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Friday, September 30, 2011

Baking at Midnight: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

One thing that Brent and I differ on is keeping snacks on hand in the house. I have a strict policy of not buying sweets or junk food at the store, because honestly if they are in the house I will eat it. ALL of it. I have no self-control.

Sure, I get cravings for cookies, brownies, and chips, but the craving is rarely strong enough to make me want to drive to the store and go buy some. Brent on the other hand never resists he sweet tooth. That man will leave the house at any time of night if he wants some ice cream.

The point I’m getting at is that the “don’t buy it” game plan has served me well for a number of years. Until recently when I started to keep things like flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and chocolate chips on hand.

Do you see where this is going? Do you know how easy it can be to convince yourself at midnight on a Friday that baking cookies is a suburb idea?

I do. And I have 3 extra pounds to prove it.

A recently new product is Reese’s MINI Peanut Butter cups. I love Reese’s and the second I saw the commercial I knew I wanted to try making some cookies with them.

These cookies are pretty awesome. They are soft, slightly chewy and not overly sweet. Oh and the big peanut butter filled bites? They rock. If you have a well-stocked pantry, all you will need is the Reese’s to make them! Resistance is futile.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
*Makes 2 dozen(ish)

- 2 sticks room temperature butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups of Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups

1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat again until mixture becomes fluffy and light.

2. In a separate bowl combines flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Stir to combine, and then add gradually to mixture of butter/sugar/eggs beating until fully combined. Gently fold in Reese’s cups.

3. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Drop small golf ball-sized amounts of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing.

A couple of notes:

- I needed about a large bag and half of mini Reese’s.

- The dough will seem stiff – it’s totally OK.

- If using a spoon to drop the cookies, it is helpful to spray it just a bit with cooking spray.

- These will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container.

And if you’re wondering what to do with the leftover Reese’s that didn’t make it in to the batter. I suggest tosses them in the freezer for moments of weakness.

Recipe adapted from: Hershey’s Perfect White Chip Cookies Recipe


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grinders - A Summer Favorite

Summer is starting to wind down and the Autumn Equinox is only a few days away and will mark the official start of fall. Personally, fall is my favorite season…even though here in Florida it isn’t exactly colorful and crisp and cool. Still, the humidity seems to subside a little and we do have some beautiful days of bright blue cloudless skies with a slight gentle breeze every so often.

This past summer has been a bit strange for me. Personal circumstances disrupted my everyday routine of working, studying, cooking, and blogging, which lead to my absence here. Amidst all the chaos and craziness that summer brought, I think the best moments for me were the quieter ones. One of our favorite things to do during the summer is on Sunday nights to pack a small picnic – or pick up a pizza- and head to the beach to eat, take a stroll, and enjoy the sunset. If you live anywhere near a beach, I highly recommend ending your weekend on such a relaxing note.

These grinders – or subs/hoagies as other regions call them – are one of my top three favorites. At Coffee’s in Old Lyme, CT they make an amazing Italian Grinder and these are my almost-as-good- as-the-real-thing recipe. Sometimes simple is best and these definitely hit the spot whether at a park, on the beach, or tailgating before a football game.

The recipe below gives some very adaptable guidelines for amounts of each ingredient. Feel free to adjust as desired.

Italian Combo Grinders
* Makes 4 grinders (6”)
(Printable recipe)

- 2 foot long Italian baguettes
- 1/3 pound sliced deli pepperoni
- 1/3 pound sliced deli ham
- 1/3 pound sliced deli capicola
- 1/3 pound sliced deli cooked salami
- 1/3 pound sliced provolone cheese
- Thinly sliced tomatoes
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Shaved iceberg lettuce
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Dried oregano
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper


1. Slice open baguettes ¾ the way through. Layer in deli meats and cheese and then top with tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. Lightly drizzle on olive oil and red wine vinegar, then season gently to taste with salt, pepper, dried oregano, and parmesan.

If traveling, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and seal in a Ziploc if placing in a cooler of ice.

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