Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies with/or/without jam or chocolate

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie

No butter, no eggs, no guilt, but sinfully delicious! This is Skyler’s all time favorite cookie.  Peanut butter and maple syrup make these soft and tender cookies melt in your mouth, perfection.

Perfect Peanut Butter with Chocolate and Jam Cookies

I adapted this recipe from Dreena Burton’s “Vive le Vegan and after years of making Skyler’s Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies, along came 9 years younger brother Evan, who thinks everything in life is better with jelly, including big sister’s favorite cookie recipe! So, as soon as he was old enough to know what was going on, he decided to up the ante and request/demand that his favorite condiment, raspberry jam, be added to the mix and lo and behold the Perfect PB & J Cookie was born. And…since we were already messing with Skyler’s perfect cookie world, why not mess just a little bit more and add in everybody’s favorite cookie condiment…chocolate! Really I don’t know what took me so long to put two and two and another two and two together, maybe it was the fact that Skyler loved the original version so much we were afraid to mess with success, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  But now, even though the original is still a favorite, we never make peanut butter cookies without adding a little jam and a few chocolate chips to at least a few. PB PBJ and PB Chocolate Cookies

With or without the jelly or chocolate, these cookies are a family favorite and devoured by friends as well. A perfect after school snack for the kids and me! They are soft and a little bit crumbly, perfect for anyone who avoids eggs and dairy and delicious for all.

 Peanut Butter Cookies and PBJ and PB Chocolate

Perfect Peanut Butter OR PB & J OR PB with Chocolate Center Cookies

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones

Adapted from Dreena Burton’s “Vive le Vegan

 

Makes about 24-26 cookies

Ingredients:

¾ cup All Purpose Unbleached Flour

¾ cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder

¾ teaspoon Baking Soda

3 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar (I use organic evaporated cane sugar)

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

½ cup + 2 Tablespoon Natural Unsweetend Peanut Butter (do not substitute)

¾ cup Pure Maple Syrup (the good stuff, no Aunt Jemima or the like)

½ teaspoon Molasses

1 ½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

4 ½ Tablespoon Canola Oil (or other oil of your choice)

Optional Additions:

Raspberry Jam – (Strawberry, Apricot, Blackberry, etc, whatever your family prefers)

About ¼ cup Chocolate Chips – I use 60% Cocoa Chips

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350 F.

 In a medium bowl, add in all dry ingredients and whisk until evenly combined.

 In a liquid measure, pour in the maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract and oil. Then add in ½ cup of the peanut butter.  Stir thoroughly to combine.

 Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir well. Next add in the remaining 2 Tablespoon of peanut butter, but do not mix completely.  You want ribbons of peanut butter throughout.

Use 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Measure out rounded tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, 12-13 per sheet.  Do not flatten the doughuncooked peanut butter cookie dough

If adding Jam – Using a finger or the back end of a butter knife, make small depressions into the center of each peanut butter dough ball. Add about ¼ teaspoon of Jam into the center well of each cookie.PB cookie dough with center depression

 PB cookie dough with jamPB cookie dough with chocolate

If adding Chocolate – Using a finger or the back end of a butter knife, make small depressions into the center of each peanut butter dough ball. Add about 3-5 chocolate chips into the center well of each cookie.  Note, that the chocolate chips will soften while baking but not completely melt together.  Once baked, while the cookies are cooling, if you like, swirl together the softened chocolate chips in each cookie’s center, using the tip of a butter knife or spoon, until you have one blob of chocolate, instead of separate chips or leave as is if you prefer, great either way.

 Bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet.  They will fall apart if moved too soon.  After they have cooled slightly, move the cookies with a spatula to a cooling rack and Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie

Recipe Notes: This recipe is Vegan, use Vegan chocolate chips to keep it that way or non Vegan if it’s not necessary for you. Full disclosure, I don’t use Vegan chocolate, my favorite for these and most other recipes involving chocolate, is Ghiradelli 60% Cocoa chips, they are a little bigger than your average chocolate chip and perfectly bittersweet.

