peanut butter blondies

I was feeling smug last week about how I don’t crave Halloween candy. Of course, that was until I actually bought Halloween candy. I got my childhood favorite, Reese’s peanut butter cups, because I hadn’t had them in years and was curious about whether they’re as good as I remember. I ate about two-thirds of one, just enough to determine that yup, still good, and then employed my favorite technique for not overindulging – giving the rest of my food to Dave as quickly as possible before I change my mind.

Unfortunately, we only got about ten trick-or-treaters. That leaves me with 17 Reese’s peanut butter cups. I’m doing okay. I haven’t caved. Peanut butter cups are good, but they aren’t cookie dough. I can resist, but I’m certainly not complaining that this week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe involves chocolate and peanut butter.

It was the best of both worlds – chocolate and peanut butter combined in cookie dough. That was where the self-control got difficult. However, once the cookies were (over-)baked, I was back to eyeing my bowl of candy.

Nicole has the recipe posted because she chose these for TWD. I baked mine for the low end of the range Dorie recommends, and they ended up dry and crisp. So check yours early! I suspect that if I hadn’t overbaked them, these would have lived up to their potential and given those peanut butter cups a run for their money. 

(About that gaping hole in the middle of the pan: Dorie says to check the doneness of the blondies by inserting a knife into the center, but my top was too crisp for that – perhaps a sign that they were already overbaked – so I dug a little hole out instead.  And ate it.)

One year ago: Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte
Two years ago: Rugelach (one of my favorite recipes from the book)

peanut butter crisscrosses

I have a bad habit of losing touch with friends before I get their best recipes from them. I never asked my Spanish/Puerto Rican friend for the basics of his paella, and when I asked him how he makes his rice and beans, he beat around the bush about how I’d never be able to find the right ingredients in the US.

My college roommate made the most amazing peanut butter cookies. I didn’t know I was a fan of peanut butter cookies until hers, and I haven’t been a fan of peanut butter cookies since. But I could never get enough of those.

I’ve been simultaneously keeping an eye out for another perfect peanut butter cookie recipe and afraid to try any because they might not live up to my memory. But I’ve heard nothing but good reviews of Dorie’s recipe.  My friend’s cookies didn’t have mix-ins in them, so I left out the peanuts Dorie suggests, and I underbaked the cookies to get the soft texture I love.

Pretty darn close. Nothing tastes as good as a memory, but soft, sweet peanut butter cookies can come pretty darn close. Jasmine has the recipe posted since she chose these for Tuesdays with Dorie. I left out the salted peanuts and increased the salt to 1 teaspoon.

One year ago: Chocolate Soufflé
Two years ago: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

crunchy and custardy peach tart

It’s hot.  Usually at this time of year, I’m glaring at everyone who is eating chili and baking pumpkin treats and looking forward to fall, wondering how anyone could possibly want to move on from the sunny days of summer.  But now it’s too hot, and I just want a few days where the high temperatures are below 90 degrees.  Below 90…that’s all I ask.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to give up summer food!  I haven’t had anywhere near my fill of stone fruits, berries, and tomatoes.  I’m lucky that Rachel’s choice for Tuesdays with Dorie this week gave me a chance to use peaches.  You can’t go wrong with a good summer peach.

In this case, those summer peaches were sliced, spread over tart dough, covered in rich custard, and dotted with streusel.  All of those extra textures and flavors just enhanced the perfection of the peaches.  Unfortunately, it involved an hour and a half of oven time.  Delicious though it was, perhaps I wouldn’t need yet another cooling shower right now if we’d eaten the peaches plain…

Rachel has this recipe posted on her blog.  I think I undercooked mine.  It was still very juicy, and the streusel wasn’t browned.  On the other hand, the tart crust was getting too dark, and the custard seemed curdled.  I don’t know the answer, although perhaps one isn’t necessary, as we certainly weren’t complaining about the tart as it was.

One year ago: Lime Cream Meringue Pie
Two years ago: Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

oatmeal breakfast bread

I finally admitted defeat this weekend. For the first time this year, I bought bread. I also bought pre-chopped vegetables, hummus, and pre-washed lettuce. Why do I force myself to do all these things from scratch? Preparing my snacks and lunches for the work week has been seriously cutting into my favorite Sunday activity (sitting outside with a margarita and a book, of course). The only things I’m still making from scratch are hard-boiled eggs and muffins for Dave.

I’m lucky that so far the quick bread chapter in the Tuesdays with Dorie cookbook has been seriously overlooked, so I can double task lunch prep and TWD. (The celebration cake chapter is DONE, which, for me, is cause for celebration.) It also helps that muffins are so easy and bake quickly.

These are a perfect example of why I can’t bring myself to buy muffins. These aren’t perfectly healthy, but they’re certainly better for you than anything storebought – not to mention how sweet and tender and soft they are as well. I’m definitely willing to sacrifice a bit of Sunday margarita time to make muffins like this.

Natalie chose this recipe, and she has it posted on her site. I used raisins for the dried fruit, but these were so perfectly spiced for fall that I wish I’d used dried apples instead.

