Saturday, August 30, 2014

Snickers Cookie Tarts

Okay, these aren't really Snickers in any way except that they are a bit like a Snickers candy bar but a cookie tart instead; get it?: like a candy bar, but not a candy bar, but like a cookie, but not a cookie, like a tart but not really a tart, well kind of like a tart that's like a cookie and a snickers bar all together, only not as bad for you as those things... because they are made with whole grains and better sugar, and not as much sugar, so if there is such a thing, than this is it; a  healthy Snickers Cookie Tart.  There is healthy and then there is chocolate cravings, and sometimes you can allow them to merge, just a little, and everyone is happy for a second.  I have been craving these ever since I imagined them.  I needed to bring a special dessert to a friends birthday picnic and this is what came to my mind.

What makes a Snickers Bar a Snickers Bar?  Well, its chocolate, peanuts, caramel and nougat; so here is the baked version: chocolatey, peanutty, carmely, nougaty (well,  not really  nougat… just creaminess that sort of reminds you of nougat) Cookie Tarts.

Click here to see how to make the cookie tarts 

For this recipe, you can really use any cookie recipe you like, and any caramel sauce you like, or you can make caramel sauce ahead with this recipe which is made with Coconut sugar.  This is a fun recipe, and will be gobbled up in a hurry.  It freezes well, so you can put them in the freezer for after school treats for the kids. Just pull them out as needed and let them set at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Snickers Cookie Tarts
Chocolate Cookie Cups (Instructions Below)
1 Cup Caramel Sauce
1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1 - 1 1/2 Cups Roasted Peanuts
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling (Instructions Below)

  1. Bake Cookie cups as instructed below.  Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  2. Fill cups 3/4 of the way full with Caramel Sauce.
  3. Top generously with Peanuts and Chocolate Chips.
  4. Put Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling into a pastry bag and pipe over the top of the cups.
  5. Drizzle with more Caramel Sauce.
  6. Top with remaining Peanuts and Chocolate Chips.
Makes about 36 Cookie Tarts

Cookie Cups
2 cups whole wheat or whole spelt flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Coconut sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups mini chocolate chips chocolate
Makes 36 - 48 Cookie Cups

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large measuring bowl sift and mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  
  3. Stir together and blend well.
  4. In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together  butter and sugar  with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. 
  5. Add butter, eggs and vanilla extract.
  6. Mix until well blended.
  7. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.
  8. Mix until blended.
  9. Chill for 30 minutes. 
  10. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place in to mini muffin tins.
  11. Bake  8 - 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and using a round bottomed tool, press into cookies to make a tart; Click here for a visual.

Peanut Butter Cream Filling:
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sucanat
4 tablespoons half and half

  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until creamy and smooth.
  2. Put into pastry bags and pipe into cookie cups

These Freeze Well.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Garden Notes and Summers End

Even though the official day of Fall is still another month away, I have been feeling its peacefulness coming our way. You know when the sun shifts, and gets softer, and the mornings are a little slower and more golden and there is slight cooling off, that's the feeling I mean.  Its my favorite time; it feels like peacefulness is being infused in the air.  I am so glad for it, I'm not by any means ready for Winter, and this soft lingering season is a wonderful preparation for that season.   Last year at this time we went on an Alaskan Cruise with my parents.  What fun that was.  I wouldn't mind doing it again.   I have been having impressions of Falls gone by for many weeks now.  You know how smells will sometimes invoke certain memories, that's what this whole season seems to be doing for me.  Somehow memories of the Fall seasons are stronger to me than the other seasons.  Not sure why that is. 

Summer is coming to its end, and with its passing, we feel the changing seasons in our lives; Changes are coming.   One of the changes in our own lives is in our nest.  Eddie spent the summer with his sister, Olga, in Phoenix, and has decided to finish his last year of High school there;  it has been in the making from the beginning of Summer, but its reality has been felt as the school year started, and the bus has gone by, the mornings are quiet; there is no Eddie.  It is definitely a strange difference; slightly melancholy. Our nest is empty again.  But Steve and I are peaceful.  In times past, I have mourned the empty nest.  But today, I feel the flow of life, soft and gentle, moving forward.  There are grandchildren that help fill the holes of the empty nest. They are not underfoot as I would wish them to be but they are close at heart,  close as a phone call as close as Skype.  I long to grab them, kiss them, do things with them. They are our joy.  Our grown children likewise fill the places of our hearts in different ways.  These are our blessings.  Luke is home for a bit.  He is in between school courses, and we are enjoying having him.  I get fat when ever he is home, because he's a great cook, and loves to cook for us. 

