The Perfect Burger

burger

Aaaaahh, Memorial Day weekend! And in New Hampshire, it is finally starting to feel like the summer is just around the corner. We had a fairly mild winter with very little snow, but the cold lingered a bit longer than it normally does. Because of a combination of a deep freeze in February and a cold snap in April decimated the peach crop in the Northeast. Summer won’t be the same without juicy, delicious peaches.

And speaking of summertime staples.

Today is National Hamburger Day.

And you can’t have a Memorial Day weekend cookout without burgers.

There are two types of burgers. Thick and juicy and thin and caramelized. I personally love a thin patty burger joint classic. If you’re with me, then here’s how to do it at home. I know, “It’s just a burger” you say. And you know I’m all about breaking the rules, but these rules will make it the best burger ever. For realz.

The Patty

This is key people. You must use a 70% lean mix. Don’t try to get all healthy and go for the leaner mix. This patty is going to sizzle in its own fat on a griddle, not a grill. Don’t have a griddle? Use a pan. No flame here. These are easy to freeze, l layered between parchment paper and taken out of the freezer about an hour before use. However, I find using fresh burger to give the best tasting results.

The Cook

Heat your griddle (or fry pan) to high heat. Immediately before cooking, season your patty with salt and fresh ground pepper. Place your patty on the surface and immediately smash it down with a stiff metal spatula. Cook until the top of the patty begins to turn pale pink/gray in spots, about a minute or so.(Think Bette Midler in Ruthless People) Using a bench scraper or the back side of a stiff metal spatula, carefully scrape burger patties from pan, making sure to get all of the browned bits and flip patties. Cook for another 45 seconds (*internal temp of 150-155F) and place a slice of cheese on the patty and remove from the pan to the waiting bun.

The Cheese

American. Simple. End of story. Don’t go all gourmet on me here.

The Toppings

Keep it simple. Iceburg lettuce. Not romaine. Iceburg!  Sweet, thinly sliced onion. Hellman’s mayonnaise and Heinz ketchup. That is what goes on my burger. You want to taste that deliciously greasy (in a good way) patty.

The Bun

There is only one choice. Martin’s Famous Sandwich Potato Rolls. They are perfectly squishy and slightly sweet. Lightly buttered and toasted bring out all the goodness of these buns. This is a must people.

I’m so bossy today.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day and remember to the reason behind the holiday. Thank a veteran. Better yet, make him/her a burger!

 

*Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs, may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions. 

 

Grilled Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

chickenskewer

I came home the other day to the most amazing smells coming from my kitchen. Amazingly delicious smells, not anything like “OMG, what died” kind of smells either. Which sadly, I have also come home to once or twice.

But no, really. My wonderful husband. The man I married almost twenty years ago ♥. The man who I could count on one hand the times he has stepped into a grocery store. The man who has cooked, oh I don’t know, NEVER while we’ve been together (until recently), was cooking. And if it tasted half as good as it smelled, I was in for some good eats.

Let me say in the past couple of months, my husband has been taking an interest in cooking. First was the pizza oven. Next came the griddle. A very large griddle in fact that lives on our deck next to the grill. That’s pretty much what started it all. Now that he had the griddle, we had to cook the Sunday “Big Breakfast”. That consists of pretty much every breakfast food that you can think of. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns and home fries, because everyone needs two types of fried potato. And really, you can’t get all that done without a very large griddle. It’s quite a production, to say the least. But I’ve got say, the kids and their friends love it and now that I’m getting used to bumping into him in the kitchen, I like it too.

I like having him in the kitchen (minus the mess). We horse around, decide what to try next and share almost all the tasks of making a meal. I usually get stuck with the cleanup though. But, I’m working on that.

I’ll tell you. In the past couple of months, he has become quite a good cook.  Dare I say he’s getting better than me? Nah, but I still may need to step up my game a bit. He’s also way more adventurous when it comes to trying new recipes.

Take this recipe for example. Honestly, I never would have tried this. I would have assumed no one would eat it. I would have gotten several comments from the whole lot of them that would spurred some cranky comments about ungratefulness and starving children in Africa.

“Why is it yellow? I don’t like yellow food.”

“What is that smell?”

“Can’t we just have regular chicken?”

Humph.

