Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you see that cross-section of peanut butter goodness? I am drooling as I type this.

Our supremely sweet-toothed “baby” brother’s birthday was last weekend, and we decided there was no better way to send him back to school than armed with a disgusting amount of sweet treats.

College-aged metabolisms can handle the madness 🙂

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I fear that I have set the bar pretty high for myself with the Slutty Brownies, so just any old cookie wouldn’t do.

So I took the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe, the Nestle Tollhouse classic, but only used half of the chocolate chips it called for. Then I squished a little Reeses baking square down into each spoonful and covered it with a smidge more dough.

The cookies were much bigger than usual to accommodate the Reeses so they took longer to bake, but it was worth the wait.

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Without question, one of the best things I’ve ever made!

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Recipe: Lightened Up Quiche with Ham, Cheddar and Onion

Our family is big on tradition. Or at least Ali and I are, and “traditions” are therefore foisted on to our other family members when we glom on to something we love.

One of the most beloved traditions is our mom’s Christmas eve quiche. She makes two different mouth-watering varieties and everyone digs in at their leisure as various family members stop by throughout the day.

When I was pestering her the other day about contributing to Thanksgiving, she gracefully handed me the day-after breakfast duties (I may have been banned from helping on the actual day-of after a melting pumpkin cheesecake that required a midday oven cleaning last year…) and my mind immediately went to quiche.

But traditions are traditions, and tradition says the holiday quiche must be mama’s and must wait until Christmas eve. Stay tuned for my Thanksgiving breakfast menu, but I apparently had quiche on the brain this morning and walked to the store to pick up a few extra ingredients for a nice brunch in for JB and I.

Maybe Sunday morning quiche will be our own little tradition, because that sucker was pretty darn good. I swapped out a few of the heavier elements that quiche typically calls for to make it slightly lighter. Here’s what went into this fairly traditional (buh dun dun) quiche.


Lightened Up Quiche with Ham, Cheddar and Onion

  • One store-bought pie crust (unless you’re feeling particularly adventurous and want to make your own, then go nuts and may God be with you)
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 C shredded reduced-fat cheddar
  • 1 C chopped ham
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (the KEY secret ingredient!)
  1. Prepare pie crust according to directions, set aside to let cool completely
  2. Set oven to 375
  3. Whisk eggs, egg whites and skim milk with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  4. Mix ham, cheddar and chopped onion into egg mixture and stir well
  5. Pour egg mixture into pie crust, then set the quiche on a cookie tray
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until egg is completely set and crust is golden brown
  7. Let cool for at least 5 minutes, then feast 🙂

Spiced Lamb with Moroccan Couscous

Our mama made the most amazing grilled lamb this weekend at home, and while we’re a family of healthy appetites, the entire wheel of brie consumed before dinner stopped us cold from getting anywhere near finishing it off. Not an entirely awful problem to have.

I ended up bringing the rest of the lamb home with me, and my mom said, “I hope you do something fun with it for the blog – make lamb and couscous or something fun!”

So I did. I’ve been running around all week and it felt so nice to come home, blast some music, have a glass of wine and actually make myself a good – really good! – dinner.

Spiced Lamb with Moroccan Couscous

  • 1.5 C dry whole wheat couscous
  • 1.5 C and 1/2 C low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 C chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions, ends and tips removed, chopped
  • 1 C shredded carrot
  • 1/4 C black mission figs
  • Dried or fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 C cooked lamb, cut into 1″ pieces*
  • 1 T Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T coriander
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  1. Bring 1.5 C chicken broth to a boil, add couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Saute chopped onion and garlic in 1 T olive oil until translucent and aromatic.
  3. Pour remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth into pan with onions and garlic, add shredded carrots and green onions. Stir and cover for 5 minutes, leaving a small crack for steam to escape.
  4. Season meat with cumin, Chinese 5-spice powder and coriander. Saute lamb in olive oil until heated through. Remove from heat and let rest.
  5. Mix couscous with vegetable mixture and stir in chopped figs.
  6. Serve lamb atop bed of couscous, topped with Greek Yogurt.

*I lucked out with the lamb already grilled to perfection, but if I were to start from scratch, I’d chop the lamb and marinate in olive oil and the spices for a few hours before skewering and grilling to medium.

Istanbul

I can’t say I ever thought much of Middle Eastern cuisine until a few days ago.  I’m sure this is mostly attributed to my own small mindedness, or perhaps just due to a lack of exposure.  In any case, the newest addition to my ever expanding collection of cooking how-to’s was chock full of fresh and flavorful recipes plucked from the busy streets and quiet alleys of Istanbul.  Poached eggs with yoghurt, cauliflower fritters, baked eggplant (great recipe!) and lamb kofta leapt off of the pages and into my imagination.

“Turkish cuisine…owes [it’s] enviable reputation to the culinary expertise developed in the grand houses and palaces centuries ago.  Here, a large number of chefs specialized in their own particular type of cooking and their skills were honed and passed down from generation to generation.”1

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Coincidentally, Alan Richman of GQ magazine holds a similar fascination with a cuisine deemed one of the foremost in the world as he tantalizingly describes in February 2012 issue.  A cultural menu ripe with vegetables and abundant with spiced and well-cooked meats, this particular palate is as much reverent to the culture as it is to the taste.  Richman manages to juxtapose the aromas and rich textures of traditional Ottoman-Empire era cooking with the modern hustle of a lively city.  Between my cookbook and this beautiful article, began what could only be called a superficial curiosity about a culture steeped in spice and texture.

Reading any number of articles or accounts will immediately impress upon you that food has embedded itself so much as part of the culture of socializing.  Meze, or a traditional selection of small dishes, is traditionally served at the beginning of a larger meal.  The small plates are designed to facilitate conversation and grand shows of hospitality.   Meze can range from hot dishes of baked eggplant with ripe texture and complex spices to sizzling lamb-meatballs served with a cooling yoghurt, accompanied by an assortment of fresh sheep or cow’s cheeses.  The wide variety of tastes and smells I’m sure can serve as an allegory for a country who lies half in Europe and half in Asia; an amalgamation of history and clashing ideologies.  Perhaps it’s just a way to please the most taste-buds.

I’m the first to admit that this brief article doesn’t serve justice for such a rich and diverse subject, but if you’re anything like me, sometimes it just takes a few paragraphs to pique your curiosity.

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Great reads:

Istanbul Street Food – Blog

Istanbul Food – Blog

The Guardian – Travel Food and Drink

Credits:  1, The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook, Bay Books 2008.

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The way to a man’s heart…

is through food. Coincidentally, that is also the way to my heart!

I don’t subscribe to the theory that Valentine’s Day is just for women and I was so excited to make JB dinner yesterday. One, because he’s pretty amazing and definitely deserved a great dinner, but also, I just love to cook and don’t often have an reason to make a big dinner like this one.

When we were in New York, we had this amazing garlicky shrimp dish at a tiny tapas restaurant in the East Village called Nai Tapas that I recreated as our appetizer using this recipe. There is no picture of the finished product because we were too busy licking the bowl.

I picked up some absolutely gigantic filets at Whole Foods, seared them in olive oil with salt and pepper, then broiled them the rest of the way with gorgonzola crumbled on top. I also made a balsamic glaze to top it with, and served roasted asparagus on the side.

I was so happy that everything turned out as well as it did! Valentine’s Day success 🙂