VANILLA WAFER BANANA PUDDING COOKIES

Last night’s dinner was good but not worth writing home–er, blog–about. So…cookies that feature crumbed, chopped, AND whole vanilla wafers, not to mention bananas. If you like classic Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding, you’re bound to love these marvelous mouthfuls that are made by mounding cookie dough on top of a vanilla wafer and letting all that deliciousness bake down over it. All thumbs up! I did good 🙂

Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 pkg instant banana pudding mix

2 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (crush in zip top bag with rolling pin)

2 small medium-firm bananas, diced

1 cup vanilla wafers, coarsely chopped

4 dozen vanilla wafers, whole

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, beat butter, both sugars, and banana pudding mix 3-5 minutes until creamy

3) Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat 1 minute

4) Add flour and vanilla wafer crumbs; beat 1 minute

5) Gently stir in banana and chopped vanilla wafers

6) On cookie sheet, space whole vanilla wafers 1″ apart; place 1 tbsp cookie dough on top of each vanilla wafer and gently pat down

7) Bake 9-10 minutes until golden; cool on wire rack and STAND BACK!

Makes: about 4 dozen cookies

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/04/12.

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BLACKBERRY AND WINE CRUMBLE

Three out of our four enjoy salads as a meal. Since Junior prefers heartier meals, I made up for his calorie deficit by whipping up this easy Blackberry and Wine Crumble. Of course, I couldn’t make it for Junior without making it for all of us. And, yes, I had to increase my morning work out 😦

Blackberry and Wine Crumble

2/3 cup sweet red wine

2 tsp cornstarch

5 cups frozen blackberries (or mixed berries)

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup 5-minute oatmeal

1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 tbsp butter, softened

Optional: 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly oil 4 individual casserole dishes (about 1-3/4 cup capacity each)

2) In medium-sized saucepan, whisk wine and cornstarch until well combined; add blackberries and white sugar and, stirring often, cook over medium-high heat 7-8 minutes until blackberry mixture thickens; remove from heat and divide between 4 individual casserole dishes

3) In small bowl mix flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, and butter until well combined and crumbly; sprinkle over blackberry-wine mixture; place casserole dishes on a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until blackberries are bubbly and crumb topping is golden and lightly crisp; remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving; serve with or without drizzled whipping cream

Servings: 4

CHOCOLATE-COVERED STRAWBERRY KABOBS

This idea came to me via Pinterest. However, rather than use pound cake, I opted for Angel Food Cake. and why settle for white chocolate when you can have semi-sweet chocolate? Or both? In the words of Junior Too, “This is definitely one for your blog.” Yep.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Kabobs

1 lb small to medium-sized strawberries, stems removed

1/3 store-bought angel food cake, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1/4 cup white chocolate morsels

6 bamboo skewers

Optional dips: whipped cream or thinned preserves (3/4 cup strawberry preserves mixed with 1/4 cup water)

1) Alternately thread strawberries and angel food cake onto bamboo skewers (should make about 6 kabobs)

2) Arrange kabobs on parchment paper 1/2″ apart

3) Place semi-sweet chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl; microwave until melted (I microwaved 30 seconds, stirred, and microwaved an additional 20 seconds); working quickly, spoon melted chocolate in small zip top bag, snip bottom corner, and pipe zigzags over each kabob

4) Repeat step #3 with white chocolate

5) Refrigerate 20 minutes (to set chocolate) and serve with or without dip

Makes: About 6 large kabobs

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/07/12.

PINEAPPLES FOSTER (NO FLAMBE, NO RUM, BUT PLENTY OF YUM)

A while back, I whipped up an unusual version of my Bananas Foster by substituting pineapple for bananas. And…yum! Clean plates again. Er, possibly licked clean 🙂

Pineapples Foster

olive oil

1 fresh whole pineapple, skin removed and cored

4 tbsp unsalted butter

4 tbsp brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (pecans would be nice too, maybe better, hmm?)

frozen vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream, enough for 4 generous scoops

1) Brush a swirl of olive oil across surface of a large skillet; heat to medium high

2) Cut pineapple into 8-10 rings; place 4 pineapple rings in skillet and cook 1-2 minutes each side until surface brown lightly; remove from skillet and place one ring in center of each of 4 plates

3) Lower skillet heat to medium-low; cut remaining pineapple rings (4-6) into small wedges

4) Add butter to skillet; as it melts, add brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and ginger; stir to combine; add Craisins, walnuts, and pineapple wedges; stirring constantly, cook 4-5 minutes until pineapple is heated through; remove sauce from heat (leave in skillet to keep warm)

5) Place a generous scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt in center of each pineapple ring; pour sauce over frozen yogurt; serve immediately and let the plate scrapers have at it!