Well, I for one am so glad he tried it because it was absolutely delicious. It was extremely fragrant being heavily flavored by herbs and spices. Using chicken thighs meant the meat was tender and juicy and got a beautiful char on the grill.

It was so good, he and I ate it all. The kids said it was too yellow and smelled funny…shocker. More for us, that’s all.

Not only did we eat it all, but I wanted it again the next day. So I made some. It wasn’t as good as his. Sshhh.

If you are sick of “regular” chicken. Then add this to your list of must tries. Pair with a side of Jasmine rice and steamed vegetables, or eat it with some guacamole and chips like we did. Not traditional, I know, but dang it was good! This would be great for a barbecue as well. I mean, you can never go wrong with food on a stick, right. Just sayin.

So try something new and enjoy!

Grilled Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro stems or 2 cilantro roots
  • 2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns (used already ground)
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts, but the meat will be drier)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine cilantro, white pepper, coriander, and garlic in a mortar and pestle and pound into a fine paste. Alternatively, combine in a small food processer and process until a fine paste is formed. You may want to crush the coriander seeds in a baggie with a rolling pin, as the food processor just kind of shoots them all over and doesn’t really grind them well.
  2. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes; Transfer a large mixing bowl along with fish sauce, oyster sauce, ground turmeric, brown sugar, and the prepared paste. Mix everything together well, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Thread the chicken pieces onto bamboo skewers, pushing them tightly against each other to form a tight, compact body of meat on the skewers.
  4. Heat grill to medium-high, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Make sure grates are scraped clean and oiled. You can oil the grate by shutting the flame off for a moment and spray with nonstick cooking spray, then turn gas back on.
  5. Grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until thoroughly cooked through and slightly charred, about 8 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the grill and serve.

 

Recipe found at Serious Eats

Where to Eat in Portland, Maine

This weekend was very special. Friday the 13th was my birthday. I turned 45. Closer to fifty than forty. Ugh.

Never a fan of my birthday, even when I was a kid, each birthday gets more difficult for me. I have always seen it as a negative, a reminder of getting older. Like anyone is really a fan of aging, right? I look in the mirror lately and see all only my flaws. Crows feet. Laugh lines. Gray hairs and stray hairs.

I always hated birthday parties or birthday celebrations of any kind. Just another reminder. Maybe it won’t happen if no one acknowledges it, right? Wrong.  Each May 13th I still get a year older, no matter how hard I try.

That being said, this year I wanted it to be different. To have a different outlook. To be more positive about something out of my power to change. So, to kill two birds with one stone, I planned a romantic weekend away in Portland, Maine.

Even though it’s only an hour and a half away, I had never been there. WOW! Was I missing out! What a wonderful city.

We stayed at Portland Regency Hotel and Spa in Old Port. This is a gorgeous, 95 room hotel housed in what used to be considered one of the best and well-equipped armories in New England.  It is two blocks from the waterfront and centrally located to a ton of unique shops and restaurants.

Historic Old Port is one of the country’s few working harbors and boasts beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets. There is something to see around every corner, whether it be to stop and enjoy the sounds of the street musicians or take a break and enjoy a drink at one of the many eatery’s outdoor patios.

Portland is a foodie paradise. There is something for everyone from casual to fine dining. If you aren’t sure where to eat, hop on a foodie bus tour or just stand next to a sign on the sidewalk that says “Foodie tour meets here. Your guide will be with you shortly”.

Many of the restaurants serve small plates and tasters, which we enjoyed as it allowed us an opportunity to sample so many amazing things.

If you are planning a trip to Portland, I hope you find some of these recommendations helpful.

If you aren’t planning a trip to Portland, you must.

fatcatcollage

This bakery should be called “Cool Cats”. Totally unpretentious, this no-frills bakery had the greatest people who were so fun and friendly and down to earth. I kinda wanted to hang with them all day and “Like, just bake maaaan”. The sour cherry pie was simply amazing. I may or may not have bought one all for myself and ate it with my fingers in the hotel room like a savage. We stopped back before heading home to pick up a couple of pie sampler boxes to take home for family. They actually made it home!

demilloscollage

A Portland landmark, we stopped at DiMillo’s on the Water for some appetizers. The burrata cheese with fresh fruit was so refreshing and light. The total opposite of the Braised Short Rib Poutine. I would go back for that cheese plate alone.

