• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

In a Nutshell: Vacay on the Cod, Noms and Babies

In a nutshell, I’m back on the road coming to you with this post from lovely scenic Iselin, New Jersey. I know, I know, the consultant life is just as glamorous as George Clooney made it seem in Up in the Air. On the upside, I’ve gotten to enjoy a lot of the summer home in Boston and the Cape, so I really can’t complain about having to shower, put clothes on and get on an airplane to Jersey (I can’t complain, but I will). Plus, I get to enjoy unlimited Diet Coke from the Club Lounge at the hotel because my high-roller status. Oh yeah. So this is a perfect time to look back through some of the photos and recap what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks since my last Nutshell post and try to pretend I’m anywhere but Jersey.

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA (AND MOM): I left  off my last post right when I was kicking off a 10-day vacation down the Cape starting with the July 4th holiday. It’s my favorite time to take off because the weather is great, it’s my mom’s birthday, and so many people and clients from work take it off that you can actually disconnect for a bit. Which I totally did for the first time ever and it was greatttt. Even Harry got into the Fourth of July spirit!

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  • My best friend Katie from home always comes up for a few days around the fourth which is great because she’s like part of the family and requires very little to  keep her happy. The lake, a bike and some ice cream is really all she needs. We enjoyed lots of great sunsets on the lake and plenty of ice cream. Nutshell_Cape_Cod-1We like to think of ourselves as ice cream connoisseurs down the Cape. Sundae School in Harwichport is a favorite, but I must say the classic Oreo from Emack and Bolio’s in Orleans is just a symbol of my childhood memories down there. I mean look at that bad boy. FULL Oreos in just one scoop.Nutshell_Cape_Cod-9
  • WHERE THE FIGAWI?! – Katie, my friend Jess and I day-tripped to Nantucket one of the days we were off which was great. We had perfect weather, took the ferry over from Harwichport and strolled around the stores all morning before enjoying a delicious lunch at Nix’s Brew Pub (Lobster BLT, so good!) and then spending our afternoon soaking in sunshine and good beer at Cisco Brewery. Also, how about a giant YAYYYYYYYYYY for Jess who just got engaged this weekend the day before her birthday!

Nutshell_Cape_Cod-4Postcard perfect day on ACK. ‘MURICANutshell_Cape_Cod-3

  • SUP!: No longer just a cool way of saying wassssupppppp, SUP is the new hip workout of the summer: stand-up paddleboarding. Katie and I borrowed two from my neighbor to convince Skip that we realllly liked it and needed to get some of our own. It’s a little unsteady at first, like standing on a BOSU ball, but now I am all like What’s around the Riverbend Pochahontas?! Just cruising the lake at sunset like a pro. So good that Skip approved the purchase of two of our own, which has been tons of fun the past few weeks. Next stop, SUP yoga! Maybe…Nutshell_Cape_Cod-6Mom has been capturing some pretty sweet shots. New Facebook cover photo anyone?? I feel like I need to post this on Pinterest with some inspirational quote like “Every Sunset Brings the Promise of a New Dawn” hashtag blessed.  
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  • CAPE EATS: If there’s one thing I mastered on vacation, it was eating so much delicious food. We’ve done tons of cooking this summer at the house, which has been amazing. So the few times we do go out to eat, it’s a real treat. I had a date night with my parents (because I’m just that cool) over vacation at the Outer Bar and Grille at the Wequassett Inn. First, the views were amazing. And Skip and I unintentionally coordinated our colors because like Father like Daughter, right?Nutshell_Cape_Cod-15And these fish tacos were a real vacation highlight. So so so fresh and delicious.Nutshell_Cape_Cod-5
  • GET JUICED (OR NOT): So when I came back from vacation, to make the transition to the real world as painful as possible, I decided to do the one-day Juice cleanse from the Juice Box in Southie. I figured my body could benefit from a sugar detox and it would break from vacation snacking habits. I made it through just two of the juices and ended up with a migraine at 3pm that was counterproductive to getting work done. The third orange one had spices in it that I couldn’t drink and these had some pulp in them that I just can’t handle. So good to know, not for me but props to anyone who can survive off this for more than a day.

