Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cold Sweet Potato Salad

I love sweet potatoes. I LOVE them. more than pumpkin, more than butternut squash, more than most other vegetables I believe. I recently discovered that unfortunately, sweet potatoes are not much better for you than regular potatoes, particularly once peeled...but they are still a bit better and they taste amazing. I think orange veggies in general are my top choice, but these delectable yammy things are definitely the best.

Since it has been super hot recently, I have been looking for ways to prepare things with minimal oven/stove usage. Hence, cold soups, salads, slaws, etc. In my journey to Australia one of the actually good things the cafeteria served (on rare occasions) was a cold sweet potato salad. Fairly simple in ingredients, i never procured a specific recipe, but I ate it enough to make some educated guesses as to the ingredients, and looking online for other sweet potato salad recipes I was able to come up with a cold salad that satisfied my tastebuds to the max.

Here is the recipe, I hope it is as enjoyable to others as it was for me! One note, I am picky and for me the consistency of the sweet potato needs to be good: baked enough that it is not crunchy, but also not mushy either, to really set of this dish well. But if that doesn't matter to you, it really doesn't effect the flavor in the slightest.

Cold Sweet Potato Salad


3 med. or lg. Sweet Potatoes
4 c. Baby Arugula
2 Tbsp Rosemary
2 tsp Parsley
1 Roasted Red Pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ of a lg. Red Onion (about ½ cup chopped)
2 Tbsp of the Roasted Red Pepper Juice (if it came from a jar) or 2 extra Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Lime Juice or Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste


-          Preheat oven to 400 F, cube the sweet potatoes in 1 inch pieces, place on greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or so, until softened and not crunchy, but not mushable either (should still hold their shape when forked). Allow to cool
       Mix the Arugula, Rosemary, Red Pepper, Olive Oil, and Onion in a large bowl

-          Add the Sweet Potato, remaining Olive Oil/Red Pepper juice, Lime/Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper. Mix well

-          Refrigerate until ready to serve!


-          Might also be good with a tad of mint instead of the Parsley.

Soy Free Stirfry 'Soy' Sauce that actually tastes very similar to regular Stirfry Sauce. Best use for Vegemite

Remember all that Vegemite you brought back from Australia? That weird tasting, yeasty, salty, brown stuff? Well I have stumbled upon what is possibly the best use for Vegemite ever!

My sister is allergic to all things Soy. This means (of course) that Soy-Sauce is absolutely out of the question. The severe drawback of this is it pretty much cuts out any sort of stir-fry type foods. We have tried making them with other sauce alternatives, but have not found them to be even remotely close in yummy-ness to Soy Sauce sauces.

SOLUTION! VEGEMITE! Upon my return from Australia I brought back with me several packets of this stuff for various relatives and friends to try (since Vegemite is totally and completely an Australian experience...whether or not it is a good tasting experience depends on the person). However, I brought way too much, so we have been trying to find some sort of use for it. Well, its salty, and brown, so, let us try it as a Soy-Sauce substitute.

YES! THIS WORKS!!!! Thus! Here is my Soy-Free Stir Fry Sauce recipe, it is not exactly the same of course but it is pretty darn close to any old regular stirfry sauce in terms of flavor. We will be having it much more often, Vegemite...who knew!!

The amounts are approximate, since we have only made this once it is still a work in progress, but it is close! just a bit of playing around with these amounts should produce a Soy-Free Sauce worth repeating!

No-Soy StirFry Sauce


2 Tbsp Vegemite
½ c. Water
1 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ c. Ginger, finely chopped


-           In a jar put Vegemite, Water, Worcestershire, and Balsamic. Shake well and refrigerate until ready for use

-          When ready to add sauce to Stirfry veggies, add to jar the Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil,  Apple Cider Vinegar, and Ginger. Shake well and pour over Stirfry!


You could probably mix everything but the ginger in the jar ahead of time and add the ginger when you cook. But this way works well!

also, the ginger is ESSENTIAL. it with the Vegemite is what makes the sauce taste like a soy-sauce mix

Basil Parmesan African Bread

Going again into the African Cookbook I checked out of the Library, I needed to use a recipe for bread that would go well with my Cool Cucumber Soup. I chose the Basil Parmesan as a complement, and it turned out to work well together.