stcollage

Then there was Street and Co. This restaurant was in a league of its own. A beautiful, old building with exposed wooden beams, soft lighting and a smooth, poured concrete bar packed with ice and fresh oysters created a relaxed, inviting atmosphere. There is an extensive wine list to choose from and the menu is unlike any you’ve likely come across.  Steel skillets were brought to the table piping hot. We ordered Mussels Provencal with garlic, white wine and butter served with freshly baked artisan bread to sop up all that delicious, fragrant broth and grilled lobster served on linguine with butter and garlic. As a taster, we enjoyed sweet cherry peppers stuffed with creamy halibut and a saffron aioli. We were lucky enough to grab a seat at the bar. It is suggested to make reservations well in advance.

On our first night, we ate at a tiny eatery called Hot Suppa which is located in Portland’s West End. It is Southern soul food right here in Maine. Friendly, inviting and simply delicious. We sampled fried oysters in a chipotle Beure Blanc with hot pepper relish, fried chicken and grits. A bit off the beaten path, but well worth it.

We also made a stop for Thai at Boda. The food was fresh and delicious and we were able to try a few things with their small plates. Their pad thai was out of this world, spicy quail eggs served with soy sauce and scallions, shrimp and pork belly skewers with orange, ginger, garlic soy sauce. I am still drooling over the pork belly.

After watching Phantom Gourmet, we decided we had to make a stop at Duckfat which was supposed to have absolutely amazing fries and milkshakes. It was meh. The fries were very salty and the milkshake was thick, creamy and delicious. Like a milkshake. The restaurant itself was so small, I had to sit with one cheek on a tiny stool and the other on the poor man next to me, that happened to not be my husband. It did not lend to a great experience.

The other Phantom Gourmet recommended restaurant was Holy Donuts made with Maine mashed potatoes. It had to be good. The line was out the door,  I picked up a half dozen of assorted donuts in somewhat odd flavors like, chocolate sea salt, mojito, maple bacon, lemon and cinnamon sugar. I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like, until now. I found the texture to be mushy but dry, if that’s possible. The flavors were very fresh, but actually a bit strong. I got an iced coffee as well, and it was so strong, I couldn’t drink it. That’s saying something because I like my coffee strong.

Skip the hype at Duckfat and Holy Donuts if you make the trip.

Enjoy!

 

 

Fruit & Nut Granola

fruit and nut granolaRight around 3:00 in the afternoon, I need a snack. That’s the witching hour for me. It’s so easy to grab a little bag of chips or a cookie or some other crappy little treat.

I started having a Greek yogurt topped with some granola and it really keeps me satisfied until dinner. There are a ton of granola brands and combinations to choose from. Many are loaded with sugar. There are some organic and more healthful brands, like KIND and Bare Naked, which are the brands I typically buy.

Now, I’ve made my own granola before, but I haven’t in quite awhile. It’s pure laziness people, I’ve got to be honest. Because homemade granola takes very little time and very little effort. You can add whatever ingredients make you happy and leave out all those icky, unhealthy ingredients that don’t belong.

This is a great recipe loaded with a variety of nuts and oats sweetened with honey and brown sugar, dried fruit and shaved, natural coconut.

And, you know me, I love a little dash of salt, so there is some coarse sea salt sprinkled in there. You know, for a little sumpin sumpin.

Make a batch. Throw it on ice cream. Toss it on yogurt. Mix it with fresh fruit. Or just leave it in a container on the counter. The family will eat it by the handfuls. Trust me.

Fruit & Nut Granola

3 c. Old fashioned oats (not instant or quick)

1/3 c. coconut oil (melted)

1/4 c. honey

1 Tbls Pure vanilla or vanilla bean paste

3 Tbls packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans

1 Tbls millet (optional)

1/2 c. sliced almonds

1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 c. apricots, chopped

1/2 c. dried cherries or cranberries

1/2 c. flaked, unsweetened coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  2. Mix oil, honey and vanilla together.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients until really well-blended and everything is coated.
  5. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread thinly
  6. Cook for 15 minutes
  7. Remove and flip granola with a spatula and flatten gently and evenly
  8. Cook another 15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  10. Once cooled, break apart and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. But trust me, it won’t make it that long.

Enjoy your new healthy snack!

