Peanut Butter Cookies…the bakeoff!

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It was the Saturday before Christmas and all through the kitchen.

The oven mitts were thrown down and the challenge was kickin’.

His was without flour and hers had a lot.

Hers had extra sugar and his did not.

They measured and stirred and scooped up a storm.

By the end of the evening dozens of cookies were born.

They were photographed and tasted and the kitchen was messed.

The engineer or the baker? Whose were the best?

When push came to shove they came to a decision:

They were both super good and that was their mission.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, recipe by Claire Robinson 2010, Food Network

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg, lightly beaten

coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg until well combined. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture 1 inch apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten the mounds with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. Sprinkle the coarse sea salt on the top of the cookies.

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Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes, switching the position of the sheets halfway through baking. Transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 30 cookies.

 Papa’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Cream the following in a large mixing bowl:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup peanut butter, either smooth or crunchy

1 cup Crisco Butter Flavor shortening, at room temperature

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons hot water

Sift the following together in another large bowl:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stir to mix well. Using the small scoop (1 tablespoon size), scoop into mounds about 2 inches apart and press with the tines of a fork dipped in flour in a crosshatch pattern. (because it was holiday time, I sprinkled a little sugar on each cookie before baking) Bake 9-10 minutes. Let them sit about two or three minutes, after removing from the oven, before transferring them to the cooling rack. They are kind of soft when they are right out of the oven, letting them sit for a bit helps them keep their shape.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

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Optional: add a 12 ounce package of chocolate chips….that’s what Papa did.

 

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Potato Pancakes…leftover magic!

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I had mashed potatoes left over from Thanksgiving. After feeding eleven people and sending leftovers home with the folks, I still had lots of potatoes left. When life gives you mashed potatoes, make potato pancakes!

These are not the crunchy, golden latkes I happen to adore. Those are made with shredded potatoes and sauteed in a skillet until they are crunchy and yummy. These are a soft, truly pancake-like potato pancake.  Kinda like the Midwest cousin of the latke.

I served them with a cheese and ham omelet. A perfect Sunday hot breakfast.

Soft Potato Pancakes

4 cups of mashed potatoes, leftover mashed potatoes are the best

1 large egg

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 scallions, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, using either a hand mixer or a stand mixer, mix all of the ingredients until smooth. If it is too runny to scoop out into a soft mound, then add a little more flour a teaspoon at a time.

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Use a scoop to drop mounds onto a well oiled griddle or skillet. I kept a cup with oil in it to brush on the skillet before each round of pancakes.

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On medium heat, cook until one side browns, then flip over and give it a little smash to make a pancake shape. Cook until that side is golden brown. You may want to flip again and just cook the first side a little more to brown up the smashed side. It will take about 3-5 minutes on each side. Makes about 6-8 servings.

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Tomato Soup……it’s not what you think

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I was never a big fan of tomato soup. Was, being the key word. You know, that stuff in the red and white can that our moms made for us. The grilled cheese served along side the soup was totally kick butt. It had to be…..to choke down that pink stuff in the bowl.  Pink because my mom always put milk in it.  Then I grew up and had house made tomato basil soup in a restaurant. I started making my own tomato soup from the abundance of fresh tomatoes in the Summer. I had become a believer in tomato soup.

My food loving sister was telling me about a roasted tomato soup she had at a friend’s house. She got the recipe and passed it on to me. So, I made it last night. I had about six tomatoes and a box of cherry tomatoes that somehow survived the week of Thanksgiving. They were getting “iffy”.  Which means IF we don’t eat these in the the next day, we will have to pitch them. As in: toss them over to the creek for the critters? Not on my watch!

When life gives you “iffy” vegetables…roast them! So I did. I quartered the tomatoes and halved the cherry tomatoes. I smashed and peeled the garlic cloves and sliced and cut the onion. Drizzled some olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. That was it!

I had a quart of homemade chicken stock in the freezer and more than a dash of heavy cream in the fridge. Italian bread for the grilled cheese sandwiches and dinner was born. Plus, my house smelled like somebody’s Italian Nonna lived there.

This soup hardly took any time at all. Please give this a try. You can thank me later for sharing well with others.

Roasted Tomato Soup

1 to 2 pounds of tomatoes, quartered (can mix halved cherry and grape tomatoes)

1 medium onion, sliced and then quarter the round slices

6 cloves of garlic, slightly smashed to remove the peel

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 quart low sodium chicken stock

1 teaspoon of Chicken Better than Bouillon or 1 bouillon cube

1/4 cup heavy cream, or more if you like it creamier (or use half n half or milk or nothing)

Optional  herbs: fresh basil (when in season, of course) or fresh parsley or thyme or tarragon. If you do not want herbs then do not put them in. It is totally up to you. I didn’t have any fresh herbage, so I did not use any. Next Summer, I will have fresh herbs and I will use them.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the vegetables on to a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, the veggies should have gotten a bit of brown color on some of them.

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Turn the oven off and let them stay in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and scrape the goodness into a large pot. Your house should smell divine about now. Add the chicken stock and bouillon and on medium heat bring the soup up to a simmer and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or a Bullet or a blender or a food processor, blend up the contents real well. If tiny bits of seeds and stuff bother you, strain through a sieve. It never bothers me. I love that bit of texture.

Return the blended mixture back into the pot. Taste to see if it needs any more seasonings. You may need to heat the soup up a bit more. After the soup has warmed back up, add the cream…or not. You know I added the cream! Taste again to see if any more seasonings are needed. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches. Makes about 4 one cup servings. Do not boil after adding the dairy, it will curdle. Not bad to eat, but it doesn’t look so good. A pat of butter would finish it off quite nicely.

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