Category Archives: Baking

{ Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Ganache }

Certain things are just meant to go together: biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, rum and coke, and last but not least, chocolate and peanut butter! Independently, these items are all delicious, but put them together, and they are like an orgasm for the tastebuds. So when I came across this recipe for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Ganache on Pinterest the other day, I knew it would be divine. It’s just kind of hard to justify a three layer cake for one person with no real special occasion. But I wasn’t about to just “Pin” this recipe and forget about it. No, I was determined to make this cake ASAP. And so I began scrolling through my Facebook calendar in search of upcoming birthdays #Diary of a fat girl.

My Uncle’s 50th Birthday was the perfect excuse, and given his borderline unhealthy obsession with peanut butter, the dessert couldn’t be more perfect for him.

This  was my first time ever making a layer cake, and I am proud to say that it was much easier undertaking than I had initially anticipated. So do not be nervous if you are a layer-cake virgin too! Just do NOT rush the cooling/assembly process and you will be fine.

NOTE: This will make a lot of cake. This cake is very rich. Be prepared to share with lots of friends, family, and neighbors! 

*Recipe Originally from The Pixelated Crumb

{ Ingredients }

For the Chocolate Cake Layers:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I ONLY use Madagascar vanilla, makes a huge difference)
  • 2 eggs

For the Peanut Butter Frosting: (I found that I had to double this recipe to frost the entire cake, so you may want to double it as well!)

  • 10 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup of smooth peanut butter (preferably, a commercial brand so that the oil doesn’t separate out)

For the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

{ To Make the Chocolate Cake Layers }

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare three 9″ round cake pans by buttering the bottoms and sides. Line the bottom of each pan with a sheet of parchment paper and then butter the surface of the paper. (I traced the cake pan on the paper and cut it out to get a good fit….this really helps the cake pop of the pan nicely.)

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and the sour cream and whisk to blend.

Gradually beat in the water. Mix in the vanilla and the vinegar.

Whisk in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat until will blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans, filling them up only half way.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for at least 20 minutes on a drying rack. Then run a knife around the outer edge of the pan, and invert onto plate to remove the cake. Peel back the parchment paper and allow to cool completely. (If you are making the cake layers in advance, you can wrap them in parchment paper and store them in the freezer for a couple of days!)

{ To Make the Peanut Butter Frosting }

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, scarping town the sides of the bowl after each addition. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).

Add the peanut butter and beat until well blended.

{ To Make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache }

NOTE: Make this after you have already assembled and frosted your cake, because the ganache is used immediately!

In the top of a double boiler system, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use immediately, while the mixture is still warm.

{ To Assemble the Layer Cake }

Image taken from The Pixelated Crumb

Place one layer on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the frosting evenly on the top of the cake. Repeat with the next layer.

Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting (unless you doubled the frosting recipe like I did, in which case, you will probably have some left over!).

Refrigerate the frosted cake for at least 1 hour to set the frosting.

To decorate with the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache, simply pour the warm glaze over the top of the cake and help spread it evenly so that the mixture runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. I used a spoon to help guide the chocolate down!

Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes so that the glaze has time to set completely.

Remove 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature!

 

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{ Best Lunch Spots in Buck’s County }

Finding good food on-the-go is tough when you don’t live in a city studded with Pret a Manager, Chipotle, and five-star food trucks. In Buck’s County, the options are pretty limited to full-service, sit-down restaurants or drive-thru, fast-food establishments. If you don’t brown paper bag it to work, you’re looking at either an overpriced gourmet salad, a 40-minute sushi luncheon, or a greasy quarter-pounder in the McDonald’s parking lot. But thankfully, local restaurant owners are finally starting to fill this market gap by opening quick-service lunch spots with high-quality food.

Here is a list of my favorite lunch spots in Buck’s County:

1. { Sariano’s Country Cafe }

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

Located right in the heart of Lahaska, is this adorable French cafe with homemade croissants, fresh soups, and delicious Croque Monsieur sandwiches. You can eat al fresco at any of the outdoor cafe tables, or take your order to-go (just be warned that there is only one indoor table, so might not be the best option for a cold/rainy day!). The menu is posted on a black board behind the counter, and although isn’t terribly long, neither is the wait for your food!

I highly recommend the Grilled Vegetable & Mozzarella Sandwich, which is served warm on a Fresh Butter Croissant ($7.00). The vegetables are chopped up nice and small, and the croissant provides delicious and sturdy base for the sandwich, keeping it together as you eat.

Of course, this being a French cafe, I also recommend the Croque Monsieur sandwiches, which are served on homemade French bread. They have the classic Ham & Cheese ($5.50), but I suggest trying the Goat Cheese & Proscuitto ($6.50) combination, which isn’t something you see every day! Keep in mind that these sandwiches are served hot, so the cheese is warm and bubbly when they come out of the oven. Delicious.

And lastly, I really enjoy Sariano’s Shrimp & Corn Chowder Soup ($7.00), which is creamy and slightly spicy but not too heavy. The soup prices seems a little high, when compared those of the sandwiches, but the portions are really generous and it comes accompanied with your choice of crackers or homemade French bread.

If you’re really in a hurry, Sariano’s also offers an assortment of pre-made meals that you can choose from.

2. { Jule’s Thin Crust }

Photo taken from TheMainLineVine

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

With new locations popping up all over Buck’s County, it is clear that Jule’s Thin Crust has found a recipe for success. This gourmet pizza shop, which relies heavily on locally and organically grown produce, offer 22+ varieties of pizza, innovative salads, and gluten-free, as well as whole-wheat, products. If you stop by for just a few slices, you can choose from anything available on the line and get back to work within 10 minutes. And if you’d rather place a full pie or custom order, you’re looking at a total wait time of about 15 minutes, but you’re more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to help pass the time while you wait! Just keep in mind that you’re still at a pizza place, so to all my wine-snobs: NO, there will not be glassware!