A note about the peanut butter, I only use all natural peanut butter with no added sugar or any other ingredients but salt. Sometimes, I’ll make my own at the health food store which works perfectly here as well.

for printable version click here

Summer Squash Blossoms stuffed with ricotta and herbs

Summer Squash Blossom Stuffed with Ricotta and Herbs

sweetheart squash blossomsI love the summer and always look forward to it coming.  I remember spending my days at the pool, having fun and relaxing.  Somehow, every year between September and June I forget the truth about summer, the busyness of it all and how quickly it flies by.  Driving kids back and forth to camp, rather than just getting them to the bus, spending more of the day out doors and at the pool, which is quite nice, but unfortunately leaves little time for food prep, cooking and clean up and even less time to photograph food, write about and post it right here.  So I’ve had a little hiatus from blogging, but now with the end of summer drawing near and the start of school and back to a more regular routine soon approaching, I’m looking forward to cooking and writing and I have a lot in mind.  Summer Squash Blossom

But, one of my favorite things about the summer is the special things I find at the farmer’s market, one of those being squash blossoms, special and fleeting, get to the local market quick while they last!  They may already be done for this year (although I found another batch at last week’s market), so something to look forward to.  Squash Blossom

First of all, let’s just start with the fun factor…giant flowers that you can eat, isn’t that enough to want to give these a try???  Now the less fun part…they are quite delicate, you need to have a little patience filling them and…they often can be found with little stowaways and occasionally one of those stowaways may even be a little stinging friend, so just be careful and carry on. 

The first thing I do when I get home from the market with a bag full of lovely blossoms is to take each one out of the bag individually, carefully open them up and give them a gentle shake over the sink, just to encourage any critters hanging out to escape.  If I’m not planning to prepare them right away I’ll just place them back in the bag with a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture and keep them happy a bit longer in the fridge.  It’s really best to use them within a day or two day of getting them, three days tops, as they wilt fairly quickly. 

When I’m ready to prepare them, I reach inside each one and remove the stamen, which holds the sticky pollen.  I also cut off the stem just at the base of the flower, occasionally I’ll leave it on just for a prettier presentation, but I don’t eat it.  Then I prepare the filling and carefully spoon it in.  IMG_6090 Squash Blossoms stuffed

Stuffed Squash Blossoms all lined upI have made these both cooked in oil in a sauté pan and also baked in the oven.  Both are quite good.  Cooking them on top of the stove certainly requires more hands on time while baking them is a bit quicker.  But I do find that cooking them on the stove as opposed to baking, leaves the filling just a bit more moist and creamy.  Either way, they are best eaten right away, leftovers while edible are definitely not as good. Cooked Stuffed Squash Blossoms tomato and herb saladThese make a great appetizer or as a light meal, I like to serve them with a little fresh tomato and herb salad, I don’t think any sauce is needed, but if a little of the tomato juice and dressing soak in I don’t complain.   Stuffed Summer Squash Blossoms

Summer Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta and Herbs

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones

 Ingredients:

Summer Squash Blossoms – about 16 – prepped by removing stamen, shaking out or brushing off any stow aways, and cutting off the stem or leave it on for presentation

Filling Ingredients: ricotta cheese and herb filling

1 cup Ricotta cheese

1 Egg

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs – see combo suggestions below

Zest of ½ Lemon

Fresh grated Nutmeg – a pinch, plus Salt & Pepper

Optional – 1/3 cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese

Coating Ingredients: squash blossoms rolled in breadcrumbs and cheese

3 Eggs

1/3 – ½ cup Bread Crumbs

1/3 – ½ cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese

Butter & Olive Oil – starting with 1 Tablespoon of each, adding more as needed

Optional: extra chopped fresh herbs mixed into bread crumbs & cheese

Fresh Herb Options:  I’ve used a variety of herb combinations when making this dish, but I always include parsley no matter what the other herbs are.  Some of my favorite combinations for this recipe are:   fresh herbs

Parsley, Mint, Chives, Basil

Parsley, Mint & Oregano

Parsley, Basil & Thyme

Parsley & Thyme

Or simply Parsley

 

Directions:

The filling – In a small bowl mix together the Ricotta, Egg, Fresh Herbs, Lemon Zest, Nutmeg, Salt & Pepper.  Next fold in the grated Romano if using.

