Monday, October 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Candy Cookies

Question: is it still considered candy if you mix it with flour and sugar and bake it into a cookie?

This is the time of the year for candy! Halloween is around the corner and whether you are looking to bake up some treats for the office or make some of the candy disappear so you don't eat it by the handful, this recipe is for you. The pudding makes the cookies so soft and the peanut butter AND chocolate chips WITH the Reese's pieces makes them heavenly. You will need some milk to wash this down.

Seriously no evil spirits in these cookies at all.... unless you're counting calories. :)

Peanut Butter Candy Cookies (adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
3.4 oz box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup Reese's pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl that you can use your hand mixer with), beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugars on a medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combines. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and pudding in another bowl and whisk to combine. While your stand mixer is beating on low, add the flour mixture until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the candies until incorporated.

Roll dough into balls about 1 tbsp in size and place on your prepared baking sheets. Flatten with your hand until they are about 3/4 inch thick.

Bake 10 minutes. Cool on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mexican Tortellini Skillet

Candy Crush.

Addicting, amiright?

I started playing it shortly after it became super popular. BUT I refused to link it to my facebook because why in the world would I want the world to know how much time I waste playing games on my phone? So eventually I hit that level that I needed to get help from my facebook friends (or pay money to the app store) to move on. I said, see you later, Candy Crush. We are over.

Then recently I learned that they have these "quests" you can play to avoid asking your friends for help. I resisted for a little while but then I downloaded it back on my phone. Now, I've been playing it probably too much lately. What can I say? It helps me de-stress.

You know the best thing about Candy Crush? You can only play it for a certain amount of time. There is a built-in, put-your-phone-down-you-idiot-and-do-some-real-work fail safe. Talk about genius. Thank you, creators!

This tortellini skillet will prove to be just as addicting as Candy Crush. It is super quick and easy to make but packed full of flavor. It will be like when one of the wrapped candies and one of the striped candies mix in the game and you get a giant big candy that crushes lots of rows and columns. But in your mouth... in the flavors of Mexico.

Mexican Tortellini Skillet (inspired by Half Baked Harvest)
1/2 lb cheese tortellini
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1/2 tbsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 cup salsa
1/8 cup pickled jalapenos
8 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 handful chives, diced
2 handfuls shredded Mexican cheese
tomatoes, avocado, Greek yogurt or sour cream, additional jalapenos, for serving

Preheat broiler.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tortellini according to the package.

In a large oven-proof skillet*, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minutes. Add the corn, chili powder, cumin, and salsa and cook for about 4 more minutes. Stir in the pickled jalapeno and black beans and cook for another 4 minutes until the veggies are soft and cooked. Stir in the cooked and drained tortellini and chives. Stir to coat completely.

Top the pan with the shredded cheese and broil for about 1 minute until the cheese is melted and browned slightly.

Serve topped with chopped tomatoes, avocado, Greek yogurt, and additional jalapenos.

Serves 3-4.

*If you don't have an oven-proof skillet, just transfer the mixture to an oven-proof baking dish after you stir in the tortellini and chives, top with the cheese, and broil from there. But you should invest in an oven-proof skillet because then you will have one less dish to clean after dinner!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cottage BELT

Let's talk about belts for a few minutes.

I purchased this one brown belt from the Buckle when I was in high school. Yeah, remember when you used to want to buy everything from the Buckle like their really expensive jeans and Doc Martens? Well, I bought this great brown belt. I wore it ALL THE TIME.

Then, of course I realized I needed a black belt, because we all know that one of the biggest fashion faux pas is a brown belt with black shoes or vice versa. So I bought a black belt from the Buckle for those intermittent times I wore black shoes. And there we go, a belt for every occasion.

As I have grown up (and definitely out of my Doc Martens, but not jeans, still L-O-V-E jeans), I have become a black-based outfit person. That means in the past 12 or 13 years since I invested in that black belt, I have worn it A LOT. It has worn holes... yes, multiple holes that have seen me through the shrinking and expanding stomach through the years. So imagine my disappointment when I realized that the belt was heading towards the end of its life. The stitching holding the buckle in place was about to give way forever. :(

I had to purchase a new belt. Nothing as great as my old one, but it'll get me through the days.

Now you want to know about the best belt? A Bacon, Egg, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. Haha, you see what I did there? I know you probably don't need me to spell out how to make a BLT (with an egg), but I wanted to speak a little on this cottage bacon. I got it at the meat lab on campus. It is less fatty than typical bacon and mighty delicious. You should try it out.

Wear your belt and eat one too.

Did anyone else have a crazy sparkly belt when they were in high school?

Cottage BELT
2 pieces cottage bacon, cooked to your desired crispness
1 egg, cooked over medium
1 large lettuce leaf, torn in half
1 thick slice tomato
1 english muffin, toasted
1/2 tbsp light miracle whip (or mayo)

Spread the miracle whip on one of the muffin halves. Top with the lettuce, tomato, bacon and egg. Top with other half of muffin.