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  • READ A BOOK, READ A BOOK:  That’s what my brother used to say when he was little. But I did read a book right near the end of vacation that I crushed in 3 days. I’m not usually a book recommender, but I do highly recommend Luckiest Girl Alive. It has a bit of Gone Girl in it which definitely had me turning pages quickly to try to figure out what was happening. And I happily enjoyed a few more airplane-free Mondays reading on my back porch in the nice summer weather. Okay now someone give me a new book recommendation please! Nutshell_Cape_Cod-8
  • FRIENDS!: I’ve been lucky this summer that schedules have worked out and I’ve had a bunch of friends able to visit down the Cape. My friend Molly came down last weekend and we just had a super relaxing few days with boat rides, paddle boarding, taco night, and yoga. Nutshell_Cape_Cod-10
  • BAKING: I did LOTS of baking over the past few weeks, taking advantage of the great lighting in my parent’s kitchen, some free time and the fact I had lots of ready and willing taste testers down the Cape. In case you missed the recipes (shame on you) I made: Orange Lemon Poppyseed MuffinsBlueberry Banana Streusel Muffins and Salted Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies. All big hits around Harwich. I did some experimenting this past weekend with LOTS of peanut butter in one cookie which was very successful, so be on the lookout for that recipe soon. Nutshell_Cape_Cod-13
  • EYY BAY BAY: Babies! So as you know (if you know me) this new project has had me working from home a lot the past few months. Which is a great change from the Philly commute. BUT, since I can never actually be content, it has let me slip into some habits which involve not being in my regular routine of getting up early and showering and being presentable to society. So I started scheduling some lunch-dates to force myself to get in an early workout and then showering and putting pants on. Last week I had a great lunch with my old supervisor Kate and then had a super fun lunch date with my coworker and friend Jess who brought along baby Nolan, which was my first time meeting the peanut. Nolan suggested the Butternut Squash pizza at Lincoln Tavern, which was a great recommendation and my favorite thing on the menu. Look at that baby face. I tried to steal him, but Jess seemed pretty attached. Can’t blame her.Nutshell_Cape_Cod-11

And in OTHER exciting baby news (no no … mine is still just a food baby) my brother and sister-in-law are expecting Baby Shaw any day now! So I’ll officially earn my Auntie title within the next few weeks and cannot wait to meet the little guy. And spoil him absolutely rotten.

So that’s it, in a nutshell! The vacation withdrawal continues, but I’m heading to the Cape this weekend for my Uncle Jimmy’s annual dinner where I eat about a month’s worth of delicious food in one night and he teaches me a new skill. That I usually forget because of the many bottles of wine involved when Uncle Jimmy cooks! Forgeatboutit!

Salted Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some days I have a zillion recipe ideas in my head. Other days, nothing inspires me. When that happens, I find that perusing the sites of some of my favorite bloggers usually helps to spark some different flavor combination ideas or when I see a recipe that looks interesting I’ll try it as is. And that’s how I came upon these Salted Carmel Pecan Chocolate Chip cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction. And since I had all of the ingredients in my magic baking drawer of goodness, I took that as a sign that I needed to make these cookies.

I had been using nuts in a muffin recipe a week earlier and knew that I wanted a nutty crunch to my next cookie recipe. I also love anything salted caramel, but I’ve always been challenged baking with caramel in a cookie since it mostly bakes out and burns. But I was intrigued to see how Sally’s Baking Addiction topped the cookies with small caramel bits to keep it from melting all over.

Another thing that’s great about this cookie base is the use of corn starch. Two teaspoons of cornstarch helps to keep these chocolate chip cookies ultra soft and chewy. This is such a great chocolate chip cookie base you could definitely experiment with other add-ins. But for today, I stuck with caramel chews, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and of course, sea salt.

Yield: 24 cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 16 wrapped caramels, quartered
  • sea salt, for topping

Step 1: Cream together butter and sugars in your mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add in egg and vanilla and mix well.

