Peanut butter and cookie dough and cake… The Almost-Perfect Dessert

I love to bake…probably just as much as I look to cook.  I strongly believe that chocolate can mend a broken heart and that some of the best sweets are the ones that don’t require an oven.  Just a few simple ingredients, a “chill chest” as Alton Brown would say, and some TLC and you too can have delightful desserts in no time.

Last night, in honor of an old friend’s birthday, I decided to embark on a recipe I got from Baked Perfection, a baking blog I stumbled upon.  (PS… totally check this site out; the girl is a genius.)  I wasn’t in the mood to bake a cake or do anything ridiculously extravagant but a category on her page caught my eye: Cakeballs.

Okay, okay… they are truffles.  But the most fabulous truffles I’ve ever tried. (Sorry Lintz).  It combines my favorite ingredients, peanut butter and chocolate, into a quarter-sized cookie dough ball (no worries, its egg free).  You then freeze the balls before covering them in melted chocolate and chilling them again.

Now, these may seem mediocre.  Trust me, they aren’t.  They are soft pillows of dessert perfection.  Small enough to pop into your mouth and savor each layer of flavor.  Like a Reese’s PB cup… except 100 times better.  I could’ve eaten the whole plateful.  Luckily, I restrained myself to just one.

Truffles are one of those things that get a bad rep, I think.  They can be incredibly expensive and some of the flavors are just downright weird.  Besides, how much better does it feel when you give a gift, even something as simple as truffles, and the person knows you made them with love.  Plus, how often do you get homemade truffles as a gift?  Especially ones that taste this AMAZING?  Something to think about…

So the next time you are shopping for a holiday present (or just in search of a chocolate-y treat), skip the bagged goodies and make them yourself.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Head over to Baked Perfection at and click on her quick link to Cakeballs…”Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough”. 

Now I must go have one!

I can’t help myself…

I MUST MUST MUST add more cooking blog sites to my page.  I need to figure out how to directly link them because some of these women really mean business.  This morning alone I found a recipe from Sing for Your Supper at for Jalapeno Cornbread Whoopie Pies… unbelievable.  I want to make them ASAP.  I will have to change a few ingredients (sorry jalapenos, I can’t actually use you if I’m feeding you to my family…) and I’ll probably use ricotta instead of goat cheese in the filling (cheaper…:sigh:) but they look too incredible NOT to try.

More blogs to link?  Jump to these now; you’ll love them!

Bake at 350 .. the most beautifully decorated cookies you could imagine..

Dine & Dish at

Two Peas & Their Pod: A Cooking Couple :

She Wears Many Hats… visit

Leslie Sarna: The Dainty Vegetarian:

And I’m sad to say that I forgot my FAVORITE of all cooking blogs; one that I’ve followed on a daily basis since last summer.  Her e-mails and recipes have made her a celebrity, appearing on everything from Good Morning America to The Rachael Ray Show to Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”.  I aspire to be her.  If I could meet any celebrity, she ranks in the Top 5.  Her recipes slash the fat and calories from food that is normally known for being bad for us.  I can’t get enough of her “Holy Moly Cannolis”, her chicken cordon bleu and her scrambled egg mugs.  She is even coming out with her own show on the Cooking Channel this January! Have you figured out who it is yet?

The famous Lisa Lillien, the founder of Hungry Girl… my idol. 

How could I possibly forget to add her to my list?  She deserves a blog post simply dedicated to her company (…light bulb).

Please visit her site.  I know you will NOT be disappointed.  If my picky Italian dad likes her fat-slashed recipes, I know you will too!

Hungry Girl:

That’s all I’ve got for today.  Still haven’t decided what I want to whip up for dinner tonight.  Definitely doing steak tips (just a little salt and pepper and your good to go!) but I think I may want to make a little sauce for it and something interesting for the veggie.  Hmmm….

Pasta alla Vodka

Last night, I really wanted to put together a stellar meal for my parents.  I planned a 3-course meal, complete with everything a dinner should have.

Still keeping with my appetizer project, I made lemon-rosemary chicken.  Technically, they are supposed to be on skewers and served with a dipping sauce.  Unfortunately, we had no skewers and I did not have enough marinade to make the sauce but the chicken itself (although it didn’t look too great) tasted fantastic.  I think I will grill it for my parent’s dinner party.  But all in all, we’ll call it a win.

For the main course, I made rotini alla vodka.  The vodka sauce was quick-cooking and delicious; I even threw in a little dried tarragon just because and added a little extra vodka.  I slightly overcooked the pasta (total rookie mistake – I was so mad) but it turned out delicious anyway – my parents ate all of it! (For the recipe, visit my Tried & True page!)

To go along side, I attempted a recipe I found on My Baking Addiction: Beer Bread.  Since we didn’t have any self-rising flour like the recipe called for, I used all-purpose instead.  Mistake number 1.  The bread hardly rose and was dense and wet in the middle with a heavy beer flavor.  The edges and top that were done were golden and tasty, slightly sweet from the 1/3 cup of sugar the recipe called for.  I would definitely make it again, except this time, I’ll use the correct flour.  Oops.

Finally, to round out my meal, I made chocolate-chip biscotti.  Well, almost chocolate chip.  No mini chocolate chips in the house?  No need to panic.  Hershey kisses chopped up into chunks works just fine!  They were almost all gone and were fantastic.  Sweet but not so that you couldn’t eat them all without being sick.  Plus, the chunks of didn’t all melt so every once and a while you got a nice, big, warm piece of hershey’s milk chocolate – what’s not to love about that?

