Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

peanut butter cookiesI am a fan of America’s Test Kitchen. While some of their recipes are needlessly fussy, they’ve got the science down pretty well. An example is the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie recipe. They’ve figure out a way to maximize the peanut butter flavor molecules. My tweaks were basically to not bother with roasting my own peanuts and using crunchy peanut butter in place of creamy.


1 1/4 
cups dry roasted peanuts, lightly salted
cup all-purpose flour
 teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon salt
 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
 cup peanut butter
 cup granulated sugar
cup packed brown sugar
 tablespoons whole milk
large egg


 cup peanut butter
tablespoons unsalted butter
cup confectioners’ sugar


Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse peanuts in food processor until finely chopped. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Combine butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, milk, and egg in a stand mixer. Slowly pour flour mixture into peanut butter mixture until combined. Add peanuts and mix until evenly distributed.

Depending on the size cookies you want, you’ll be making about 36 cookies if you use a tablespoon of dough. I used more dough per cookies and only got 28. Using the back of a fork or damp fingers, flatten mounds until 2 inches in diameter.

Bake until deep golden brown and firm to touch, 15 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.


In the top of a double boiler, heat the peanut butter and butter until butter is melted and warm. Using rubber spatula, stir in confectioners’ sugar until combined.


Place half the cookies upside down on work surface. Place about a tablespoon of warm filling in center of each cookie. Place second cookie on top of filling, right side up, squishing the two cookies gently together until filling spreads to edges. Allow filling to set before serving, about 15 minutes.

The cookies are terrific by themselves, if you don’t want to fuss with the filling.



Creme Brulee French Toast

I saw this recipe on Yahoo! the other day and decided that it would (after a few minor tweaks) become our Black Friday breakfast. Here is my version:

Creme Brûlée French Toast

 cup half-and-half
 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
1 tablespoon Kahulua
6 to 8
 tablespoons butter, softened
1-inch-thick slices heavy white bakery bread
Cinnamon Sugar (3/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and mixed well)

Warm half-and-half almost to a simmer. Stir in sweetened condensed milk to taste. Stir in Kahulua. Reduce heat to low and let sit, stirring occasionally.

kahulua and milk

Spread 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of butter on one side of each slice of bread.

Broil the buttered bread on both sides (starting buttered side up) until the edges are lightly browned. Sprinkle on a heavy layer of cinnamon sugar to coat evenly.

cinnamon toast

Broil the toast again, sugared side up, just till well-browned and crackly. Don’t walk away or you’ll have charcoaled toast briquettes.

Pour the sweet milk into a pie plate. Set the toast in the sweet milk to soak up for about 30 seconds. Put an extra bit of the sweetened milk on each plate (and a dollop in your coffee) and serve.

soaking toastTaking a fork to the top has it crackle just like a good creme brûlée and the sweet milk softened toast is almost creamy in consistency. Très délicieux!

Strawberry Satsuma Daiquiri

satsuma assembly line

It was a good year for satsumas – the crop from my Dad’s tree had my Mom and my niece working for a few hours today to juice them all.

We also had bought a flat strawberries back in the spring that we froze after slicing them and putting them in pint bags with a little sugar. I pulled the final bag out of the freezer this afternoon.

Combine the both of those ingredients and you’ve got the perfect makings for a daiquiri.


Strawberry Satsuma Daiquiri

1 pint strawberries, sliced and frozen
1 cup satsuma juice
1 cup sugar
juice of 1 lime
4 oz light rum (or more!)

If using frozen strawberries in syrup, skip this step. Make a simple syrup by bringing the satsuma juice and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Allow to chill.

In a blender, put the frozen strawberries and juice in a blender. Add rum, lime juice and ice and blend well. Taste and add additional lime juice if too sweet or more satsuma juice if too sour.

strawberry satsuma daiquiri

Overnight Monkey Bread

One of the great pleasures of the holiday is the fun breakfasts with the pull apart, carmel goodness of monkey bread.

18 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls (about half the bag)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Butter a bundt pan. Sprinkle 2/3rds of the chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan. Mix together in a zip top gallon bag the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Melt the butter with the brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium low heat until just at a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Toss the frozen rolls in the cinnamon sugar and place in the bundt pan. Pour over them the brown sugar butter sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the pecans and a dusting of the remaining cinnamon sugar. Cover with aluminum foil.

stage 1

Allow to rise overnight on the counter or up to two days in the refrigerator (if stored in the refrigerator, pull out and allow to come to room temperature before baking – at least an hour and up to three). It will double in size.

it is risen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle some of the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top and bake for 40 minutes with a pan on the lower rack to catch any drips. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning over onto a plate. Pull apart to serve.

monkey bread

Watch your fingers! We never made it to the table – just ate like starving wolverines at the kitchen island. This is what ours looked like after ten minutes:

ten minutes

Cranberry Sauce and Margarita

My family usually uses the directions on the back of the bag of cranberries (slightly modified) for our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Here it is:

1 cup satsuma (or orange) juice
1 cup sugar
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries

Add juice and sugar to a medium sized saucepan, stirring constantly while bringing it to a boil. Add the cranberries and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for ten minutes, until the berries have popped and cooked down. Chill until ready for use.

