I love snow storms. It is more of a conditional love, but love nonetheless.
The conditions include…
Being at home, in sweatpants, on my couch, drinking a hot cup of something, watching the snow accumulate out side my window. I don’t want to go to work or attend any planned event…Truth be told, I really don’t want to leave my house when it is snowing…
The snow accumulation must be greater than 4 inches. Less than four inches, well that is just a dusting. Nothing is going to be cancelled, school will still be in session, you can still see the tops of the grass blades and corn stalks. Life will go on, it’ll just be cold, wet, and slushy. Eh. More than 4 inches, preferably lots more, turns the world into a black and white photo. The dreariness of winter is gone. The brown grass, the bare trees, the empty brown fields…all covered in a glorious blinding bright white.
Untouched snow. No cars or trucks packing it down, turning it black and dirty. Untouched snow before the snow plows come along and throw it (and the top layer of the road) into the ditch. Uncovering the bleak and gray road beneath, making it passable. Making it safe for travellers, making it so we no longer have good reason to stay in hibernation. Growing up in a small town (one square mile small)…I was spoiled with days on end of untouched snow.
The temperature must be freezing ( so it’ll snow and not rain of course), but not too far below freezing. If it is too cold then the snow is powder like. Great if you ski, at least I would think so, but since I have never skied, I truly don’t know. Powder snow is not great for building snow men, snowball fights, or fort building. We are snowman making, snowball fighting, fort building aficionados in my family. That I do know.
We had a snow storm this weekend, as did most of the midwest and eastern side of the country. It was a true snow storm…more than 4 inches fell. The world was a black and white photo. And to top it off, I spent the weekend at my parent’s. Untouched snow galore and nothing pressing to do…Perfect! The temperature never reached snow packing heights on Saturday to create anything, but it was enjoyed all the same.
Were you snowed in this weekend too? Wasn’t it great?! I hope you didnt have to go anywhere. I hope you were able stay cooped up in the house and enjoy time with your family. I hope you lounged in your pajamas all day long. I hope you made comfort food and enjoyed every last bite ( it is not bathing suit season yet!!) If not, winter is no where from being over…you will have time. Promise.
Our comfort food this weekend was chocolate. Chocolate and Peanut Butter. In cupcake form. No biggy. Just tastey. You can never go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter, at least not in my family.
Chocolate Cupcake w/ PB Frosting
1 Cup Cocoa Powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 + 1/2 All Purpose Flour
1 + 1/2 Sticks Butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 + 1/4 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Buttermilk, well shaken
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 Stick Butter, softened
- 1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 2 + 1/2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3-4 Tablespoons milk, half and half, or heavy cream…whatever you have on hand.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin cups with paper cupcake wrappers.
In a small bowl, sift or whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa. Set aside. Also, in another bowl, mix together the buttermilk and yogurt. Set this aside too!
Cream together melted butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and the eggs, mix well. Now, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk/yogurt mixture, starting and ending with flour. (Flour, dairy, flour) Mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Fill the lined muffin cups about 2/3rds the way full and place in preheated oven. Bake for about 15 to 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan and placing them on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
While they are cooling, prepare icing.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and peanut butter. Mix in vanilla. With mixer on low, slowly add confectioner’s sugar until all of it is mixed in. Now, add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon until the consistency desired is reached.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, ice the cupcakes and then enjoy! They can be stored in an airtight container for about 3 to 5 days, if they last that long!
I have a kitten napping on my lap. His name is Stanley. He is my new roomie. I like him. I think I’ll keep him. However, he is quite a hindrance on my activity level. I can’t disturb the cute ball of fur. That would be mean. The lyrics to “Soft Kitty” is running through my head. I watch too much TV.
It took everything I had today to just bake these here cookies. And in the end, I found out that he doesn’t even like cookies. Who doesn’t like cookies?!? He prefers turkey. I can’t make cookies with turkey. Maybe I will give it a try down the road. Thanksgiving is coming up. Weird cat lady here I come.
Yes, I tried to feed him a bit of cookie. I didn’t include any chocolate. Can cats even have chocolate? Are they like dogs? I stuck on the safe side of life and gave him just a plain bite. Maybe he didn’t like it because there was no chocolate …. I can understand that. I’d be picky too.
No matter what Stanley says, these cookies are good. Nice and nutty and dotted with chocolate chips. Seriously, how could you go wrong? Well, maybe if you had a nut allergy these would be wrong for you. And in that case, I feel so sorry for you…a life without peanut butter would be downright horrid.
Nutty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit November 2011
Makes 2 Dozen
- 1/3 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
- 1/2 Cup Toasted Pecans
- 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Egg
- 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- 1/4 Cup Quick Cooking Oats
- 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
In a food processor, combine the peanut butter and roasted pecans and blend until an almost smooth paste forms. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking soda.