My only regret is that I totally forgot to take pictures.  Next time for sure.  Anyone wanna give me a really nice camera so I can take photos that I see on other blogs?  I promise to love you forever.

The Wide World of Cooking Blogs..

I work 40 hours a week at a desk.  I greet patients and file paperwork.  I drink a lot of coffee and even more bottled water, watching the clock slowly tick away the minutes from 7:30-3:30 everyday.  So what do I do to fill all of the dead space?  I have found a new obsession with other cooking blogs.  (I mean, what better way to interact with other home cooks?)

I don’t think I ever realized how vast the world of cooking blogs could be.  Every day, I am finding newer and better blogs than the day before, all while making around $13.00 an hour.  Of course, I pay attention to my work and God knows, I need it (cough cough, stupid college loans) but now and then, I find a stellar website, one that makes my blogging look like a first grader’s homework assignment.  So I feel the need to share them.

The first one actually led me to many of the others and it happens to belong to a young woman I went to college with.  A very talented photographer, I stumbled upon her pages of recipes and photos while clicking around on facebook one day.  Here’s the link:

Cooking Whims:

She also has a sister site… Baking Whims:

I haven’t tried her recipes yet, but one particular one for creamy orzo parmesan has definitely caught my attention.

Attached to her blog, she has listed other online cooks who keep them as well.  That is how I found Buns in my Oven…and Not the Baby Kind and My Baking Addiction

Buns in my Oven… and Not the Baby Kind is run by a mother of 2 who, I believe, also has her own photography company.  And if she doesn’t, she should.  Her pictures are incredible.. it makes my mouth water at the site of her salted chocolate chip cookies and mexican cornbread.  Although the site doesn’t completely appear on my work computer screen, I can tell this chick is for real.  Check her out at

The other blog, My Baking Addiction, is one that I just found today.  I’m already hooked.  This woman has taken cupcakes to a whole new level and they all look INCREDIBLE.  Oreo cupcakes? Snickers cupcakes? Sign me up.  I might make a few modifications to her recipes (aka lower-fat ingredients per usual) but I will not spoil the integrity of the recipe in any way.  I just need to bite into one of them.  You should too… find her here:

Hope you enjoy them as much as I am.  Maybe someday, someone will link me too!

The Best Cookies Ever

I am a sucker for anything chocolate. I will eat peanut butter out of the jar. I think I have a problem.

Enter one of the best cookie recipes I’ve ever had: The Peanut Butter Blossom.

First of all, let’s just start by saying that the recipe starts with a full cup of peanut butter.  Right away, I’m hooked.  Add some sugar, flour, brown sugar, eggs, shorteing and vanilla extract and you have the makings for a typical peanut butter cookie.  Place them in the oven and away we go.

Then, the best part…the chocolate.  As simple as a Hershey’s Kiss because, well, that’s what it is.  Because the cookies bake until they are only “just set” or slightly underdone, they come out of the oven looking like golden rounds of shear scrumptiousness.  But do I pop them in my mouth as is?  Most definitely not! (Besides, I’d burn my mouth.)

At this point, I suppose you could leave off the chocolate kiss and merely refer to them as Peanut Butter Un-Blossoms, but where is the fun (or the chocolately greatness) in that?  To make them true blossoms, take one unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss and gently press it into a (still warm) cookie.  The cookie itself with squish and crack a bit, leaving a perfect pillow for the kiss to sit in.  Immediately transfer them to a baking rack and let them cool completely.  (They will fall apart if they don’t.)

When I tell you these could just be one of my Top 3 Favorite Cookies of all time, you know I’m not fooling around.  Try ’em – I dare you.

Peanut Butter Blossoms (originally created by Hershey Co.)
Yields: 48 Blossoms

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening, softened
1 egg
2 TB milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
48 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
Extra granulated sugar, for coating


1. Heat over to 375 degrees.  Unwrap candies.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

So much to talk about..

First of all, I’ve been gone again for way too long.. almost a month, which for a blogger is almost completely unacceptable.  I will try to make up for lost time.

Barcelona was amazing.  I indulged in all of the food I intended on trying – patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy sauce), gelato of all flavors (twice a day.. literally: nutella, straciatella, brownie, sweet biscuit, tiramisu) I could not get enough of the stuff.  I think I should open my own gelato francise here in America -I would make so much money.  Sangria and red wine were staples – by the bottle or the jug.  I only had paella one but it was so flavorful and satisfying, filled with chicken and saffron and shrimp (that unfortunately still had the eyes on it..) that I found bliss instantly.

Even the plane ride there and back was incredible; I definitely know why people splurge for the internation Business class.  The second we sat down, I was handed a glass of champagne.  To follow, as much wine as I wanted and a three course dinner. PLUS, a two course snack later and rolls with delicious, creamy German butter. 

Needless to say, I’ve been dieting ever since, but doing very well. (A full 13 pounds down at least!) 

To bring us up to date, I’ve still been experimenting with appetizers for my family.  The mushroom tartlets didn’t go over as well as I hoped but my mom and dad LOVED the spinach-mozzarella balls I made them.  They just need to be a bit smaller, those were huge suckers.  I’m going to give a lemon-rosemary chicken skewer the old try next.

I’ve also been trying to cook things other than the same chicken every night.  Last night, I took a recipe by Robin Miller and spiced it up by adding a few things here and there, throwing it in the crockpot and letting it go for 5 hours on high.  It was like autumn on a plate – apples, onions, chicken, rosemary, creamy soup and a bit of salt and pepper.  I’ll post the recipe in my Tried & True section because it definitely deserves to be there.

Tonight, I’m thinking fish.  Any suggestions?