Pregnancy and Peanut Butter Cookies

This post was actually written by Janine. It was emailed to us with instructions to figure out her log-in info and post it from her account. But since my hacker skills are limited to… well… posting weird things on Theresa’s Facebook when she leaves the window open on her laptop… (sorry Theresa), I decided just to post it on Janine’s behalf. I figured nobody would mind since she’s sharing an awesome peanut butter cookie recipe!

I’m extra excited about this post because I’ve been asking her for this recipe FOR MONTHS now. Hope you enjoy it as much as I will! – Kate

Pregnancy and Peanut Butter Cookies:

Liam can sense I’m about to give birth at any minute.  He lets me know in very subtle and thoughtful ways (“Mommy, your belly is CRUSHING ME!… “Mommy, you’re big. Really big. Two and a half hours big”… “Can the baby come out NOW?”)  As part of the countdown to his little brother’s arrival, he’s been anxious to get in some last requests for things we’ve always had fun doing together.  So when he woke up from his nap the other day begging for me to make him peanut butter cookies, how could I resist?  It may be one of the last times I can indulge him on a whim for a while.  We both ate more than our share.

The best part about this recipe is that it requires literally 6 ingredients.  Perfect for treating your little one on a moment’s notice even when your pantry (like mine) is practically empty, and you feel like your energy reserves are practically empty, too.

Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted, only a smidge, from Real Simple)

1 cup peanut butter (I’ve had luck with either all creamy, or ½ creamy and ½ natural)
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
Optional addition (mandatory in our house): chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Mix together the peanut butter, sugars, eggs, baking soda and salt until smooth.

Shape the dough into balls (I use about a tablespoon of dough per cookie).  Use a fork to flatten each ball, making a crisscross pattern on each.

Bake 10-12 minutes.  I take them out when they’re slightly soft and seem almost underdone, and they cook a bit more when they’re out of the oven.  Leave to cool a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

If you’re like us, eat immediately with your sweetie(s)

The Big Freeze 2012: The Final Tally

What happens when you combine three crazy sisters, 40 lbs of tomatoes, a bushel of corn, and a vacuum sealer? The Big Freeze, of course!

The farm we frequent in NH (also where we joined our CSA) was offering canning specials this month, for various types of produce. And, being obsessed with fresh produce AND bargain prices, we just couldn’t pass it up (20 lbs of tomatoes or a whole bushel of corn for $20?? What a steal!) We figured if we split it between our three houses, it would be manageable.

We hoped.

So Theresa and I loaded the van with tomatoes and corn (and a few baskets from our CSA for good measure, because we obviously didn’t have ENOUGH veggies), and headed back to the cottage, more than a little nervous that we got in over our heads.

Again.

At first, we were all a little hesitant to buy tomatoes to put up for the winter, because we had read a lot of articles about how you must dip the tomatoes into boiling water and then peel them, yadda yadda yadda. But my mother told me she used to puree tomatoes with the skins on all the time, and her tomato sauce was always delicious. Granted, if you are a fan of very smooth tomato sauce, you probably don’t want to skip that step. But we always preferred a slightly chunky sauce, so we settled for just seeding the tomatoes and leaving the skins on. (I know there are a lot of purists out there that will probably be horrified by this… and to those people I say: you are not invited to dinner. Love, Kate).

In order to motivate ourselves to actually freeze this stuff, we did what we always do: turn it into a party! And so, The Big Freeze was born. Thanks to my trusty food processor, (and my trusty little sister) it actually went pretty quickly. Janine is getting ready for her little one to arrive in a couple of weeks (yay!), so we took care of her share of the veggies while we were at it.

Here is the final tally after two nights of chopping, pureeing, and vacuum sealing:

The Official Tally:

40 lbs of tomatoes: yielded 96 cups of tomato puree

1 bushel of corn (46 ears): yielded 24 cups of corn kernels

The Unofficial Tally:

Number of fingers punctured: 1
(“See I TOLD you my knife was sharper than your knife!”)