Step 2: Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and slowly mix into the wet ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Chill the dough for a half an hour before baking. Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheets, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-sized balls of dough at least two inches apart. Lightly press a few pieces of caramel on top of the cookies and sprinkle with sea salt. I love this Jacobsen Sea Salt that I picked up when I was in Portland earlier this summer. 
Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and let the cookies cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted CookieBest enjoyed straight out of the oven, in my opinion, otherwise I recommend microwaving these for just a few seconds before indulging so that the caramel is nice and ooey gooey melty. These cookies are a great flavor combination of sweet and salty, with both a soft and crunchy feel when you bite into them. The nuttiness of the pecans is a great compliment to the salted caramel and sweet chocolate.Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted CookieIt was SO hot in Boston this past week that I didn’t want to put these in the mail since I figured they would melt into a caramel puddle before safely arriving at any of my friends’ houses. So instead I brought back Cookie Monday to my old coworkers since I was working in downtown Boston, and my old (but favorite) intern Abby met me on the street corner for the cookie drop. Feels like I’m running a bit of a cookie ring in the city sometimes with friends being my cookie runners, meeting me on street corners or swinging by my house to “pick up the goods” before work. Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie
Maybe Southie is finally rubbing off on me and I’ll be the next Whitey Becca, the most infamous cookie gangster this side of Dorchestah. I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from Crazy Eddie next door, though he might be more of a Walter White type of baker if you catch my drift.

I promise I’ll catch up with all my cookie blogs this week. I owe you a Nutshell post of what I’ve been up to, along with some of the other recipes I’ve been taunting you with on Instagram!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins

I’m back on my muffin kick. Something about the fresh summer fruits bursting with flavor just inspires me to test out new combinations for muffins. Not to mention down the Cape I have PLENTY of willing taste testers, which is a critical success factor for all muffin experimentation. Now these blueberry muffins were inspired by my Auntie Barbara who has a morning routine down the Cape which involves Dr. Bill biking to Ferretti’s Market in Brewster for a fresh blueberry muffin for her breakfast. Sometimes when I am on the bike trail in the morning for an early run I see Dr. Bill biking, and I chase him as fast as I can to try to steal that muffin, but always to no avail. So I told my Auntie Barbara I would make her a blueberry muffin that would be fresher and better than Ferretti’s. Because we all know I love a good little competition.

The key to a great muffin is fluffiness and flavor, at least in my opinion. I don’t like muffins that are too dense and I like fresh fruit in mine like cranberries or blueberries that literally pop with flavor when you bite into them. The first step to this muffin was buying the Texas sized muffin tins. You just can’t compete with bakery style muffins unless you make them jumbo-sized like the bakeries do. It’s basically the equivalent of two regular-sized muffins. I used to be a fan of mini muffins, until I realized I could put away about 12 of those without even looking leading to an unwanted muffin top of my own. Another thing that bakery muffins usually have is a crunchy top layer, and soft inside. I learned a trick from Sally’s Baking Addiction where she bakes her muffins for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F, and then turns it down to 375 degrees for the remaining baking time. I now bake all my muffins using this method and it makes a big difference.

For this muffin, I decided to mix two of my favorite breakfast flavors: banana and blueberry. I had two overripe bananas just ready to be mashed and blueberries were BOGO at the store last week so we had two cartons ready to go.

Yield: 6-7 jumbo muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana (2 small, very ripe bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the 6 jumbo muffin tins (or 12 regular sized muffin tins) with paper liners and spray the insides with nonstick spray.

Step 2: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk: flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Step 3: In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Fold in the blueberries just until evenly distributed. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Step 4: To make the streusel topping, combine the melted butter, light brown sugar, cinnamon and flour.

Step 5: Fill the muffin tins evenly with the batter. Sprinkle on some of the streusel topping to each muffin. Bake at 425 degrees F for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake for 20-24 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are golden brown. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Let the muffins sit in the muffin tin for a few minutes to cool before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Or better yet, serve these fresh for breakfast the same day. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

I love to enjoy a second-day muffin cut in half, toasted in the toaster with a pat of butter on top that gets all ooey gooey melty goodness filling in the nooks and crannies. Thank god for stretchy pants. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

So I know you’re all waiting with baited breath … but yes Auntie Barbara gave these muffins two very big thumbs up. Said they tasted just like a bakery muffin (maybe even better!)  And Dr. Bill was happy he got a morning off from biking to the bakery. And we all lived happily ever after, the end.

Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I’m trying to take advantage of having a lot of free time on vacation this week and the use of my parents’ perfect naturally lit kitchen to bake and document a few recipes so that I have some on hand to blog about when I go back to work next week. Though I am finding plenty of other things to fill my days with in the sunshine so I haven’t gotten quite as much baking done as I was hoping. But I finally hunkered down, bought a jumbo-size muffin tin and baked up two batches of muffins.