Pizza Dough

pizza

I live in a small town. We do however, have two, yes count ’em, TWO pizza joints. Sorry to anyone reading this who may be a fan of those local eateries. But I am not. Don’t get me wrong. They’re ok in a pinch, but for pizza snobs like myself, they just aren’t worth the dough ($ee what I did there?) Sorry, it’s mid week crazy hitting me hard tonight.

I like a thin Italian style pizza, with a sweetish sauce, topped with a variety of quality cheeses and a crisp, well-done crust that has a slight crunch, but you can still fold it in half, the only way to eat a slice of pizza. It can be hard to get a good pie like that in a home oven, as they can’t get as hot as a wood burning pizzeria oven. Unless you are lucky enough to have a special pizza oven taking up half of your garage. But you can still get a great homemade pizza with a few good tips and of course, a great dough, even without said special gigantic pizza oven.

I am admittedly, not a great planner. More times than not, I have not taken out anything for dinner. When that’s the case, I usually want something pretty quick and easy. Now, I know I can dial up one of those pizza places and have dinner delivered to my door in half an hour. But I can’t, in good conscience, do that when I have this quick, delicious, foolproof dough recipe in my arsenal.

Before I go any further, this dough has instantly become my favorite recipe. I use it every week at least once and sometimes again on the weekends when the kids have friends over. I did give it a little tweak, but it’s basically the same. So let me give mad props to Mel at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for sharing this recipe. She’s my new girl crush (blush). Click on over for a visit, but plan on spending some time. She rocks.

This dough comes together super quick and only needs ten minutes or so to rest. It makes two medium size pizzas, which can feed quite a few people, especially if you throw together a nice salad to go with it.

Here are a couple of tips for a great pizza every time.

  • Don’t work the dough too much. I throw a bit of flour (AP or semolina) on the counter and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat circle. Making sure you pin it every once in a while so it isn’t sticking. Use more flour if necessary if it starts to stick. Transfer your dough to your cooking surface (pan, stone, screen) and make any adjustments if needed. No need to toss it in the air like the pros do.
  • Use a pizza screen. I have a stone that I have used for 15 years. It is beautifully seasoned and makes a great crust. But after many trials, I really think the screen is better. The crust is crispier and it is easier to use because it doesn’t have to be pre-heated in the oven. Sometimes that hot stone can be troublesome. I have the scars to prove it! The dough also sticks to it better. I don’t know about you, but fighting with dough that keeps bouncing back can be maddening.
  • Use quality ingredients. That’s a no-brainer. Freshly grated cheese (some bagged, shredded cheese contains cornstarch which can make it melt funny), rich sauce and fresh meats, vegetables and herbs. I don’t think pizza needs too many toppings. Just use amazing ingredients. There’s nothing like a pizza topped with a deep red summer tomato sauce or slices, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fragrant basil from the garden and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Simple and delicious.
  • Let it cool a bit before transferring it to a cutting surface. If you move it when it’s still hot, the crust will lose a bit of its crunch. Be patient.

I hope you find these tips helpful and make you want to skip the takeout and give homemade pizza a try.

Thanks again Mel for this recipe!

Quick and Easy Foolproof Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup warm water (105-1110F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 -3 cups flour (see note)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 475-500F
  2. In a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the water, sugar, oil, yeast and salt. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Flour amounts can vary, so go by the feel of the dough versus the cup measurement. The dough should be soft and smooth and not leave your fingers sticky, but also not stiff either.
  3. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead another minute.
  4. Cut in half and let the dough rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Roll onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into pizza(s), place on your screen or stone, spread with sauce and toppings, and bake for approximately 8-10 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

Black Bean Brownies

DSC_0238

I am a chocoholic.

There, I said it!

I would skip dinner and head straight to dessert if that were socially acceptable.

I am trying to make better eating choices for me and the family. Let’s be honest, they really don’t have much of a choice. Ssshhh, don’t tell them that.

But back to my dessert dilemma. I love sweets. I love chocolate. I love cupcakes. I love cookies.

You get the picture.

I came across this recipe from The Farm at Eastman’s Corner (more on that place later). It is a simple, cooking for kids book and since Nina shares my adoration of baked goods and chocolate, we decided to give this recipe a try.

I’ve seen many recipes that swap out ingredients for something healthier, but the thought of black beans in a dessert just never really made me want to run out and try it.

But in an attempt to nourish our body and feed the chocolate beast, we gave it a shot.

