Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

½ cup vegetable shortening

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

1¼ cups brown sugar

3 tbls milk

1 tbsp vanilla

1 egg

1¾ cups flour

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375℉.

Cream shortening, peanut butter and brown sugar until well combined and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla and egg. Mix just until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture and stir to combine.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press lightly twice on one cookie, flattening it slightly to create a crisscross pattern. Repeat for each cookie.

Bake for 7-8 minutes until set and just beginning to brown on the edges. Do not over bake, as cookies will continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet after removing from the oven.

Allow cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

Yield: 3 dozen, 100 calories per cookie

Hack: Store cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Hack: Cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer until completely frozen. Remove to a sealable freezer bag and place in a freezer safe container. To thaw, remove the desired number of cookies from the bag and place on a paper towel lined plate. Allow to thaw completely before serving.



Milk and Cereal Bars

Milk and Cereal Bars
(Published by Pampered Chef)

2¼ cups Cheerios™

2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

¼ cup honey or agave nectar

½ cup freeze-dried strawberries

½ cup yogurt chips or white chocolate morsels

Combine the cereal and strawberries in a large mixing bowl.

Microwave the nut butter and honey in a small microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for about 1 minute, or until bubbling. Pour over the cereal mixture and mix well to combine.

Use the Large Scoop to transfer the mixture into wells of the Snack Bar Maker and press down with the Mini Nylon Serving Spatula. Chill the tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or in the refrigerator until the bars are set.

Heat the yogurt chips in a microwave-safe bowl until they’ve melted and drizzle over the bars.

Let the bars set in the refrigerator or on the counter.

Yield: 12 servings of bars

Nutrients per serving: U.S. nutrients per serving: Calories 110, Total Fat 3.5 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 50 mg, Carbohydrate 19 g, Fiber 2 g, Sugars 12 g, Protein 2 g

 

Best Homemade Chili Beans


Best Homemade Chili Beans

⅔ cup dried small kidney beans or cattle beans

2 cups water

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)

1 cup beef broth

½ cup tomato sauce

2 tsp maple syrup

2 tsp soy sauce

½ tsp paprika

3 oz salt pork, cut into small pieces

1 dried chili pepper (optional)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Place pinto beans in a bowl and cover with cool water. Cover the bowl and soak at room temperature for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 12 hours.

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and saute until translucent but not brown, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and simmer until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add broth, tomato sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce and paprika. Mix well.

Remove rind from salt pork and chop into small pieces. Place in the saucepan with beans and beef broth. Add dried chili pepper, if desired.

Simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, or until tender. Remove chili, add balsamic vinegar and allow to set for 30 minutes before serving. Reheat if necessary.

4 servings, 400 calories per serving

Hack: Serve with rice, cornbread or polenta for a great lunch/dinner or eggs for a hearty breakfast!

Hack: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze, sealed in serving-sized packages, for later use!



Mandarin Glazed Beets

Mandarin Glazed Beets

4 medium beets (2 lbs)

Olive oil

11 oz can of Mandarin oranges, drained, liquid reserved

2 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp butter

Cut greens off beets, leaving 1” of stem. Wash thoroughly, brush with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast until tender, 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel beets and cut into cubes.

Mix mandarin orange liquid, cornstarch and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.  Add butter and turn heat to medium. 

Allow liquid to come to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes or until thickened.  

Add beets and cook until warm.  Gently stir in oranges and allow to warm.

4 servings,190 calories per serving

10 Best Oven Baking Stones

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Baking stones.  Either you love ‘em…or you’ve never used ‘em.  I was in the second group until I attended a Pampered Chef party.  I ended up with a couple of cooking stones because I was curious and wanted to try cooking on them. I think the fact that I’m writing this would make you think I’m now hooked…and you would be right!

In this post, I’d like to go over the basics of oven stones and what I consider to be the best oven baking stones on the market!  Buckle up and let’s get this ride started!

What Is An Oven Baking Stone?

An oven stone is a portable cooking surface that is used for cooking and is one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man.  Its history can be traced back to the Early Paleolithic Age between 45,000 to 9,000 BC.  And, although we often think of baking stones as a pizza implement, they were first used to cook flatbreads and are still used for that purpose in many parts of the world.

The types I’ll be talking about here are made of clay but they can also be made of ceramic, cordierite, cast iron or stone.  While most of us use them in our kitchen oven, they’re also suitable for use on the grill or over an open fire.

Baking stones are not good conductors of heat.  This is actually a plus as your food is less likely to burn than when you’re using a glass or metal pan.  They also absorb moisture from the bottom of the food, resulting in a crispier bottom.

