A Splurge: 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies

In our town, there is a push for more small businesses in downtown – one of the new small storefronts going in is a cookie store. Nothing feels more gloriously child-like than the idea of a store just for cookies and other baked goods – and sometimes we need a child-like wonder for the world, even if it only lasts until the cookie is finished.

One evening this past week, we’d finished our veggie-heavy dinner and I could tell that Husband would eat more if it was available, but there weren’t even leftovers! So I pulled out three simple ingredients: 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, and 1 egg. I mixed them all together, preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and dropped the wads of what just looked like peanut butter onto a greased cookie sheet. After 8 minutes in the oven, they had turned from wads of peanut butter into cookies – warm and crisp on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside.

I was happy with the recipe because it made enough cookies for a couple of days to have a cookie after a meal, but not enough to have cookies lingering around the house for days afterward, taunting me with their deliciousness. While the preparation is so short and fast that it fits into my crazy life pretty perfectly, it reminds me of more leisurely cookie-making experiences with my mom and sister when we were small, when I first realized that something admittedly yummy (cookie dough) could transform into something totally different after a stay in the oven. I think I will make these peanut butter beauties when I need a quick dessert for a peanut-friendly crowd, but I won’t trade the longer, more ingredient version when it comes to making holiday memories; it’s just too sweet and totally worth the time.

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GIVEAWAY: Starry Recipe Box and Custom Recipe Cards!

One more week to comment, link, and reblog your way to winning this box and recipe cards! Feel free to share post on social media for another entry as well! 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about the community that participates in blogs, either by writing them or commenting on them or just finding recipes on them and making them. It’s a beautiful thing, and it makes me want to give back.

I’m doing a giveaway that isn’t really super flashy – this is what you get with homemade – I have painted an astronomy-themed recipe box (see picture) and I have some beautiful recipe cards just waiting to be filled with your favorite recipes. If you make a pinterest board or a list of links for your favorite recipes, I’ll make up to 20 custom recipe cards for you. If you prefer your own handwriting, I’ll just mail you the box and the cards. 🙂

The way you enter is simple: just comment on the bottom of this post! If you want more chances to win, I’ll add a chance for the first time you do these things:

I’ll also enter you once for every comment you make on my blog in the next month (until November 9th). How often do you get to promote good dialogue online while also giving presents? I feel like blogger Santa.

The goal is to get more people talking about recipes and the stories behind them, as well as the processes, like cooking and writing and running and crafting and gardening, that we go through every day. I’m excited to read everyone’s responses and comments, and very excited to get a few more recipes in my inbox!

 

C. R. Gibson’s “Creme de la Creme” Recipe Box

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As I’ve written before with product reviews, I receive the product for free but am not compensated for my writing; I also make sure that I actually like and endorse the products before I even know if I’ll be doing a review. Here’s my thoughts!

I have been writing for this past year about how much I see food as a way to bring people together, and so naturally when I saw the design on the ‘creme de la creme’ box I was a little starstruck: “gather round” would have made such a good blog name! Since I am pretty committed at this point, I’ll just tell you that this phrase encompasses so much of what makes recipe boxes special: they are a bringing-together, a compilation of important memories and traditions. If someone you know is starting a new family or just connecting more with their family, this seems like the right box.

The box is a bit more luxurious than usual recipe boxes, covered in leatherette and with gold-colored end-caps on each of the corners. The inside features a black-and-white design that matches the fun and funky recipe cards – they even feature a pineapple! I envision this box for a stylish person, someone who wants to bring folks together but also puts all the lovely photos from their kitchen up on Instagram.

You can check out the box here or browse the variety of other boxes and kitchen organization tools that C.R. Gibson makes on their website. My grandmother-in-law was thrilled to discover their company before my bridal shower last year because she wanted to get me a recipe box and fewer and fewer places are selling them. I like the idea that investing in a C.R. Gibson box, or any recipe box, is a long-term investment: few people just have a bunch of them (I guess I do… but having a recipe blog seems to justify it!) and if you get a nice quality one, it could become an heirloom to give to a daughter or son someday!

Daydreaming about Gardens

The weather has turned cold and the leaves have turned crunchy and I’m thinking, as the last of my tomato vines shiver out in their boxes, about next year.

I think that daydreaming about the garden next year may be a substantial part of how I get through the winter, now that I’ve seen gardening for a season and know what I like about it. Some thoughts that are with me now include:

  • How to be smart about space? I have a whole box now that really gets only enough light to be a patch for greens, and a strawberry bed that sustains tomatoes beautifully, if crazily. Our potato barrel yielded some potatoes and would probably yield more, with better drainage and fewer potatoes crowding around. I want to add another box, if Husband will agree, and add small, thin window boxes on our front porch for herbs, to take advantage of all the sun we get up there. He also wants to put in some blueberry bushes up there, where we already get a ton of bees.
  • How to grow in a timely way? I need to make sure I start mostly greens early next year, not all my seeds at once, and then start my summer peppers and tomatoes at last frost. I want to grow greens early and late, not just early this time, and I would like to choose a spot for some winter squash plants and some sugar snap peas so that my Fall harvest can be a little new and not just more of the spring crops. Mid-summer was a grand bounty this year, but I want to make sure I focus on the book-end seasons in 2017.
  • What new plants to grow, and what to give up? I wish my strawberries were more bountiful, but they were a small harvest this year. I want to keep potatoes, tomatoes, butternut squash, carrots, and green peppers… I want a more robust planting of cilantro, dill, basil, and chives this coming year, and add some oregano, which we eat by the handful anyway. While we planted onions and they sprouted, they didn’t grow, so I’d love to find a place in the yard where they thrive. Now that I list it all… we really grew many of the things I wanted to grow. It feels good, actually, to know that I mostly want to boost production, not change it.