My garden beds are overflowing.  Our land has transitioned from a grasshopper infested drought, to a green, flourishing abundance.  Remember the flood video earlier this summer.  Well, we have had several of those, with abundant rain all summer.  The grasshoppers have not returned in the hordes that they had been; the grass is getting thick once again, and the garden in the  raised beds  that Steve made me is thriving.  Due to its late planting, I am about a month off from the rest of you, but I am eagerly waiting for those bumper crops to ripen.  Thought I would show you the pictures so you could enjoy the before and after aspect of our square foot gardening experiment.

Here is a "before"picture with the marigolds and Cilantro on the left, and little pepper plants coming along.  Let me clarify by saying this is not a beginning "before", but  middle "before" picture… it is about a month after we first planted.

A few weeks later… peppers filling out, on the right and on the left again is the Cilantro filling out, tomatoes spreading out over the top of the beds

 Here is the Cilantro a couple of days ago;  the Cilantro (is on the right this time) and taking over the front row spot.

… and here it is on the back side of that same box; my first red tomato hiding there in the back underneath and beets coming along in between the gaps there in front, pepper plants on the left, just beginning its pepper fruit.

Parsley in pot on the patio.

I know that when the rest of the tomatoes ripen, they will probably come all at once.

The beds are bursting with plants and flowers now.

My cucumbers and tomatoes are all growing into each other, but getting along nicely. 

This plant was labeled as a Citronella plant when I bought it.  It has that beautiful Citronella smell.  I have since read that this isn't the true Citronella, but a type of Geranium, and apparently it doesn't have the same bug repelling effects that the true Citronella plant has.  That was a disappointment, but never the less, I like the plant, and it adds beauty, which is always a nice element and smells lovely.

 The green beans are coming along.

 Look at that beautiful Basil

 I never do get over my love for the look and smell of Basil.

Here are some before pictures (from the "before" pictures from the beginning):  The Citronella plant in the back right, Eggplant in the middle, pepper plants  in the front and middle right.  You can't see the tomato plant here, but it is on the back left.

 Here is a picture farther back. Tomato plant on the left was a nice healthy plant to start with but still small here and every thing is skimpy… the grasshoppers had eaten down the basil and some of the others.

 A couple of weeks later, it is beginning to look better.

And a few weeks later, The Eggplant is growing nicely.

and look at it now.  Mr. Tomato appears to own everything;

But Mr. Eggplant isn't doing too badly either.

Eggplant ideas are flourishing in my mind.  Another week and I will be cooking some favorite recipes. I'll be doing a little freezing and a small bit of canning this year, and look forward to that in a couple of weeks. I won't be going all out this year though, don't need as much in the pantry as times past.  Thanks for sharing my updates and garden notes.  Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

This little "how to" is a quick and easy idea that you are going to love.  Some of you may yawn and say "I've been doing that for years…no big deal" but for others of us who haven't been doing that for years, it is a wonderful idea.  Last year,  my son Eddie and I bought cookie dough from a buddy of Eddie's who was selling it as a fund raiser for the baseball team.  It was great having access to that cookie dough whenever we had a craving for some "fresh out of the oven" cookies with a glass of milk, or to be able to pop some in the oven when company came by unexpectedly.  After enjoying that cookie dough for a while,  it dawned on me that I could make and freeze my own cookie dough… then at least I will feel confident with the ingredients, and when I pop them in the oven for company I won't secretly be wondering "how much Crisco can a person put in their body before the arteries start to harden" .

As it turns out, freezing cookie dough is simple; Scoop it, plop it, freeze it.  But there are a few little tips that help, so here they are.

 1.  Make your cookie dough according to your recipes instructions.
 2.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes to firm the dough nicely.

3.  Scoop the dough with a small ice cream scooper.

 4.  Plop each scoop onto a wax paper lined pan.

5.  Place the pan into the freezer and allow the cookie dough to freeze 30 minutes to an hour (until it is firm or hard).

6.  Prepare a Freezer Bag, or Freezer Container by marking the type of cookie in the bag, and baking instructions as follows: add 2 minutes to your recipe's timing instructions and bake at the same temperature; no thawing necessary.

7.  Remove the cookie dough balls from the freezer.

 8.  Place each ball into the Freezer Bag,

 9.  Fill up the bag.

 10.  Zip the bag shut tightly and place back into the freezer.

11.  Bake cookies by removing from the freezer, placing on a cookie sheet (grease the cookie sheet only if the recipe calls for it), and bake according to the instructions in # 6 on the above list.

These are wonderful to keep on hand for a quick dessert, and also make a great gift to a "New Mom", or busy Mom that you may know.  Enjoy and have a great week everyone.