Family Favorites · Holidays · New Traditions

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter S’mores

S’mores conjure up childhood memories of campfires with friends and family, biting into that creamy marshmallow with melted chocolate. Yum! Sometimes you don’t have a campfire and you still want s’mores. This recipe does that and takes it up a notch with peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut spread.

Make these delicious s’mores in advance and store in the fridge. Decorate for the occasion or holiday, in this case, Labor Day. It is a real crowd pleaser!

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter S’mores

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 16 graham cracker square (8 whole rectangular pieces, halved)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1 package white almond bark
  • 1 package chocolate chips or other melting chocolate
  • Decorating suggestions: chopped nuts, chopped pretzels, sprinkles
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Spread a generous dollop of peanut butter onto one side of 8 of the cracker squares, and then spread the chocolate hazelnut spread onto one side of the other 8 squares.
  2. Thread the marshmallows onto 2 metal skewers and carefully toast over a flame on the stove top or grill. Place 1 toasted marshmallow onto each of the peanut butter-covered graham crackers. Top with the chocolate-covered crackers and sandwich together gently.
  3. Melt the white almond bark and milk chocolate in separate glass bowls set over simmering water. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to keep the chocolate melted.
  4. When the toppings are at room temperature, one by one dip half of the sandwiches in the white chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off. Work quickly, and then add on whatever sprinkles or toppings you’d like to use. (NOTE: We chose to drizzle melted chocolate over the s’mores and then apply sprinkles.)
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then you can store the s’mores at room temperature or in the fridge until you’re ready to serve! (NOTE: I would recommend storing in the refrigerator so the chocolate doesn’t melt. They keep very well without getting soft).

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network/Ree Drummond

Family · New Traditions

Fresh Peach Cake

Fresh Peach Cake is delicious, even though the photo of the finished product is not.  I was disappointed by the appearance of the finished product, but the taste was delicious.

Next time, I would use a slightly bigger pan, since the batter cooked over the side.  However, a few crispy bites of dessert are equally good!

FRESH PEACH CAKE

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch-square baking pan.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
  • Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

  • Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Family Favorites · Garden · Vegan · Vegetarian

Panzanella

Panzanella, or panmolle, is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes.  It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy (per Wikipedia).  The first time I had this salad, about 10 years ago, I fell in love.

It’s a scrumptious salad, any time of the year, but especially when I have fresh tomatoes from my garden.  Fresh, flavorful and healthy!

PANZANELLA

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large, fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons capers, drained

VINAIGRETTE:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
  • For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
  • In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers.  Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette.  Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Recipe from Food Network, Barefoot Contessa

Family Favorites · New Favorite

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Crush Cookies

Daughter Megan found this recipe and shared this mega cookie with me.  I have never heard of Levain Bakery in NYC but if I ever get back to the City, I will try to go! The cookies are delicious!

A batch of these cookies would make a wonderful Father’s Day present, or if you aren’t a baker, you could order them from the bakery!  Slightly warmed in the microwave, topped with vanilla ice cream, it would be a wonderful dessert for two or more!

LEVAIN BAKERY CHOCOLATE CHIP CRUSH COOKIES

1 cup Cold Butter cut into small cubes
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Cake Flour*
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Chocolate Chips
2 cups Walnuts roughly chopped

  • Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together cold cubed butter, brown sugar, and sugar for 4 minutes or until creamy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
  • Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined to avoid overmixing. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  • Separate dough into large balls and place on lightly colored cookie sheet. They are bigger than you think! You will fit 4 cookies on one large cookie sheet. The dough makes 8 extra large cookies.
  • Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to set.
Recipe Notes

*can substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour

*Levain Bakery has stated they don’t use vanilla extract in their cookies. If you would like to add vanilla extract, I would suggest adding 1 teaspoon when adding the eggs to the batter.

Recipe from Modernhoney.com

Family Favorites · Garden

Mediterranean Feta Dip

Mediterranean Food is so fresh and delicious.  Daughter, Sarah, has made this recipe many times with rave reviews.  I decided to make it but add diced cucumber, making this more like a Greed Salad.  Using fresh Feta cheese, in block form, allows the cheese to absorb the olive oil and seasoning.  My family agrees that the cucumber takes this dip to a new level.  If you like Greek olives, you could add those as well.  I served with Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips.  Scrumptious!