Number of Prosecco bottles exploded all over my kitchen: 1
(I’m not going to tell you the number of wine bottles emptied throughout the event. Let’s just say it’s impressive more fingers weren’t punctured in the making of this blog post;)

Number of caterpillars found in the box of corn: 3
(this resulted in Theresa jumping three feet in the air and running in circles around the kitchen)

Number of tomatoes that Hannah swiped from the pile to chomp on: 2


Number of times Theresa complained about how wrinkly her hands were from chopping tomatoes: 837

Number of obscene jokes made about shucking: … we lost count ;)

Ridiculous? Yes. Isnt it always? But it will be totally worth it when we’re eating delicious tomato sauce and corn chowder this winter! You can be jealous. We don’t mind.

A Note of Appreciation… and Pickles

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my room watching the Food Network, and drinking a delicious Peach Bellini that Theresa delivered to my door. (More on our weekly cocktail swap in a future post, I promise)

And I’m just thinking about the past year. Wondering how it’s already June, July, August when I feel like time should have stopped back in March. And I find myself reflecting on a lot of things, especially all the amazing support we have received from our families and friends over the past few months.

I just want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who was there for us, whether it was calling to check in, sending food on days when we all would have foregone meals, or offering much-needed support. It was all greatly appreciated, and meant so much to our family. We are very grateful.

I don’t think I can explain everything The Compound has been through in the past year. I will just say that we lost our Dad back in May, and we have all been so devastated that naturally this blog sort of fell by the wayside.  What I will say, is that I continue to be amazed and grateful for the incredible family we have, and the wonderful father that we were blessed with, who taught us so much.

We are all trying to get back to our normal routines, (despite the urge to stay under the covers every morning) and part of that is going back to our place in New Hampshire on a regular basis. This might sound easy, but some of the best times of our lives have been spent up there, so it is definitely bittersweet.

One of the things pushing us to keep heading North, is picking up veggies from a CSA we joined at Moulton Farm in NH. Only the crazies in The Compound would join a CSA 120 miles away, right?! If you’re ever in the area, they have an amazing farm-stand and nursery… not to mention Cider Bellies Doughnuts on the weekends! So we’re currently up to our ears in cucumbers, greens, and zucchini.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

In case you’re swimming in cucumbers too, I thought I would share a recipe for Refrigerator Pickles that The Whole Compound loves. In fact, they all refuse to use any cucumbers themselves, and instead deliver them to my door so that I will make them pickles. If that tells you anything

 

These pickles are really bright and full of fresh flavors, and get spicier the longer they sit in the fridge. If you don’t like spicy pickles, you could totally leave out the jalapenos and they would still be really flavorful. They are delicious after about 24 hours in the fridge, and will stay crunchy for up to a month.

So without further ado, here is a quick, easy recipe for (Slightly Spicy) Refrigerator Pickles that are great for snacking, chopping into salads, and would even be wonderful to bring to a barbecue. It’s a winner.

Quick (Slightly Spicy) Refrigerator Pickles: (adapted from lottie + doof who adapted it from Food&Wine)

  • 12 oz pickling cucumbers, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 large garlic cloves, slightly crushed
  • 2 jalapenos, halved, and seeds removed (feel free to use any type of hot pepper you prefer)
  •  8 dill sprigs

Pack cucumbers into a clean 1-quart glass jar, and tuck garlic, dill, and jalapenos between them. In another jar (or a bowl), combine the salt, sugar, vinegar, and coriander. Shake or stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 1 cup of water and pour the brine over the vegetables. Add enough water to keep the vegetables submerged. Close the jars and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 month (if they last that long!)

Cheap-Skate Peppermint Latte

Hi Folks! Sorry for the long time between posts, January was a weird month for residents of The Compound. See, the thing about The Compound is… when something happens to one of us, we all kind of pitch in to help out. So we were all MIA for awhile. But really, that’s what it’s all about, right?