This bread is fairly dense, and my loaf was perhaps a bit dry, but when used with the soup it gave a nice cheesy and onion accent to the simple flavors. This bread tastes a little like an everything bagel with cheese, my Mom found it was good as toast with a bit of roasted tomato on top, and, if sliced thin enough it is a great grilled cheese bread.

Lastly, though we did not try this, I think it would do really well as a garlic bread with tomato spaghetti. Perhaps not the best on its own due to the slightly dry nature of it (I am not enough of a bread person to know how to fix this yet, I am working on it), it is certainly a good complement to many summery dishes.

Basil and Parmesan Bread


½ c. Milk
2 Tbsp Butter
2 ½ c. Bread Flour
1 envelope (or 2 ½ tsp) active dried Yeast
½ Tbsp Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 Egg, lightly beaten to break the yolk and blend
1 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated
8 Scallions, sliced
1 tsp crushed Garlic (about 2 cloves)
12-15 Basil leaves


-          Heat the Milk with half the Butter just so the butter melts into the milk, DO NOT BOIL. Set aside to cool lukewarm

-          Combine the Flour, Yeast, Sugar and Salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center

-          Add the lukewarm milk mixture, Egg and Parmesan Cheese to the Flour mix and mix together to make a soft dough. If the dough doesn’t come together enough (is too dry) add splashes of milk as you knead in the bowl until it comes together

-          Knead for a few minutes on a well floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic

-          Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover with greased wax paper in a warm dry place and leave to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.

-          While the dough is rising, sautee the Scallions and Garlic with the rest of the Butter until the onions are slightly colored. Remove from heat

-          Chop the Basil into small pieces and add to Scallions, allow this to cool.

-          Once dough is risen, punch it, and knead into the Scallion mixture until mix is fully stuck to the dough.

-          Shape into a loaf and place it in a greased loaf pan covering with the wax paper and leaving to double again (about 30 minutes)

-          Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 35-50 minutes or until crusty and golden on the outside. When tapped it should sound hollow

Cool enough that it sets well and serve either slightly warm right away or wait and serve cold. We had it the next day with a cool cucumber and parsley soup and it was absolutely scrumptious!

            Recipe Source: the African Kitchen by Josie Stow and Jan Baldwin

Cool Cucumber Soup

It has been HOT, broiling at around 100 degrees for the past three days, and humid to boot, I wanted to use the oven and stove as very very little as possible to avoid heating up the house.

On a camping trip at Indiana Dunes with a friend we looked through some Real Simple magazines and saw a Cool Cucumber Soup. Perfect! simple, cold, filling, and cucumbers are in season! The recipe below is a variation on that recipe we found and it is certainly very good! Simple flavors make this soup perfect for an icy meal on a hot day. We combined it with a Basil and Parmesan bread for a perfectly good quick and easy summer dinner.

Cool Cucumber Soup


3 med. to lg. Cucumbers, roughly chopped
1 c. Yogurt
1/3 c. combination of fresh Mint, Parsley, and Basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
A pinch of Cayenne pepper


-          Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until totally smooth

-          Refrigerate until very cold, then serve! 

      Makes enough for 3 good sized servings


Sour Cream or Cottage Cheese can be substituted for the Yogurt if you want a slightly thicker consistency
I recommend serving with some sort of bread (we used African Basil and Parmesan Bread)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

The Star of the show
I found a blog called the Brown Eyed Baker that I really enjoyed alot of the recipes I found. Dying to try something and having a serious craving for pumpkin (I know it is not autumn yet but I could not wait), I saw the recipe for Whoopie Pies as intriguing and wanted to experiment. I found that due to the humidity in Ohio the pies/cookies turned out a little gummy on the outside and plenty dense on the inside once they are not fresh out of the oven. But running them through a toaster for a couple brief minutes gets rid of this problem quite nicely, though they cannot have frosting on them if you put them in the toaster as the frosting will obviously melt off...