I am so glad we did. It was easy and really unbelievably delicious. We actually licked the bowl. Just being real.

You can not taste even a smidgen of bean and the texture, although not like a true brownie, was dense and fudgy and super rich and chocolaty.

Now if I’m being truly honest. These aren’t the brownies I would bring to a party for oohs and aaahs (although loaded with beans, you never know what kind of noises you’ll get from the crowd) but for a healthier option to stave off a chocolate attack, I am totally a fan. The fact that Nina actually wanted to pack them in her lunch is saying something.

Warmer weather is coming. And that means swimsuits and shorts people. But chocolate is just part of life. You can have it all!

Give these a try. You will be amazed.

Black Bean Brownies

2 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
2 1/4 Tbls coconut oil
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c chocolate chips (I used mini, they’re so cute!)

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ baking dish

Puree beans in a food processor until smooth

Add all remaining ingredients, except for chocolate chips and blend until smooth.

Pour batter into baking dish and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until firm in the center.

Let cool and enjoy!

store wrapped in the refrigerator

One Pan Sausage Pepper & Onion Pasta

pront

I dig quick, easy recipes. No surprise there.

It’s also no surprise that I came home from work and had no idea what to make for dinner because I forgot to take some sort of meat out of the freezer. I do that a lot. Sometimes I just can’t think that far ahead. Besides, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. That’s how I roll.

So there I was, standing in the kitchen with a dull look on my face, staring into an open refrigerator wondering what to feed the fam.

I didn’t feel like Googling anything. Besides, there was no time for that. Time to whip something up and hope for the best.

I grabbed some sweet and hot sausages from the freezer. I always seem to have a bunch of packages of those hanging around for just such an occasion. A sweet red pepper and an onion always goes great with sausages, and I had those on hand too.

I had bought some Barilla Rotini Pronto pasta awhile ago, so I thought I’d give it a shot. “One pan. No boil. No drain”. Yes please.

This dish came together in 20 minutes. For realz people. TWENTY minutes! A little chopping. A bit of boiling and some stirring and in no time I had a creamy, cheesy, flavorful pasta dish on the table. We enjoyed it thoroughly and I’ll be stocking up on Barilla Pronto for my frequent absentminded occasions.

Did you forget you have to feed your family dinner tonight?

Rather sit on the couch and catch up Married at First Sight instead of slaving in the kitchen? Maybe that’s just me.

Are you just hungry and tired and can’t bear to listen to “When’s dinner going to be ready Mom?” for one more second?

Then this is a meal for you. Quick, easy and delicious.

Nuff said.

One Pot Sausage, Pepper & Onion Pasta

8 sausage links (I used 4 sweet & 4 hot, but use whatever you want), sliced into 1″ pieces
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 yellow or sweet onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. white wine
1 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 box Barilla Pronto Rotini pasta
3 c. water
1/2 c. light cream (or 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream)
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbls. butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a deep, 12-inch skillet slightly brown sausage and add peppers and onions and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat.
  2. Add white wine and cook down for a minute or two.
  3. Add the entire box of pasta, olive oil and 3 cups water (ingredients won’t be completely covered with water, don’t worry). Turn heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to make sure the pasta is mixed in well.
  4. Add cream, Parmesan cheese, butter and basil and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a side salad and enjoy!

 

Crack Pie

crackpie

Happy Pi Day!

I love love love Pi Day! Well, I love pie, so it goes without saying that a day dedicated to pie is going to be a favorite of mine.

Honestly though, I don’t make a lot of pies, except for at the holidays. So Pi day gave me an excuse to make this pie. I have heard all about it. It has kind of a cult following. Supposedly it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted. The texture and flavor is inexplicable.

It is an incredibly rich, sweet, dense, gooey pie with a hint of salt in the oat cookie crust. It really is hard to describe. I can say that I’m pretty sure my cholesterol went up a few points.  For realz!

Crack Pie is the brainchild of Christina Tosi of Momofuko Milk Bar in NYC. She is the queen of outrageous desserts. She’s like a mad scientist. Her creations are so unique and inventive.  I have total girly food crush on her. And don’t even get me started with my crush on David Chang.

This pie has a quite a few steps, as you make your own cookies for the crust. It’s kinda worth it though. The crust is super yummy.