Before you chill it, however, pull out about a tablespoon of juice per margarita. Chill that separately.

cranberry margarita


Use this recipe:

2 oz tequila
1 oz triple sec
1 oz lime juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 to 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce

In a cocktail shaker mix all the ingredients and shake well with ice. Pour in a salted rimmed glass. Drop in a couple of the cranberries, if desired, for garnish.


Dirty Bird Margaritas

The Saints are playing the Falcons tonight and this is the Saint-sational drink I’m enjoying!

dirty bird marg

Dirty Bird Margaritas

2 oz tequila
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 to 2 Tablespoons agave syrup
1 oz lime juice plus lime wedge
Handful of fresh blackberries, rinsed plus a few for garnish

Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of a margarita glass, and then dip in sugar or salt.

Make in a blender or muddle together in a cocktail shaker the tequila, Grand Marnier, agave syrup, the lime juice and the blackberries. Shake well with ice. Pour into rimmed glass and garnish with extra blackberries.

Serve immediately.

Bacon Ice Cream

If sin had a taste, if would be this ice cream. The rich, custardy ice cream base gets a little lift from praline liqueur and the addition of pig candy pieces add a sweet, salty, smokey taste that is absolutely delicious.

Pig Candy

5 strips bacon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil as this stuff makes a sticky mess that you really don’t want to have to scrub off. Lay the strips of bacon on a rack on the baking sheet. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon.

brown sugar coated bacon

Bake for 30 minutes or so. You want to cook it until it as dark as mahogany but not burnt. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.

pig candy

Chop the candied bacon into small bits. You can use the bacon bits immediately or store in the freezer until ready to use.

Ice Cream Base

3 tablespoons butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons praline pecan liqueur or, if unavailable, light rum
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a heavy, medium sized saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar, half of the cream and all of the whole milk.

Pour the remaining cream into a bowl and whisk in the egg yolks. Once the brown sugar milk and cream mixture is just below a boil, gradually pour some of the warm brown sugar mixture to the cream and yolks to temper, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour that mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat.

Cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

ice cream base

Place saucepan in an ice bath. Whisk in liquor, vanilla and cinnamon.

Refrigerate the mixture. Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bacon bits after about ten minutes of churning.

Try not to be like me and eat it right out of the ice cream maker! Seriously, I dare you!

bacon ice cream

Cacao Nib Dry Rub

I sometimes like savory in my desserts and I also like to occasionally add sweet to my savory dishes. This particular dry rub contains cacao nibs (roasted, shelled cacao beans) ie raw chocolate.

This recipe is for a dry rub. I usually make this the day I want to use it. Typically, I coat a venison or beef roast with it and then wrap up the meat in plastic wrap for a few hours before grilling. The nibs adds a depth of flavor – chocolatey, a little nutty with a hint of bitterness. I use Scharffen Berger Cacao Nibs and they can be found in a lot of natural food stores.

Cacao Nib Dry Rub

2 tablespoons Cacao Nibs
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard, I like Coleman’s
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Grind until the nibs break into particles about the size of coarse cornmeal. Use immediately or store in an air tight container.

cocoa nibs dry rub

Chocolate Cookies That Stick To Your Teeth

I woke up today with a powerful urge for chocolate. Whilst standing in front of the open freezer door, I saw the tail end of a bag of pecans halves. Now that I had my two main ingredients, it was time to figure out what else I had around the house – Box of graham cracker crumbs? Check! Sweetened condensed milk? Check!

It all added up to stick to your teeth chocolate cookies. The recipe comes from Paula Deen, except I use pecans instead of walnuts and chop the nuts much finer than she does.

2 1 oz squares unsweetened chocolate
1 14 oz can of sweetened, condensed milk
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped pecans
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 or more pecan halves, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two cookie sheets.

melting chocolate

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Add milk and stir to combine for about five minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and add crumbs, chopped pecans, salt and vanilla. Mixture thickens as it cools, so stir in all items quickly.

Drop tablespoon size dollops of the mixture on the prepared pans. Place a pecan half on each cookie and place in oven for ten minutes. Remove from pans immediately and put onto wax paper to cool.

stick to your teeth

Billy’s Boudin and Cracklin

billys boudin signDespite being hard to get to with the construction around the traffic circle sending me around twice and making it easier to cross over I-10, turn around and come back, Billy’s Boudin and Cracklin is a good place to stop and stock up on boudin and other pork products when you’re in the Lafayette area. They’re actually in Scott, Louisiana, which is the next city west of Lafayette and calls itself the “Boudin Capital of the World.”

For the unitiated, boudin is a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, peppers, and seasonings.  The mixture is sent through a meat grinder before being stuffed into a sausage casing and, after steaming or poaching it is ready for eating.

I started with the boudin sandwich. It was served on white bread but the flavor of the boudin was quite good, especially when washed down with a sweet tea. To go with my sammy, I picked up a half pound of fresh cracklins which were a bit over seasoned for my taste. They do offer a more lightly salted version and I think I’ll try that next time.  I also got one of the boudin pistollettes (fried bread rolls that are stuffed with boudin) and, while the bread was flavorful, it was so thick, it overwhelmed the taste of the boudin.

Here’s a picture of the trays of cracklin:

billy boudin cracklin pic

Overall, well worth the side trip. I’ll have to follow the rest of the Boudin Trail to compare Billy’s with other purveyors of boudin, though. <sigh> The sacrifices I must make for the sake of my stomach!