The Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

It may sound cocky – or a little too strong – but I swear to you these are the best peanut butter cookies ever. They’re soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside, and oh so sweet. The original recipe came from my beloved Magnolia Bakery cookbook and I haven’t looked back since. The first time I made them, I shared them with a few of B’s friends and his friend Steve even commented, “These are the best peanut butter cookies ever.” And Steve himself is a good cook/baker!

peanut butter cookies - i crashed the webAnyway, don’t just trust me — or Steve — you should make these yourself.* The below recipe is with slight modifications, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.

peanut butter cookies - i crashed the web

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted this because I used salted butter)
  • 1/2 c butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup your favorite peanut butter (I’ve made these with creamy JIF peanut butter and with chunky natural Smuckers. In the case of the crunchy, I just cut down on the amount of peanuts I add in the end)
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar + 3-4 TB sugar for rolling the dough
  • 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBS milk (I used the only milk I had on hand- unsweetened almond coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 c chopped peanuts (If using chunky peanut butter, you can use less nuts here, probably 1/4 c)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter together until creamy.
  4. Add sugars and beat until smooth. Add egg, milk and vanilla extract and mix well until fluffy.
  5. Add flour mixture in about 1/2 c at a time and beat thoroughly.
  6. Stir in peanut butter chips and peanuts.
  7. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into a bowl of 3-4 TBS granulated sugar.
  8. Place cookie balls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, at least two inches apart. Using a fork, push down on dough balls and lightly indent the balls with a criss-cross pattern. Do not flatten cookies too much – you don’t want smooshed cookies!
  9. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies may seem soft and underdone but DO NOT OVERBAKE. They will bake a little more out of the oven and be PERFECT.
  10. Cool cookies on cookie sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mouth watering yet? All you need is a glass of milk and you can enjoy these yourself. *Or better yet- I will MAIL YOU these cookies! That’s right – as I mentioned earlier this week, I’m participating in a blogger bake sale, to benefit Jordan’s Family Foundation. Since it’s for a good cause – what’s stopping you?

Who wouldn't buy these for a good cause?

Who wouldn’t buy these for a good cause?

Some modifications:

  • Use 1 c. semi-sweetened chocolate chunks instead of the peanut butter chips for a more chocolatey flavor
  • Not a huge chocoholic? Use 1/2 c. peanut butter chips, 1/2 c. semi-sweetened chocolate chips for a peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
  • Flatten cookies out with your hand and omit the fork crossing step. Then press halved peanuts (outer side facing up) to the top of the cookie. That’s what I did on the second photo above.

Halloween Candy Corn Buckeyes

Do you like scary movies? I don’t really. I don’t like being scared. Sometimes after watching the TV series Sherlock I have to go on Instagram or watch Gossip Girl just so I can sleep without nightmares. Yup. I’m a baby. Which is why when we invited our friends Dave and Anson over for a scary movie night to celebrate the upcoming Halloween holiday, I was less than excited. Excited for the pizza from Crust we’d be eating? Yes. Excited for a scary movie? Not really. But I knew I’d suck it up and enjoy it – same as last year when I barely made it through Paranormal Activity. And if I didn’t? Well, at least I’d enjoy the baked goods!

I love peanut butter and chocolate. Especially during Halloween – who doesn’t like a good Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? (Ok, I know a few people who don’t) Which is why when I saw this recipe for White Chocolate Candy Corn Buckeyes, I knew I had to make some Halloween themed Buckeyes. Aren’t they cute? And if you haven’t guessed from my previous recipe (Candy Corn White Chocolate Peanutty Bars), candy corn and peanut butter actually go well together. Who would’ve thought?