The thing about the jumbo sized muffin tin is that this is the actual size muffin you find when you go to most bakeries or restaurants. Each muffin is basically the equivalent of two regular sized muffins, but now you can just say “oh, well I just had ONE muffin.” Amiright??

So for my first muffin of the week, I wanted to try a new take on the lemon poppyseed muffin, which is one of my favorite muffins. I made regular Lemon Poppyseed Muffins last summer, right around this time actually. I saw on Pinterest an easy variation of these muffins from Sally’s Baking Addiction where she included orange zest and orange juice in her lemon poppyseed muffin, which sounded like a great fruity combo to me so I decided to give it a try. Plus her base muffin is a bit different than mine so I wanted to see which base I liked better.

Yield: 6 Jumbo Muffins or 12 Regular-Sized Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup salted butter, melted

  • Juice and zest of 2 medium lemons
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup non-fat or low-fat Greek or regular yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the muffin tins with paper liners and spray with nonstick spray.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well mixed and set aside.

Step 3: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice and orange zest together until combined. Whisk in the eggs and beat until incorporated. Whisk in the yogurt and vanilla. Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!

Step 4: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients slowly and gently mix together until the flour is all mixed in, being careful not to overmix. The batter is very thick.

Step 5: Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. For the jumbo tins, this makes 6, and for regular muffins it should make 12. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake for about 12-16 minutes until the tops are lightly golden. The initial higher temp will help to create that great crunch on top of the muffin.Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!

Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!

Allow the muffins to cool for about 10 minutes before digging in. You can also keep these in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!

Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!I like mine toasted with some butter melted on top. Along with a hot cup of coffee and view of the lake. Heaven, I’m in heaven. Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!

Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - A zesty twist on a classic citrusy breakfast treat!My next door neighbor down the Cape has her kids and grandkids visiting this weekend, so I brought these muffins over to her tonight along with the other batch I baked this afternoon so that they have some good breakfast treats to look forward to. I should probably get a few other recipes in while I have a good group of taste testers next door! Also when I was uploading my photos today, I found out that my camera was hijacked by these fluffy guys this morning. They look so innocent here, but they are t-r-o-u-b-l-e! Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffin-4

Orange Lemon Poppyseed Muffin-5

Happy Friday.

 

In a Nutshell: Sports, Hobbies and Chi-Town

In an effort to post recipes more regularly, I’ve decided to take a page from the book of many of my favorite bloggers and separate my weekly recaps from my blog posts. That way I’ll be more inclined to post recipes sooner even if I’ve had a lame-o week and it will help in the future to repost recipes in a few months and not confuse people to think I’ve become a time traveler. Some of the bloggers have sections called “This and That” or “Flotsam” or “Crushing on” or other creative ways to post their recaps of a bunch of different things they’ve done that week or things they are currently loving. I probably spent more time trying to come up with a cool name for mine that fit with my blog theme, and good ol’ Linda finally helped me come up with “In a Nutshell” – which definitely fits with my business consultant humor and is ironic in the sense that I never actually am able to tell my recaps in a concise way. So here you have it, the first installment of In a Nutshell. In bullet points, of course. 

I haven’t given you any recaps in the past two weeks, so this one will be a little longer. Don’t worry, still nothing too exciting going on and nothing you haven’t seen on Instagram recently.

  • MARSHMALLOWS – Two weeks ago I posted my recipe for Homemade Marshmallows. They were a big hit and we had a lot of fun toasting them, but then I was left with a huge bag of marshmallows that I needed to do something with. I whipped up a batch of Salted Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats and did a handoff of the goods in Copley Square to my friend Sara and my favorite teeny taste tester Miss Avery. It was Avery’s first experience with Rice Krispie treats, but after giving them her skeptical once over inspection, she ate them just like a natural – straight fistful to the face. Toddler stamp of approval!

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  • SPORTS! – My brother was in town for work a week ago so we got tickets to go to the Red Sox game on Tuesday night together. Despite a very strong anti-Sox sentiment in our family (Go Yankees!) we still enjoy the game of baseball. Had some Fenway Franks and caught a cool post-storm sunset over Fenway.