I was alone in the house and I had a cracking good time making them while singing along at the top of my lungs to musicals such as Phantom of the Opera, the Music Man, and the Sound of Music. Even if one is not singing rather poorly to one's dog, these cookies are as much fun to eat while you are making them as they are afterwards! (yes they have raw egg, so one has to be careful). I had a 29 oz can of Pumpkin, which is about a half cup more than the recipe calls for...but somehow I ended up with an empty can of pumpkin! (hint, I did not use extra in the cookies...pumpkin is just that yummy...). and Cream Cheese Frosting? Really? I mean, one almost has to double the recipe just to get enough leftover to put on the cookies! However, enough of the ingredients made it into the oven and into the frosting that I actually had some to serve to my family. The verdict was, a little gummy, with some odd texture, but VERY good flavor and the icing one really cannot go wrong with. So, in conclusion, while this is a good idea, perhaps if one is looking for a pumpkin cookie that is more like a cookie and less like a cake, one needs to look elsewhere. Or, use a toaster later, really they tasted great.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the Whoopie Pies:

3 c. Flour
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Ginger
½ tsp ground Nutmeg
2 c. Brown Sugar
1 c. Canola Oil (or use half applesauce, but add a little sugar if using green applesauce)
3 c. chilled Pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 cups Powdered Sugar
12 ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3 ounces (½ cup) unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Maple Syrup (optional, but add a little powdered sugar if you use this)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease and flour baking sheets

In a large bowl, whisk together the Flour, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, Ginger and Nutmeg. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the Brown Sugar, and the Oil/Applesauce together.

Add the Pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the Eggs and Vanilla and whisk until combined.

Gradually add the Flour mixture to the Pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Use a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

To make the Frosting, beat the Butter until smooth with no visible lumps.

Add the Cream Cheese and beat until smooth and combined.

Add the Powdered Sugar a little at a time until desired consistency, then add the Maple Syrup (if using) and Vanilla and beat until smooth.

To assemble them as whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Spread some frosting onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the frosting. Press down slightly so that the frosting spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.

I opted for the iced cookie version
Otherwise, just Frost the tops of the cookies and serve!

*Recipe Credited to Browneyedbaker, with a few of my own edits, and her source.

African Cooking

So, this week I went to the library as is custom every Friday. I always spend so much time at this lovely place, and I recently discovered the cooking section. Chock full of interesting books I picked out a few that looked try-worthy (I would have taken them all, but that was just not feasible, limited space on our shelves etc.). One of these was the African Kitchen. Designed as the journey of the authors through Africa and the various meals they had along the way this book is a fun read as well as a cookbook with phenomenal photography.

Many of the recipes looked scrumptious (green banana and lentil salad, cold apple and curry soup, and more), but I can't make them all at once, so I chose a few to try out. The first of which is Jeanette's Charkalaka. Looking up the word Charkalaka, I found it means a cabbage salad basically, sort of like a coleslaw without mayonnaise. We had all the ingredients, thus I gave it a shot.

Traditionally made for large gatherings, the ingredients are readily accessible not only in Africa, but pretty much everywhere. This recipe makes quite a bit of food and does not have too much strong flavors other than the spice and taste of the veggies themselves, so it is appealing to a wide audience perhaps.

Jeanette’s Charkalaka (Spicy Cabbage Salad)


1 Onion, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 Chili’s
some Olive Oil
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
1 large Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 lb Carrots, grated
1 Tbsp Paprika
½ Tbsp Cayenne
16 oz canned or frozen Peas
Salt and Pepper to taste


Sautee the Onion, Garlic, and Chili together until the onion starts to color

Add the Peppers, Cabbage, Carrots and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften

Add the spices and the Peas and cook until vegetables are a little softer 

Serve either warm or cold. Makes quite a lot of food, a half recipe would probably feed four people quite well.

I used this recipe from the African Kitchen by Josie Stow and Jan Baldwin. The original calls for a whole Tbsp of Cayenne, but I found that to be WAAAAAY too spicy for my taste, so, my recommendation is ½ Tbsp for those with less heat tolerance, you can always add more if it is not spicy enough, but once it is spiced you can’t really take that away!

we have also found that this is actually better served cold. It gives time for the flavors to sink in and bring each other out, as well as tempering the spicyness to a certain degree (a lesser degree..harhar)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Veggie (Vegetarian, even Vegan if wanted) Stuffed Tortillas

These are yummy. End of story, ok not quite end of story, they are also easy to make and filling and very good representational of a 'typical' Mexican dish, at least in my house.