In a large mixing bowl, blend together sugars and butter until light and fluffy using an electric mixer. Add vanilla extract and egg and mix until combined. Then mix in the peanut butter/pecan mixture and blend until well combined.
Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add both types of oats and mix on high speed for about one minute. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out cookie dough into rounded balls ( golf ball sized) and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on tray for about 3 to 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk.Read More
I love peanut butter. Actually, any nut butter. I don’t care if its almond, peanut, cashew…I am eating it and I am loving it. I even devour the fake Goober stuff, with the jelly mixed in.
I prefer eating it straight up with a spoon, straight from the jar. I eat anyone and every ones peanut butter. I have eaten jars of my roommates, my mom stocks up when I visit, my grandma doesn’t even stand a chance. I might have a problem. Well, actually, I know its a problem and therefore I don’t keep pb in the house. Its on the ‘not allowed’ list … along with chocolate ice cream, chewy candy, Doritoes, and Diet Coke. Substances I can’t, no matter how hard I try, eat in moderation. Its all or none. The remaining peanut butter used to make the cake is on the very top shelf of my cupboard…I would need a step stool to to get it down. And longer arms. Otherwise…it would be gone.
So, not a big surprise that I like baking with pb. This time around its cake. Peanut butter cake. Heaven. Slathered with dark chocolate icing. Heaven squared. Do you call it icing or frosting? Either way its good. I can eat that with a spoon too. Heaven help me.
This here cake is surprisingly light and tender. Not at all dense, however you will need a tall glass of milk. Its a rule.
Lets bake a cake.
Ok before we begin, can we just take a look at my new favorite measuring spoons. I love these! Found them at The World Market…lovely.
Another gander for good measure. Hahaha…get it? Hehe.
Ok, back to the cake. Doesn’t creamed butter and peanut butter just look, well smooth and creamy? I feel like I am snooping in on the brown sugar in this picture. I stunk at taking pictures, so beyond creaming the sugar – imagine eggs and vanilla being creamed in here too.
Cake flour!! It makes for a light and fluffy cake. With this here cake flour, sift in baking powder and salt. You will alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the creamed butter, eggs, and sugar. At the end, the batter will look like below. Like I said before, I forgot to take pictures…I need another set of hands.
Evenly divide between two prepared pans. No need to be exact, but get as even as you can. Now, if you followed directions your oven will be preheated and ready to go. Or if you are like me and can never quite remember to preheat the oven, wait a few minutes and then place them in your freshly preheated oven. I think I don’t preheat the oven so I can get another shot at eating more batter. Yeah I am a batter eater…don’t judge me. Raw eggs don’t scare me.
Peanut Butter Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting
Makes 2 – 8 in. round cakes
2 + 1/2 Cups Cake Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter – room temperature
1 + 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 + 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Butter ( 2 sticks) – room temperature
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 + 1/2 Cups Special Dark Hershey’s Cocoa
1/2 Cup Whole Milk ( don’t use skim – eck!)
4 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (or Pam Spray) 2 - 8 inch round pans and flour. Placing a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, will make cake extraction easier.
In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter until until smooth. Beat in sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs, one at at time. Mix thoroughly. Scraping the sides and bottom as you go.
Blend in the flour mixture and milk, alternating – starting and ending with flour. 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour mixture. Found that this works best.
Evenly divide cake batter between the two prepared cake pans. Spread evenly and place in preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake!!!! It will dry out quickly. When toothpick is inserted, a few crumbs should remain stuck to toothpick. When done, remove from oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before turning out and letting cool completely on wire racks.
While cooling, prepare frosting.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, and cocoa powder until combined. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar in several installments. Add milk and beat until smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter, add more sugar, or would like it of thinner consistency…add more milk. It is forgiving to a point.
Ice cake when completely cool.
Its hot. Like really hot. And humid. But I am not complaining. Nope. I remember the winter, that was hell. I promised myself then not to complain about the heat now. So this is me not complaining. Just soaking in the warmth. I just ask one favor…please don’t judge me when I sweat because I am breathing and blinking. Who knew blinking was so vigorous an activity.
Even though we are having a heat wave…the fun does not stop in the kitchen. My appetite may be decreased, but my want to flit around the kitchen has not. Call me crazy. Actually don’t…My need to be in the kitchen is normal, right? It is. It totally is. It might be a tad bit crazy on a 98° day, whatever.
On my stroll through the kitchen today, I made cookies. I love these cookies. I have eaten 5 of them already. Maybe 6. OK so maybe my appetite hasn’t dwindled. These are good. Probably one of my favorite. These cookies are great because I didn’t have to turn on the oven. Hint the title ‘ No Bake Cookies’, right? You probably knew that already.