Servings: 4

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/17/12.

LEMON MERINGUE CUPCAKES

Senior looooves lemon meringue pie, as does Junior. And Junior too is coming along nicely, thank you. When the baking itch needed a scratch this afternoon, I decided to give my guys a form of lemon meringue pie that would fit into my pink-and-black zebra-striped cupcake liners. Pretty, hmm? Ah, but what about the taste? Divinely tart!

         Lemon Meringue Cupcakes  Lemon Meringue Cupcakes 2        Lemon Meringue Cupcakes 3

LEMON FILLING:

3 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp lemon zest, loosely packed

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

CUPCAKES:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

MERINGUE:

3 reserved egg whites

pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar

1) LEMON FILLING: In small saucepan over low heat, whisk egg yolks, sugar, flour, and salt; whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, water, and melted butter; increase heat to medium and, whisking constantly, cook until lemon filling is smooth and thick, about 7 minutes; remove from heat and set aside

2) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

3) CUPCAKES: In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, lemon juice, baking powder, and salt; beat in flour until just combined

4) Divide cupcake batter between 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan; bake 20 minutes until cupcake centers are firm; remove cupcakes from oven and cool 5-8 minutes (do not turn off oven)

5) Meanwhile, make meringue: beat reserved egg whites with salt until mixture begins to stiffen; add sugar and beat until meringue is stiff and forms pretty peaks (don’t overdo it)

6) With a sharp knife, remove center of each cupcake (about 1″ in diameter), leaving a layer of cupcake beneath cut out; discard cupcake core (or treat the weary baker to a tart little snack); fill cupcake centers with lemon filling

7) Divide dollops of meringue between cupcakes, spreading out to edges and gently tapping with back of spoon to form peaks; return cupcakes to oven and bake additional 5-6 minutes until meringue peaks are golden brown; remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes; refrigerate an hour or more before serving

Makes: 12 absolutely delicious cupcakes

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/12/12.

BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Our family leans heavily toward oatmeal-raisin cookies. However, I do mix things up by baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies from time to time. This recipe soars above others due to the browned butter that gives the cookies a distinctive caramel bite. To increase the pleasure of that experience, I went light on the chocolate chips (though you can always add more). “Heavenly,” says Junior Too (he who has been known to wrinkle his nose at chocolate).

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1-1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil cookie sheet (I used butter wrappers)

2) In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup salted butter, stirring often; when foam starts to disperse and butter is a light brown color, remove from heat; pour into large heat-safe mixing bowl and stir 1/2 cup unsalted butter into browned butter; when unsalted butter melts, stir in both sugars and vanilla until just combined

3) In small bowl, lightly beat eggs; stir beaten eggs into butter-sugar mixture, followed by sea salt and baking soda; gradually stir in flour (don’t overmix); stir chocolate chips into cookie dough

4) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet, 2-3 inches apart; bake in oven 9-10 minutes until lightly golden; remove from oven, let cool 1-2 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack; enjoy with a nice glass of milk

Makes: about 3 dozen

CRANBERRY-PISTACHIO-LEMON BISCOTTI

A rainy Sunday calls for a nice hot drink. And how better to enjoy it than with something dunk-ably tasty, hmm? These biscottis feature three of my favorite ingredients: cranberries, pistachios, and lemon. Though there are several steps involved in transforming ingredients into a crunchy treat that will beautifully grace a cup’s saucer, the process is quite simple. Give it a try–and dunk on!

Cranberry Pistacho Lemon Biscotti

cooking spray

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp milk

1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1-1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries (Craisins)

2/3 cup chopped pistachios

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil cookie sheet with cooking spray

2) To large mixing bowl add both sugars and butter; beat until well combined; add eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until combined; lightly beat in baking powder and salt

3) Stir in (don’t beat) flour until well combined; mix in cranberries and pistachios

4) Divide dough in half; on lightly floured surface, shape each half into a loaf approximately 10″ long x 3″ wide x 3/4″ high; place loaves on cookie sheet several inches apart and bake in oven 20 minutes

5) Remove loaves from oven, reduce heat to 275 degrees, and let loaves cool on cookie sheet 10-12 minutes

6) Transfer loaves to cutting board and cut each loaf into 12 slices (approximately 3/4″ thick); place slices, cut side down, on cookie sheet and bake in oven 7 minutes; turn over slices and bake additional 7 minutes; remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack

Makes: 2 dozen dunk-able biscotti