Baked Occasionally December – Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies

peanut-butter-cookies-wee-eats

It’s already been a whole year of our Baked Occasionally series, can you believe it!? It’s only logical that we would close the year with a recipe from their Christmas Cookie selection. This month, we each selected our own recipes, with Shannon choosing the whipped shortbread cookies and me choosing these beauties.

These cookies bake of wonderfully soft and chewy, filled with butterscotch and topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel they are the perfect balance of salty and sweet, and will make the perfect addition to your Christmas cookie collection.

Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 ounces (about ½ cup) creamy peanut butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (a generous ½ cup) butterscotch chips
  • Sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the bowl and add the peanut butter; beat until completely combined.
  3. Turn mixer off and scrape down the bowl again. Add both sugars and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until completely incorporated.
  5. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the flour mixture all at once, and pulse mixer (or beat on low) until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the butterscotch chips.
  7. Note: while not necessary, I chilled the dough for a few hours prior to baking, as it was very soft and a bit difficult to work with immediately after mixing.
  8. To bake
  9. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  10. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough into balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets at least 1½ inches apart.
  11. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes, then sprinkle the tops with the sea salt. Continue baking until the cookies just start to brown on the edges, another 5 to 6 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and place the sheets on cooling racks, allowing cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the wire racks to finish cooling completely.
  13. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  14. Make ahead option:
  15. If you are making these for Christmas and want to get a head start, make the dough this weekend and scoop onto a lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer about 1 hour, then transfer the balls of dough to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag for storage. Bake from frozen following directions, adding an extra minute or two of baking.
http://wee-eats.com/2016/12/05/baked-occasionally-december-peanut-butter-butterscotch-cookies/

Get the book – Baked Occasions 

Check out Shannon’s post – Whipped Shortbread Cookies

(This post contains affiliate links, which means a tiny percentage of what you spend will go towards supporting Wee Eats)

steak and arugula salad

wee-eats-steak-saladI’ve been spending a lot of the last few months experimenting with all types of food delivery services – HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef and more. Meal kits have their pros – I love how convenient they are and how they can push me a little bit out of my comfort zone, but they have their cons too. For one thing, the costs can really add up and for another the produce isn’t always in the best shape by the time it gets to my door.

This is where Raw Spice Bar comes in. It’s not your typical subscription service – unlike Blue Apron or HelloFresh, they send you a batch of recipe-ready flavor kits along with accompanying recipes, highlighting a new region each month. The best part? They’re super affordable.

raw-spice-bar

Since you’re only paying for the spices, the costs are as low as $6 per kit (a savings of almost $50 over your typical meal delivery service). If you don’t like the recipes they send you, you can check their website for more or even create your own.

I received the October spices which were Chipotle Salt, Coffee Chili Steak Rub, and Sun Dried Tomato seasoning.

The chipotle salt recipe was for roasted veggies, which I did make, but I also used it to make elotes and ended up liking it so much I just started putting it on everything!

My first recipe, Sun Dried Tomato Pizza, I mostly followed the recipe but took some liberties with the toppings. Topped with grilled chicken, sun dried tomatoes, feta, and fresh basil the pizza was to die for! This spice would also be an excellent addition to pasta, like a penne alla vodka or lasagna.

Lastly was coffee chili rubbed steaks, which had a few extra steps that I deemed unnecessary. Instead I just added some salt and rubbed it along with the spices all over some sirloin steaks. I grilled the steaks like regular and served them atop a deliciously filling arugula salad. That’s the recipe you’ll find below! If you’re interested in trying out these spices for yourself, I’ve got an extra kit right here for one lucky winner – just enter below!

steak-salad-wee-eats

steak & arugula salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 2 salads

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces steak
  • 1 packet coffee chili rub
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 cups fresh arugula
  • 4 inch piece of cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 8 to 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • pickled onions (recipe below), to taste
  • 2 tablespoons feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan, finely grated
  • croutons, to taste
  • dressing (recipe below)
  • Pickled onions
  • 1 small or 1/2 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • Dressing
  • 3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, depending on preference
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

    Pickle the onions
  1. Mix the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar together. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.
  2. Add onions and cover, let sit for at least 1 hour.
  3. Make the dressing
  4. Mix first 3 ingredients until combined.
  5. Stream in olive oil while whisking.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Make the steaks
  8. Combine packet of seasoning with salt. Rub mixture over all sides of the steak (you will have about half left over, you can make an extra steak or save it for later).
  9. Heat grill to high heat.
  10. Cook steak on the grill for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until internal temperature reaches at least 135F.
  11. Remove from grill and tent lightly with foil, set aside while you make the salad.
  12. Make the salad
  13. Wash and dry all produce.
  14. Toss arugula with cucumber, tomatoes, pickled onions (you won't use all of them), cheeses, and croutons. Add desired amount of dressing and toss to coat.
  15. Slice steak on a bias and top salads (or place next to the salad).
http://wee-eats.com/2016/12/02/steak-and-arugula-salad/

 

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Gluten Free Banana Bread (and a Gluten Free Flour Review!)

