 1/2 a red onion

Dice a tomato

Combine ingredients in a bowl, toss with about 3 tbs of lime juice, 1/4 cup olive oil and a packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing. I adapted this from another recipe, but I can’t remember what it was or where to find it. Serve chilled.

If you like cilantro, I imagine it would taste good here. I’m not a big fan, so I leave it out.

Sugar Cookies:

12 oz butter, softened

12 oz sugar

1 egg plus 1 yolk

2 tsp vanilla

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 lb 3 oz flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.

When fluffy, add eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt.

When combined, add flour.

You can either refrigerate or freeze for later use or begin rolling it out. Roll out to desired thickness – I like it about 1/4 of an inch or a little thicker because the cookies will be chewier. Cut into desired shapes (we used hearts for Valentine’s Day) and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Leave on the tray for a minute, then remove to a cooling rack.

If you want, you can sprinkle with sugar before you bake them, eat them plain or ice with your favorite frosting.

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Pretzel Bread!

One of my favorite grocery shopping day treats (you know, the one thing you allow yourself to buy and eat immediately when you go shopping) is a Wegman’s Pretzel Roll. Before I tasted this scrumptiousness, I had no idea that such a concept was even out in the world. Since my husband is an accomplished bread baker, we decided that he should probably learn how to make them and make them often. We found a great recipe and, with some modifications, came up with a pretzel roll that not only rivals Wegman’s, but might even be better. It’s definitely better for us, since we can now have them whenever we want and they will always be warm and fresh! If you enjoy soft pretzels, you have got to try these!

Since i lost the link after saving this to MS word, here’s the recipe…slightly varied from the original, and soooo delicious!

Thanks be to whomever my wife pinched this from!

Mike’s Signature Pretzel Bread –makes 10 2 ½ oz rolls

  • 2 ¼ tsp yeast
  • 1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
  • 2 Tbsp room temperature milk
  • 1 tsp malt syrup
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 ½ – 3 cups bread flour
  • 4 quarts water
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Add yeast, water, milk, brown sugar and butter into a large bowl, whisking until all ingredients are combined.  Let mixture rest for 10 minutes for yeast to activate.  Mix in kosher salt.  Start by adding two cups of the flour to the bowl, combining it with other ingredients.  Add more flour as it’s needed, reserving just a bit for coating the dough mat later.

The dough should form a slightly tacky, but firm ball.  Oil the bowl, place the dough ball in the bowl, and cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, knead the dough by hand or machine for at least 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and satiny.  Place dough back in the bowl and recover for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil.  When the water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and gently degas it.  Form 10 2 ½ oz balls of dough, forming them into the shape you want.  Drop balls into the baking soda bath for no longer than 30 seconds, turning it once to guarantee both sides covered.  Drain the excess water from the dough and place it on an oiled baking sheet.

Sprinkle the kosher salt over the bread to your specific tastes, and make sure to use a knife to cut a small incision on the top of the bread so the dough has somewhere to expand.

Cook the bread for approx 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once.

Once removed from the oven, immediately brush the melted butter over the loaves to guarantee a soft crust.

This recipe really is the bomb!

Try it and see for yourselves!


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Pizza Night!

We tried to have pizza night last Sunday, but I wasn’t feeling too well, so we postponed it and it’s finally here again! John decided to try out a dough recipe that he’s been holding on to for a while. We both love pizza, but there’s a big thing that separate us: John loves crispy thin crusts and I grew up loving and still love thick, chewy Sicilian style pizza. Another separation is that I am more than happy with my pizza recipe – my Nonna made it, my mother makes it and my sister and I make it – and John is constantly searching for a better recipe.

Tonight’s pizza looked gorgeous, but for me, it could have had more flavor. I’m sure John will still be searching, and next pizza night is going to be Sicilian style. Maybe while John looks for the best recipe, we’ll explore and re-explore some our favorite thin crust pizza joints. We’ll make sure to write blogs about that!

If you have a recipe that you think is the best ever thin crust, share it with us: we’ll try it out and post the results here!