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  • HOBBIES! – I have been on a travel hiatus for work, and went from the extreme of flying every single week for 6 months straight, to working from home 5 days a week for the past 7 weeks. Neither is good, but I’ll take the latter over the former any day. I’m trying to really maximize my time at home since who knows when I’ll be back on the road, so was really pumped that I could make my friend Liza’s knitting workshop at Templeton General last Wednesday. I’ve never tried knitting before but it’s a fun new challenge that is definitely a healthy way to stay off your phone for a while and do something productive with your spare time. I think there should be a new trendy diet called the Knitting Diet where you become so focused on trying not to eff up your stitches that you go hours without eating or sleeping or doing anything but trying to knit this dang washcloth. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-4After several hours of knitting, I’ve got about as far as making a tiny mouse scarf. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-6
  • CAPE EATS – I was down the Cape last weekend with my parents and their friends that they travel with Tom + Barbara. I am an excellent fifth wheel at meals because I just try to keep the grown ups entertained with my random stories. Also, it’s always good to have some new company around for taste testers. I had this wedge salad with grilled shrimp at one of our favorite Cape restaurants The Marshside in Dennis. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-5Saturday afternoon I made these Peanut Butter S’mores Bars which the grown-ups taste tested for me and gave their stamp of approval. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-7On Saturday night we went to a fancy schmancy dinner at 28 Atlantic at the Wequassett Inn in Harwichport. For dessert we had this amazing deconstructed strawberry cheesecake which was served under this almond cake, which was gluten free. Except it was SO delicious that we became really skeptical that it could possibly be gluten free since it didn’t taste like cardboard. So Skip and I had to triple check with the waitress since we are Linda’s gluten-body-guards willing to lay a smackdown on any waiter who doesn’t respect people with Celiac. But this non-cardboard tasting dessert was indeed gluten free! So for Mom’s birthday this weekend I recreated the almond cake, so look for that recipe soon. Oh and see that scoop of deliciousness on top? That was browned butter ice cream and absolutely unreal.TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-8
  • CHEE-CAHHH GO – Seven mondays in a row without a 6am flight were too good to be true, so I had no complaints about having to fly to Chicago Monday afternoon last week for two nights. I am also now only ONE segment short of American Airlines/US Airways status (the lowest status) which is bananas since I’ve already flown 29 segments just on those airlines since January. At least I’ve hit my Platinum SPG for the year and Gold for life already. The first night I met a new partner on my team and another colleague for dinner at Acanto downtown. My sister’s all-time favorite dessert is Tartufo which they had on the menu. Normally I wouldn’t get dessert at a business dinner but it was the sisterly thing to do, to order this Tartufo, send my sister pics and then eat every last bite. You’re welcome Kristen. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-11I haven’t been to downtown Chicago since I attended Core Analyst school at Accenture which was my first job out of college. My many flights into ORD the past two years had me driving up to Northbrook, Illinois which was too far of a trek to downtown Chi-town. So I was really pumped to get a chance to walk around downtown and meet up with a few friends while I was in town, which I usually never get a chance to do on the road. Taking selfies with the bean alone was less than glamorous but I liked this panoramic view in Millennium Park. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-9Tuesday morning I met my old coworker and friend Julia at Starbucks for breakfast and a quick catch-up sesh. And then Tuesday night my college friend Jolly Jim took me to Cerise, the rooftop bar at the Virgin Hotel, for wine, apps and a sky-high view of Chi-town. Jim was an excellent hand model, and knew not to dare touch the food before I got the perfect shot.

TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-12Wednesday morning was an early flight out of ORD where I am continually surprised (yet not surprised anymore?) at how there is no hope for humanity every time I witness some absolute shenanigans from people on airplanes. Since when do people think it’s okay to just pick a seat and sit in it? It’s assigned seating! Luckily it was too early and I was way too tired to engage with this crazy lady in the row in front of me. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-13

  • VAY-CAY-SHUN! After one night in Boston, I packed my bags and hit the road early Thursday morning after pilates to head to the Cape for my annual week-long vacation in the sun. I’ll save all of my vacay posts for the next nutshell wrap-up, but I will leave you with this delicious charcuterie, my new appetizer of choice for a Friday night lakeside with some vino. TSC_In A Nutshell_07052015-14So that’s it, in a nutshell! Let me know what you think of the format of these posts, always looking for (positive) feedback: thesaltedcookie@gmail.com

Happy Monday!

