Giant Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

Giant Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter CookiesCookie Monster
If you ask my husband what he wants for Father’s Day, he will tell you without hesitation that he neither needs nor wants anything. He has said, however, that he would be okay with a clean and organized house. I wish I could say that is an easy request….

The love of my life is not a person that needs stuff (unless you count musical instruments). In fact, his preference is for the least amount of stuff he can get away with. Because of this, it is hard to recognize his awesomeness as a father in the usual ways. That is why birthdays and Father’s Day are usually celebrated with some sort of special food item.

There are many treats that our #1 Dad thinks are the best thing ever. The first would be ice cream. Whether it is a bowl of his favorite Tin Roof Sundae or an ice cream sandwich, anyone who thinks they might be able to keep a stash on hand for craving emergencies would be very, very wrong. You’d be lucky if either lasts the night. There is one other tasty treat that trumps even the most decadent ice cream and that treat would be cookies.

One of the first things I learned about my husband when we met was of his love of cookies. In fact, cookie was the first word he spoke as a child. To say that he has never met a cookie he didn’t like would be a massive understatement. But, his hands down, absolute favorite is classic peanut butter cookie dipped in melted chocolate.

While I love peanut butter cookies they are a variety I don’t make very often. Mainly because most of the cookies I make are for school functions and peanuts are generally a bad idea at school. So, to celebrate and thank the best father to my kids that I could ever have thought of, I will be making these to go with the milk in his World’s Greatest Dad mug.

Giant Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields about 2 dozen giant cookies Read more…

On the Fly Blackberry Pie

On the Fly Blackberry PiePie on the Fly
Last Saturday, my sister and I grabbed our buckets and boxes and set out for Brentwood to pick fruit. We picked a lot of fruit. Peaches, pluots, cherries, and blackberries. I personally harvested almost 9 pounds of blackberries. And, I felt the fruits of that labor for an embarrassing two days after. I gathered that much because I had a jam plan for the blackberries and I wanted to make sure I had enough for a double batch.

Turns out I had more than enough to make the jam as well as a fresh blackberry pie.

My grandmother had a huge blackberry bramble in her garden and we used to pick blackberries every year to make in to jam. But, she also had a killer recipe for blackberry pie. And, I have no clue what that recipe was. Maybe she just eyeballed the sugar and cornstarch and threw it and the fruit together in a pie crust. But, for the life of me, I can’t find a copy of her pie recipe, or for that matter her jam recipe, anywhere.

So, while my jars were processing, I went on a hunt for a blackberry pie recipe. You think it would be easy—but you would be wrong. Most of the pies that have blackberries in them also have other fruits and I wanted a straight up blackberry pie. I never found one that was quite right. So, I eventually just combined a bunch of different recipes into one and went with it.

Turns out my Blackberry Pie on the Fly was darn tasty. In fact, the scent of the pie and our impatience prompted us to cut into it before it had finished cooling—which was a mistake. The blackberry goodness inside did not stay inside and oozed out of the crust into the pie plate. Note to self, the pie must be allowed to cool completely. The visual did not affect the flavor though and all traces of pie were gone by morning…

On The Fly Blackberry Pie
Yields 10 servings Read more…

Homemade Trail Mix

Trail MixBest Laid Plans
This weekend, Memorial Weekend, is the unofficial start to the summer season. With the kids almost out of school, the beginning of the Road Trip season is also upon us.

In fact, our family was supposed to embark on our first summer road trip this weekend—through the desert to Las Vegas. That’s 10+ hours of family fun and harmony… Due to circumstances beyond our control, the trip has been scratched. This may be a blessing in disguise. But, never fear! We are still going to load up the truck and head out on the road. And, it will be a more manageable 3-hour drive to spend time outdoors in Northern California.

All kidding aside, road trips can be a lot of fun. And, no matter your destination, anytime you stick people in a confined space for more than an hour or two, someone’s going to be touching someone else, or crossing over an imaginary line, or the dog is going to try to get in someone else’s lap. And, things are going to get tense. Having drinks and snacks at the ready can go a long way to preventing a migraine.

I am a big fan of nut mixes and trail mixes. I have a huge canister at home for when I just need a handful of something to get me through until dinner. I make it myself and the ingredients change depending on my mood.