Halloween Candy Corn Buckeyes - i crashed the web

Halloween Candy Corn Buckeyes (an update to my traditional Buckeye recipe)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tspvanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup candy corn, about 3/4 of it chopped up
  • 1-12 oz. bag chocolate candy coating wafers (I use the Wilton Candy Melts)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil or waxed paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. Mix well (I use my KitchenAid) until it forms a stiff dough. Add in chopped candy corn.
  3. Shape dough into balls, about one inch or 2 tsp wide.
  4. Place on baking sheet and place peanut butter dough balls in refrigerator for 1 hour, or freezer for 30 minutes.
  5. Melt chocolate coating wafers according to package directions. I usually nuke in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Stir occasionally until smooth.
  6. Time to coat the Buckeyes! Remove peanut butter balls from freezer. Insert a toothpick into a ball, and dip into the melted chocolate. Return to wax paper or aluminum foil chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. For eyeball-themed buckeye, add a Candy Corn M&M on the exposed peanut butter area. For the plain candy corn buckeyes, coat entire peanut butter ball and immediately after removing from chocolate add a whole candy corn to top of ball while chocolate dries. Repeat with remaining balls.
  7. Refrigerate Buckeyes for 30 min to 1 hour to set.
Spooky Eyeball Halloween Candy Corn Buckeyes - i crashed the web

Top with M&Ms to make spooky eyeballs

Or just top with candy corn and enjoy!

Or just top with candy corn and enjoy!

A few questions for you:

  • Do you like scary movies? Not really. But I really do enjoy reading the Wikipedia pages to get a snapshot of the plot for them!
  • What’s your favorite scary movie? Saw. It scares the heck out of me but is SO interesting! The rest of the Saws don’t seem as good. I haven’t actually seen them – but reading their Wikipedia plot brings me to that conclusion. I also like Scream. That counts right? I went through a phase in high school where I was obsessed with the names Sydney and Tatum for girls.
  • What’s your favorite Halloween treat?

How can you not like this?!

After watching that I need to go flip through Instagram again. Spooky!

Triple Chip Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I think I have a pumpkin problem. From baking biscotti, to scones, to cookies, to granola – to just mixing it in plain yogurt and eating it with the pumpkin granola – I’m all over pumpkin this fall. But, the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem. And with that, here is my last pumpkin recipe for this season. And don’t worry, it’s a good one – similar to the last pumpkin cookies I made but with some oatmeal and white chips for added texture.

pumpkin triple chip oatmeal cookies - i crashed the web

Triple Chip Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup total three different types of chocolate chips – I actually broke this up into 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips – next time I’ll likely try some mini m&ms or even Candy Corn M&Ms!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, salt and oats – in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars. Mix well. Add in egg and mix thoroughly.
  4. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree with molasses and vanilla. Mix well until completely combined. Once the mixture is a uniform, dark brown color, add to wet ingredients in stand mixture. Note: Don’t want to dirty another bowl? You likely could add all these ingredients to the stand mixer one at a time, but I found it easier to have the molasses  and pumpkin mixed together first to ensure they get are thoroughly combined.
  5. Add in dry ingredients with a spatula and mix well, by hand. You may need to stir for 2-4 minutes before mixture is completely combined. Then, add in your your chocolate chips / chunks.
  6. Dough will be sticky! Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet topped with parchment paper.
  7. Cook for 12-14 minutes or until they start to brown.

Enjoy!

pumpkin triple chip oatmeal cookies - icrashedtheweb

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

I’m Italian. You wouldn’t know it by my name, or really how I look — but I swear, I grew up in an Italian household with an 100% Italian mother. For better or for worse, I still find meals without pasta or bread, incomplete. And I can’t stand a canned or jarred tomato sauce that isn’t homemade (I think it tastes like catsup. And I hate catsup!). BUT I do love nearly all things Italian – including biscotti (or as my mom says, “biscott”) – which is why when B and I got invited to a friend’s house during the Feast of the Assumption Celebrations, I decided to bring some homemade biscotti (and Peroni).

