The word “amalgam” kept popping up in the article I was reading this morning, before I embarked on my Breakfast Tuesday endeavors. It’s a word I grew close to, and practically fell in love with, during my time in graduate school. I always thought “amalgam” and all its variants were apt words to use when talking about literature because it’s a word with a huge scope, a word that makes sure you know that there are many, many things you can and should consider when looking at other words on a page. It reminded me that words aren’t just words; they are words with past definitions, words coming out of someone’s mouth, words used while thinking about other words, etc. Looking it up now, though, I see the definition is a lot more straightforward. Apparently, an “amalgam” is primarily an alloy used for filling teeth, and only secondarily a “mixture of different elements”. I guess being immersed in a world where poetry is practically shooting out of your eye sockets makes you see and understand things differently (and abstractly, it seems).

Regardless of the dictionary definition, it kept jumping off the page and grabbing my attention, basically screaming at me, and then hopping around to each corner of my mind. I remembered how much I loved the word because I loved thinking about the world as a seamless combination of all things past, present, and future. I browsed breakfast recipes, to share this Tuesday, in this state of mind and felt compelled to throw a bunch of ingredients together into one, self-contained, breakfast food. Muffins seemed perfect for the job because you really can just throw a bunch of pantry/fridge/fruit basket ingredients together to make your own baked and breakfast appropriate amalgamation. According to my poetically-stretched and partly made-up definition, at least!

(PS- Fun fact: The online dictionary lists “cocktail” as a synonym for both “amalgam” and “amalgamation”.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Plantain Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Handle the Heat, originally “Chocolate Banana Muffins”)

Yields 12 muffins

Notes: Since the original recipe did not call for peanut butter, you could easily skip it, and, if you’re craving a sweeter breakfast, you can fold one cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into the batter before transferring it to the tin.

Ingredients:

3 very ripe plantains, mashed

¼ cup creamy peanut butter, melted and slightly cooled

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup all purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line muffin tin(s) with cupcake papers or grease individual muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until completely combined.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together plantains, peanut butter, sugar, egg, and applesauce until completely combined. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and fold ingredients together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

4. Fill each muffin cup almost to the top with an equal amount of muffin batter.

5. Bake muffins in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

6. Cool muffins in pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Muffins are best the day they are made, but can stay in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days. You could also freeze the muffins, baked or unbaked, up to a month, reheating or baking as needed.

 

it’s 10 o’clock at night and I’m trying to write a post about the breakfast I made over twelves hours ago. I was thinking about putting it off until tomorrow, or even the next day, and could think of a bunch of excuses to justify it. I’ve been sick these last few days and feeling overwhelmingly tired stupidly early in the day. I got called into work on a day off, but had to go in because, hey, who doesn’t need the money? School applications are breathing down my neck and there are a million people with whom I have to get back in touch. I’m not even sure if people expect me to post a breakfast recipe on Tuesday, so what’s the point?

Now what? What is the point? That kind of thinking sucked me into a pretty dark spot, sitting here, writing this. I guess what’s keeping me going is the fact that I woke up super early, despite having to go into work and despite being sick, so I could make something fun to eat and share. I even made two batches of scones because the first recipe didn’t turn out as delicious as I thought it might. It was obviously important to me that I make the effort here and try my best to keep my word, even if my word means something as simple as making scones and posting pictures of them on the internets. Also, who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate in the morning?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

(Recipe adapted from bakingsheet)

Yields 16 smallish scones

Notes: There are two things that almost guarantee perfect scones: using very, very cold butter and working the dough quickly with your hands. I always cut my butter into the smallest cubes possible and stick them in the fridge for about 15 minutes before using.

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

10 tablespoons butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and very cold

4 tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup and 2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add peanut butter and cubes of butter to flour mixture and mix with your hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in chocolate chips.

4. Combine milk and vanilla extract, and then add to dough. Mix with your hands until just combined, then turn out onto a clean, floured surface and knead once or twice. This process should go very quickly and dough will be lumpy.

5. Split dough into 2-3 discs, about one to one-and-a-half inch thick, and cut into wedges.

6. Place wedges two inches apart on the baking sheet and bake each sheet 16-20 minutes, until edges are light golden brown.