In a larger shallow bowl (such as a shallow soup bowl or a pie plate), add the other three Eggs and beat well.

In a second shallow bowl, mix together the Bread Crumbs and grated Romano, plus the herbs if using.

Heat a large non stick skillet over a medium flame.  Add about 1 Tablespoon each Butter & Olive Oil, melt.

Now to stuff the Blossoms: Carefully open the petals and add a small spoonful of the Ricotta mixture into each blossom.

Next, dip each blossom into the beaten Eggs and then carefully coat with the breading and cheese mix.  Add blossoms to the hot skillet, about 4 or 5 at a time.  Cook until lightly browned on one side and then turn to brown the other side.  Remove from pan and add more blossoms until all are cooked, adding more butter & olive oil as needed.

Or, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm as an appetizer, side dish or main course with a salad of mixed greens or fresh tomato and herbs dressed lightly with lemon and olive oil.  Enjoy!

Squash Blossoms stuffed

Recipe Notes: The filling is enough to stuff 16-20 blossoms, if you wish to make less I would still mix up the complete filling recipe and then… If I have any leftover filling and breading (I do as my mother always did, who learned it from my Italian Nana),I add them together, adding any extra of any of the ingredients if needed and then form a fritter and cook that in the same pan as the blossoms, a yummy little extra!

For printable version click here  plated squash blossoms with tomato herb salad

Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart

Growing up, Colin and his sisters created what became their family’s favorite special occasion decadent treat, aptly named “chocolate death cake”.  The creation was a combination of a boxed chocolate cake mix with chocolate pudding mix and extra chocolate chips all mixed together and baked up with raspberry jam spread between the two finished cake layers, topped with (canned) chocolate frosting, not bad actually for kids growing up way back in the 80’s!  If you ask me, chocolate and raspberries are such a perfect combination, even with a highly processed cake mix it’s still pretty damn good, although it is hard for me to get past the canned frosting. So, a few years after we married, I started tinkering with the recipe, one to make it a bit more “homemade” and two to “gourmet it up”.  Over the years, I’ve made many different versions of “chocolate death cake” to celebrate Colin’s birthday, originally sticking a bit more to the traditional idea and then veering off into the flourless cake realm. For this year’s version, I created a decadently delicious chocolate ganache tart with a raspberry cream layer and believe it or not, it’s gluten free, dairy free and vegan!  But, please don’t let that scare you off, even the most diehard chocolate fan won’t notice the difference.

Last Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law Megan requested that I contribute something chocolaty and decadent for dessert, for which I made a slightly adapted version of vegan chocolate truffles from Giada’s latest cookbook “Giada’s Feel Good Food”.  Homemade cashew cream replaced the traditional heavy cream in the truffles and they were a huge hit! So, when I was planning Colin’s birthday treat, I decided to use the same recipe but transform it into a tart.  The cashew cream recipe creates more than is needed for the chocolate ganache, so I decided to mix up some of the extra cream with frozen raspberries and a little raspberry jam to sandwich between two layers of the ganache, the result was good enough to share and then some. Frozen Raspberries

For the crust, I toyed between a few different ideas; graham cracker, chocolate cookie crumb, etc but ultimately decided to make a wheat and butter free crust just to keep with the theme (adapted from Suburban Girl Gone Country’s almond oat crust).  I used ground oats which I’m happy to eat in most anything and ground almonds which I think go particularly well with raspberries.  I added a little maple syrup for sweetness and moisture, plus coconut oil.  The crust looks beautiful and elegant and has a nice slightly crumbly texture.  There is a subtle flavor of coconut, as Skyler (hater of all things coconut) immediately pointed out.  So if you’re also not a fan, I think any flavorless oil would be okay to sub, or butter if you don’t need to keep it dairy free. 