I can’t take full credit for this recipe idea. B’s mom has been making biscotti for years and sent them to her kids as part of finals-studying care packages. She made a few different kinds, but one of B’s favorites was always the chocolate pistachio. I didn’t get to ask her for the recipe, but I saw a few recipes online (including one that used cinnamon) and20 thought I’d try a recipe of my own. The verdict? A hit. B loved them! And I may be snacking on some as I write this post.

chocolate pistachio biscotti ~ i crashed the web

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

(Modified from this and this)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 c plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate baking chips
  • 1/2 cup pistachios

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy and creamy.
  4. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in vanilla.
  5. Add flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, and mix well. The dough will be very sticky and you may need to mix for a few minutes until it’s all thoroughly combined.
  6. Mix in the mini chips and pistachios.
  7. Divide dough into quarters. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, shape portions logs, about 8-10 inches by 2-3 inches. Sprinkle logs with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  8. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or mostly hard.
  9. Remove logs to a cooling rack and cool for 3-5 minutes. Keep the oven on! After the logs are cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board and cut each log into 1/2 inch slices on a diagonal.
  10. Bake the dough again! Take the slices and place with the cut side face down on baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes on each side until hardened. I took mine out after 5 minutes on each side because I like my biscotti a little softer.
  11. Cool and enjoy!
Maybe these should be called "double chocolate pistachio biscotti" because of the mini chips AND cocoa?

Maybe these should be called “double chocolate pistachio biscotti” because of the mini chips AND cocoa?

chocolate pistachio biscotti ~ i crashed the web

Shape the dough into four balls, which you’ll shape into logs

chocolate pistachio biscotti ~ i crashed the web

Enjoy!

chocolate pistachio biscotti ~ i crashed the web

Or share with friends :) I promise they’ll enjoy!

Fresh Fork Week 8 – And Fennel, Tomato and Avocado Salad {Recipe}

How are we already EIGHT weeks into our Fresh Fork summer share? It may seem weird to say this – and somewhat cheesy – but I feel like it’s become a part of B and me. We look forward to picking up our weekly share, trying the new recipes and enjoying all the glorious fresh produce and some other local grub (those local corn chips … and local oats … and more – were SO good!).

Anyway, enough blabbering with how much I am loving my Fresh Fork. Here’s what we got this week:

  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 3# red skin potatoes
  • 1 candy onion
  • 1 head red cabbage
  • 1 lb yellow beans
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 pint sweet cherries
  • 1 quart apricots

And a blurry photo of what we got (I may have been at Parnell’s for happy hour before the pick up):

fresh fork week 8

We’ve finished pretty much everything, minus the beef, which is in our freezer until B figures out what he wants to do with it. Because I don’t really like ground beef unless it’s in a meatball. Even then I prefer turkey. It happens.

Some of our meals:

B made this dish, featuring the cabbage (doesn’t it look professional?!)

pork and cabbage

We had a wine and cheese night – and the apricots went deliciously with it!

wine and cheese

A summery meal featuring potato salad from the potatoes (and the corn, tomato and eggplant are from week 9 – shhhh yes I’m skipping ahead)

20130803_203724

And my favorite (well, not my favorite – the pork and cabbage was probably the best, but don’t tell B) – fennel, tomato and avocado salad – which we enjoyed with the beer can chicken.

20130728_174833

You can make the fennel salad too – it was really easy so here’s another non-recipe for you to enjoy for the next time you get fennel. There was something just so delicious about the sweetness of the fennel with the bitterness of the balsamic. And who doesn’t like tomato and avocado?

fennel tomato and avocado salad {i crashed the web}

Fennel, Tomato & Avocado salad

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Your favorite balsamic vinaigrette. Don’t have one? Make your own! Here’s my favorite recipe – it makes more than enough for this salad plus more:
    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut up the first three ingredients. Chop up the fennel bulb into 1/2 inch thick slices. Cut up tomato into thin slices. Find a ripe avocado and cut it into bite sized pieces.
  2. Arrange tomato, avocado, and fennel on a plate.
  3. Drizzle about 1-2 tbs of your favorite balsamic dressing over the salad. If you’re making mine, combine vinegar, oil, mustard and garlic in a jar and shake well to combine before drizzling a little over the salads. You’ll have leftover dressing for later.
  4. Enjoy!
fennel tomato and avocado salad {i crashed the web}