What other veggies or fruits would you recommend adding? I need fresh produce to daydream about as the days get short and cold and I spend most of my time indoors.

Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Hash Browns

On Sunday, Husband and I were coming home and ravenous for lunch; I knew I wanted something pretty wholesome but I also had two leftover cheddar bratwurst that I wanted to use. I decided it was time for some home-made hash browns.

I prefer the Waffle House variety of hash browns when making them at home – sure, the little nuggets of deep-fried goodness you can get at most fast-food breakfasts are wonderful, but those are quite hard to replicate without special equipment. As it is, I just grated two big potatoes and an onion and set the shavings on paper towels to wick away some moisture. Ideal world, you’d do this a couple hours early, I think, but I wasn’t patient (hence the clumpiness of the pictured hash browns).

In a big frying pan, I placed a tablespoon of butter and the onion and potato shavings. While it heated up and the potatoes started to brown, I alternated between stirring and chopping: I chopped up the bratwurst and then also diced a big green pepper, which I cooked separately to avoid adding even more moisture to the delicate frying hash browns. IMG_4900.JPG

When the onions and potatoes were starting to get some color on them, I moved them to half the pan and added the cheddarwurst. I knew the cheese would eke out of them, but I didn’t mind because crispy fried cheese bits would be flavorful. I seasoned the whole mess while they got browned separately, and then mixed it all together. I cracked pepper and added a twinge of parmesan to the green peppers, which gave them a bit of a crust.

In the end, I just threw everything together and Husband and I wolfed it down on the back porch. I realized, as I ate, that it would make a very nice, very simple freezer meal: if there was time to let all the chopped ingredients evaporate for a few hours, then just bag them up, you would have instant, waffle-house-style hashbrowns, which weren’t even exceptionally oily! Obviously, since this is basically just a stirfry with potatoes in it, you have infinite options for subbing out things you don’t like, which I always enjoy.

You Can Do it, Dinner Party Newbie.

There are so many easy reasons not to have dinner parties. Restaurants are prettier, cooking by yourself is cheaper, seeing your friends when you see them is more convenient, planning nothing at all is less stressful, but let me tell you: I’m ready to advocate the dinner party, even after the messiness, the expense, the lack of convenience, and the stress. I have good reasons too.

  1. Doing hard things builds character

I have now had three dinner parties this year, but at least two other potential parties I chickened out of throwing because I worried the people wouldn’t get along or wouldn’t like the food. Every time I go through with it, though, I think I get a little more convinced that it’s worth it to try something a little against-the-grain and have people into your home. It’s quite the act of trust, but it seems to pay such good dividends.

2. If you love cooking, you will never have a better excuse to make LOTS of food

3. People you would never imagine liking each other will manage to make it work over a big plate of food.

4. People feel more connected to you, even if they don’t know you well, if they’ve spent the evening sitting by your fireplace and chatting.

5. We’ve lost the art of in-person conversation as a main form of entertainment, and it needs to come back: it’s free, it’s fascinating, and it makes us better at all kinds of other things!

6. People notice so many fewer of the things you see as imperfect in your house and notice so much more of the detailed touches of architecture or decoration than you’d expect – they take in the good and tend to ignore the bad (we all have it, so it’s less interesting!).

7. Your board games need a chance to come out and play.

I know I won’t convince everyone, but I think trying it once is worth it – if you discover I’m wrong on every count, at least now you have the worst-dinner-party-ever story to tell at… well, some event. I don’t think you’ll regret it though!

Banana Blueberry Walnut Bread!

I make a lot of fruity quick breads; still, I was trying to find something breakfasty on Pinterest and came across this beauty, and was inspired to get to baking. Husband and I just tested out the bike I got at a local flea market, and I was the good kind of tired that makes you want to eat something with great gusto but eat, you know, something sorta good for you.

When I surveyed my ingredients, I had two bananas thawing from being frozen (it’s my last ditch effort to save them if they are about to go bad and I don’t want to just eat them), 1 fresh banana and a bag of dried blueberries. I first put a bit of butter on the walnuts and put them into the oven to roast up – I just like fruit-and-nut bread better when the nuts are roasted. Then I prepared the bread, realizing in the middle that I did not have the egg I needed – so in went a small tub of applesauce. In my opinion, applesauce works for consistency of the bread once it’s cool but it binds less well than egg overall and thus results in an intensely crumbly bread when it first comes out. If you have more patience then me, applesauce is a great addition, but I want a slice of the deliciousness as soon as it is cool enough to touch, so I was eating it with a fork.

Husband and I both agreed that its hard to beat bread with so many fruits and nuts in it, and the quantities of flour and sugar were really quite modest; much of the sweetness and substance of the loaf comes from the fruit itself. The blueberries were what really made it, though – I only really associate blueberries with muffins and bagels, but in this loaf form, they provided a good counterbalancing tang to the sweet bread and the savory walnuts. 10/10, would eat whole loaf if I could, but instead eat one piece each morning with my coffee. 🙂