7. Cool wedges on a baking sheet until cool enough to eat.

Storage: Scones do not store well, so I only bake enough scones to eat. To freeze ready-to-bake scones, just place unbaked wedges on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Store frozen wedges in an airtight container or freezer bag until ready to bake and serve. You may have to add an extra two or three minutes to the baking time, but other than that everything  is the same!

Buzzzzz. The sound of silence. I know it’s no excuse, but this time around the moving process has been slow and overwhelming.

Exhibit A: This is my bedroom as of yesterday. Something seems off, no? That’s because it’s also the living room. And it’s full of everything I brought over from the old place – kitchen, living room, bedroom, everything. There are two other people moving stuff out of the apartment over the next few days, so I can’t move my stuff around until they are out and settled in the world. It’s cool. I kind of love having everyone hang out in my room all the time. In fact, last night we had some frozen cheesecake in the living room/my bedroom and everyone had to eat cheesecake and leave, whereas I could eat cheesecake in my bed and not have to move afterward. Gotta love the little things.

Exhibit B: Because all my kitchen stuff is still packed away, I haven’t baked or cooked a single thing in a few days. What you see here is the extent of my “cooking”, and basically what I’ve been eating for the last two days (and will continue to eat until tomorrow-ish, most likely). I can’t complain, though, because they are chocolate mini mini-wheats, and I’m a mini-wheat fiend.

I’m having some guilt issues concerning my lack o’ recipes this week, just in case you couldn’t tell, and I’m going to try to wriggle free from some of the guilt by sharing photos from my most recent trip to Mike’s Pastry. Mike’s is pretty touristy but they somehow manage to maintain a good level of deliciousness, and cheapness (the cost of living in Boston is in every other way astronomical). I don’t normally trek out to the North End but my mother was in town and we both love ourselves some dessert. What you see here, friends, is our lunch during one of the days we spent walking around the city. The box contains a pistachio cannoli (with the traditional ricotta filling), a chocolate peanut butter cupcake, a slice of tiramisu, and a profiterole the size of your face (no lie).

First up, the cannoli. No words, people. I love, LOVE anything with ricotta filling (sweet or savory), and the pistachio bits were a nice bit of change from the more traditional chocolate chip option. Mike’s does a great job with the cannoli shell, too, which is crispy but not crumbly and fried but in no way greasy.

Second is the peanut butter cupcake. My only concern with the cupcake was that the peanut butter filling was actually peanut butter. It sounds weird, but I don’t really come across peanut butter filled desserts that are filled with plain old peanut butter. It was a little cloying, but not enough so that we were prevented from devouring it.

Lastly, the profiterole. It was hugantic. Poofy and filled with pastry cream. I’m alright with that.

I’m sorry, again, for my lack of recipes and baking adventures. Stay tuned, though! I hope to bake in the next few days!

Moving day is approaching way too quickly for comfort – I have four days to finish packing and it’s a little frightening to think about all the work and tasks that have yet to be accomplished. The good news is that I swore to myself that I wouldn’t leave everything until last minute and I’ve kept my word. There are boxes all ready to go, laundry bagged and sorted, and rooms almost completely packed up. Let’s see, there’s the living room, storage closet, kitchen… wait! Kitchen? Really? I packed up the kitchen already? Yes sir, it was the first room I attacked with cardboard and tape. Random room knick-knacks and mountains of old receipts? Still got ‘em. Baking pans, pantry supplies, pot holders, cook books, silverware, cups, etc? Gone until Tuesday.

There is no method, people, only madness. It’s not like the kitchen is my favorite place in the house or I’ll need supplies to make food or bake for my friends. I was definitely kicking myself in the rear-end for it all when I wanted to make something for a friend, who was in need of a sugar pick-me-up. After rummaging through everything that didn’t belong to me, I came up with a large pot, a spoon, and a pyrex casserole dish. Thinking about her favorite desserts and my lack of kitchen utensils, I found a solution. Rice krispie treats! There aren’t a whole lot of ingredients (I don’t want to have a lot of food lying around before moving) and you don’t need a whole lot of kitchen stuff to make them.