MEDITERRANEAN FETA DIP

1/3 cup olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4-5 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 diced English cucumber
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I used fresh block Feta)
2-3 teaspoons Cavender’s Greek seasoning
fresh baguette, sliced thinly or Pita chips
optional balsamic vinegar

  • On a large platter drizzle olive oil until you have a thin layer on the entire platter. You may use more or less here depending on your preference.
  • Add the tomatoes, green onions, and feta on top of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning to taste.
  • With a spoon carefully combine the ingredients. We found that we like a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top. If desired, drizzle a little balsamic on top.
  • Serve with warm sliced baguettes for scooping up the dip.

Recipe modified from the-girl-who-ate-everything.com

 

Family · New Favorite · New Traditions

Crusty No-Knead Bread

Crusty Bread that I don’t have to knead?  Just what I needed to go with the soup I was making.  Honestly, the recipe seemed too easy but it worked perfectly.  I baked the bread in my Lodge Dutch Oven and I baked it according to directions.  The crust was a little too brown, but the interior of the bread was perfect and tasted great!

It is wonderful served with soup and also wonderful as a sandwich.  As long as I plan a day ahead, I can make this bread any time!

CRUSTY NO-KNEAD BREAD

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 ½ cups water 
room temperature

  • Form the dough: In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated. You do not need to activate the yeast before, even though we’re using active dry yeast. The slow rising process will do the trick.
  • Allow it to rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter or inside your unheated oven for 12 to 18 hours.
  • Preheat your oven: Preheat oven to 450°F. Add your cast iron pot to the oven as it’s heating and heat it as well until it’s at 450°F. Usually when the oven is done preheating your pot should be hot enough as well. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. Use oven mitts, as to not burn yourself.
  • Shape the dough: Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball. Sprinkle some extra flour directly into the bottom of the pot. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven. Alternatively, you can also place the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper, then lift the parchment paper and drop it in the pot, with parchment paper and all. This could also ensure that your bread doesn’t stick at all to the bottom of the pot. I have found that if I use parchment paper, the bread doesn’t brown so much on the sides, but otherwise it’s still crusty and delicious.
  • Finish the bread: Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the bread from the pot, it should fall out easily. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.

Recipe from JoCooks.com

Family · Family Favorites · New Favorite

French Macarons by Daughter Megan

French Macarons are such a light, sweet delicacy.  I never would think of making them, yet, one day, my oldest daughter, Megan, called to say she’d had a dream about making Macarons and was going to bake them that very day.  Megan is the dessert maker in our family, always coming up with something new and delightful. Even so, I thought they would be extremely difficult, especially at Denver altitude.

Never fear!  The results were stunning and delectable.  The only change Megan made to the recipe was reducing the vanilla and adding almond extract to both the cookie and to the frosting. I’ll leave the Macaron making to Megan and praise (and enjoy) the results!

FRENCH MACARONS

For the Cookie

  • 100 g egg whites room temperature or 3 large eggs
  • 140 g almond flour or 1 1/2 cups
  • 90 g granulated sugar just under 1/2 cup
  • 130 g powdered sugar or 1 cup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5mL (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 800mg

For the Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened 226g
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100g
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
  • 3 tbsp. water 30mL
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

For the Macarons:

  • Sift the confectioners sugar and almond flour into a bowl.
  • Add the room temperature egg whites into a very clean bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites. Once they begin to foam add the cream of tartar and then SLOWLY add the granulated sugar.
  • Add the food coloring (if desired) and vanilla then mix in. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Begin folding in the 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
  • Be careful to add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently.
  • The final mixture should look like flowing lava, and be able to fall into a figure eight without breaking. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium round piping tip and you’re ready to start piping.
  • Pipe one inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this should be glued down with dabs of batter). Tap on counter several times to release air bubbles. Allow to sit for about 40 minutes before placing in oven.
  • Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes, rotate tray after 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

For the French Buttercream Filling:

  • Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium- high and bring to a boil
  • Put egg yolks in a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and foamy.
  • Cook the sugar and water syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat. With mixer running, SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks.
  • Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
  • Add in butter one cube at a time allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.) Add food coloring if desired.

For Assembly

  • Pipe your filling onto the back of half the shells. Form a sandwich and repeat. Macarons should be aged in the fridge for 1-3 days for best results. This allows the filling to soften the shells inside.