The end result of this beautiful tart is not only perfect for the chocolate lover in your life (especially if that person is you!), good enough to serve to company or for any special occasion, but you can also feel good knowing you’re eating a treat that won’t send you into cardiac arrest. It might even be a little bit good for you too, the cashew cream provides healthy fats, protein and fiber, dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, oats and almonds are heart healthy and even the coconut oil is good for you! So go on and indulge and feel free to keep the healthy secrets to yourself, no one needs to know the decadent dessert you’re serving is actually good for them.

Colin’s Birthday Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones

Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart back view

Ingredients:

Tart Crust adapted from the blog the suburban girl gone country

1 cup Almond Meal

1 cup Oat Flour

¼ teaspoon Sea Salt

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Water

½ teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Ganache Fillingadapted from Giada’s Feel Good Food – vegan chocolate truffles

2/3 cup Cashew Cream – recipe follows

2 cups semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate – chips or chopped from bars (full disclosure, I use my favorite 60% cocoa chips from Ghiradelli, which are not dairy free, but if needed use your favorite dairy free chocolate)

1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

Raspberry Cream Filling

1 cup fresh or frozen Raspberries

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam (seedless if you prefer)

1/3 cup Cashew Cream

Directions:

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl combine, Almond Meal, ½ cup of the Oat Flour and salt.  Next add in Coconut Oil, Maple Syrup and Vanilla.  Mix completely with a fork, then add in the remaining half cup of Oat Flour and the water.  Continue to mix with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand. IMG_5943

Lightly coat a tart shell (I use a 10 inch one with a removable bottom) with a little extra coconut oil and then pour in the crust mixture.  With clean hands (you could also use a piece of wax paper or parchment), press the crust into the shell, pushing up the sides until it is even all around the sides and bottom.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Note: if you wish to use the crust for a tart with a baked filling, only bake the tart for 8-10 minutes before filling and baking again.  Either way, allow the tart shell to completely cool before filling.

For the Cashew Cream:

Cashew CreamSoak 1 cup Raw Unsalted Cashews in 1 cup water for at least two hours or overnight.  In a high powered blender, blend soaked Cashews and Water about 1 minute until creamy.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

In a bowl over a small pot with slightly simmering water, add Chocolate and 2/3 cup of the Cashew Cream, stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the cashew cream.  Once the chocolate is melted and thoroughly mixed with the cream, remove from the heat and add in Vanilla and Maple Syrup.  Allow to cool.

For the Raspberry Cream:

In a medium saucepan over low to medium heat, add in Raspberries, Jam and 1/3 cup Cashew Cream.  Stir and gently press the raspberries to break them up until everything is melted together.  If you don’t like the texture of the raspberry seeds (which I don’t mind at all), strain cooled raspberry cream through a small strainer, otherwise use the cream as is.

Finally to assemble the tart: (really the recipe comes together pretty quickly)Chocolate Ganache first layer

Raspberry Cream middle layer

Chocolate Ganache Top Layer

Pour about half of the cooled chocolate ganache into the cooled tart crust.  Carefully spread the ganache to completely cover the crust.  Chill for about 15 minutes in the fridge.

After 15 minutes, spread all of the raspberry cream over the ganache.  Place in the fridge to chill again.

After another 15 minutes, spread the remaining chocolate ganache over the chilled tart.  I leave about ½ inch of the raspberry cream around the edges exposed without covering in ganache.