I decided to do a “split personality” sheet of rice krispies – one half original topped with M&Ms and one half peanut butter krispie treat with chocolate ganache. The candy didn’t stick to the treats very well, even though I pushed them in pretty hard after pressing the krispies into the pan. I’m not sure if that was a me-mistake or just some sort of unwritten rice krispie rule of which I’m unaware. Regard the peanut butter personality, I went a little crazy with the chocolate ganache (using ¾ cup chopped dark chocolate melted with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter) and it overshadowed the peanut butter. Next time I’ll drizzle the chocolate instead of glopping it everywhere. It also took a long time to set on account of the muggy pre-hurricane air. Grievances aside, I loved them. It has been so long since I’ve had a rice krispie square and I loved how I got the choice between peanut butter and original. I didn’t do anything to change the recipe, so I’ll link you right to it.

(Once I’m moved and settled you’ll see more interesting and original recipes, promise!)

Here’s something you’ve never heard before: love knows no bounds. It doesn’t have limits or a definite physical shape. Love changes, transforms, evolves, but never has an expiration date. You love those who don’t love you back. You love those you keep close to you and you love those who you let go, who’ve let you go. You love those who have left, forever. You love those you do not know and might never know because they are human and worthy of love.

I don’t know Jenny. I might never know Jenny. I didn’t know Mikey. This peanut butter (puddin’) pie is for him. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Peanut Butter (Puddin’) Pie

Yields 6 to 8 servings

For the pudding

Ingredients:

½ cup granulated sugar

5 teaspoons corn starch

Pinch of salt

1 ¾ cups milk (not fat-free)

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan.

2. Gradually mix in milk, then cream.

3. Put medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture comes to boil (anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes, mine took forever, for some reason). Boil until thick, still whisking constantly, for another 30 seconds.

4. Add peanut butter and bring pudding mixture back to a boil, whisking frequently.

5. Remove pudding from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

6. Let pudding cool to room temperature, with the surface covered in plastic to avoid a skin.

For the crust

Ingredients:

25 whole oreos, crushed to fine crumbs (best done in some sort of food processor)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine oreo crumbs and melted butter and stir until crumbs are coated.

3. Press crumb mixture into an 8 or 9-inch pie pan, pressing crumbs into an even layer both on the bottom and up the sides of pan.

4. Bake crust in preheated oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until crust sets.

5. Cool to room temperature.

For the filling

Ingredients:

1 batch prepared peanut butter pudding (see above)

1 8 ounce tub cool whip (or other whipped topping)

Optional: Extra oreos to crumble on top or layer in between pudding and whipped topping, chocolate curls, marshmallows, M&Ms, or other candy topping for decoration

Method:

1. Fold one half of prepared topping into pudding until combined well.

2. Set aside other half.

 

To assemble pie

Method:

1. Pour pudding and whipped topping mixture into cooled piecrust. Spread evenly.

2. Spread other half of whipped topping evenly over pudding mixture.

3. Add additional toppings if desired.

4. Place pie in fridge (or freezer, for a frozen treat), covered, for at least one hour or overnight.

Slice and serve. Store pie covered and refrigerated.

 

It’s a common thing to assume the people you love know you love them, and it’s a common thing to forget that every moment you have with one another is extraordinary, even if it’s fleeting. It’s easy to get bogged down in your own stuff but it’s also easy to take a minute, step outside yourself, and appreciate the time you have with the people you love. I say it’s easy but don’t do it nearly enough; I promise to do more that, of telling (and showing) people how much they mean to me.

This should be embarrassing, but I’m taking it as evidence of my extraordinary love of sweets and utter dedication to my craft. I spent the last three nights in a row researching the ultimate dessert grilled cheese. There are tons and tons of recipes/ideas/thoughts concerning this monumental idea, but you have to be careful and wade through them with a watchful eye. Dessert grilled cheese with chicken? Think again.

You don’t need a recipe to make dessert grilled cheese. It’s entirely up to you and your desires, your cravings, your culinary creativity. There are great combinations to explore and all kinds of cheese and bread to utilize, like  macerated strawberries with mascarpone and honey, or nutella, cream cheese and raspberry jam.

