Saturday, July 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Finger Cookies


If you like peanut butter fingers (you know, the lunch lady bars), you'll love this "cookie" version! My sisters and I did a Cookies & Milk Party for our Mom's 80th birthday, and we wanted all the cookies to be the traditional, round kind. Here's my version of a 'round' peanut butter finger. They were a big hit!


Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 4 dozen)

1/2 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
1/2 cup Butter Flavored Crisco
1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, it's up to you)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter, Crisco, and sugars until smooth. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Mix until just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

I LOVE using parchment paper on my cookie sheets, but it's not mandatory :) Form 1 1/2" balls of dough, or use a cookie scoop. Use a fork to lightly smash cookie dough in the traditional "criss-cross" fashion. My dough was pretty soft, so I dipped my fork in powdered sugar to keep it from sticking.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes or until edges just begin browning. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.


These are double-frosted, just like the bar cookie. I found a good recipe for the peanut butter frosting, then I used store-bought milk chocolate frosting on top.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp milk

Mix all ingredients until smooth. If it's too runny, add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar at a time until you get a good frosting consistency. If it's too dry, add a tsp of milk at a time. Frost each cookie with PB frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting - I used store-bought frosting in a tub, but you can use any milk chocolate frosting you like. Warm the frosting in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make it easy to frost over the PB frosting.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

S'Mores Bites

YUM! S'Mores have always been one of my favorite camping treats! I saw a post on Pinterest from Cooking Classy, and wanted to give the S'Mores Bites a try. Theirs are much cuter though, so you might want to check them out :D

I didn't have the right size circle cutter to make mine round and cute, so I improvised. Here's what I did... 

I used a regular graham crackers. I broke each cracker into it's four "pre-scored" pieces. Then, I carefully broke each of those pieces one more time, to make little squares. I lined a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and placed the squares about 3/4" apart. (I LOVE PARCHMENT PAPER!) I didn't have any mini marshmallows (which is what I wanted to use), so I used regular marshmallows. I used my kitchen shears to cut each marshmallow into four pieces. TIP! Run the blades of the kitchen shears under water between each marshmallow you slice, and they won't stick to the blades. Put one piece of marshmallow on each little graham cracker square.

Preheat the oven broiler. I put the oven rack one down from the top slot. Put the pan in the oven and broil for about one minute. I turn the light on the oven and WATCH the whole time so the marshmallows don't burn. As soon as they are light-brown-toasty, remove from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate chip on each marshmallow. I used Guittard milk chocolate chips because they are YUMMY and they are a little bigger than the average chocolate chip.

These were FAST, FUN, and YUMMY! Perfectly bite-sized. Now that I know how easy these are, they will no longer be a summer-only treat. This may be dangerous...

Smashed Baked Red Potatoes

I love red potatoes...just about any way you make them. I've seen several recipes using this preparation method, so I thought I'd give it a shot using ingredients that I like best! I'm happy to say they turned out yummy, and just a touch crispy from the oven :D

* Small red potatoes
* Butter or butter spray
* Cracked Pepper
* Ms Dash garlic & onion blend
* Parmesan cheese

Wash the potatoes, then boil on the stove top until cooked through & soft. I put a few drops of vegetable oil or olive oil in the water, and it helps keep the water from foaming and boiling over. Drain the cooked potatoes, then spread in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Using a fork, smash each potato. Drizzle with melted butter, or spray with butter spray. Sprinkle with cracked pepper, Ms Dash blend, and Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve with a spatula.

Grilled Zucchini

Last summer, I attempted to grill some zucchini. I used a tin foil "pouch" I created myself. It all went well, until I tried to bring the zucchini in the house. Half of it ended up on the deck. The rest tasted pretty good :) So, this year, I bought a 8 1/2" x 11" grilling basket. It worked SO MUCH better! This one is from Pampered Chef:

I told my brother in law, Scot, that I was excited to use my new basket, so he gave me some good tips! Here's what I did this time:

* 4 small zucchini squash
* 2 small yellow squash
* 1 orange bell pepper
* 1/4 purple onion
* cracked pepper
* garlic powder
* onion powder
* sea salt
* Parmesan cheese sprinkle

Slice the zucchini and yellow squash. Slice the orange pepper and remove the seeds. Cut into strips, and cut the strips in half. (I used the orange pepper because it's pretty, and has mild flavor.) Peel & slice the onion. Take 1/4 of the onion and chop it into small chunks. Place the veggies in the grilling basket. Spritz generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with cracked pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Use a heat-safe spoon to mix until veggies are evenly coated with the oil & spices. Set on a medium-low grill and close the lid. Stir the veggies while cooking about every 5 minutes until just tender. I cooked my chicken on the other side of the grill at the same time.

When the veggies are crisp-tender, remove from grill. I set the hot basket on a sheet of tin foil I put on top of 2 hot pads. Sprinkle with sea salt and Parmesan cheese & stir to coat. Putting the salt on AFTER grilling keeps the salt from sucking the moisture out of the veggies while they cook. Serve warm! I love the flavor of grilled food!!!

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Chicken

This week, I tried out my new recipes on my sister and her husband. They were good sports :) Carrie is allergic to food. Ok, not ALL food, but a lot of it. She has a board on Pinterest called "Carrie Safe Food," so I went looking there to see what I could come up with to try today. I'm so happy to say I was pretty successful!

I didn't use a recipe, which ends up in success for me maybe 50% of the time. Today I was lucky! I grilled Bacon Wrapped Chicken, and it was yummy! Here's what I did:

* Boneless chicken breast strips
* Bacon
* Smokey Applewood Rub (from Pampered Chef)
* Sea Salt
* Freshly ground pepper
* Olive oil

I cut several round toothpicks in half, and pre-soaked them in some water. Using a cake pan to work over, spritz the raw chicken strips with olive oil. Sprinkle with Smokey Applewood Rub (or spices of your choice) and use your fingers to "rub" & coat the chicken with the oil & spices. For Carrie, I used sea salt and ground peppercorns. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap half of a bacon strip around each chicken piece. Use the water-soaked toothpicks to secure the bacon on each end (like a straight pin).

Preheat gas grill, then set on medium-low. Grill the wrapped chicken, turning once or twice, until the bacon is crispy and the chicken is cooked through. Remove the toothpick pieces prior to serving. Mmmmmmm! The grilled veggies and red potatoes were yummy too!