Fennel, tomato and avocado salad

For other Fresh Fork Recaps:

Meatless Monday: Roasted Beets Recipe (And a bonus post – how to get beet juice stains off a white dress)

A week or so ago, B and I picked up our CSA for the week and I was delighted to find fresh beets! I LOVE beets and find them so delicious in so many things  - in a salad with goat cheese, roasted, on top of a pizza, just alone as a snack, or even in smoothies or juices (ok confession I’ve never had a juice with beets but I’ve seen them at the West Side Market at the stand where B gets his frozen strawberry lemonade and I’ve thought about getting it). B, however, doesn’t really like beets. Still, he said that whatever I did with them he’d try the recipe.

So, what did I do? I called my mom. I asked her what she does because she roasts beets quite often. She told me how she roasted them (in the oven, in foil, and then tosses them in a mustard vinaigrette) and to be careful because beet juice stains everything(the counter, your hands, etc. ) so not to be careless/quick (which I often am when cooking). That is foreboding – make note. And here’s the recipe:

oven roasted beets mustard vinaigrette

Roasted Beets with a Mustard Vinaigrette

Here’s what you need:

  • 3-4 medium beets, cleaned and prepared (chop the top, bottom and greens off- but save the greens! You can saute them like spinach)
  • salt/pepper
  • dash garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, separated (1 Tb plus 2 Tb)
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 glove of garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a brush, coat the beets with approximately 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Create an aluminum foil pocket for the beets. Put the beets in the foil, wrap the foil around them, and put in the oven.
  4. Bake for approximately 45-55 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce through the beets.
  5. While beets are roasting, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbs olive oil, red wine vinegar, pressed garlic and dijon mustard.
  6. After beets are done roasting, wait until they are room temperature and then remove from their foil pouch and peel the beets. The skin should come off very easily. Pour dressing over peeled beets.
  7. Enjoy!
sliced beets

cut the ends off the beets

oven roasted beets

Enjoy!

So I made the recipe, as she shared with me, and the beets came out great! They were delicious, juicy  and even B didn’t hate them. Which is a good thing – he generally hates beets and think they taste like dirt. AND I didn’t get juice ANYWHERE. I was feeling kinda cocky actually, thinking wow I am such a good beet roaster. I didn’t get beets on the counter, or on me.

The next day I brought some into work as a snack. I ate them super carefully, as I was wearing a white dress and didn’t need any beet juice on my dress. I finished eating them and couldn’t believe my luck – I was clean! As I was bringing my bowl into the kitchen, I noticed I had dropped a beet. I picked it up from the floor – and BAM. It slipped out of my hand. Onto my dress. It literally ROLLED DOWN MY DRESS. I had a DARK RED line of stains down the front of my dress! I ran to borrow a stain stick from a coworker. The little Tide To Go stick just didn’t do it – it wasn’t big enough to handle the entire dress.

Luckily I had been in meetings from 8 a.m. through 2 p.m. that day and had about an hour free until my next meeting  - so I ran home. Well sorta – I power walked back to my apartment, called my mom, and asked her what to do. She suggested soaking it in a stain remover solution and then washing it on cold water. She also suggested I treat it with seltzer water, but I had literally just finished our seltzer earlier that week. So soaking then washing was what I was going to do.

This is what happens when you spill beets on your white dress .... okay maybe not really

This is what happens when you spill beets on your white dress …. okay maybe not really

Here’s what I did:

  • I sprayed the dress liberally with my Shout Stain Remover Spray and let it sit for about 10 minutes while I found something new to wear and checked my email.
  • I tossed the dress in the wash, on cold. In addition to detergent, I also added two Tide Stain Release Boost packs to the laundry machine.

And here’s what happened:

THE DRESS IS AS GOOD AS NEW!

