Ultimate PB Cookies

Would you believe me if I told you that I used to hate peanut butter cookies? I mean, I almost can’t believe it myself, but it’s true. I never really understood how the batter for peanut butter cookies would taste SO good, but the actual cookie tasted so blah. Peanut butter cookies weren’t peanut buttery enough and they always get so dry. These cookies, however, are anything but – and oh man, I am so psyched to share the recipe with you.

I kinda feel like all I talk about is peanut butter but I can’t help it; it’s practically my soul mate. If my boyfriend and a jar of peanut butter were falling off a cliff I’m sure there are some days that I’d save the PB first…only some, of course. These cookies are so jam-packed with pea-nutty goodness AND they are flour and butter free. Did you hear that? These cookies are practically a salad! Well, almost…they are full of good-for-you fats and minimal sugar.

The best part is that while these may be a healthier cookie, they definitely don’t taste like it; they’re rich and incredibly satisfying. Oh, and the second best part is that you only need to dirty one bowl and a spoon! That means less dishes – which is always, always a good thing. Especially when you live with someone whose goal in life is to use as many dishes/utensils at one time as possible (we’re talking like two plates and several knives to make one sandwich).

If you do one thing this weekend, it should be making at least one batch (or three) of these cookies. Since they are made if only six ingredients, you really have no excuse not to make them…I can almost promise that you won’t regret it and if you do, then I don’t think we can be friends (Just kidding!).

Ultimate PB Cookies
makes 18 

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tbs. flaxseed meal
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup peanuts, crushed

In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, sugar and egg. Once they are mixed together, add the flaxseed and baking powder. The mixture will be sticky but thick. Using your hands, roll the dough into a ball and place onto plastic wrap or wax paper. Gently roll the dough into a log shape (about 10 inches long and 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick).

Pour crushed peanuts onto the dough and roll it over them, pressing down gently to get the peanuts to stick. Once the dough is covered to your liking, wrap up in plastic wrap (or wax paper) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm.

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Remove the dough from fridge and slice into thick pieces, about a quarter of a inch thick. Place onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

*You can crush peanuts in a food processor if you have one. I poured mine into a Ziploc bag and used a rolling pin to crush them as best as I could.

I’m sure these would also be fabulous with other nut butters too or even crunchy peanut butter! Which do you prefer – smooth or crunchy?

Rice Pudding

Let’s talk comfort food. You know, the food that you eat when you’re happy, sad, stressed…when you just want to sit on the couch with the entire bowl of rice pudding and spoon it into you mouth with one of those beach shovels.

Well, that’s where I have been recently. No, I have no actually been sitting on my couch shoveling in massive amounts of pudding with a child’s play shovel…but that does not mean that I haven’t been thinking about it.

I have two weeks left in my collegiate undergraduate career. I cannot wait for it to be over. I mean, I can wait for the whole job-searching thing to start and I can wait for the whole packing up the past year of my life and moving it back home; but I’m still excited. But all this excitement and anxiousness has me craving some serious comfort foods. Last week, I could not get enough cheese.

This week, I’m all about rice pudding and tapioca. If I had the patience, I would be making some right now. But I wouldn’t trust myself with an entire batch. I fear that I would find myself tucked away in the kitchen, watching either Titanic or The Little Mermaid and I will consume the entire thing. Which, with the amount of cheese I have been consuming, probably would not be that great of an idea. But hey, at least I’m getting my calcium, right?

And you know, if I do make this rice pudding, it requires a lot of stirring which equals a really great arm workout. I’ll make sure to switch arms halfway through so it’s even :)

Rice Pudding

1/2 gallon milk
1 c. rice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 can evaporated milk

Combine the milk and the rice; cook, stirring constantly in a pot on medium heat. Continue to cook until the rice has absorbed milk and is thick. Take off the heat and add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon; stir well. If you want the pudding sweeter, you can add 3/4 sugar and if you dislike cinnamon, feel free to omit it! Lastly, stir in the can of evaporated milk.

I like to sneak a few bites while hot but it is a dish usually served cold.

The Best Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie & A Birthday

It’s Monday again. We all know I hate Mondays. You want to know something that can make any day just a little bit better? A giant cookie.

Too bad I already ate this one, otherwise I would have something right now to help solve my Monday morning afternoon blues. But it’s okay, because I know you’re going to make one and you’re going to eat it and it’s going to make your Monday or Wednesday just a little bit brighter, sweeter and just totally delicious. Trust me, cookies and milk solve all problems. Except perhaps the not being able to fit into pants problems.

I’d like you to meet the boyfriend’s Valentine’s present. You can’t beat edible presents of Valentines day, especially when they’re homemade. Everyone gets a box of chocolates or a dozen chocolate roses but how many people received giant, homemade, love-filled chocolate chip cookies? Yeah, I didn’t think there were many.

And okay, maybe a giant cookie was the lazy way out of making an entire batch of cookies but you what? It was freaking delicious and with all the cookie dough in the oven at one time, I was less tempted to eat massive amounts of cookie dough while waiting for a batch to bake; so I’d say this is a win-win situation. This is the perfect dessert for birthdays and any other celebrations; plus it’s so incredibly easy.

On a side note, yesterday was my wonderful Mom’s birthday. Unfortunately, I was unable to see her on her special day. If I had, I definitely would have made her a special birthday treat; maybe not a giant cookie…but there definitely would have been a cake to sing and blow out candles with.

Mom, this is for you; a virtual birthday cake of some sort. I love you so much and I miss you and everyone at home more everyday. I hope you know that every time I’m baking or cooking in my kitchen that I’m always thinking of you or Dad, trying to remember how you made things, what your cookies tasted like and if mine match up to yours. I’m sorry I was not there for your special day but I just wanted to thank you for all that you have taught me both in life and in the kitchen because certainly I would not be able to do any of this without you. Happy Birthday!