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Now as you are well aware, I am far from gluten-free. I do, however, enjoy gluten free foods from time to time. Usually when I bake gluten free items, I will just bake something that doesn’t require flour rather than something that substitutes a “gluten free” flour. However, the folks over at Butterfly Gluten Free Flour were kind enough to send me a bit of their flours to try out and being the curious cat that I am, I just had to try them out.

These flour blends allow you to replace your normal gluten-filled flour 1-1 in recipes. So if you would normally use 1 cup of regular all purpose flour, 1 cup of the gluten-free stuff will replace it. Yay for no maths!

I used the flours in three applications – a quick bread (banana bread – easy baseline recipe), a cookie – palmiers, this was due to our November Baked Occasions, and as a pizza.

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Quick bread (Banana) – For this application I almost preferred the gluten free version to the gluten-filled one. The crumb was more tender and I felt the banana flavor was more pronounced than in the flour-filled version. I’ve included my go-to recipe below, but feel free to use your own favorite recipe!

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You will notice, however, that the GF version (left) did not rise as high as the gluten version and didn’t get the signature “dome” on top. It also browned (and cooked) more quickly than the regular bread by just a few minutes. The GF bread was done about 5 minutes before the standard banana bread, so make sure to check it earlier than you would check your regular recipe. If your bread is browning too quickly, then you’ll want to cover it loosely with some aluminum foil.

dsc_1756e

Palmiers – So, structure is not the gluten free product’s strong suit, so things like rolling and folding proved difficult here. Eventually I worked it out with a dough scraper and plastic wrap but I hated my life for the first portion of this.

Once baked, I can honestly say that there was no discernible difference between the gluten free and gluten filled versions here. If I had more flour I would love to try a standard chocolate chip or drop cookie with the GF flour to see how they stack up.

pizza

Pizza – Good (probably?) – Now I made the same dough with GF bread flour and with regular bread flour. While the regular bread flour version became poofy and stretchy and glorious. It baked up with big bubbles and a chewy crust. The gluten free version poofed slightly, but was more sticky than stretchy. It tore when trying to do a traditional pizza dough “stretch” so I ended up just sort of patting it into a round pizza shape.

Now by the time the pizza finished cooking, the natural light had disappeared, so my good friend Shannon was kind enough to provide us with an artistic rendition of my pizza. Isn’t she just the best?

pizza-dough

As you can see from the picture above, although the gluten-free crust browned just as well as the gluten crust, it remained flat and didn’t have any of the much-coveted bubbles that the standard dough did. So, is it as good as gluten-filled pizza? No. But if you can’t or don’t want to eat gluten, did it make a pizza? It sure did. It looked and tasted fine, just didn’t have the same chewy, bubbly texture as a regular dough does.

(In case you’re thinking to yourself, “Come on, Natalie, the pizza pictures couldn’t POSSIBLY be that bad, could they?” – Yes, they could. See below for proof.)

gf-pizza-compare

Overall, I would say the flours performed very well. Although it was more difficult to work with than regular flour in applications that required working by hand (pizza dough, rolling, etc), that is expected due to the lack of, well, gluten (duh). Gluten binds things and so it would make sense that products without gluten would have less structure and therefor things like rolling and stretching would be more difficult.

All items were, however, still delicious. In easier applications that only required regular mixing (quick breads and cookies) you won’t even notice the gluten is missing! You can learn more about Butterfly and find gluten free recipes on their website or Facebook!

Gluten Free Banana Bread

This is my go-to banana bread recipe - it's the perfect staple recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen .

Ingredients

  • 4 mashed bananas
  • 1/3 C melted butter
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp bourbon (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Tiny pinch ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 C AP flour
  • Optional additions: Chocolate chips, streusel topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F; Grease 1 loaf pan and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar (sprinkling optional)
  2. In medium bowl whisk together AP flour with salt and spices. Set aside
  3. In large bowl mix mashed banana and melted butter with spoon. Stir in sugar, egg, vanilla, and bourbon.
  4. Stir in flour mixture in 2 additions being careful not to over-mix. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Notes

*If you want to keep this a “one-bowl” recipe, start with mixing the banana & butter, then sugar, egg, vanilla, (bourbon, if using). After that, stir in the spices, then sprinkle baking soda and salt over top, and lastly stir in the flour (followed by chocolate chips, if using).

http://wee-eats.com/2016/11/25/gluten-free-banana-bread-and-a-gluten-free-flour-review/

 

Disclaimer: The product reviewed was received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions stated on Wee Eats are my own and not affected by any exchange of goods. 