I followed the recipe at Bon Appetit. It was different than the one posted on the Milk Bar website, which had corn powder as an ingredient. I have no idea what that is, to tell you the truth. It put me off a bit. So I went with the recipe at Bon Appetit. However, I used the technique on the Milk Bar site. Christina is very specific about how and why she does things.

Since I’ve never had the real thing, I can’t tell you what the difference is, but I can tell you this pie is rich.  A teeny tiny piece is more than enough to satisfy, yet as the name states, you can’t help but want more.

If you are looking for a truly distinctive dessert, this pie is truly that. Give it a try, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 10 to 12

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Directions

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly, don’t worry it won’t spread all the way to the edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
  • put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (if you don’t have a food processor, you can crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)
  • transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. if it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1 to 1½ tablespoons butter and knead it in.
  • Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

Filling

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. In a bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix both sugars, milk powder, and salt on low until mixed. Add melted butter and paddle until dry ingredients are moist, about 2-3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disappeared into the mixture. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and well blended.
  • Bake for 15 minutes only. the pies should be golden brown on top but will still be jiggly.
  • Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°f. depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the temp reaches 325°f, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies will still be jiggly in the very center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.
  • Gently take the pan out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. Freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product.
  • If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

  • Transfer the pie from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to serve.
  • Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Basic Photography

Photography.

The whole concept of my camera baffles me. I’ve read and re-read how to books on F-stops and ISOs. Depth of field and aperture. I still don’t get it. I decided it was time to take an actual photography class. With a real photographer. A professional who could explain it in simple terms that even I could understand. Someone I could ask questions and who could critique my work and guide me into taking better pics. I would even welcome a slap on the back of the head every once in awhile when I give a wrong answer after reviewing it for the hundredth time.

Well, it worked. And, I didn’t even need a slap. Sweet!

I took a class at Theia Studios, a local studio. If you are from the area and have an interest in photography or photo editing in Photoshop or Lightroom, I highly recommend checking them out. The owners are fantastic and hands-on and my instructor Jeremy Greer was just amazing. He was fun and friendly and really inspired us to step outside our comfort zone and let our inner artist shine. Not to mention  the fact that he is an incredibly talented photographer. I feel my skills have improved greatly over the past six weeks. I will absolutely be taking the Basic II class with Jeremy in April, and can’t wait.

Last night was our last class. We spent the evening walking around the city of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Tripods in hand, we walked around looking at shadows and light, storefronts and bars and restaurants. I have walked on those same sidewalks and looked in those stores more times than I can count, but looking through a camera somehow put things in a different perspective.

Here are a few of the shots I was able to capture last night. They are straight out of my camera. No editing. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

DSC_0336 DSC_0339 DSC_0340 DSC_0341 DSC_0343 DSC_0363 DSC_0366 DSC_0368 DSC_0371 DSC_0373 DSC_0374 DSC_0387 DSC_0389 DSC_0392

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

 

peanut butter chocolate chip bars

This past weekend my husband and I took a little road trip with the kids to visit family in Connecticut. Even though the visit had been scheduled for months, I completely daffed out didn’t bake the cookies I was planning on bringing with us. I remembered this right before going to bed on Friday night. Not very convenient, but at least I could set my alarm and get up earlier than normal to get it done.

I hate showing up empty-handed.

So the alarm went off. I hit the snooze. Once. Twice. Ok, three times.

Yep, no time to bake cookies now.

I had bought a couple bags of Nestle Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter filled Delightfulls and since I  had no time for searching for some mind-blowing recipe, I followed the recipe on the bag, which is just Toll House cookies with these special chips, they’re not fooling anyone. Still my fave though.

I also didn’t have time to stand around scooping cookies. I still needed to get myself ready to go, even family couldn’t forgive the level of bed-head I had going on. I only had an hour until we had to hit the road. So I had to MOVE!

Cue the bar.

I whipped these babies up super quick, took a shower while they were baking, put on my makeup and did my hair while they cooled a bit then put them in my little insulated carrier for the trip.

And we were off!

Too bad I left the carrier on the counter.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (9-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® DelightFulls™ Peanut Butter Filled Morsels
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts*

NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® DelightFulls™ Peanut Butter Filled Morsels

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray or lightly butter the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Use a piece of parchment on the bottom of the dish, butter again and lightly flour.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts.Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen.

*If omitting nuts, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.