cornmeal and peanut crunch peanut butter cookies

I’ve never been a fan of the – old-fashioned, gooey in the center, fork tine crossed – peanut butter cookies. These peanut butter cookies, however, are the up-town version of the simple peanut butter cookie my Mom  baked.

Crunch and texture is provided from sugar crystals, peanut pieces, and medium grind corn meal. (I would probably use fine grind corn meal in the future.)  The recipe below is adapted from the original found here.

Beat together in mixer:
3/4 c. soft butter
1/2 c. fresh ground peanut butter (ground fresh at Whole Foods)

Add and beat until light and fluffy:
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. stoneground cornmeal
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Form cookie dough into small rounds and roll in mixture below:
1/4 c. salted peanuts (I used roasted, unsalted peanuts, and added a pinch of salt)
1/4 c. granulated sugar
process in food processor or small grinder

Place on parchment lined baking sheet; press top of cookie flat.
Bake 10 – 12 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven; cool 2 minutes on baking pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


bacon – sweet smokey bacon jam

I first read this recipe on Lydia’s blog.  Much is written in the blog world regarding bacon and sweets.  I, however, think this bacon jam will be delicious in a quiche.  I make quiche often; this weekend my quiche goes something like this (don’t judge me, nor count the calories!):
     >fresh lard crust
     >layer of shredded cheese
     >layer of crock pot caramelized onions
     >layer of **bacon jam**
     >layer of asparagus
     >all swimming in a mixture of heavy whipping cream, eggs, salt, nutmeg, and Herbes de Provence

I began with 2-10 oz packages of bacon, cut into small pieces

bacon, rendering, in my Grandmother’s cast iron
2 1/2 hours later; liquid will thicken as it cools
(bacon, onion, garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, espresso)
this would be so good in the middle of one of Mom’s biscuits

it’s deliciously smokey sweet, and quite addictive

You can find the original recipe HERE.

Sarabeth’s Bakery blueberry muffins

Thank you, My Friend J (of Mrs. Ermel’s blog), for my Christmas Cookbook!

“Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours”

The blueberry muffins are baking and the slight undertone of orange aroma is floating through the house on this cold, snowy, January, TN, Saturday.

I was there..
I was there and didn’t know what was before me.  I visited NYC in June 2010 and made a quick trip to Chelsea Market.  I stood in front of the table lined with jars of Sarabeth’s jams, and I just didn’t know…
I walked away…not knowing…

Following the directions for blueberry muffins in “Sarabeth’s Bakery,” I dished the muffin batter into 10 of the 12 regular size muffin wells (well buttered – this made for easy removal of the baked muffins with all tops in tact-none broken.)

They baked to tall globes, topped with golden, crunchy streusel.

Real muffin tops…

And on the inside, they have a slight color tint from the orange juice.

The muffins are tender and moist, and almost melt in your mouth.  The fresh blueberries explode in your mouth and the subtle orange resides in the background, providing that something extra that puts these muffins over the top.  Crown all that with a little sweet crunch from the streusel on the top of the muffin, and you have a warm, comforting breakfast/anytime muffin.

These muffins are large, and one is enough….but you will have to resist the urge to take a second.

An hour later, the muffins are cold yet the orange and blueberry flavors have somewhat intensified.
(someone had to eat the broken muffin after the photo shoot…)

You can follow Sarabeth’s blog here (she often posts recipes from her book) and visit her website here.

theo chocolate hot chocolate

the beginning of something beautiful…

While sitting on the warm side of my office window, I enjoyed watching the snow fall outside.  We get quite excited about snow in TN, and the forecasted few inches arrived today as promised.  Visions of thick, rich, creamy hot chocolate drifted through my thoughts throughout the afternoon.  Hot chocolate and snow… (yes, I was working!  one must look away from the excel worksheet on occasion…)
This hot chocolate is adapted from a recipe posted by Yadi; you can find her original recipe here.
I have scaled the recipe to yield a little less than 8 ounces of hot chocolate.  The cup in the pictures is very small, holding about 3 ounces, which is just enough to quench the chocolate craving yet not enough to feel guilty about the calories.
Nutella Chocolate Chocolate Hot Chocolate
Mix all together in small saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is steaming:
1 1/2 t Nutella (be sure to lick the spoon!)
2T chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips)
1 fl oz (or 2T) heavy whipping cream
3 fl oz whole milk
Chop and add to steaming milk mixture:
1 ounce theo orange chocolate (this does not scent the hot chocolate orange; however, it blends well with the other flavors to create a smooth, lush warm drink) 
Allow chocolate to melt, then stir to mix well.
Add 1/4 t vanilla (it’s really aged Grey Goose and vanilla beans)
Pour into small cups and top with tiny marshmallow if desired.  
Sit back, watch the snow fall and sip the hot chocolate…these ARE the days…
This hot chocolate is rich, and small servings are quite adequate.  Though a bit sweeter and perhaps a bit thinner than THIS hot chocolate, both are absolutely delicious, and well worth 15 minutes of your time to stir together a culinary treat.
sweet dreams…
I visited the theo chocolate factory near Seattle, WA last year.  Here’s the link to the blog post, should you desire to read more about chocolate.