The recipe I present to you is simply my view of a perfect dessert grilled cheese using ingredients commonly found in the baker’s kitchen. Dessert and breakfast are sometimes synonymous to me, which is why you are getting dessert grilled cheese on a Breakfast Tuesday, but just like the ingredient combinations, the meal possibilities for this grilled good seem almost as limitless. I thought of it as breakfast because, with the days getting warmer, I’m spending a lot more time on my feet and needing an extra caloric splurge here and there. The needing could come from my sugar addiction and not from extra exercise, but that’s another story for another time.

Enjoy, and if you have any awesome takes on the dessert grilled cheese, let me know!

Dessert/Breakfast/Sweet Grilled Cheese, Take One

Ingredients:

1 oz cream cheese

1- 2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 scant tablespoon chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Half of a banana, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar blend

1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing skillet

2 slices brioche, french bread, challah, texas toast, or bread of your choosing!

 

Method:

1. Preheat skillet over medium heat. If your stovetop is notoriously hot, preheat over medium low heat to avoid burning. This sandwich takes a little bit longer to heat through than normal grilled cheese.

2. Spread one slice of bread with cream cheese and sprinkle chocolate chips over cream cheese layer. Spread other slice of bread with peanut butter and sliced banana. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over prepared bread slices. Smoosh bread together to make a sandwich.

3. When skillet is preheated, place one tablespoon butter in skillet to melt and place sandwich in skillet.

4. Grill sandwich on each side until warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes on each side, covering if necessary.

Serve immediately.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

January 24, 2011

Always looking for an excuse to get together, my friends and I decided to have a little “conference game party” this past weekend to eat, I mean, watch football. Though I’m not a huge sports fan, I appreciate the ability of these events to bring people together. We decided on a finger food theme, and they consented to my bringing desserts! Yay!

One of the things I wanted to bring was some sort of miniature cookie, one that could be eaten in a bite, because of the ooh-ahh-cute value and the practicality of it at a finger food party. This post inspired me, and I was all ready to start cookie production until reading the yield. I’m still super excited to try out the recipe but I didn’t have the motivation to deal with all that dough. And the recipe would have been hard to halve because it called for just one egg. Hard pressed for time and a solution, I turned to the girl who always saves me in such circumstances, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Minutes later, I had a recipe and an hour or so later, I had cookies!

I ended up halving to half this particular recipe, yielding 4 dozen teaspoon sized cookies, in order to make them bite sized, and chocolate chip sized. Perfect! And my favorite part about these cookies is their versatility. You could make them and eat them on their own, or you could put candy in the centers after baking, like the ridiculously adored and well-known peanut butter blossom. I’m sure there are at least dozens of other ways to utilize this cookie base, as well, like making a thumbprint and filling them with jam after baking. Hence the reason I tweaked the name, wanting to highlight their adaptability.

Cute, happy cookies in my sad, dark kitchen.

“Multipurpose” Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies (originally called Peanut Butter Crisscrosses)

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar)

Yields 2 dozen cookies, rolling them into generous tablespoon size balls

Ingredients:

½ cup shortening

½ cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth (Isa recommends the natural, no-stir kind of peanut butter, which is what I used, but if you don’t have the no-stir variety, make sure to stir it very well to use it in the recipe)

¾ cup granulated sugar (or brown sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons molasses or honey (if using brown sugar, eliminate this ingredient)

1 ¼ cups flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 to 3 tablespoons (non-dairy) milk

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you have non-stick baking sheets, there’s no preparation necessary, otherwise grease your cookie sheets or line them with parchment. To get a crispy, brown bottom on these cookies, use dark metal baking sheets.

2. In a mixing bowl large enough to contain all ingredients, cream the shortening, peanut butter, and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes by hand.

3. Mix in vanilla and molasses/honey (if using).

4. Add half the flour, and the rest of the dry ingredients, and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon or using your hands to incorporate the ingredients.

5. Add the rest of the flour and keep combining the dough. If the dough will not stay together when squeezed, add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between additions of milk until the dough comes together.

6. Pinch generous tablespoon sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls. From here you could roll them in sugar and bake as is (if you want to add some sort of mix-in on top after baking), or flatten them with the back of a glass and then use a fork to press the crisscross shape into the top of each cookie. These cookies do not spread much at all, so they only need to be an inch or so apart when placed on the baking sheets.

7. Bake each sheet in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned.

8. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 6 to 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, though after 3 days, like most baked goods, the cookies get a tad stale.