Yup. Sorry, no before/after pictures – I didn’t take a picture of the dress with the beet juice all over it. But I promise, it was ugly. I’m not sure if I’ll have the courage to roast beets anytime again soon …and if I eat them, I may have to wear a garbage bag!

Super Easy One-Dish Roasted Chicken

I have decided to give up eating meat for Lent. I know it will be a challenge, but it’s one that I think I can do and one that will also broaden my cooking horizons. Will B give up meat? No. But he has said he’ll try whatever recipes I come up with, so I’ve already started looking for new vegetarian recipes to try and even taken some books out of the library.

So, during the countdown to Lent, I enjoyed some of my favorite meaty dishes, mainly pepperoni pizza and pepperoni bread. And believe it or not, I’ll also miss chicken! That’s why this weekend I decided it was time to make this recipe (pictured below – picture is not mine)  that I’ve had for a little while, before my meat-free months begin.

I'm leading with the image FROM  Jamie Oliver because it looks much better than mine and maybe you'll actually make it if you think it looks like this

I’m leading with the image FROM Jamie Oliver because it looks much better than mine and maybe you’ll actually make it if you think it looks like this

If you want an easy, hearty and relatively healthy dish that takes about 5 minutes prep time (but 1 hr 15 min to cook), I highly recommend this. Plus, think of all you can accomplish in the 1 hour and 15 minutes you spend waiting for this dish? You could clean your kitchen, read a book, do some exercises in your living room (I wouldn’t recommend going to the gym while this is in the oven), and more! Think of how productive you can be! At least that’s what I was thinking … B and I ended up just snacking (on pepperoni bread obviously) and catching up on our DVR. Watching episodes of The Office and Walking Dead count as being productive, right?

Anyway, the meal turned out delicious and B took the leftovers (I only had one thigh) for lunch today. I don’t usually like dark meat but with the crusty ciabatta bread, olive oil sauce and other ingredients, I managed to eat it, and enjoy it!

Super Easy One-Dish Roasted Chicken

(slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver)

The recipe below is what I made and it serves 2-3 depending on how hungry you are. The original serves 4-6.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 thick slices of ciabatta bread
  • 2 full chicken legs (each leg is one thigh and drumstick) 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Bunch of basil leaves
  • 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves 
  • ½ c of black seedless mediterranean olives
  • 1 red chili pepper, chopped
  • Healthy drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 slices of pancetta

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Get a deep roasting tray big enough to fit all the chicken in one layer.
  3. Rip the ciabatta into medium-sized chunks and place in the tray with the chicken, tomatoes, basil, garlic cloves, olives, chopped red chili pepper.
  4. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and the chili. Toss to mix up well, then reposition the chicken on top. Bake in the oven, turning the chicken after 30 minutes.
  5. Cook for another 30 minutes and then add the pancetta on top of the chicken.
  6. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and falling off the bone.
  7. Serve with a side salad and perhaps some more ciabatta bread!
One Dish Roasted Chicken With Pancetta, Olives, Tomato and Garlic

All the ingredients ready to be roasted! The recipe says to put the chicken on top before roasting but I couldn’t leave you with a photo of ugly naked chicken so I adapted it slightly.

One Dish Roasted Chicken With Pancetta, Olives, Tomato and Garlic

Fresh from the oven after 1 hr 15 min

One Dish Roasted Chicken With Pancetta, Olives, Tomato and Garlic

Served with a side arugula salad and some more ciabatta bread (not pictured)

Spicy Kale with Lentils and Sweet Potato

Looking for a filling and satisfying vegetarian dinner one night? Or a comforting vegetable side dish, perfect for this winter? Then this is for you! Again, B is a pretty serious meat eater, but he somehow agreed to try this (along with some chicken). I’m not sure how much he liked it, but I really enjoyed the dish. I got it from Eat Live Run and made a few modifications.

