What’s Cookin’ – Double Peanut Butter Cookies

Every now and again when I’ve been exercising regularly and cutting back on the sweets, I lose my mind and make things like Double Chocolate Cream Pie and these Double Peanut Butter Cookies. They are soooooooo good!

Double Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup chunky peanut butter (or smooth if you prefer)

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 10 to 12 oz. bag of peanut butter chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and eggs on medium speed until creamy. Then on low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in peanut butter chips by hand.

I used the Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to make the cookie balls, although you could just roll them with your hands about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2″ in size. Dip the tops of the cookie balls into granulated sugar and place on a cookie sheet a few inches apart. When I was a kid, my Mom would smash them in two directions with a fork, which made that pretty criss-cross design in the top. However, this recipe spreads beautifully on its own so you don’t need to do that. And using the Medium Scoop, I got about 3-1/2 dozen cookies out of this recipe.

Bake approximately 10 minutes or until just turning a light, golden brown. Keep an eye on them so you don’t over bake. Cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks or paper towels.

These cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the perfect combination. You could substitute chocolate chips or even mini chocolate chips for the peanut butter chips, or use both flavors together.

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What’s Cookin’ – Chicken Parmesan and Double Chocolate Cream Pie

We had our weekly family dinner Thursday night and everyone ate too much. This is another easy, delicious recipe that takes very few ingredients.

Chicken Parmesan

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

12 to 16 oz. fettuccine noodles or your favorite pasta

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 x 13″ baking dish with olive oil. Rinse chicken breasts. Put beaten egg in one dish, bread crumbs in another. Dip chicken breast in egg (both sides), then in bread crumbs (both sides), coating well, then lay in dish.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Spoon spaghetti sauce over chicken. Put 1/2 cup of hot water in bottom of spaghetti sauce jar and shake it up to get every last drop. Then pour over chicken as well. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put back in the oven uncovered for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, start your pasta water boiling. I time the pasta so that it finishes about 5 minutes after I pull the chicken from the oven. Just cover it with foil to hold the heat. Put a nice serving of pasta on the plate and lay a chicken breast over it. Spoon a little of the sauce over it as well.

It’s amazing what you find when you root around in your cupboards. When I was looking for my pasta maker this last week, I found a mini food processor attachment that goes on my Oster blender. I’ve been thinking I wanted to get one and here I’ve had it for years. I use my blender all the time, but forgot about the attachment buried in the back of the cupboard.

And the point of this is, I used the mini food processor to make my own bread crumbs for the chicken dish. We have a bread basket that is always full of drying up ends of the loaf. I took those and some too crusty French bread and ran it all through the processor with some Italian seasoning. Ended up with several containers of wonderfully Italian scented bread crumbs to use. Geez, I feel bad now about all the bread I’ve thrown out over the years.

Something else new I tried for last night is Paula Deen’s Double Chocolate Cream Pie. When I asked YD’s BF recently what his favorite kind of pie is, chocolate cream was at the top of the list. This is definitely not a low fat recipe, but it sure is delicious. As Paula said to Oprah, “I’m your cook, not your doctor!” And easy to make. I loved the real sweetened whipped cream spread over the top. We eat a lot of fat free Cool Whip (because I’m lazy and I like it) but every now and again, I’ll make a batch of the real stuff. I figured since we were already going big with 3 eggs, whole milk and 2 kinds of chocolate, what the heck? I had gotten this recipe from a website, but can’t find it now so here it is …

Paula Deen’s Double Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/4 cup corn starch

pinch of salt

3 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 9″ deep dish pie crust, baked and cooled

sweetened whipped cream (optional)

chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Stir with a spoon to mix. Combine the milk and egg yolks and whisk until well-blended. Slowly begin adding the milk and egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, blending well with a metal spoon. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly (about 5 minutes). When it is quite thick, add the vanilla and chocolate chips. Stir until completely blended. Pour into the pie crust, allow to cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with the whipped cream and pecans before you serve.

A couple of notes: I used a wooden spoon, even though it says a metal spoon. Mine took quite a bit longer than 5 minutes to thicken, which is probably the difference between cooking on a gas stove versus my smooth top electric. Whatever … it was ridiculously good!

What’s Cookin’ – Honey Lime Marinade

We eat a lot of chicken and I love the flavor a nice marinade adds before sauteeing or grilling. One of our favorite marinades came about with a little experimentation and it’s very tasty. Every time I whisk this mixture together, hubby walks by in the kitchen and comments on how good it smells.

Honey Lime Marinade

2 limes

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup honey

2 T. rice vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

Zest and juice the limes into a bowl. Finely mince the garlic and add to lime juice along with with the olive oil, honey, rice vinegar and salt to taste. Put chicken breasts and marinade in a ziploc baggie and refrigerate for at least one hour, but a couple of hours is better.

Chicken Breasts in Honey Lime Marinade

Chicken Breasts in Honey Lime Marinade

This marinade would also be great for fish, like tuna steaks.