Thanksgiving Stuffing Rolls

stuffing-rolls-wee-eats

Thanksgiving is this week and many of you already have your menus planned but for those of you with a little wiggle room, allow me to talk you about these rolls. I saw these on in my inbox and was very skeptical like, “How much like stuffing could these really taste like?” Turns out, a lot. A lot like stuffing. Like, exactly like stuffing.

These aren’t just any rolls, these rolls have all the flavor of your classic Thanksgiving stuffing packed right into a soft, fluffy roll. Now, Mr. Eat’s family isn’t big on stuffing, I however adore it. These rolls are a happy medium that allow me to enjoy all the flavor of stuffing without actually making stuffing. These things are so delicious I just don’t even know what to do with myself. I’m even considering cubing and toasting the leftovers and using them to make actual stuffing. (Stuffing-ception? Gasp!)

You could bake this as a loaf (I’m thinking stuffing-bread sandwiches with the leftover turkey) or as rolls. I chose the latter because everything is better in mini size. Did I mention it comes together in about 10 minutes with one bowl and no mixer required? I could go on and on all day about how good these are, but honestly we are all busy prepping for Thanksgiving so how about I just get to the recipe already?

thanksgiving stuffing rolls

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Instructions

  1. Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, onion powder, parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  2. Heat the milk, water, and butter for about 1 minute in the microwave until very warm but not hot.(Between 100-110°F)
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Stir for about 2 minutes until all of the flour has been incorporated.
  4. Stir in the remaining cup of flour, and mix well, using your hands to knead the dough together until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. To bake a round boule-shaped loaf, place the dough in a greased 1 1/2-quart Dutch oven, and bake immediately.
  7. To bake as rolls, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place in a lightly greased 9 inch round pan; let the rolls rise until puffy, about 30 minutes. For a standard loaf, put dough into a large loaf pan.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaf or rolls with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with celery seed and flaky sea salt (optional). Bake for 35 minutes for the loaf, or about 25-30 minutes for the rolls. The top should be golden brown and tapping the top of the loaf should sound hollow. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.
http://wee-eats.com/2016/11/21/thanksgiving-stuffing-rolls/

Source: Food52

baked occasionally – election palmiers

election palmiers | wee eats

When I chose election palmiers for our November Baked Occasionally recipe, it honestly had nothing to do with the election. It’s completely coincidental that the post is debuting the day before election day and they’re called “election palmiers” and … it’s just a whole bunch of serendipity I guess.

I’ll spare everyone words on the actual election, as I know it’s all we have heard about nonstop for the last few months, the last thing I need is another place to read about candidates and issues and voting, etc, I’ll leave you to pretty much any other form of media for that. Let’s deem this a safe space, shall we? Free of election news, despite the name of these delicious cookies. Instead, let’s talk about cookies, shall we? Palmiers, to be exact. Vote Palmiers 2016, that’s a cause I can get behind!

I’ve made palmiers dozens of times, but I’ve never made them totally from scratch. Usually I just grab some puff pastry from the freezer section and go along my merry way, so I was really curious to see what went into creating them from scratch. Lucky for me, Shannon had also never made them from scratch and being the curious creatures we are, we agreed that although it was probably the best-known recipe, it was also the most exciting recipe for November.

Yes, some elbow grease is required as we are basically taking a cookie dough and then laminating it. No, not with heat and plastic, but with rolling and folding and butter. Lots of butter. I also used this recipe to try out a new gluten free flour blend, but more on that later.

So, the pros

  1. The homemade version is a bit crunchier, flakier, with more butter flavor than the puff pastry version and I would say they are worth the extra work.

The cons

  1. It is a lot more work than simply unrolling some puff pastry and going on your merry little way, BUT I still think you should try making them from scratch at least once.
  2. Rolling – I seriously HAAAATE rolling dough. The only thing I hate more than rolling is cutting out cookies. I have tried for many years to make cut out cookies for the holidays and usually end up with a few cookies cut out and then I just give up. Make your life easier here by putting a piece of plastic wrap between your dough and your roller. You’re welcome.
  3. Folding – Yeah, it gets tedious and can be difficult, a dough scraper can be helpful for getting stubborn dough off or your counter tops and to help you get that perfect fold.

