Thursday, February 24, 2011

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

There has been a jar of mini M&Ms in my baking cupboard since just before Christmas. I cannot, for the life of me, remember why I bought them. They catch my eye every time I open that particular cupboard and I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them. Peanut butter M&M cookies? Yes please!

A peanut butter cookie is only as good as it's texture. They should be soft, but not overly chewy; firm but with a bit of crumble. Am I peanut butter cookie snob? Don't answer that...

These didn't quite meet my criteria, but the M&Ms were a fantastic addition. Perhaps a shorter bake time next go-round will improve the texture for me. I'm not sure I'll be able to make peanut butter cookies without M&Ms now. Matt thought the cookies were great and the Bear, well, if it's a cookie, it's awesome. He approved.

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
Pennies on a Platter
Makes 2-3 dozen

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup shortening or butter for a flatter cookie

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 large bag M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside. With a hand or stand mixer, cream the shortening (or butter), sugars and peanut butter. Stir in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the dry ingredients and mix till just combined. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the M&Ms.

Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets and lightly press down with a fork to barely flatten cookies. Bake 10 minutes; let cool on wire racks.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I spotted Tracy's post about broccoli-cheddar soup (with mustardy croutons!!) and decided to give it a try for dinner a few nights ago.

This isn't an unhealthy soup, I promise. There's all of that broccoli of course, and to thicken? Just a couple of potatoes. A few healthy glugs of chicken broth, a fistful of cheddar, a good grainy mustard to season and combined with the usual onion and garlic suspects...soup! Next time I'll try a bit less garlic as we found it overpowered the flavor of the broccoli, but overall a delicious recipe.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Serves 4-6

6 ounces whole wheat bread torn into pieces, about 3 cups worth
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
pinch salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
32 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
1 large head broccoli, chopped into florets
3/4 cup freshly grated aged cheddar
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
paprika, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix melted butter with olive oil and mustard. Stir well and add bread. Mix until all bread chunks are coated. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and bake till croutons are nicely browned, about 10-15 minutes. Stir the croutons once or twice during baking.

In a large stock pot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the onions and shallots with a pinch of salt until translucent and softened. Add the potato and continue cooking another 4 minutes. Cover the pot. Add the garlic and broth and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender. Add broccoli and cook another 4-5 minutes until broccoli is tender.

Remove soup from the heat and puree with a blender or immersion blender. Add half of the shredded cheddar cheese as well as the mustard. Continue blending and add remaining cheese. Serve soup in bowls garnished with cheddar, croutons and a sprinkling of paprika.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

We held a small (belated) 'house-iversary' dinner for our parents and Matt's brother and sister in law a few weekends ago, to thank them for their help and support in the purchase of our home. We're very grateful for our families, and realize that not everyone has as close-knit a family such as ours.

So what better way to say thank you than with food?

I made tourtiere, a traditional Quebecois meat pie. Really ought to post about that, too...

A sweeter side dish is recommended with tourtiere so we served whiskey glazed carrots. They were spectacular although the glaze could have reduced more than the recommended five minutes - next time I'll trust my instincts instead of rigidly following the recipe, and let it reduce longer.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots
The Pioneer Woman
Serves 8

1/2 cup butter, divided

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into coins

1/2 cup whiskey

3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar

salt and pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in two or three batches, cooking for 60-90 seconds each batch. Remove from skillet.

Add whiskey to skillet and allow to evaporate 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining butter. When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over top and stir together.

Add all carrots to skillet. Cover and continue cooking 5 minutes.
Remove lid and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 minutes. Pour on platter and serve.

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