 

Peanut Butter S’mores Bars

For some reason, every time I think of s’mores all I can think of it is a bunch of people with picket signs chanting “What do we want? S’MORES! When do we want them? Now!” Is that weird? I mean honestly though, have you ever met anyone that you like who doesn’t like s’mores? Probably not because S’mores are just about as American as baseball and apple pie on the fourth of July. And who can forget that scene from the Sandlot where Smalls doesn’t know what a s’more is and the other kid says “You’re killing me Smalls!”

I’ve loved s’mores since I was just a little teeny thing down the Cape.  Not surprising at all, but that’s me in the picture below stuffing my two-year old face full of marshmallows while my brother is completely embarrassed of me. Not much has changed 28 years later. Still down the Cape in the summer stuffing my face full of marshmallows to the point of embarrassing family members. At least I’ve got my frizzy hair under control now.Peanut Butter S'mores Bars-12

One of my favorite recipes that I posted over three years ago now are my S’mores Cookie Bars. Anytime friends are asking me for recipes they can bring for a BBQ or to a friend’s house in the summer, I always recommend these s’mores bars because they are easy to make and so delicious. Much easier to transport than regular s’mores. Pop these in the microwave for 10-12 seconds and they taste just like they are fresh off the flame. Now if you look at the original recipe from 2012 you will notice this was back in the very early days of The Salted Cookie where I had an iPhone 4 and a ghetto kitchen in Southie that I rented over a dentist office. I am still trying to figure out what to do with my original recipes – whether I reshoot them and update the old posts or try a new take on the old recipe.

In this case, I decided to take a new spin on an old favorite. When we had our gourmet s’mores night a few weeks ago, one of the things Amanda brought to the party was peanut butter. So I put some peanut butter on a cracker, and made a s’more on top and woweeeee that peanut butter chocolate marshmallow combination was on point. Or what is it the kids say these days, “on fleek?” Or does that only apply to eyebrows? Anyway, peanut butter seemed like a logical ingredient to up my s’mores game with these bars.

I used my original S’mores Cookie Bar recipe but consulted the recipe of one of the bloggers I love following on Instagram – The Food Charlatan – to see how she incorporated peanut butter into her version. Instead of just putting peanut butter in the dough, which was my original thought, I used her method of also spreading a layer of peanut butter on top of the base layer of dough.

Yield: 9 large squares

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 full sheets)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 5 Hershey Bars (or 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow Fluff

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking dish with parchment and spray with nonstick spray. This will make your life infinitely easier when you try to get them out at the end.

Step 2: In your stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Add the sugars and beat until creamy. Add in the vanilla extract and egg and mix well. Scrape down the side of the bowl before adding in the dry ingredients.Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

Step 3: Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt to the mixture and slowly beat on a low speed just until the dry ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overmix.

Step 4: Divide the dough into two. Evenly spread half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan (make sure you leave enough dough to cover the top later). Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

Step 5: Spread 1/3 cup of peanut butter over the top of the dough.

Step 6: Cover the peanut butter with a single layer of hershey bars (or chocolate chips). I prefer Hershey bars because it makes the next step of spreading the fluff much easier. Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

Step 7: Microwave the fluff for about 20 seconds to make it easier to spread (being careful not to explode it all over your microwave). Spread all of the marshmallow fluff over the chocolate. Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

Step 8: Use your hands to flatten remaining pieces of the dough and place them carefully on top of the fluff, filling in the gaps with smaller pieces as you go. Just try to cover as much of the fluff as possible. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the crust is lightly golden. Let them cool (haha yeah right) and cut into 9 squares and serve! Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

It would be absolutely easy without a doubt to just start picking away at these with a fork while they are hot out of the oven and find yourself having eaten half of the dish without even realizing it. There is just something about the very warm ooey gooey chocolate peanut butter graham cracker marshmallowy combination that is an absolute forkful of heaven. I made these down the Cape and my dad and my parent’s friends who were visiting were my real-time taste testers and gave these their stamp of approval. Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

In an effort to not be left alone with the remaining bars, I packaged them up and shipped them off to my friend Carolyn who said she enjoyed them before work for breakfast. Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

My recommendation is if you aren’t going to serve them right away, keep them chilled and then when you go to eat them microwave for about 10-12 seconds and then enjoy with a fork. They are also really good served cold and enjoyed handheld, but my personal preference is to enjoy them warmed and with a fork. In large quantities. Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!I tried to take the kitchen torch to these, but it was completely unnecessary. Although I do have a lot of fun lighting things on fire in the kitchen I’ve come to discover.

