Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

A long title for a very delicious cookie.

For Valentine’s this year I decided to put a twist on the traditional Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie.

IMG_6174

Instead of buying plain chocolate kisses I bought caramel filled kisses, this time of year they come in a pink bag and are wrapped in pink swirled foil.

IMG_6153

I adapted a basic Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie recipe with a few gourmet twists below:

Makes about 32-36 cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 stick or 4 tsb unsalted butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾-1 C all purpose flour ( I use organic)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

36 Caramel kisses unwrapped

sea-salt and white sugar for topping or sprinkles

1/4 container vanilla pudding mix

IMG_6166

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Stick the unwrapped caramel kisses in the freezer
  3. Cream peanut butter and butter until smooth
  4. Add in brown sugar and pudding mix beat until smooth
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again
  6. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt
  7. Add dry ingredients to the wet slowly and beat on low speed

IMG_61568. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or slip pats and grease if needed

9. Let dough sit in the fridge for about an hour to chill meanwhile move the kisses to the fridge

IMG_615810.After an hour roll the dough into small 1-1/2 inch balls

11. Roll the balls in extra sugar/course sea salt combo

IMG_6162

IMG_6160 12. Place dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes

13. When cookies come out of the oven give them 2 minutes to rest

14. then place a chilled caramel kiss in the center of each

IMG_6164

Note: Be careful when moving these cookies to a cooling rack or trying to stack them for storage, in the first few minutes after kisses are put on the cookies they will get hot and melty. My solution is to clear a place in the freezer to flash freeze the candy before packing the cookies for storage.

IMG_6186

These cookies were a perfect hit, both at home our jobs, they went fast. They are rich but the salt cuts the sweet and few people ate only one.

Happy Valentines 2016!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’m try to get used to a new routine for the winter/spring semester. But more on that later.

For Valentines this year Luke and I plan to get sushi again at our favorite place, same as last year. For more on this see: “valentines update” post from last year. We also plan to go see a movie.

IMG_6197

As usual I made Luke his Valentines pie. This year my goal was no white sugar.  I used honey and lemon for the berry filling and local maple syrup to sweeten the crust.

IMG_6205

And it turned out great! It had more moisture in it then I expected so my heart center leak out a little. But it tasted better than it looks and that’s what counts. We paired this with homemade whip cream, no sugar, for a healthier treat.

Hope you all have a great Valentines day!

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

As usual I baked Luke a berry pie for Valentines day. This year altered a blueberry custard crumble pie from bunny’s warm oven . I changed it to blackberry and raspberry and made my own honey and cinnamon based crust.

IMG_4190IMG_4196

I also instead of crumbles used a metal cookie cutter in the middle and placed extra raspberries and red sugar sprinkles to create a heart center.

IMG_4198IMG_4205

It turned out great.

Luke and I are planning on getting sushi tonight and seeing a movie then we will come back to pie and some wine.

What are your valentines plans?

Valentines Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

In past years I have made pie for Luke for Valentine’s which I will still do, and other goodies but not cookies. This weekend we have house guest (Luke’s brother and family) and I have students who I want to introduce to the American idea of Valentines day. So this year I tried out some new cookie recipes for Valentine Cookies.

IMG_4030

I made adjustments to my funfetti cheesecake cookies in order to make a new strawberry cheesecake cookie. This are easy-to-make dump and bake recipe taste like fresh strawberry cake with a extra surprise of cheesecake as you finish it off. Plus they have a great traditional pink valentines color and flavor.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

Ingredients

Makes about 32 cookies

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white baking chips, divided

IMG_4031

Instructions

-Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, vegetable oil spray, or a SilPat.

-In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla until dough forms.

IMG_4020

-Stir in 1/2 cup of the white chocolate chips.

-Using a cookie scoop, drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

-Using the remaining 1/4 cup white chips, press a few chips onto the tops of each cookie or extra sprinkles

IMG_4024

Note: depending on what color you want the cookies you can add a little red/pink food coloring to the mix because the strawberry color fades with the baking.

-Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies just start to crack on the top.

IMG_4028

The centers will still be very soft – that’s okay!

Cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

I stuck these cookies in the freezer right away because I know that when I dole then out I’m sure they won’t last long.

2013 in review

I know we are a little more than a week into the new year but it has taken me a full week to get back into the normal routine of things (I can’t be the only one who’s in the post-holiday struggle for normality). As I look back on almost a full year with this blog I thought I’d review some of the highlighting events of 2013.