Chill again in the refrigerator, this time for at least an hour to allow the ganache to fully firm up.Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart with whipped cream

Serve the tart with fresh raspberries and cream.  If you don’t need to keep your dessert vegan or dairy free, lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream is a perfect accompaniment.  Otherwise, whip up the remaining cashew cream (you should still have about 1/3 to ½ cup left) with a bit of maple syrup and serve that alongside the finished tart OR double the raspberry cashew cream recipe and use the leftover as a topping.  Raspberry sorbet would also be really good. Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart with fresh raspberries

Recipe Notes:

If you don’t have almond or oat flour, each can easily be made using whole or slivered almonds or whole oats ground in a high powered blender or food processor.  I also like using organic baby oatmeal cereal in place of oat flour.

Click here for printable version

Farmer’s Market Frittata with crisp shitake mushrooms, spring onions & goat cheese

Farmer's Market Frittata
I love this time of year, when our local farmers markets are in full bloom.  I find the offerings of fresh and beautiful veggies so inspiring, I often get carried away and buy way too much!   Leaving with my bags loaded with more than we can usually eat in the week, happily planning meals in my head as I drive home. 
Farmer's Market Bounty

Farmer’s Market Bounty

This week I brought home spring onions with long green tops, more than a foot in length from Taliaferro Farms, shitake mushrooms from Madura Farms and herbed goat cheese from Acorn Hill, plus gorgeous eggs in shades of browns and blue from Wrights Farm which even inspired my five year old Evan to try “oval eggs” (hard boiled) for the first time ever!   WP_20140622_037
I cooked up this delicious and quick version of frittata, starting on the stove top and then finishing it under the broiler to get a nice golden brown top.  I used the spring onion tops, which I think are even more flavorful than the onions themselves and cook up quicker too.WP_20140622_014
I sprinkled bits of herbed goat cheese along with crisp cooked shitakes, all over the top just before placing under the broiler, but any goat cheese you like; flavored with herbs, garlic or just plain, would be delicious here.  Crispy Shitakes and Herbed Goat Cheese
If you can’t find young onions with the greens attached, scallions or leeks would work just as well.  In fact frittatas are so versatile you could really add most any combination of veges and cheese you like and come out with great results!  
Farmer’s Market Frittata
with Crisp Shitake Mushrooms, Spring Onions and Goat Cheese
 Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
Serves about 4 as a light main dish with a salad or other veggies on the side, also perfect for brunch with a warm crusty roll.
Ingredients:
5 or 6 Shitake Mushrooms
Spring Onion Greens (that’s the onion tops) from about 3-4 onions
Or sub with 2 bunches Scallions OR 2-3 Leeks
6- 8 Eggs (depending upon size)
Grated Asiago Cheese – about ¼ cup or more to taste
2 ounces creamy Goat Cheese
Butter and Olive Oil
Salt (flaked sea salt if you have)
Ground Black Pepper
 
Directions:
Heat a large non stick (oven safe) skillet (either a 10 or 12 inch pan will work) over a medium flame.
Wash, dry and slice the Shitake mushrooms.  Melt a bit of butter (about a teaspoon or two) into the skillet and then add in the mushrooms.  Sauté the mushrooms for several minutes until they get nice and crispy.  Once they’re crispy, sprinkle a little flaked salt and stir around and then remove from the pan.
While the mushrooms are cooking, clean and slice the green onion tops.
Into the same pan you’ve just removed the mushrooms from, add a little swirl of olive oil and then the onion greens.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Sauté until softened and beginning to brown just a bit.
While the onion greens are cooking, whisk together the eggs in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and add about 2 tablespoons of the grated Asiago cheese.
Once the greens are cooked, spread them flat over the inside of the pan so they cover the entire surface, sprinkle with about a tablespoon of grated Asiago, then pour in the eggs and immediately lower the temperature to the lowest setting.  Do not stir.  Once the eggs just begin to set a bit, gently stir them around the pan.
Drop the goat cheese all over the eggs in small bits and then top with the crispy mushrooms and any remaining Asiago.  Remove the pan from the flame and place it in the oven about 4 – 6 inches from the broiler, turn on the broiler, watch carefully and allow to broil about 1 – 2 minutes until the top of the frittata sets and the cheese begins to brown.
Remove from the oven, cut into 4-6 portions, serve and Enjoy! 
Click here for printable versionFarmer's Market Frittata with Shitakes, Spring Onions and Goat Cheese