Peanut Butter S'mores Bars - The perfect way to enjoy S'mores all year round!

I’m still working on a separate post to do a weekly recap. It’s making it a lot easier to keep writing these recipes if I keep my weekly recap separate, so look for that soon. Happy Sunday!

Crostini Two Ways: Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

If I had it my way, I’d do away with full meals and just live off of appetizers. Especially when I go out to eat with friends, we’re always just ordering wine and splitting a few appetizers, which is my ideal. I’m definitely of the “Variety is the Spice of Life” mentality when it comes to food, which is why my idea of a perfect Friday night involves my friends, some vino and a nice spread of apps. Whenever I throw a party, I’ve got my go-to appetizers down pat so you always know when you’re attending a Becca Shaw event, or even just a Friday night get together, you’ll leave happily full of delicious apps.

Another thing I believe strongly in, is that as you get older you should supplement all of your official blood-related aunts and uncles with additional aunts and uncles who can add new kinds of important value to your life. I’ve found that just continually adding the word “uncle” before people’s names that like I eventually leads everyone to accept the fact they are now related to me – i.e. Uncle Donnie, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Bill, and so on. One of my favorite aunt/uncle pairs is my Auntie Carol and Uncle Jimmy, who I’ve learned a LOT from about cooking (from Uncle Jimmy) and drinking and shopping (from Auntie Carol).

Uncle Jimmy is the king of appetizers, bringing them to a new level you can’t even fathom. Whenever he comes over, you should juice cleanse a week before and invest in some serious stretch pants to prepare your body for all of the amazing food he is going to make. I’ve already started my preparation for his Cape trip in August. But one of my favorite appetizers that Uncle Jimmy made a few summers back was crostini. Really, anything that involves cheese, bread and prosciutto is okay in my book.  Once I learned a basic crostini recipe, I’ve started experimenting with new combinations on my own. A few weeks ago I decided to make crostini for our Thursday-night bookclub (which involves minimal reading and maximum eating, drinking + gossip).

I picked up spreadable goat cheese and spreadable Brie from the store – though you can use regular types of both cheeses, I just find it makes it much easier to spread using the versions in the container. I paired the goat cheese, fig preserves and prosciutto for one crostini and on the other brie drizzled with honey and topped with a thin slice of fresh peach. Super easy, very quick, and huge crowd pleasers. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fresh baguette
  • Fig preserves
  • Spreadable Goat Cheese
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • Spreadable Brie Cheese
  • Honey
  • 1 fresh peach

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the baguette on a diagonal and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush lightly on one side with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-12 minutes, just until the edges are lightly golden and toasted but not browned. Take out and set aside to cool. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

Step 2: For the first crostini, spread a thin layer of goat cheese covering at least 3/4 of the slice. Spread a dollop of fig preserve on top and then put 1/3 of a slice of prosciutto on top. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

Step 3: For the second crostini, spread a thin layer of brie cheese covering at least 3/4 of the slice. Drizzle a small amount of honey on top, and top with a very thin slice of peach. I recommend cutting the peach slice in half so that someone could easily bite into it without making a huge mess. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach

And that’s it! Depending on how thin you slice the baguette, you can usually get at least 30 crostini pieces out of a loaf. Another great idea is to make a crostini bar for a party where you have a basket of toasted bread, and a few cheeses, jams/fig preserves, fruit and dried meats so that people can make their own. The Perfect Appetizer: Crostini Two Ways - Goat Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto and Brie, Honey & Peach Whipped ricotta with honey is another great flavor, and when we were in Portland a few weeks ago we used freshly whipped goat cheese and topped it with fresh strawberries and a blackberry reduction drizzle. PDX Indulge Con 2015-17

I’m thinking of changing the format of my blog posts up a bit – maybe doing a weekly recap in a separate email – like a This & That, or Random Thoughts kind of post – which might help me to increase the frequency of my recipe posts. Since sometimes I don’t have enough good things in a recap to post a recipe and other times I have too many photos from my week to include.  I think if I come up with a witty enough name for it then that’s what I’ll do, but still TBD. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the latest Salted Cookie things!

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