What’s Cookin’ – Pico de Gallo

A long-time (I won’t say “old” because it sounds so awful) friend came to stay for a few days and made this absolutely amazing pico de gallo. It’s simple and wonderful and tastes so fresh …

tomato and avocadoPico de Gallo

1 large tomato

1 small onion

1 avocado

1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

*optional* jalapeño chili peppers – fresh, seeded and chopped; or canned, diced

*optional* cilantro, fresh chopped

Cut the tomato, onion and avocado into small dice. Zest the lime over them, then juice the lime over them and mix well, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you’re looking for a little heat or spiciness, add chilis ’til you’re happy. Although we’re not fans of cilantro, add it now if you like it. Chill. This is delicious on burgers or scooped with tortilla chips.

Microplane Adjustable Grater

There are a couple of Pampered Chef tools I bought at a party a few years ago that I love for the zesting and juicing.

For zesting, their Microplane Adjustable Grater is wonderful. I zest a lot of oranges, lemons and limes for recipes and we are fortunate enough to have a few citrus trees in our yard.

 

Citrus Juicer

 

 For juicing one or two pieces of fruit, I like their Citrus Juicer. Works like a dream and easily gets every last drop of juice.

What a great way to eat your fruits and vegetables!

What’s Cookin’ – Hawaiian Salad

Mom, apparently you should have published a cookbook because it seems so many of my favorite recipes that we make over and over are from your kitchen.

We are having a few people over for a barbeque on Sunday. We’ll be doing burgers, brats, pasta salad, pico de gallo, chips. As I’m running through this with hubby he asks, “Aren’t you going to make Hawaiian Salad?” This is another one of his all-time favorites and I usually have to make two bowls — one for company and one to hide away just for him. I have seen him eat right out of the serving bowl with a large serving spoon. Sorry, honey, but it’s so cute!

Hawaiian Salad

This salad could not be easier to make and it’s fast. This is the kind of thing you can put together quickly if company is on the way over. You just need these ingredients:

 

Hawaiian Salad

2 – 20 oz. cans Dole Pineapple Tidbits (drained)

4 – 11 oz. cans mandarin oranges (drained)

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup unsweetened flake coconut

8 oz. fat free sour cream

Mix it all together in a big serving bowl and chill. You can certainly adjust the amounts if you like more coconut, etc.

 

This salad is especially refreshing when it’s hot outside, but we eat it all year long.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

What’s Cookin’ – Eva’s Dill Sauce

Eva’s Dill Sauce is what I never knew I always wanted! I have, in the past few years, fallen in love with salmon, especially poached salmon, usually with a little lemon juice squeezed over it. Oh, yum! But I have recently been introduced to something that is so indescribably good – Dill Sauce – specifically, Eva’s Dill Sauce.Salmon

A woman who is – no kidding – one of the best cooks I’ve ever met, treated us to Dill Sauce over chilled, steamed salmon the last time we were invited over for dinner. Hubby and I both looked like slobbering idiots, drooling, rolling our eyes, groaning with pleasure over this Dill Sauce. Since then, I have made it and it is so easy and so amazingly delicious. In fact, I had some left over from making salmon and used it the following night as marinade on sauteed chicken breasts. It was great!

 

Eva’s Dill Sauce

Juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/3 cup)

1/4 cup olive oil

4 T. fresh chopped dill

2 T. dijon mustard

2 large garlic cloves, pressed

Whisk together the lemon, oil, dill, mustard and garlic, along with a little salt and pepper.

 

HouseboatAbout 10 years ago, on a Lake Powell houseboat vacation with four other couples, hubby and I were fortunate enough to spend five days sharing a houseboat with Eva and her hubby. We definitely had the best houseboat because Eva is an amazing cook and baker and, oh, the hungarian pastries we consumed!

Whoa, I believe I just gained weight thinking about all the yummy food. Anyway, Eva has a wonderful recipe website that you are sure to enjoy, Eva’s Recipes. The Dill Sauce is included in her recipe for Dilly Salmon.

What’s Cookin’ – Zucchini Bread

The zucchini in gardens and on farms is abundant and beautiful right now and just begging to be baked into something wonderful. Another one of my favorite recipes from mom is Zucchini Bread, which I have updated to be lower in calories. It’s still moist and dense and tastes fantastic!

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, well beaten

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour

2 cups raw grated zucchini

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (5x9x4″). Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.

Or you can get about 24 muffins out of this recipe. Bake at 350 for approximately 18-20 minutes.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Notes: If you have a food processor, grating the zucchini with the shredding disc is really fast, although a hand grater works just as well. While I haven’t tried this on my mandoline, this would be another good option.

The original version of this recipe called for 1 cup of vegetable oil. Although it is very delicious, in order to lower the calories I substituted 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. You can also use both, i.e., 1/2 cup oil plus 1/2 cup applesauce or 1/4 cup oil plus 3/4 cup applesauce. But here’s a shocking fact … the calories in 1 cup of vegetable oil is 1,879 — the calories in 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce is only 100!

We normally use chopped walnuts, although pecans or another type of nut you like would be just as good. I’ve also made it without nuts and it’s great, too.

Personal note to mom: My original recipe card is from you, in your handwriting, yellowed and covered in grease spots. It’s perfect! Thanks for all the great recipes!!!