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