My trail mix always contains multiple varieties of nuts. But, the other ingredients change each time. Sometimes I’m feeling tropical and add macadamia nuts with some dried mango, bananas and coconut chips. If I have a sweet tooth there are chocolate chunks in it. And then there is the kitchen sink mix that has a little bit of everything (usually comprised of reminders of things from past baking projects).

Any of these options is great for road trips because you can make a lot of it for sharing with everyone. And, it’s definitely portable. Beware the chocolate ones, though…It’s best to keep them in the cooler with your drink supply. They don’t do so well in the hot car when you have to stop for the 50th time because someone has to go to the bathroom…again!

This trail mix recipe is a suggestion. There is no real recipe for something like this—just your imagination and your taste buds.

Trail Mix Recipe
Yields 5 cups Read more…

Fresh Cherry & Apricot Clafoutis

Fresh Cherry & Apricot ClafoutisRainy Day Cherries
It is the month of May, right? Ok. Good. I just wanted to check because as I gaze out my window right now it’s looking a whole lot like February. What is this rain, people? I had big plans for this weekend and now they are all washed out…

For the past week, I have been getting notices from some of my favorite U-Pick farms that they will be open for business this weekend. (Let the cherry and apricot picking begin!) And while I have no problem going picking in a light rain, the thunderstorms and torrential downpours that are predicted might be a bit much. My disappointment in possibly not being able to go is less about the fruit and more about this being the first time in years that we actually have a free weekend to go a-pickin’.

I love U-Pick farms. Probably to the point of obsession. I just get so much joy being outside on a ladder trying to find the best ones. Plus my kids still think it’s fun which is fantastic because the list of activities they deem acceptable to do with their parents is minuscule.

At this point, I am in wait-and-see mode. Sunday looks like it might be okay. And, yes, I can grab some at the store since the cherries and apricots are in. But, the experience is not the same. They kinda frown on climbing ladders in the Produce Department. Party poopers!

Fresh Cherry & Apricot Clafoutis Read more…

Swedish Pancakes

Swedish PancakesBreakfast in Bed
Mother’s Day is this weekend. And, while you would imagine that all thoughts would be on Mom, I can’t help but think of my Dad.

Mother’s Day was always kind of a weird day growing up. As a kid, I had a love-hate relationship with Mother’s Day. Obviously, I loved my mother and wanted to celebrate her. But, more often than not, Mother’s Day landed on my birthday and instead of having cake and celebrating with my friends, I would be forced to go to a Mother’s Day brunch at some restaurant because that is what my grandmother wanted to do. Not an 8-year old’s idea of a good time!

After my grandparents moved to Arizona, we celebrated Mother’s Day in the way you would expect with handmade cards (or the occasional school made pottery project of nondescript nature) and breakfast in bed. That’s where Dad comes in…

Mom had a snazzy white bed tray that was great for breakfast in bed because it had these cubbies on the side for a newspaper or whatever. But, the cubbies made the tray stable. You could push yourself up to a seated position without spilling the orange juice. And, if you weren’t eating, the top would stand up like an easel so you could read or write, etc. It was perfect. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Dad was the king of weekend breakfast. If there were waffles on the iron, toast that was French, or pancakes on the griddle, he was in charge. And, as you can imagine, these were some of the rotating items on the annual Mother’s Day menu. There was one option though that will forever be tied to my father, Swedish Pancakes.

I have a very distinct memory of standing by his side at the stove while he instructed me on the ins and outs of perfect Swedish Pancake preparation. They can’t be too thick but they can’t be too thin either. And the trick to spreading the batter out evenly in the pan is all in the wrist. Swedish pancakes were a big deal and without question for me a favorite Mother’s Day option.

Now that I have my own family, the tradition continues. Even my angst-y teenagers get excited and smile when I announce that I’m making Swedish Pancakes for breakfast. I have also passed on all of the prep knowledge to my daughter. And, I am happy to announce that she’s got the batter spreading wrist action down.

There will be no Swedish Pancakes for me this year though. My boys’ 15th birthday is on Sunday… So, yeah.

Swedish Pancakes
These pancakes are served folded with butter and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. They are also great with a squeeze of lemon, or a smear of jam, or berries on the side. Read more…