One year ago: Applesauce Spice Bars
Two years ago: Granola Grabbers

banana peanut butter muffins

Conversely, I think I’d like bananas more if they weren’t so cheap, convenient, and healthy. It’s just that I eat so many bananas. For years, every weekday, a banana. I had to start mixing the bananas with other things to make them palatable. In the spring, strawberries make a wonderful accompaniment. And if I want something more filling, peanut butter works perfectly. Now I eat peanut butter with my banana everyday, and I’m hoping that it’s a tasty enough combination that I don’t get sick of it anytime soon.

If bananas are better with peanut butter, it stands to reason that banana bread is better with peanut butter too, right? Or banana muffins, as the case may be. And it turns out, yes, peanut butter is a wonderful addition, and so is oatmeal, to make banana muffins more fun and interesting. It’s just too bad that muffins don’t work as a healthy replacement to my normal daily banana.

One year ago: Farmer’s Market Salad with Spiced Goat Cheese Rounds
Two years ago: Tuscan-Style Couscous Salad

Printer Friendly Recipe
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins (from Baking Bites via Annie’s Eats)

I used oil instead of applesauce, because I always have oil around and never have applesauce around.

1½ cups (7.2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons applesauce
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until smooth. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated and fully blended.

3. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

gingered carrot cookies

I was complaining to my sister about these cookies, all, wwahhh! I don’t like carrot desserts! when she told me that her husband had made carrot-raisins-nut-coconut muffins that day, and her 4-year-old refused to eat them. “I don’t like the carrot muffins”, he claimed.

Great, I have the tastes of a 4-year-old.

On the other hand, cookies than contain vegetables are clearly acceptable for breakfast and thus the perfect detour from my no-dessert-before-beach-trip rule. And judging by how many of these I ate, I do not, in fact, have the tastes of a four-year-old. I’m not sold on carrot cake, but carrot cookies, apparently, I can do.

Natalia chose these for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Banana Bundt Cake
Two years ago: Black and White Banana Loaf

chockablock cookies

Hey, didn’t Tuesdays with Dorie already make these, a chocolate version, a long time ago? And didn’t I already lodge a complaint against cookies that are more add-in than dough? Seriously, sometimes the chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies get in my way.

And wait, didn’t I already decide that, hey, add-ins maybe aren’t such a bad thing because these are some darn good cookies.

And you know what else about these cookies? There’s only eight tablespoons of butter/shortening in the whole batch! That’s about half as much as most cookies. Which makes it all the harder not to justify having just one more.

Mary chose these and she has the recipe posted. I quadrupled, yes, that’s right, quadrupled the salt. Seemed perfect to me.

One year ago: Chocolate Cream Tart
Two years ago: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

swedish visiting cake

This cake fit so seamlessly into my weekend that I hardly know what to say about it. I mixed it up and baked it early Friday evening, and I grabbed a bite here and another there throughout the weekend until there was nothing left.

With the ingredients stirred by hand, and the light lemony almond flavor, it was easy to bake and just as easy to eat.

Nancy chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I doubled the salt (of course).

One year ago: Chocolate Ameretti Torte
Two years ago: Marshmallows

mocha walnut marbled bundt cake

Somehow with all of my random kitchen junk, I didn’t have a full-size bundt pan for the longest time, but I finally got one recently. This was its first use, and I was so excited about my perfectly browned, beautifully scalloped, marbled bundt cake. Too bad I didn’t take any pictures of it before this:

Fortunately, enough of the cake was intact to cut some slices, not that I have any problems eating cake bits. And the cake bits, they were good – rich and dense with contrasting vanilla and chocolate bites.

However, one thing I’ve learned is that if dessert isn’t divided into neat portions, it’s all too easy to grab a bite here and another there until I’ve eaten far more than just one serving.

So I took that ziploc bag full of broken cake, crushed it up with the other two cakes I’d dropped at the same time, added some cream cheese frosting, and dipped everything in chocolate. Yes, I added frosting and chocolate in order to eat less dessert. So far it hasn’t worked.

Erin chose this cake for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Banana Cream Pie
Two years ago: Lemon Cream Tart

soft chocolate and berry tart

Chocolate and raspberry was my favorite flavor combination for a long time. It’s still up there for sure, but I’ve tried so many desserts recently that I’ve found all kinds of other great pairs – orange and vanilla, peaches and amaretto, cream cheese and anything. There’s no need to play favorites, but I was excited about making a chocolate and raspberry tart.

Then I used strawberries instead. Sometimes baking for Tuesdays with Dorie happens to be one item on a long (but manageable!) To Do list, and those times, I make do – and I had strawberries in the freezer. Even though Dorie specifically recommends against using strawberries because they’re too juicy, I went ahead with what I had. I defrosted a few, diced them small, sprinkled them with sugar, and set them aside to give off some liquid, which I drained before using the berries in the recipe. (I had a brief thought of “what should I do with the liquid?” Then – wait a minute! That’s sugary strawberry juice! And I drank it.)

I’d call it a success! My tart was a bit sloppy when I cut into it, but it was still crisp tart crust, rich chocolate, and sweet berries. No one complained about combining chocolate and strawberries around here, that’s for sure.  Rachelle has the original recipe posted on her site.

One year ago: Lemon Cup Custards