So here is a review of 2013 blog style:

January: survived our first NY winter:  A Lesson in Independence and explored our local museum’s winter events: 2300 degrees

unknown img_2527

February: Started a new Valentines tradition: Valentine’s Pie: a New Tradition, and explored what it means to be newly married :Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage Myth busting: Round 2

img_2684 img_1632

March: Celebrate Luke’s birthday with brewery tours/tastings in Rochester: A Chemistry lesson for a birthday present, Shared about my allergy to barley: Why I am barley free: Part One, and celebrated Easter: Hot Cross Buns and Berry Salad

images-71 img_2801 img_2912 img_2923

April: Celebrated 6 months of marriage: Wow it’s been 6 months!, shared details about our wedding:The Dress and  learning how to look for a job: Patience: giving myself time

img_1326 fav-2 img_2937

May: Traveled to the West Coast for an Oregon vacation and my brother’s college graduation: Vacation Highlights Part 1: Family TimeVacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

img_3094 img_3059 img_0050 img_0701 img_0071

June: Went Kayaking in Rochester: Kayaking and BBQ, bottled our first homemade barley-free beer:  Bottling our first homemade brew and celebrated my birthday in Ithaca: An Ithaca birthday Adventure

img_0119 img_0104

img_0231 img_0184

July: Explored local festivals: Two festivals and Korean BBQ, Fixed up the front porch: Home Improvement: The Front Porch Project, and traveled to Washington to be apart of pre-wedding events for my brother’s wedding : Pre-wedding Jitters

img_0766 img_0550

August:  Particpated in my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower: Stina’s bridal shower and other wedding events, attended two local foodie festivals in NY: Smoke on the WaterTaste of Ellicotville, and hiked a local landmark: Walkins Glen State Park= Gorge-ous

img_1260 img_1219 img_1339 img_1138

September: Looked back on my brother’s wedding: The Wedding, and shared more about my job-search: A New Year: Teacher without a classroom

img_1310 img_1289

October: Picked pumpkins and attended an Apple Festival: Picking Perfect Pumpkins;  Apple Fest,  shared about my allergy to tree-nuts:Why I am tree-nut free Part one,  and celebrated a year of marriage with a trip to Niagara Falls :Niagara Falls anniversary Part One

img_1871 img_18561 img_1917img_1944

November: Kept busy with non-blogging activities and shared about them in: busy: and update

578134_10152448081578868_1995229566_n

December: Started two new holiday traditions: Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa and Christmas Concert TSO. Attended our local holiday festival: Sparkle and shared our Christmas with my parents: A Very Corning Christmas present and A handmade and heirloom Christmas

img_0633img_0647img_0711

That is one very full blogging year! And that is only a small portion of the blog-post in this past year and doesn’t include any of my recipes. So what can you look forward to reading about this next year? You’ll find out soon enough.

Valentine’s Pie: A new tradition

My husband has a bit of an obsession with pie. And understandably so: pie-making is a bit of a Greene family tradition.

I discovered this the first time I went to visit the Greene’s in Oregon. One day we strapped empty plastic milk gallons with their tops cut off to our belts and filled several to the brim with blackberries from their backyard. This was followed by mass pie baking. Luke and his father John came up with any and every excuse to eat the pie including served cold for breakfast with cheese.

blackberries we picked from the bushes on the Greene property

blackberries we picked from the bushes on the Greene property

I grew up with blackberries too. My dad and I watered a few potted vines hidden in the shade of our SoCal backyard. Luke would make fun of my excitement at collecting a hand-full of berries at a time. Once I visited his parent’s house I knew why, the wild black beauties grow like weeds on the roadside!

Luke loves pie more than any other dessert. So much so that in celebration of our engagment we promptly went to As Easy as Pie  in Cambria, CA.

601808_10150958000116069_1760778910_n

Luke's was raspberry rhubarb and mine was boysenberry

Luke’s was raspberry rhubarb and mine was boysenberry

Although I claim to be a baker, I don’t have much experience with pie. Last year I had my first reason to celebrate Valentines Day and got my first chance to make pie. I did my research and came up with a blackberry rhubarb pie (Luke’s second favorite is strawberry-rhubarb). After wringing my hands about how it would turn out I ended up with this:

IMG_2185

The heart shaped was formed by vent holes I made with a fork.

Not bad for a first time! And let’s just say it was more than well received. After success like that I knew he’d expect it to become a tradition.

Unfortunately hunting down rhubarb was difficult last year and impossible this year. So I substituted raspberries to balance out the sweet blackberries. I also exchanged white sugar for honey (apart of trying to go natural).

IMG_2632IMG_2634

The pie filling after a night of soaking in organic flour and honey

The pie filling after a night of soaking in organic flour and honey

As usual with my recipes, I used a combination of organic and whole wheat flour for my dough.

IMG_2660

And after some time in the oven . . .

IMG_2684

This year I got clever and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to guide by fork to shape the hearts. When the berry juice started to overflowed I figured I’d tried to make it artistic 🙂

2 hearts for 2 years celebrating Valentines together.

Yup, it’s just as good as last year. I’ll be lucky if there is any left tomorrow.

Do you have any Valentine’s day traditions or favorite February treats?

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

 Whether you have plans with your special someone, a blind date, friends, your roommates,  your family, co-workers, or yourself enjoy!

IMG_2685

And if you are on your own this V-day (aka singles-awareness day) remember it doesn’t mean you are not loved. Try giving yourself a little “you” time, treat yourself to a nice dinner/dessert, it is important to learn to love yourself too!

(Trust me this is said from some years of experience).