These cookies took me maybe 10 minutes from start to finish. They contain ingredients that most already have in their pantry/fridge, which means that when the urge strikes you are ready! Quick, tasty, and satisfying. Oh so satisfying. Plus, NO oven! Ahh…Sweet sweet heaven.
Mix together milk, sugar, butter, and cocoa in medium to large pot. I wonder what Bailey’s Irish Cream would taste like in place of the milk. Hmm…I have this urge lately to incorporate alcohol into my dishes.
Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute. While it is coming to a boil prepare your other ingredients…
Peanut Butter…I licked that spoon after this shot was taken. I love peanut butter. I put the jar on the top shelf so I can’t reach it, otherwise I would have a spoon in it at all times. I am glad I shared that with you.
And some vanilla and quick – oats (in the background Fun fact…did you know you can make your own vanilla extract with just a vanilla bean, vodka, and time. Maybe I will share that with you sometime.
Add the oats, pb, and vanilla … and stir until it looks like…
Well it looks like chocolate oatmeal. I am down with that.
Scoop them out…they do not look very attractive do they? They remind you of a cow pie? Me too!!!
Enjoy! I scarfed mine down with some nice iced coffee…I recommend you do the same!
No Bake Cookies
1 stick butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1 + 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder- I used Hershey Special Dark
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Cups Quick Oats
1 +1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or just put parchment paper right on the counter top. Tin foil works well too.
In a large pot, combine butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa powder and place over medium-high heat. Bring this to a boil and let boil for 1 minute.
After 1 minute, remove from heat and stir in the oats, peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
With two spoons or a cookie scoop, scoop out cookies onto lined cookie sheets/lined counter top. Let them cool and set completely before digging in.
If you want to be all wild and crazy, these are very good if you were to scoop them right into a coffee mug – all warm and gooey – and were to pour a little cold milk over the top and eat them with a spoon. It might even be considered breakfast…a chocolate oatmeal of sorts.
Side notes: Try putting 1 cup of sweetened coconut into these or using chunky peanut butter. My next batch will definitely include one or both.
These can be poured into a lightly greased 9×13 pan and cooled and then cut into squares.
The Special Dark cocoa powder makes these very dark and intensely chocolate – use whatever cocoa you like.
I cut back on the sugar in these…go ahead and increase to 2 cups if you want.
This recipe is adapted from a home-ec project from 1997. It has remained in my archives since then, survived several moves, many apartments, several kitchens…and it remains unscathed. So, if you went to Bath Schools, then you have enjoyed these or if you attended a slumber party at the Staley’s (where I learned to put them in a coffee mug w/ milk trick) then you too have indulged High five to childhood!Read More
I am writing this without any sleep, so bare with me. It may get wacky. I warned you.
I got my haircut today. I have bangs again. I am not sure how I feel about them. I like them, but I don’t keep them up. Well I can, I just don’t. Its a problem I have, no biggy. Plus, the hairdresser straightened my hair. Its never been this straight. Its straight to begin with, but now its like stick straight. I have never seen a real straight stick. Bogus saying.
Sorry, my brain hops and skips when I am lacking sleep. I warned you.
OK, lets get on subject here. Cookies.
Not just any cookie. These are Very Good Cookie or VGC for short. Official name.
Between peanut butter, chocolate chips, oats, M&Ms, PB M&Ms – could they be anything but VGC’s?
I think not. PB M&M’s could make dirt taste good.
So I am not going to post 7 million pictures about making cookies. Because, really… its a cookie. I have faith in you. Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Mix in the add-ins. Boom. Done.
The final product will look like this…swear.
I am calling first dibs on this beater. I prefer the dough to the cookie.
Scoop ‘em out. I love my cookie scooper. If you are having trouble getting the cookie out of the scooper, dip the scooper in warm water first, then scoop, then release cookie onto cookie sheet with out problem. A little trick I learned from my mom. Moms are good like that.
Bake them for 9 to 10 minutes. They will look like this. I want to eat you!
You can stack them once they cool.
Makes 4 dozen
1 + 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Quick Oats
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Unsalted Butter ( 2 sticks), at room temperature
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
3/4 Cup White Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips – regular sized chips work too, but mini are cute
1 Cup Plain M&M’s
1 Cup Peanut Butter M&M’s
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Or don’t. Either way will work.
In mixing bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla. Mix until combined and smooth. Beat in one egg at a time, mixing between each addition.
In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Once mixed, add in the oats. Beat until combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips and M&M’s (both varieties). Use a wooden spoon or mixer. Both work.
Scoop onto ungreased/parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Once light brown, remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to let cool completely.
Tip: If the cookies are spreading, stick the dough in the fridge for about 10 to 20 minutes, then resume scooping.
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