Again, courtesy of some friends of ours in Wisconsin, this has become a regular feature at our dinner table. The recipe here is for the whole shebang, but we often just make the filling and let people design their own burritos/tortillas/whatever. Since it keeps fairly well and my family is fond of Mexican food for dinner and lunch, we also usually make a lot and don’t worry if it is not all eaten on the first night. It is even good the next day either in a tortilla or even just by itself and cold in my opinion.

Lastly, I promise, though this recipe seems long and convoluted, it is a very simple easy thing to make.

It tastes better than it looks

Step 1
a little Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic minced
1 lg. Onion chopped
1 Green Pepper chopped
1 med./lg. Zucchini sliced or chunked
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Step 2
2 cups Corn
2 cups Black Beans drained

Step 3
1 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
6 Tbsp Salsa
Salt and Pepper to taste
a little Cilantro (either dried or freshly chopped)

*Step 4 (Tortillas)
a little Olive Oil
several Tortillas (can be flour, whole wheat, corn, it is up to your preference)
Chedder Cheese shredded

*This is not an essential step, if wanted one could just serve the filling with rice (see Cilantro Lime Rice recipe), or by itself, over chips, on a plain tortilla...you get the picture



Sautee together all ingredients from Step 1  in a little bit of olive oil for a few minutes.

Add ingredients from Step 2. If you desire, drain the Black Beans first so that their extra liquid is not added,  if the mix looks a bit dry, add a bit of the bean water or a little more vegetable broth. DO NOT use dried Black Beans. Cook until Zucchini begins to look slightly translucent

Once mixture is cooked enough (Zucchini is soft, not crunchy at all) add ingredients from Step 3 and continue to simmer, stirring enough to keep the beans from fusing to the bottom of the pan, until there is no excess liquid remaining.


Fry Tortilla in a pan with a little olive oil (to keep it from sticking) until slightly crispy brown.

Add a little shredded Cheese to melt onto the Tortilla.

Remove Tortilla from pan and add 1/4-1/2 cup of the filling and some extra Cheese.

Fold tortilla over, use a toothpick to keep it folded in half if needbe.

Repeat until desired number of Tortillas are made. To keep them warm while you make each one, put on a cookie sheet in an oven on low heat.

Serve with Sour Cream, Salsa, Chips, Guacamole or whatever suits your fancy!!!

I served with leftover Chicken from a barbeque, but it is totally optional. Obviously to serve with Chicken means NOT vegetarian

*Alternatively, if you do not want to use Tortillas you can serve this with Cilantro Lime Rice, or over chips, or just plain.

Cilantro Lime Rice

A good companion to any Mexican dish, we often serve this with black beans of some sort or with Vegetarian Tortillas. Simple, easy, and delicious!


1 cup Long- Grain White Rice
1/4 tsp course Salt (regular is fine if you don't have course)
1/2-2/3 cup FRESH chopped Cilantro
2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed Lime Juice (not using fresh will not taste as good)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove minced
Salt to taste
1/2-1 cup Pine Nuts (optional)


In medium Saucepan bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. add Rice and Salt. Cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking until water is absorbed and rice is just tender (16-18 minutes).

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Serve and Enjoy!

Weekends of Summer

I have decided to separate my 'recipe' posts and my 'what have I been doing' posts somewhat, that way if someone just wants recipes they can skip all the extra photos etc.

So, what have I been up to these past few weeks? Well, besides my part-time job there are a few things to report.

Two weekends ago we traveled down near Freemon Ohio to watch my cousin Lewis' championship baseball game. I had never seen a baseball game in its entirety before, I had always thought baseball one of the more fairly boring sports to watch. However I have since changed my mind. It could be because I just enjoyed watching my cousin (he is quite good, though I am perhaps a bit biased), but there is more that goes on in bb other than throwing hitting and catching. There were hand-signals, and communications as to formations on the field, and even a couple slides and double plays! Lewis played really well and had a couple pretty darn amazing runs, though unfortunately he was robbed of his glory due to innings ending or outs. I thoroughly enjoyed watching with my family while eating popcorn and fresh peas from the garden (not your typical baseball food, but hey, peas are good).