The Best Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie
(Makes one really big cookie)

3/4 stick of butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. chocolate chips (any kind)
Wax or parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, mix together the butter and sugars until creamy. Beat or mix in the egg and vanilla. Sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and baking soda) and gradually add them to the butter mixture. The mixture will be sort of dry and crumbly, add the applesauce a tablespoon at a time and using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix the cookie dough together until combined. Add chocolate chips.

Cut out a round circle of either parchment or wax paper and place at the bottom of a round cake pan to stop the cookie from sticking. Spoon the cookie dough into the pan and gently press down to spread it out. Bake for about 25-35 minutes until cooked through and the edges are golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes in the cake pan before removing it. To remove, place a plate upside down on the cake pan and flip over, then repeat with another plate to get the cookie face up. Serve with ice cream.

Feel free to just take bites out of the cookie, only weirdos cut it into slices and eat them with forks. Cookies are meant to be eaten with hands.

Tapioca Pudding

I have a funny story to tell you about this tapioca.

I’ve made tapioca hundreds of times before and by made, I mean I sat in the kitchen and stirred it for my mom for hours. This is the first time I’ve truly made it by myself from start to finish. I guess I was feeling quite ambitious and decided that I would also make rice pudding at the same time (a recipe that I will be sharing with you later, not to worry).

Before you start imagining some sort of kitchen disaster where everything blows up and my poor mother comes home to find our kitchen covered into partially cooked puddings, I’m happy to say that both turned out splendidly. Albeit, I wouldn’t recommend anyone trying it out for themselves; the kitchen became incredibly hot from having both puddings on the stove (it also didn’t help that I was also roasting a spaghetti squash in the oven).

Anyway, back to the funny story about this tapioca. I had went out running early in the morning and decided that I would make the tapioca and rice pudding before showering. I put on my little sisters extremely vibrant and ruffled apron and started cooking away. I had music blaring, the back door was open letting in the lovely sunlight and I was standing at the stove, two spoons in each hand, stirring the pots simultaneously.

Honestly, I probably could not have looked more of a mess if I tried. I was singing along to something embarrassing, probably the Spice Girls Pandora station, when I turned my head towards the back door, still stirring both pots, only to make eye contact with our mailman. I’m not lying when both of us just stared at each other for a good five seconds in complete disbelief; I was in disbelief as to why he was still there and well, I think we all know why he was confused. Luckily, he awkwardly stumbled away to the next house soon after and I continued to stir away as if I wasn’t just completely embarrassed.

Tapioca Pudding

1/3 c. tapioca balls
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 egg yolks (save the egg whites and put to the side)
Quart of milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir ingredients in a double boiler, over heat until thick and tapioca balls are translucent for least 30 minutes stirring constantly. When thick, transfer to large bowl. Take the egg whites and beat them until white and fluffy; fold into pudding. Let cool.

It was worth the embarrassment, though.


Lemon Meringue Pie

If I could have anything for Valentine’s Day, it would be this.

Forget chocolate and leave behind anything red velvet, this is what I want for every holiday, birthday and all those days in between. Meet my most favorite dessert, my deepest desire and the one thing I would choose over peanut butter every single time; lemon meringue pie.

When I was younger, I loved reading Amelia Bedelia books. The books were fun for a little kid and at the end of each book, Amelia always made a lemon meringue pie in apology for whatever mess she made. I remember asking my mom what lemon meringue pie was and she told me she’d make me one. That was the beginning of our love affair.

Since then I don’t think I’ve celebrated a birthday without one; I’d choose pie over cake any day of the week. This was my first time attempting to make a pie and I was surprised about how easy it was. If you want to make your Valentine happy, then I suggest you make this. Put down the red food coloring, everyone has red velvet cakes, and change things up a bit.

Unfortunately, my Valentine does not like lemon meringue pie so my Valentine’s Day will be definitely lacking in that department. He did, however, surprise me with some beautiful flowers and we intend to devour large amounts of frozen yogurt later. It might not be the same as lemon meringue pie but frozen yogurt is almost as good (especially when I can load up with tons of toppings).

While frozen yogurt may suffice for this holiday, my Valentine better be aware that there will be no substitution for lemon meringue pie on my birthday. Don’t worry, I’m just kidding.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 pie crust (store-bought or homemade, recipe below)
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. flour
Rind of 1 lemon, grated
2 c. boiling water
3 egg yolks
6 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. butter

3 egg whites
3/4 tsp. baking powder
6 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice or vanilla

Pie Crust:
1 c. flour
1/3 c. crisco plus 1 tbsp
1/4 tsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. of water

For the pie crust, mix dry ingredients until crumbly. Then add water one tablespoon at a time until a ball of dough is formed. On a floured surface, roll the dough out and place on top of a pie plate. Using your fingers, press the dough into the pie plate and pinch around the edges for the crust; remove any excess pieces. Using a fork, pierce all sides and bottom of the pie crust, creating small holes. Bake the crust at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.

For the pie: In a microwave safe bowl, mix together half the sugar with the cornstarch, flour, salt, lemon rind and water, stirring constantly. Microwave 1-2 minutes at a time, stirring until the mixture is thick and clear. In another bowl, mix the remaining sugar with lemon juice and egg yolks; beat. Add this to the clear mixture and cook in microwave for another 2 minutes until thick and smooth; then add the butter. Pour this mixture into the pie crust.

For the meringue: In a mixing bowl, add baking powder to egg whites and beat until stiff. Gradually add sugar and lemon juice/vanilla; continue beating until it forms stiff peaks. Place the meringue on top of the pie and bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the meringue gets golden brown.

I hope everyone’s having a great Valentine’s Day! What’s your favorite Valentine’s treat?