I scaled back on the cayenne significantly (by about half, but maybe my cayenne is just extra spicy?) and it added just the right amount of kick at the end without making the cookies overtly spicy. If you’re worried about it at all, feel free to leave it out entirely. It does give the cookies an interesting boost of flavor, though. I also made a second batch of these with pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon (and no cayenne), which were equally as enjoyable.

baked occasionally – election palmiers

Yield: 20 - 24 cookies

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 ounces (1 ¾ sticks/200 g) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup (125 g) raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

    Chill the ingredients
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and ½ teaspoon of the salt and place in the freezer. Place the butter in a separate bowl in the freezer. Finally, in a small prep bowl or measuring cup, stir together 2 tablespoons water with the lemon juice and place in the freezer.
  2. Allow all the items to chill in the freezer for 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Make the dough
  4. Remove all items from the freezer. Place the flour mixture in a food processor and pulse for 1 or 2 short bursts.
  5. Add about half of the cold butter chunks and pulse about 3 to 4 times in short bursts. Do not over process the mixture - the butter pieces should be visible and just slightly bigger than pea size.
  6. Add the remaining butter and pulse a few more times - the butter should still be visible and pronounced in the mixture.
  7. Drizzle in a few drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse 2 or 3 times until crumbly.
  8. Test the dough by pinching a bit in your fingers, the dough should just hold together. If it still crumbles apart, continue to add drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse as needed.
  9. *Note: you may not use all of the mixture, or you may need to add a few extra.
  10. Be careful not to over process the dough - it should be loose and crumbly, you aren't looking for it to form a ball.
  11. Form the dough
  12. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it just comes together. Use your hands to shape it into a rough 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle about ½ inch (12 mm) thick, with the shorter side closest to you.
  13. Make the first letter fold: Fold the bottom third of the dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover, just like folding a letter.
  14. Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you, and letter-fold the dough again.
  15. Rotate again and use your hands to gently shape the dough into another 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle.
  16. Perform the final letter fold. If, at any time, the dough starts feeling soft or the butter starts to warm, refrigerate until cool again.
  17. Once all three letter folds are finished, cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
  18. Fold again!
  19. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface.
  20. Using a rolling pin this time, roll the dough into an 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, with the shorter side closest to you.
  21. Make the first letter fold - Fold the bottom third of dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover.
  22. Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you and letter-fold the dough again. Rotate again, gently roll the dough back into a rough 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, and perform a final letter fold. Cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 more minutes.
  23. Shape the cookies
  24. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Set aside.
  25. Place a half sheet pan sized (18 by 13 inches/46 by 33 cm) rectangle of parchment on your counter.
  26. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne (if using), and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and dust the parchment with one-third of the sugar mixture.
  27. Place the dough on top of the parchment and sprinkle the dough with another third of the sugar mixture.
  28. Roll the dough into a 12-by-15-inch (30.5-by-38-cm) rectangle about 1?8 to ¼ inch (3 to 6 mm) thick. If the dough becomes too sticky, sprinkle a tablespoon or two more of the sugar mixture over it. (I found that putting a layer of plastic wrap over the dough helped me out immensely here).
  29. Return dough to the refrigerator and chilld for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.
  30. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll up both of the long sides of the dough toward the center so that they meet in the exact middle.
  31. Brush the egg wash where the two sides of the dough meet (this will help to keep the rolls stuck together).
  32. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
  33. Slice and Bake
  34. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  35. Add a teaspoon or two of water to the parchment and use your hands to spread it around, making the parchment to be slightly damp.
  36. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut crosswise into ½-inch (12-mm) slices and place the slices on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
  37. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the slices.
  38. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the cookies over with a spatula. Bake the other side of the cookies until they have spread slightly and are puffy and golden brown, about 5 more minutes.
  39. *Note: I flipped some and didn't flip others, because SCIENCE! See details below.
  40. Allow to cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature.
  41. Storage
  42. Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight storage container. They recommend eating the same day, but my coworkers seem to be enjoying them just fine a whole 24 - 36 hours later.

Notes

* Do yourself a favor and make rolling easier by putting a piece of plastic wrap between your dough and your roller. You'll thank me later.

* If making and baking all in one go, you will want to begin preheating the oven when you return the dough for its final chill (after shaping it into the spirals).

* Flipping the cookies: I left some cookies un-flipped for science and did not notice a huge difference in terms of flavor/texture between the flipped and un-flipped cookies, so I would deem this step as OPTIONAL. Especially if you are prone to burning yourself like yours truly.

http://wee-eats.com/2016/11/07/baked-occasionally-election-palmiers/

Get the book – Baked Occasions 

Check out Shannon’s post – November Baked Occasionally

(This post contains affiliate links, which means a tiny percentage of what you spend will go towards supporting Wee Eats)