Spectators: Clara Margaret, Molly, Ann

Then, last weekend we went to Vermillion Ohio for the late morning and early afternoon. Vermillion is right along a nice area of Lake Erie, known for its boats and lake access. We checked out some of the nicer wooden boats, all the while talking about how nice it would be to get out on the water in some such craft, if only we had a trailer hitch. Vermillion is a quant little spot, its no Cedarburg in terms of shop sort of stuff, but ther was a local art gallery right next to the train tracks, and some interesting historical buildings to mosey through.

don't remember what we were looking at here...

And of course, ICE CREAM! They had a plethora of flavors, including a pomegranate fro-yo with chocolate bits that was pretty good (got to sample it). We chose Chocolate, Key-Lime, Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Java Chip as our flavors to eat. Not the best ice cream in the world, but certainly pretty good and it was a very hot and sunny day so ice cream was the perfect way to end our adventure.

the oldest ice cream shop in Vermillion
lip smackin'

The rest of the weekend was spent as a lazy summer weekend should, since our mower was on the fritz and we couldn't mow (oh darn...) we enjoyed sitting on the porch sipping cool drinks and grilling. I am so happy that I get to spend such time doing 'nothing' its great!

at home, the Times
and boards for a fast approaching Tae Kwon Do test
what a life

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carrots and Apples, two kiddy snack foods turned into a super easy, semi-sophisticated veggie dish

We all know that when we were young carrots and apples were two easy and healthy snack foods. Cut up and given to us in slices or baby size, we would eat them in order to get our five servings of fruits and veggies. Of course, there are many many ways to cook these two items, but I had never run across both of them together until I found this recipe courtesy of my Mom. It has since become one of my all time favorite vegetable dishes, AND the best part is, since both carrots and apples tend to be readily available all year round, it is not necessarily a seasonal dish (like things like squash casserole, or strawberry shortcake might be).


1-2 Tbsp butter
2 cups carrots, chopped in small pieces
1 granny smith, or other sour green apple
2 Tbsp parsley
1 Lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat butter in saucepan on medium high heat, add carrots and sautee on a fairly high temperature to start browning them.

Once carrots are nicely brown on at least one side, turn heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes until they are a bit softer.

Add granny smith chopped into small triangles or pieces about the same size as the carrots.

Cook until the apple is mostly cooked, but not mush. About 5 minutes

Add parsley and cook only 1 minute more, just to blend the parsley into the dish

Remove from heat and add juice from 1 lemon and the salt and pepper

Serve and enjoy!!

And, life in Oberlin is as normal as can be. Laundry fresh from the line, ah summer.

Beets: Healthy, Natural, Delicious...yep they're tastey!

So, I realize that I have posted desserts...and not much in the way of healthy stuff. Well, summer is the season of fresh vegetables, of which I am almost as fond as desserts. So, the next few posts will both make up for my lack of posting recently, AND display some healthy and scrumptious recipe ideas for you!

First, BEETS!!! Now, before you skip to the next post, hear me out. A year ago, as far as I was concerned
Beets taste like dirt. End of story, or so I thought. Until last year I had never liked Beets because they tasted to me like the ground from whence they came. However, a good friend of the family introduced us to her 'summer sauteed beets'. We were skeptical to be sure, but upon tasting them we were shocked that they tasted...good! No dirt involved, they had a tangy bite to them with a zing from the hot red pepper and were flavored like a good summer veggie.

After breaking the beet barrier, I discovered that I actually do like beets ok, however they have to be good beets, getting canned or less than fresh, or over or underripe beets means they will taste like dirt, there is no way to avoid it. But get some GOOD beets and they are actually pretty good. 

So, here it is, the first (and for a while...only) way I like beets


4 fairly large fresh beets WITH greens
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 lime
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper, or powdered hot red pepper
salt and pepper to taste


Cut the beets and their greens into small pieces, I do about Inch wedges for the beets and just small chunks for the greens

Heat butter in frying pan on medium heat until melted, it should at least cover the bottom of the pan, if it doesn't then add a bit more.

Put beet meat into pan and cook for a couple minutes

Add greens, (they will quickly wilt down) and sautee together until beets are desired level of softness (I usually like them a bit on the crunchy side) about 15 minutes, longer for softer beets, and if you really want them soft, turn down the heat and let them steam for a few minutes.