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Ravioli Night

John likes to experiment, and I like to be corny. So, for our first “finer dining” experience, John knew what he wanted to do for dessert and it involved ravioli-like items. Naturally, I wanted to make ravioli for dinner, too. Since this is finer dining, I planned to make the pasta, and I did. I used the recipe that came with our machine, as I have used it before and never been disappointed. I halved the recipe, though. Are you ready for the recipe? It’s really complicated:

Pasta Dough:

1 egg

1 cup of flour


Make a well in the flour

Beat the egg in the middle of the well until a ball begins to form

Knead until the texture is consistent, adding water if the dough is too dry

Follow pasta machine’s directions

For the filling, I just mixed ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.

I also made a short rib ragout. That was even easier (for a vegetarian option, just omit the meat):


Brown 1 – 1 1/2 lbs  meat (can be any sort of meat, ground or cubed)

Saute 1-2 onions in oil until translucent

Add onions and meat to a slow cooker, top with 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes

Add a whole clove of garlic, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Cook on low 8-10 hours

Add a dash of red pepper flakes, and your favorite sauce seasoning

That’s it!

And now for dessert. John made flourless chocolate, a cocoa nib tuile, and banana-passionfruit ravioli via a process called reverse spherification. He’ll post the recipe for it soon, as I barely have an idea how he did it. What I can tell you is what they are like. Think of a rich sauce with banana and passionfruit, perfectly balanced. Then, take away the runny nature of the sauce; see the photos below for a better idea. The crisp bitterness of the tuile with the rich creaminess of cake and bright citrus sauce.

I (John) recently had the privilege of spending the day in the kitchen at Le Bernardin in NYC. Working with pastry chef Michael Laiskonis and his staff was an eye opening experience. The desserts were fantastic, and I was able to sample just about every one!

The following recipe was one bestowed upon me by Chef Michael.

At the restaurant, it was the pear dessert that inspired me to do this.

All of you adventurous cooks out there who want to take a crack at this, here it is!

Procedure for Reverse Spherification

Passion Banana Base:

  • Banana puree    100 g
  • Passion puree    100 g
  • Simple syrup        50 g
  • Calcium lactate      5 g
  • Xanthan gum          1/2 tsp

Blend together with an immersion blender for about 2 minutes.

Using a piping bag, pipe into small portion silicone molds, and freeze.

(I used Wilton ‘Brownie Bites’ silicone molds. They are about the only thing close I could find.)

Procedure for Setting Bath:

  • Water                      1000 g
  • Sodium alginate  5 g
  • Sodium citrate     2 g

Combine all ingredients and shear with immersion blender for about 2 minutes. Reserve cold overnight.

Before making the ravioli:

Pull sodium alginate bath and let come to room temp.

Remove frozen fruit puree ‘bites’ from silicone mold.

Using a slotted spoon, drop bites into alginate bath.

Let set 2 minutes.

Pull from bath with slotted spoon into cold water to stop the process.

Reserve finished ravioli in cold water or simple syrup until ready to use.

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Chicken Again?

Some days, all there is in the freezer is chicken. A lot of people eat chicken just about every day for dinner. John gave me a look last night when I said, “well, we have chicken,” in response to his “what will we cook tomorrow?”

His lackluster look was wiped away when I whipped out the mayonnaise, though. I love breaded and fried chicken breast as much as the next gal, but sometimes you just want something different. So, I slathered it in mayonnaise and then gave it a breading of homemade breadcrumbs seasoned with tarragon, paprika, salt, pepper and a generous amount of shredded parmesan cheese.

It’s baking now, but you can be sure I’ll be posting photos of it (good or bad) when it comes out.

For our veggies, I have roasted some root vegetables – parsnips, carrots, onions and a sweet potato (how sad we were to discover the lone sweet potato!). I then coated them with a mixture of honey, balsamic vinegar and butter and will pop them under the broiler to heat/caramelize them when the chicken is cooked through and resting.

So, yes, it’s chicken again, but it’s not the same old thing and I think John will be happy. Perhaps I should break out a box of Rice a Roni?

PS It’s delicious!

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