lard – lard pie crust

Mom made our biscuits and cornbread and fried chicken and, and and…with Reelfoot lard.  Reelfoot Packing Company has been out of business for years; however, Niece M & Nephew A found fresh lard and sent me a quart for Christmas (yes, I asked for this gift.)

creamy white…

Let’s make a pie crust (recipe adapted from Nancie  McDermott’s “Southern Pies”):
3 oz lard
1/2 t salt
5 1/2 oz pastry flour
Chill in freezer for a while until everything is cold.
Blend with pastry blender.
1/4 c. cold water
Stir together quickly; pour onto cling wrap; chill for an hour.
This dough is soft and rolls easily, even immediately out of the refrigerator.
I rolled this crust too thin at the edge. 
The crust tasted like Mom’s; the memory made me smile.
I’ll work on a ‘pretty’ edge next time…

oats in the coffee cake

The original recipe is labeled as ‘oatmeal cookie coffee cake.’

This coffee cake has a moist interior and is surrounded by a brown sugar crunch on the top, and slightly chewy crust on the sides.  I baked my coffeecake in a tart pan; thus, the baking time was much longer than the time specified in the recipe.  This extended baking time may have attributed to the chewy edge of the coffeecake. However, the presentation of the cake with it’s ruffled sides and light color oats strewn across the top make the cake a stunning breakfast/brunch/anytime treat.

Thanks, Liz at ‘A Whisk and a Prayer’ for sharing the recipe.  (original recipe here)

My adaptation of the original recipe included the following changes:
I used whole milk with 1/4 teaspoon of almond flavoring rather than the almond milk.
I used regular oats, and currents in the place of raisins.
I should have toasted the almonds as the recipe instructed.
I sprinkled a few oats across the top; they were a pretty contrast against the brown sugar topping.

just out of the oven:

a slice…

 …and a bite

 earthy oats against weather wood

 another bite…

 …and gone…DELICIOUS!

potato soup

Searching for something other than holiday sweets, this recipe for baked potato soup looked appealing and proved to be so.

I used rich turkey stock made from the Christmas turkey and some extra parmigiano-reggiano.

hot chocolate – thick, rich, indulgent

I’m relaxing on this cold (24 degrees today in TN; that’s cold for us Southerners) Sunday afternoon, often glancing out the window, watching for the forecasted winter snow storm.

This hot chocolate reminds me of a tasting at The Confectional in Pike Place Market Seattle, WA.  And, also, this hot chocolate offers visions of life for My Friend M, who will be moving to Paris, France for a year later in 2011.

I’m using one of the 67% cacao bars of chocolate from Nashville, TN artisan chocolatier, Olive & Sinclair. I use their chocolate often, as you can see here and here.

Seemingly simple demitasse cup of hot chocolate – notice the rich color of the chocolate against the stark white of the small cup.  

adding a little recently whipped whipping cream…

the bowl of the spoon is about the size of the top of the cup
this velvety thick, deliciously rich hot chocolate is adequately served in a very small portion

I added a few drops of Chambord for a subtle hint of black raspberry

 one last photo, and then it’s time to savor

until next time, little demitasse
The recipe was adapted from a blog post by Tish Boyle.  I scaled the recipe back to one serving; however, I found that the one-serving portion would adequately fill 3 of the small demitasse cups.  That’s enough to share with friends….or not…
3 fl. oz. whole milk
1 fl. oz heavy whipping cream
1T packed light brown sugar
Heat on medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble around the edge. 
Remove the pan from the heat, and add
1.5 oz finely chopped chocolate (choose your chocolate wisely for it really is the star of this treat)
(I used Olive & Sinclair’s 67% bar)
Whisk gently until the chocolate is melted and well combined with the liquid. 

beauty in the grain

It was just an old piece of wood in the barn, worn from years of use, and thick, strong, and sturdy as the tree from which it was cut. With a little care and attention, it has become photo worthy.  Perhaps there is a simple message in the wood as the new year begins.  What beauty lies beneath our surface?

Thanks, brother B —