Spicy Kale with Lentils and Sweet Potato

 

Spicy Kale with Lentils and Sweet Potato (modified from Eat Live Run)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, chopped finely
  • 6 baby carrots (or 2 large carrots), diced
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • one bunch kale, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c lentils (dry)
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper

Here’s what you do: 

  1. Dice the onion, celery, serrano peppers and carrots. Chop up the sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot.
  3. Add the onion, celery, carrot, peppers and sweet potato and cook for about six minutes, until softened.
  4. While the onion, celery, peppers and potato cooks, dice the garlic and chop up the kale. When cooked, add the garlic and kale and continue cooking until kale wilts.
  5. Add the lentils, dried rosemary, cracked red pepper and broth (use vegetable broth if you want a vegetarian recipe). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.
  6. Enjoy!
chopped veggies look so pretty don't they?

chopped veggies look so pretty don’t they?

Spicy Kale with Lentils and Sweet Potato

Crock Pot Veggie Casserole

I love my crock pot, and I’m always looking for new recipes other than stews, soups and heavy beef/chicken dishes. Well – I definitely found one, and it’s a keeper! When perusing the Internet a few months ago, I came across this recipe for a Vegetable Casserole in the slow cooker. Since B has what he likes to call a “meat tooth,” I hardly ever make vegetarian recipes and had put it aside. So, this week when I was home in NY, when my mom told me she had never used her crock pot and was looking for a recipe to try, I knew exactly what to suggest!

We made this recipe. It was delicious and filling – and my whole family (mom, dad and brother) really enjoyed it. Although my dad did end up grilling some chicken to eat with it, but it’d definitely be filling enough (in my opinion) on its own.

slow cooker vegetarian casserole
Crock Pot Veggie Casserole
(slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
Here’s what you need:
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 1/4
    c basil pesto (I used homemade, but you can certainly buy it at the store)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4
    cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1
    16-ounce package refrigerated cooked plain polenta cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices – we used this Sundried Tomato Garlic Polenta and only used 2 cloves of garlic, above
  • 1 l
    arge tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1
    8-ounce package finely shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 cups)
  • 2
    cups fresh spinach
  • 1
    cup torn radicchio

Here’s what you do:

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas and beans. In large bowl combine beans, 2 tablespoons of the pesto, diced onion, garlic, oregano and basil.
  2. In your large crock pot, layer half of bean mixture, half of the sliced polenta, and half of cheese. Add remaining beans and polenta.
  3. Cover; cook on low heat setting 4 to 6 hours or on high heat setting 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
  4. Add tomato, remaining cheese, spinach, and radicchio. Combine remaining pesto with 1 tablespoon water. Drizzle pesto mixture on casserole.
  5. Enjoy! Serve alone, or as a side dish to a meat item (such as grilled chicken) if you prefer.

vegetarian crockpot casserole

labeled 2 bean mixture

labeled 3 first layer

vegetarian crock pot casserole

labeled 5 final layer
slow cooker veggie casserole

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Today, in addition to watching the Browns game, doing laundry, going for a run and doing some work, I was a baking and cooking machine. I roasted tomatoes, made fresh pesto, baked banana bread and even made some cookie dough balls. That’s right – cookie dough balls. Who needs cake balls when you have these tasty treats? And of course, they’re egg free – so not only delicious but a safe way (and perfect excuse) to indulge in the best part of baking – cookie dough!

chocolate covered cookie dough bites

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

(borrowed from this recipe)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used 1% but may try almond milk next time)
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz bag of milk chocolate candy coating

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add milk and vanilla and mix on high speed with an electric mixer (or your beloved KitchenAid).
  2. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  3. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
  4. When dough is firm enough to handle, form dough into 1″ round balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Place dough ball-filled sheet in freezer and let chill for  at least 30 minutes (I went for a run and let mine chill for about an hour).
  6. After cookie dough balls have hardened in the freezer, it’s time to dip them in the melted chocolate! Melt chocolate candy coating in the microwave or according to package directions. Using a toothpick, dip cookie balls into melted milk chocolate and coat completely.
  7. Return chocolate-covered balls to parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill until set.
  8. Enjoy! They’re pretty awesome.

chocolate chip cookie dough balls