So can I make it up to you? How about a little peace offering in the form of… caffeine and chocolate? Yes? I thought so ;)

Here is my favorite part of my kitchen:

But my SECOND favorite part of my kitchen is this:

Cheap $30 Mr Coffee espresso maker that I got on sale at Target like… a million years ago. I use it to fuel my caffeine addiction. Hey, at least I can admit it, right?

So here’s a way to make a peppermint latte that tastes just like something you might find at a certain coffee chain… which shall remain nameless… but it might rhyme with Shmarbucks…

First, make a shot of espresso. (And seriously, if you like lattes or cappuccinos, or whatever, and are sick of paying $4 or more a whack? Go buy yourself an espresso machine. It’ll pay for itself a million times over. And you’ll be highly caffeinated at all times. Win-win.)

Then, zap a mug of milk in the microwave until it’s hot but not boiling (my machine’s old, so I do 45 seconds on high). Chop up two mini peppermint patties, and stir them into the hot milk until melted.

Finally, add a shot of espresso. Voila, instant deliciousness. Now excuse me, I have to go drink this before my munchkin wakes up!

Baked Potato Soup, with a side of Awkward

I have a confession to make. I never have all the ingredients for a recipe. Ever.

Life with a 9 month old means you can’t always run to the store for thinks like… leeks. Who just HAS leeks kicking around the fridge? Not I

(ssshhh, don’t tell the Food Network, I’m pretty sure I’ll never get my own show if they know I never buy leeks. I bet Ina Garten always has leeks in the fridge. Are you wishing I’d stop saying leeks already?)

Moral of the story, I usually end up substituting the living daylights out of recipes, to use what I have on hand. Which is exactly why I need more recipes like this one from smitten kitchen . It’s the kind of recipe that uses things you already have in the house. And if you don’t have it… you can probably use something similar and it will still be delicious. WIN.

For example, I swapped out the leeks for a sweet onion I had in the fridge, and used less chicken broth (mainly because I only had 4 cups, but you could totally add more at the end if you like a thinner soup). I also simplified the use of garlic, because the original recipe had you (deep breath) pop the entire head of garlic in the broth and simmer it until tender, then pop out the cloves and mash them with a fork… way too many steps for someone who is JUST STARTING DINNER AT 9:00 AT NIGHT. I just minced up a TON of garlic and sautéed it with the onions. Simple, no?

So, step one: pour a glass of wine. This might be the most important step.

Then cut up a bunch of veggies while drinking said wine. See? Potatoes, onion, and garlic. Totally things I usually have in the fridge.

If you’re wicked classy like me, you’ll forget to cut up an entire potato and chuck it into the soup accidentally. Then get your finger in the picture while documenting how much of a mess you are.

Bacon and soup? Yes please

Toast some crusty rolls to go with it, if you like that sort of thing.

And garnish the finished product with whatever makes you happy. I went with sour cream, chives, and bacon. That can ONLY be good. (sidenote: I *might* have added more bacon after I took this picture… don’t judge me)

RECIPE: adapted from smitten kitchen (click link to see original recipe)

Serves 6

1 head garlic, minced (use more or less depending on how garlicky you like your soup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium sweet onion
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (the original recipe called for 5-6, so add more after pureeing depending on how thick you like your soup)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used Yukon golds, which took a little longer to cook but were delicious)
1/3 cup sour cream (or whatever dairy you have on hand, to add some creaminess)
Ground black pepper
Salt (to taste)

Toppings, optional:
Minced fresh chives or scallions
Bacon bits
Sour cream
Grated cheddar

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook them until soft (but not brown), about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add broth, bay leaves and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Discard bay leaves. Add sour cream to soup and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Using immersion blender, process soup until chunky-creamy, or totally creamy, whatever makes you happy. I’m sure you could also use another method of pulverization if you prefer; a food processor or blender, etc.