Monthly Archive for August, 2012

Unreal Peanut Butter Cookie Bombs

It’s just time to sweeten things up around this ‘ole blog- and I must confess I have the perfect recipe to get the drool factor going.

And if there is way to justify eating my favorite food group, chocolate, then you’ve got to get a hold of this product. UNREAL takes the junk out of candy by using real and natural ingredients, something that you won’t find in 98% of our US-based candy products unless they are hand made. The story of how the company was started is one worth reading, >spoiler alert: a kid and his entrepreneur dad have an argument over Halloween candy spoils and how unhealthy candy is, which leads to a challenge that eventually spawns this company.< I became an instant fan. I am a sucker for a good story and an excellent product. To find out where you can buy these deliciously addictive products click here.

As for you, the reader — Good news. A picture is worth a thousand words – and void of calories. It’s a feast for the eyes.

My story starts with my adorable friend Deserie (A.K.A. Desi) who was kind enough to join me on a moment’s notice for a blogging event to learn about the Unreal line of candy. And as you can see, we did anything but leave empty handed.

While at the event, my friend Ana suggested that I do a bit of baking and recipe development and >poof< just like magic, the boxes of the candy I threatened to bake with instantly arrived at our table. No surprise that Desi's face lit up with a huge smile. Fast forward a few weeks and my two lovely Italian guests show up and want to bake cookies. They know how fond Americans are of peanut butter and after some taste testing of their own, they are admittedly fans of this Americanesque food. Margherita and Valentina take the spotlight as we bake this oh-so-delicious recipe. Note: the entire batch of cookies only survived 44 hours in our home, because just one cookie is never enough. This recipe is also featured in my first cook book and is attributed to another dear friend, Julie. She made these for me once and I knew we were cooking sole mates.

I think this qualifies as a ‘bowl licker’ of sorts. One of my favorite baking out takes from my time with Valentina. xox

The recipe revealed

Unreal Peanut Butter Cookie Bombs

Ingredients

8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons REAL maple syrup

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

30 Unreal Peanut Butter Cups

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixer bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until very light brown in color and almost whipped looking. Then beat in maple syrup, egg and vanilla.

In another bowl toss together the flour and baking soda.

Slowly beat flour mixture into the liquid ingredients.

Drop the mixture by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for NO MORE THAN 6-8 minutes.

The minute the cookies start looking even slightly brown, pull them out. They should be still soft and doughy. Place an Unreal Peanut Butter Cups into the center of each cookie right after you pull them out of the oven. Lightly push the cup into place and allow to set for several hours. Do not refrigerate.

Makes 2 ½ dozen.

#GETUNREAL FACT: Their products contain no artificial preservatives and only natural-origin colors. Yes, you can find some of your favorites. What is great is that they don’t contain corn syrups, preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or hydrogenated oils. These are anything but JUNK food. And what makes these gems so pretty? All of the candy coated chocolates are colored with beetroot juice, turmeric root, and purple cabbage juice, not red dye #40 or yellow dye #5.

Disclosure: I attended a blogger lunch sponsored by Unreal and brought home a complimentary assortment of Unreal candy bars to review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Crisped Prosciutto

One of my favorite summertime meal combinations is prosciutto and melon. This recipe takes that concept and blends it with the ‘gazpacho concept’. While I’ve always admired those who enjoy a good tomato gazpacho, it is one of the few foodie things that has never appealed to me. I have to say that this simple recipe packs a flavorful punch and can easily be adapted for vegetarians.

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Crisped Prosciutto

Ingredients

4 slices prosciutto (vegetarian substitution:1/2 cup pistachios, shelled, toasted and chopped

6 cups ripe cantaloup cubes, chilled

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 TBS fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup chardonnay or Muscato

1 TBS fresh basil, thinly sliced

paprika, dash

creme fraiche (optional)

Directions

Make sure that all ingredients are well chilled before pureeing.

Place prosciutto on a microwave safe dish and cook on high for 2-3 minutes or until desired crispness. When cool, crumble and set aside. (Note: when cooking prosciutto in a skillet, the color and consistency of the meat changes; microwave is recommended.)

Puree cantaloupe, honey, lemon juice, mint and wine in a blender or food processor.

Ladle into cups or wine glasses, top with basil, paprika and prosciutto.

Lentil, Mint and Feta Salad

While I *thought* I was going to return to blogging when I last hit the publish button (circa July 2, 2012), life sometimes has its own idea of what you *will* be doing (ergo, things do not always go according to plan). I will resist sharing the specifics because the reasons are too numerous, however I can tell you that I’ve truly missed blogging. Since my life has been anything but simple, in an attempt to balance my reality, I find that often times it is a simple dish, prepared well, that allows me to achieve balance and enables us to reconnect here …in one of my FAVORITE spaces.

I recently shared this dish with my friend Holly and she raved it was one that she would like to make sometime soon. Between the two of us we nearly polished off the entire bowl. It was just that good.

Lentil, Mint and Feta Salad

Ingredients

1 cup lentils, rinsed

6 cups water

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth can be substituted)

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bay leaf

5 TBS olive oil

3 TBS white wine vinegar

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 large shallot, minced

1/2 cup (2 oz) feta cheese, crumbled

1 small lime, juiced

Directions

Place lentils and 1 tsp salt in bowl. Cover with 4 cups warm water and soak for 1 hour. Drain well. At this point lentils can be kept in fridge for up to two days before cooking.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place lentils, 2 cups water, bay leaf, broth, garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt in medium saucepan (or 8-1/2 x 11 baking dish). Cover and bake until lentils are tender but remain intact. Approximate cook time is 40-60 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool until warm.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar.

Drain lentils well, remove bay leaf. Add drained lentils, feta, olives, mint, salt, pepper and lime to dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with a bit of feta cheese before serving.

Enjoy!