 

Corn Berry Muffins

Corn Berry Muffins img_5175
It all started with a book my five year old brought home from school, a modern day version of Little Red Riding Hood “a new fangled prairie tale”, in my opinion, a truly terrible version of a classic, but it ended with grandma opening a muffin shop for the wolf to work in to keep him busy enough to stop terrorizing the neighborhood AND a recipe for Wheat Berry Muffins.  Upon first reading I assumed it was muffins made with wheatberries, which as much as I love wheatberries, did not sound so tasty to me mixed into a muffin. But, then I realized it was whole wheat muffins with blueberries and “grandma’s” secret ingredient, sunflower seeds, now that didn’t sound too bad.  Evan asked for days to make the Wheat Berry Muffins, but I had an open carton of buttermilk in the fridge that needed a purpose, so I decided Little Red’s grandma’s recipe needed some tweaking and the more I thought about it, I realized how yummy corn muffins are with berries and why not just for fun try to make a gluten free version….hmmm, now I was on to something.  So I spent the morning scouring through recipes and ended up with four different ones I took a little from this one, a little from that one and so on until I came up with the tastiest little morsels, moist and delicious. There’s a hint of coconut, but not overwhelmingly so (in fact, Skyler, who despises all things coconut, upon tasting these for the first time, exclaimed “delicious” and then asked “is there coconut in these?” and then continued to devour the rest and ask for more), a really nice crunch from the coarse cornmeal and a bit of texture from the sunflower seeds, lightly sweet, unbelievably moist and so very yummy.  These little gems are my current muffin obsession.
Corn Berry Muffins
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
Makes about 15 muffins or 12 plus 12 minis
Ingredients:
1 cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 cup Coarse Cornmeal **
1/2 cup Almond Flour
3/4 cup Granulated Natural Cane Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt

 

1 cup Buttermilk
2 extra large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/3 cup Coconut Oil – liquefied ***
1 – 1 1/2 cups Blueberries (or Blackberries) – about 1 -2 6 ounce containers of berries
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
Directions:
In a large bowl, add in all the dry ingredients; Brown Rice flour, Cornmeal, Almond flour, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt.  Whisk together to combine.
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add in the Buttermilk, Eggs, Vanilla and Almond Extract.  Stir thoroughly to combine.
Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir to fully combine.  Mix in the Coconut Oil.
Gently stir in the Blueberries and Sunflower Seeds.Corn Berry Muffins Mix IMG_5253
Prepare muffin tins with cooking spray.  Pour in about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup.
Bake about 20-23 minutes for regular size muffins or 16-18 minutes for minis.Corn Berry Muffins IMG_5535
IMG_5170
Recipe Notes: As an alternative to Blueberries these muffins are also delicious with big juicy Blackberries.  I actually really like making mini muffins with 1 big Blackberry in each one. IMG_5260 Corn Berry Blackberry Mini Muffin
Blackberry Corn Muffin IMG_5292Blackberry Corn Muffin IMG_5300
**A note on Cornmeal – the cornmeal adds a nice little crunch to these muffins that I just adore.  Alternatively, you could use finer corn flour, but you’d lose out on the crunch.  I have also used corn flour with a few tablespoons of the ½ cup subbed out with polenta or corn grits.
***One other note, if Coconut Oil is not available, I think your best bet on substitution would be butter, but I would probably up it to 1/2 cup.
Click here for Printable version
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