Peanut Butter Blossoms

There is a love-hate relationship in our house with Peanut Butter Blossoms.  BD and the locusts love them.   I … do not.  Oddly, these are one of those cookies that I always make for Christmas.  They are a nice addition to the cookie tray and most people who try them seem to love them.  Mazel tov and to each his own! I say.

Now that the possibility of the wrath of Bunny being visited upon my head is (almost) non-existent, I gleefully will admit to more than once  in my youth taking Peanut Blossoms from the cookie tray, popping the Hershey Kisses off to eat, and tossing the cookies.   I really should be ashamed of myself for that.   And yet …

Self-tattling aside, these cookies really do disappear with an appreciative crowd so if you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan, I highly recommend you give them a try.  They come together quickly, are very easy to make and really are popular with the Christmas cookie set.

I’m partial to Jif Creamy Peanut Butter for these cookies.  This is one time that natural peanut butter needs to stay in the pantry; it wreaks havoc on the texture of these cookies and makes them unpleasantly oily.  Also, a chocoholic heads up: while a one-pound bag of Hershey’s Kisses will amply accommodate an entire batch of cookies, a two-pound bag will ensure snacking before, during, and after your bake-a-thon with no need for rationing [I shudder to think] or cookie desecration.

No pomp, no circumstance … Everyone into the pool!

 

The dough is ready when it cleans away from the sides of the bowl.  It’s a soft, but not sticky dough.  It’s ready to roll right away or you can refrigerate and roll later … just add a minute or two to the baking time if the dough is chilled.

 

One for me, one for the cookies, one for me, one for the cookies … This really is not an exaggeration for me.  In a funny (I think) coincidence, Stephanie just texted me that when she was little and in charge of unwrapping the Hershey’s Kisses, she was allowed just one kiss to nibble even though there were always at least half a bowl left over.  I think someone needs a hug!

 

The easiest/neatest container to use for rolling the dough balls in sugar is a pie plate.  I load up 8 or 10 balls and then shake the pie plate until they are coated with sugar.

The cookies don’t spread a lot. On a half-sheet tray you can get four across with five rows.  They bake for 10 minutes (maybe 11 or 12 if the dough is chilled) and then, very important here, as soon as they come out of the oven, gently press a Hershey Kiss into each cookie and then, using a spatula, put them onto a cooling rack until the kiss sets.  They become very melty (and delicious!) but firm back up in about 20 minutes.

After they’ve completely cooled, store in a cookie tin, layers separated by waxed paper or parchment.   My odd aversion aside, they truly are a winning recipe, much loved and anticipated during Christmas.  I hope you’ll give them a try.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

2 Tbs milk
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
sugar for rolling
48 Hershey Kisses

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine the first ten ingredients in a mixer and beat to combine.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in the sugar.

Place on ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes.

Once removed from oven, immediately press a Hershey Kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool on a cooling rack until Kisses are firm.

Store in a cookie tin.

Absolutely Marvelous Caramel Matzoh Crunch

And it is … absolutely marvelous.

Every year when I bake the matzoh crunch, I’m reminded of a fictional account of a near-death experience in a blinding snowstorm with four of five siblings and one Mario-Andretti-Wanna-Be sister-in-law behind the wheel of a rented minivan.  As the story goes, there was a tradition, some years back, when available siblings and MAWB would make a weekend road trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas to a place within driving distance of their homes to sample and pick up beers and other provisions for Christmas.  One of these trips was to Montreal. Continue Reading

Christmas Sugar Cookies

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, o night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Mahalia Jackson or Nat King Cole singing that carol are pure Christmas spirit and everything wonderful I feel about Christmas. Growing up, December 1st always meant the arrival of  Mom’s stack of Christmas albums; the Advent wreath, a stiff wire form covered in fresh greens, red berries, and ribbons, topped with four candles – three purple and one pink; and the Advent calendar tacked to the kitchen door to the basement.  The season had arrived and cookies were not far behind!

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Uncle Frank’s Italian Sausage

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Uncle Frank and his pilfered sausage making machine. It’s a whiz but he’s not sure where it came from or when it got there. It’s a mystery. If it’s yours, give him a call.

Another fabulous family cook pops out of the woodwork of our wacky family tree!  Uncle Frank is the husband of my mother’s younger sister, Dot.  He is a retired DC fireman, father of 10, currently a custom home builder, and (most important for our purposes here) a very good cook.  Lucky us!  Breakfasts at the Principe house would put an IHOP buffet – should an IHOP buffet serve Rapa brand scrapple – to shame… and that’s just on your standard Wednesday.  Breakfast not your thing?  Pfft! If you need a soup, Uncle Frank’s your man.  Other than one unfortunate incident where he went all not-in-a-good-way-free-form on a pot of pasta fazool (yes, I do have the memory of an elephant … a bizarre elephant but an elephant nonetheless), that man can toss things into a pot and come up with the most delicious combinations.

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Jack Daniel’s Cake With Buttered Whiskey Glaze

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I must start with the caveat that this is not actually my recipe but BD’s.  And, truth be told, it’s not even his.  Many years ago, when shoulder pads and perms were in vogue if unfortunate and our meeting was but a fleeting dream he could only hope to attain (my blog, my version), he found himself in a liquor store that had a Jack Daniel’s promotional recipe for this cake on a tear-off pad.  He availed himself.

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Old Nonnie’s Minestrone

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I’ve finally bitten the bullet and asked my mother to cook with me for the blog. It’s not that she’s not a good cook. To the contrary, she’s an excellent cook. It’s just that it’s my mother and I wasn’t sure I wanted to boss her around in my kitchen and tell her how to cook and where to stand and how to measure … I jest to amuse myself. Those reasons were exactly what got me moving.

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Lentils and Rice: Zhudra

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Sixty picture later, I’ve just given up.  It’s simply not a pretty dish. You’ll need to take my word that it’s delicious. Earthy lentils, bitter (in a good way) onions, and lots of black pepper combine to make one of my all-time favorite bean dishes.  It’s hearty and filling.  It’s even vegan if that’s your thing.  It’s a comfort dish that transports me to Aunt Myra’s kitchen and some warm happy memories.  She is a terrific cook and introduced my childhood to mint in green salads (that one took me a while to get used to), Syrian meatloaf, and this wonderful lentil dish.  Later in life she introduced me to jug wine but that’s a story for another time.

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