Notes

  • THE MERINGUE!!!! That meringue HAS TO BE STIFF! I had no idea French meringue could be whipped to such a thick marshmallowy consistency but all it takes is a bit of extra whisking. You’ll notice the meringue start to fill the whisk when you’re getting close to the right stage.
  • Sift, Sift, SIFT! Those larger pieces of almond flour will mar the surface of your macarons. Best practice is to sift then whiz in the food processor and repeat two more times. Discard the larger particles, don’t try to press them through the sieve.
  • Use a scale if possible, accuracy helps with this recipe.
  • The mixing will take some practice, you will fold and fold the batter and then use the spatula to GENTLY press the batter against the bowl. You want to remove some of the bubbles but not to many… Continue this until it reaches a thick “lava” consistency. It should slowly fall off the spatula in ribbons and be able to form a figure eight without breaking.
  • Pipe the macarons perpendicular to the surface. If your tip is pointing a bit in any particular direction when you pipe the macarons might be oblong or malformed.
  • Add your coloring to the meringue after it reaches the soft peak stage.
  • When you are finishing the piping motion stop squeezing the bag and pull up with a circular motion.
  • The macarons will be best after 2-3 days resting in the fridge.
  • If you over-bake the shells and they’re too crisp, brush the bottom with some milk before assembly to soften them up.

Recipe adapted from Preppykitchen.com

Family Favorites

Lemon Bars

Who doesn’t love a lemon bar?  I associate Lemon Bars with Spring, warmer weather, longer days, and early spring flowers.  The tart filling paired with the shortbread crust. Yummo!

LEMON BARS

Shortbread Crust

Lemon Filling

2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
  • Make the crust: Mix the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to completely combine. The dough will be thick. Press firmly into prepared pan, making sure the layer of crust is nice and even. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the warm crust (not all the way through the crust). A new step I swear by, this helps the filling stick and holds the crust in place. Set aside until step 4.
  • Make the filling: Sift the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until completely combined.
  • Pour filling over warm crust. Bake the bars for 22-26 minutes or until the center is relatively set and no longer jiggles. (Give the pan a light tap with an oven mitt to test.) Remove bars from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. I usually cool them for about 2 hours at room temperature, then stick in the refrigerator for 1-2 more hours until pretty chilled. I recommend serving chilled.
  • Once cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares before serving. For neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut. Cover and store leftover lemon bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing Instructions: Lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3-4 months. Cut the cooled bars (without confectioners’ sugar topping) into squares, then place onto a baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. Individually wrap each bar in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place into a large bag or freezer container to freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Recipe from SallysBakingAddiction.com


 

Family · Family Favorites

Snickerdoodle Bars

Snickerdoodles have always been a family favorite.  What do you do when you want a Snickerdoodle but too lazy to make individual cookies?  You find a Snickerdoodle Bar recipe.  I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper.  This recipe is easy and uses ingredients that are in most pantries.  Another recipe that will be made over and over again.

SNICKERDOODLE BARS

  • 1/2 c. Butter, room temp. (can use Vegan butter)
  • 1 Egg room temp.
  • 3/4 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. Flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • Allow butter and egg to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined.
  • Add vanilla and egg and stir until fully mixed.
  • Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Fold into the butter mixture until combined. Evenly spread the batter into the baking dish.
  • In a small bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the cookie batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

Recipe from Mylifeafterdairy

Family Favorites · My Roots

Beef Macaroni Skillet–blast from the past!

Beef Macaroni Skillet, a  one skillet meal, was a regular menu item when my children were young.  It was a quick meal that I could put together after work.  I haven’t made it in over 20 years and it was a fun walk down memory lane.

My older daughter, Megan, and her girls were here to experience it.  Megan didn’t remember it but liked it as did her two year old daughter.  The five year old didn’t care for it, but then again, she’s in a phase of only liking what she knows.

The original recipe card is in my handwriting, probably around the age of 11 or 12, when I started my recipe box.  It’s funny to look back at it and find humor in the reference to ‘this main dish’.

BEEF MACARONI SKILLET

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups tomato juice (add more if it becomes too dry)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

  • Brown beef and onion in a skillet.  Drain fat.
  • Add remaining ingredients and cook, covered, until the macaroni is cooked, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally while cooking to prevent from sticking.