But…Back To Me

As I said before, I got some baking stones at a Pampered Chef party.  I was a little skeptical because it just seemed like food would stick.  The consultant assured me it wouldn’t so I went ahead and purchased a stone bar pan.

The first thing I did was to cook some teriyaki steak tips.  That’s a great test, right?   I mean, if anything is going to stick, teriyaki marinade would, right?  Nope.  The steak was delicious and the stone cleaned up with just a few wipes of my dishtowel.

After such a great experience with the new stone, I tried making a pizza on a stone I had been given a while back but had yet to use.  A friend had cooked a naan on it and I was so impressed that she gave me the stone.  I lightly oiled the stone, spread the dough over it and confidently put it in the oven to bake.  It stuck like glue.

Luckily, I was using this pizza dough recipe, which makes 2 thin-crust pizzas so I decided to try again.  After a bit of research, I spread some cornmeal over a piece of parchment paper and molded my pizza while my stone heated up in the oven.  The stone did smoke, perhaps because I had oiled it previously, but it didn’t set off the smoke detectors so it was fine!  I took it out of the oven, spread cornmeal over the hot stone, turned the crust over onto it and carefully peeled off the parchment.  Taking the stone out of the oven would seem to be a no-no from what I had read, but I really didn’t see any other way to do it.  The recommended method of “sliding it onto the stone” is, in my humble opinion, not possible with raw pizza dough.

Anyhow, in it went for a 5-minute prebake.

It came out a bit wonky looking, as you can see, but it didn’t stick so I considered that a win.  Covered it with toppings and back in it went for the final bake!  The finished result was a perfectly crunchy, New York-style crust. 

HowTo Use and Clean A Baking Stone

As you use your stones, they will darken and develop a smooth, nonstick surface.  This is referred to as seasoning.

Using  an oven baking stone is fairly straightforward:

  • Always place the stone in a cold oven and allow to preheat before using.
  • Never place frozen or very cold food on a hot stone.
  • Never place a hot stone on a cold surface.  If possible, remove food from the stone to serve and allow the stone to cool in the oven after turning it off. If the hot stone is removed from the oven, place gently on a room-temperature surface.
  • Don’t oil your stone.
  • Don’t drop your stone!
  • Store stone in a cool dry place.
  • Storing your stone in the oven is not recommended.  The repeated heating and cooling of a stone that is not holding food tends to damage the seasoning.

Cleaning my stones depends entirely on what I cook on them.  If I bake something that doesn’t leave residues, such as naan or rolls, I just brush off any crumbs and put it away.

If I’m cooking something a bit messier, I allow the stone to cool and clean it off with water and a dishcloth, using a plastic scraper or kitchen brush when necessary.  I don’t recommend using soap on unglazed cooking stones.

If my stone needs a deeper clean, I make a baking soda paste (½ cup baking soda to 3 tbsp water) and spread it over the surface of the stone.  I allow it to sit for 15 minutes then scrape off the paste and rinse with warm water.

Always allow your stone to dry completely before using or storing it

10 Best Oven Baking Stones

The Pampered Chef stones that I’ve recommended below are made with a StoneFusion Formula. I love them because they’re nonporous so foods and liquids won’t soak in.  Once cool, they’re also dishwasher safe, although cleaning them this way will take longer for a seasoned surface to develop.  I, personally, clean them in the same way that I clean my unglazed stones.

10” Pampered Chef Round Pizza Stone

Pampered Chef Stoneware Loaf Pan

Pampered Chef Stoneware Mini Loaf Pan

Pampered Chef 15” Pizza Stone

Pampered Chef Medium Stone Pan 11½” x 7¾”

Pampered Chef Rectangular Stone 12” x 15”

Pampered Chef Large Round Stone with Glazed Exterior

Pampered Chef Large Round with Handles

Pampered Chef Toaster Oven Stone 8.75 x 6.5

Pampered Chef 13” Pizza Stone

Time To Get Your Bake On!

If you haven’t tried oven baking stones, I hope you’ll take the plunge and choose one of these stones to begin your new adventure!

If you already use baking stones, please share your experience in the comment section below.

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

Loaded Shepherd’s Pie

Loaded Shepherd’s Pie

(Courtesy: Jennifer Warren)

1 lb 80% ground beef

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup plain bread crumbs

½ teaspoon dried sage leaves

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 egg

4 medium potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into 1” squares

¼ cup butter

½ tsp black pepper

⅓ cup sour cream

1 tbsp horseradish (optional)

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)

¼ cup chopped fresh tomato

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 medium green onions, chopped (2 tablespoons)

Heat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix beef, onion, bread crumbs, sage, ½ tsp salt and egg until well
blended. Press in the bottom of an ungreased 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Place potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a bowl and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

Add butter, ½ tsp salt and pepper to potatoes. Use a hand masher or electric mixer to blend together. Add sour cream and horseradish. Mix until smooth, adding more sour cream, if necessary. Allow to cool for 30 minutes

Once potatoes are cool, spread evenly over the top of the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160℉. Sprinkle with tomato, bacon and green onions.

Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

6 servings, 495 calories per serving

Hack: ¼ cup of chopped frozen onions can be substituted for fresh onion in this recipe.

Hack: Separate any remaining uncooked bacon slices and roll them into individual pinwheels. Place on a cookie sheet in the freezer to freeze bacon slices. Place in a sealable freezer-safe bag or container. The frozen slices can then be used in the portions desired.

Hack: Store any leftover bacon grease tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. It can be used as a substitute for butter in various dishes. Caution: Use caution when cooking with bacon grease. It has a smoke point similar to butter, which is lower than oils.

Hack: Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.



Asian Cold Noodle Salad

Asian Cold Noodle Salad

(Courtesy: Yuhong Sun)

1 lb spaghetti or dry noodle

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cucumber

Sauce:

1 green onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced (3 tsp)

1” knob fresh ginger, minced (1 tbsp)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp dark (Chinese) vinegar

2 tbsp chili sauce

Pinch of salt

 

Cook noodles according to package directions and drain. Stir in olive oil. Allow to cool or chill in the refrigerator.

Peel the cucumber and cut into 2” matchsticks.

In a small bowl, combine green onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, vinegar, chili sauce and salt.

Assemble salads by placing 1 cup cold noodle in a bowl. Top with cucumbers and 1-2 tbsp sauce. Serve immediately.

 

8 servings, 275 calories per serving

Hack: Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.

Hack: Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root? Grating it in it’s frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it! Simply place in a sealed freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.

 

 

Authentic Naan Flatbread

 

Authentic Naan Flatbread

 

1 ½ cups warm water (115℉)

2 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

3¼ cups flour

1 tbsp oil or ghee

Fit stand mixer with a dough hook.  Place water and yeast in the bowl.  Add salt and flour, mix on low speed until all ingredients are well incorporated.  The dough can be mixed by hand if preferred.

Transfer dough to a storage bowl and cover.*  Note: This will not have the consistency of regular bread dough.  It will be thinner and will easily and quickly mold to the shape of the bowl.

Let dough rise until it has risen and then begins to fall.  This will take at least 2 hours but can take longer depending on the room temperature.  Bread can be left at room temperature for up to 5 hours without any ill effects.

Transfer the bowl of dough to the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 36 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and cut off ¼ of the dough.  Return the rest to the refrigerator.

Sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal onto a piece of parchment paper.  Shape dough into a ball and, using a rolling pin and your hands, roll dough into an 8” circle on parchment paper/mat.  Use oil or cooking spray on the rolling pin and hands if the dough is too sticky.

Preheat oven to 450℉.

Transfer the rolled dough, on parchment paper, to a cooking sheet and put it in the oven.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until browned around edges.

Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter, if desired.

Repeat with the remaining dough to make 3 more naans or leave the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days to make as needed.

Can be served warm or at room temperature.

*Cover on the bowl should not be airtight.

 

4 servings, 360 calories per serving

 

Hack:  Cooked bread will remain fresh for 3-4 days at room temperature or up to 2 weeks in the fridge.  Alternatively, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Hack:  Naan dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Hack:  Naan bread can be used as a side for saucy meals, soups or stews.  It can be used for fillings in a similar fashion as tortillas or wraps.  Flatbread pizzas are also a popular item!

 

Creamy Cheesy Polenta

Creamy Cheesy Polenta

4 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tbsp butter

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Heat water to boil over medium-high heat. Add salt and cornmeal, whisking gently. Continue to whisk constantly until the mixture is thickened. Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk constantly for about 2 minutes or until thick.

Cover the pan and continue to cook for 30-35, whisking vigorously every 5-10 minutes, taking the time to scrape the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and cheese until melted.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional butter or cheese if desired.

4 servings, 255 calories per serving

Hack: Polenta can be eaten alone or as a side dish to replace rice or potatoes.

Curry Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans

 

Curry Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans

 

1 tbsp olive oil

¾ cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

1½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp allspice

¼ tsp salt

⅛ tsp pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup dried pearl barley

⅓ cup cranberries

⅓ cup raisins

⅓ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

 

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

Stir curry, turmeric, allspice, salt, pepper and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.

Add barley, cranberries and raisins.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until barley is tender and all water is absorbed.

Remove from heat and allow barley to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.  Stir in pecans and serve immediately.

6 servings, 200 calories per serving

Hack:  Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one week or frozen for up to 3 months.