Turn off heat and remove from burner, add the juice from 1 lime and the cayenne pepper, stir well to spread that pepper all over the beets. Add salt and pepper

Serve and enjoy, really, no joke these beets are enjoyable!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Leaving Home, Cherry Jam, and Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Brownies

This week we celebrated the official move-in of my Grandparents into their new home at Kendal with a blackberry cobbler on their new porch.We also had my other grandparents and Uncle Den over for supper on OUR new patio (to be porch sometime in the near future) with its new furniture we had purchased and assembled earlier that day. One might ask whether mosquitoes were a problem, but fortunately it was fairly windy and has been cool and dry enough for the past couple days that mosquitoes have not really come out (until it gets darker, then I usually move in from the patio to just inside the kitchen door.)


We have also officially launched Sam into the great world beyond (by that I mean, Madison, not a separate dimension). After days of packing and collecting and eating, Sam left early in the morning with his UHAUL of possesions. A hard goodbye for sure, though we will get to see him again soon, and since he is going off to gradschool after this year, it is not like he is totally and completely in the real world forever, he still has a buffer coming up.
music. I missed this dearly whilst in Australia
goodbye, can you tell it is morning?

My kitchen adventures began with a batch of homemade cherry jam. Clara, Mama, and I went cherry picking in the morning. I must say that this is my favorite kind of berry picking, as long as the mosquitoes are not bad. One gets to be in the shade, reaching up or straight as opposed to bending down or looking in thorny bushes (like strawberry and raspberry respectively). Also, one can sit on ladders, and the buckets fill up fast.

Anyway, we made jam (my favorite jam btw) using sour cherries and a recipe that is found on the pectin/surejell/jamifying substance box. Basically, precise amounts of alot of sugar and precise boiling times before canning in sterile jars. The result is jars of the best jam in the world, and some extra for immediate eating purposes.

of course ANY good chef samples during the process and cleanup

Since my dad was out of town on business and taking Sam up to WI, I decided now was a perfect time to try the brownie recipe. My dad does not like 'fudgy desserts' as he calls them, and 'cookie dough brownies with peanut butter chocolate ganache' are apparently in that category. So, I took the opportunity of his being gone to attempt this recipe that I found on Foodbuzz. I think they turned out rather well, though I have a few edits of course.

Notes for the Brownies:

 I used a cup of peanut butter since that is what the original recipe called for, but I found that to be WAAAAAAAAY too much, it made the topping basically just pb and not chocolate. So in the below recipe I changed the amounts of pb and chocolate for the ganache. I would also say that mini chips are not essential, just chips are. Also, the original recipe calls for NON-natural pb, but the natural stuff worked just fine for me, it just meant the ganache was not quite as smooth as it could have been. Lastly, I did not try this, but I think this recipe would be really good as ice cream bars (cookie dough on the bottom, then ice cream, THEN the topping). Or just using the dough recipe to make cookie dough pieces to mix into ice cream. Anyway, lots of idezas! Here is the recipe I used for my batch!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet, or milk).

I cannot take credit for this photo, it is from the original recipe


mix together the butter and light brown sugar until creamy

add in vanilla

mix in the the flour and sweetened condensed milk gradually, alternating between the two (so, a bit of flour, then a little milk, then a little flour etc until all is added). Mix until combined.

Add in the mini chocolate chips and fold them in with a spatula.

Line a 8 by 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, greased waxed paper, or just grease the pan itself (we really don't want them sticking to the pan). Press the cookie dough into the pan. If the cookie dough starts to stick to your hands, put a small amont of flour on your hands. Or, just enjoy the fact that it means you will have that much more to lick off your hands later. Don’t use too much though.

Cover the cookie dough bars with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out in the fridge. Place the cookie dough bars in the refrigerator for 3 or more hours until they’re firm. I refrigerated them for about 3 and it was sufficient, really the idea is that we don't want the bars mixing with the ganache so they have to be cold enough to prevent that.

To make the ganache:

Combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl. Melt in the microwave. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate or burn the peanut butter.

Take the cookie dough bars out of the refrigerator.

Pour the melted chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the cookie dough.  and spread evenly to all the edges

Chill the bars in the refrigerator for an hour or more until the topping is firm.

Cut into pieces and enjoy!

help with cleanup
not clean during, but I clean after