I suggest trying the new Buffalo Chicken Pizza with hormone free chicken, chopped celery, blue cheese, mozzarella, arugala, and buffalo sauce ($2.90 per slice). Or the Kim’s Pie with hormone free chicken, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, balsamic BBQ glaze, mozzarella, and chives ($2.90 per slice).

Another classic, loved by all, is the Brushetta Pizza with Chopped Organic Tomatoes, Fresh Cubed Mozzarella, Garlic, Oregano, and Arugala, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil! It will revolutionize your idea of pizza.

3. { Marhaba }

Photo Taken from The New York Times

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

Tucked away on a side street in Lambertville, is one of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants that I have ever been to! The interior is cozy, the prices are reasonable, and the food is authentic and a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The Gyro Sandwich, which is slow roasted lamb, topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tahini drizzle on a warm homemade pita ($5.95) is a deal that can’t be beat and so it has become a regular weekly lunch for me and my mother.

Photo Taken from Jersey Foodies

I also recommend the Babaganough, which is a grilled eggplant spread mixed with tahini, garlic, and fresh lemon juice ($5.95) served alongside warm homemade pita bread. The spread has a zesty flavor and a creamy texture, that is beautiful when paired with the zatter spices on the pita bread.

Photo Taken from ThePalatePrincess

4. { Genivieves Panini & Salads To-Go }

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

I found this place on Groupon a couple of weeks ago, and I have been hooked ever since! Located in the center of Doylestown, Genivieves serves up seasonally inspired food made with locally produced ingredients. The sandwiches are crafted like a work of art and the flavor combinations are a food-enthusiasts dream. My personal favorites are: the Vegetale with grilled asparagus, plum tomato, gooey taleggio cheese, and fresh pesto on multigrain bread ($7.50);  and the Tuscany with grilled chicken breast, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone on rustic ciabatta bread ($7.50). 

In addition to their fabulous warm panini’s, Genivieves also offers gourmet salads, homemade soups, and assorted baked goods. And if you find yourself addicted, as I have, then you can also order their food for catered dinners with 24 hours advance notice. Unfortunately, Genivieves is take-out only, so you cannot dine-in.

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Filed under Baking, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, French Restaurants, Italian Restaurants, Lunch Spots, New Jersey Restaurants, Philadelphia Restaurants, Take-Out

{ Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce }

If I were to make a list for the culinary wonder’s of the world, Panettone bread would certainly be somewhere near the top. A sweet bread, dotted with soft raisins and candied citrus fruit peels, Panettone is best-known for it’s uncanny ability to stay fresh over great lengths of time. I always receive at least one during the Christmas holidays, but usually I don’t around to eating it before anytime before Easter. I often joke that in the event of a nuclear apocalypse, only three things would survive: Twinkies, roaches, and few ribbon-wrapped panettone loaves. Hence, hell on Earth.

Although there is no hope for making Twinkies more palatable, panettone can actually be quite delicious when used in other recipes. It makes a great base for stuffing, a flavorful bread for French toast, and of course, a delicious bread pudding! The fruity flavors of the bread naturally infuse whatever dish you are making, so you don’t have to do as much work seasoning the food. I recently decided to try this bread pudding recipe from Giada de Laurentiis because I saw that it came with a warm Amaretto sauce drizzle. It sounded over the top on Food Network, and it certainly did not disappoint!

I used about 1 1/2 pounds of cubed panettone bread, and made two bread puddings from it. I also doubled the Giada’s recipe for the Amaretto drizzle because it sounded like the best part of the dessert, and I wanted to make sure that there was enough to soak up each bite. I will post the recipe with my modifications below, but you can also view the original by clicking HERE!

Now if only a doctor could put the secret ingredient from Twinkies and panettone into my moisturizer, it might help extend the shelf-life of my face!

{ Ingredients }

For the Bread Pudding:

  • 1 ½  pounds of panettone bread, crusts trimmed, and cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of whipping cream
  • 2 ½  cups of whole milk
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar

For the Amaretto Sauce:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

{ To Make the Amaretto Sauce } Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl mix the amaretto and cornstarch to combine and then whisk the into the cream mixture.

Simmer over a medium-low heat until the sauce thickens (stirring constantly), for about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm, if serving the same day.

NOTE: The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just warm over low heat before serving.

{ To Make the Bread Pudding } Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking sheet. Arrange the cubed panettone in the dish.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to combine.

Pour this custard mixture over the panettone cubes, using the back of a wooden spoon to press the cubes into the liquid. It is important that they are very well submerged. Allow the bread to soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the pudding puffs and it set in the center, about 45 minutes (depending on the size of the dish that you chose to use). Allow to cool slightly.

Spoon the bread pudding onto a plate and drizzle with warm amaretto sauce. Enjoy!

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{ Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies }

I was really sad about missing Thanksgiving dinner this year. Sad to the point where I dreamt about rosemary-infused stuffing, cranberry condiments, and golden-glazed turkey long after the holiday had passed. These thanksgiving “accruciaments” (as Tony Soprano would say) are all obsolete in Argentina, a country that is recognized for both its prized bovine and lack of importation. The only cans of cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree to be found, were in the possession of foreign service agents that had “special postal privileges.” There was literally a black market among BA expats for gravy starter and Sarah Lee products. Unfortunately, my measly teaching salary did not afford me one of these luxury canned items (I will never look at a food-drive the same way again), and so I resorted to a chicken stir-fry on Thanksgiving evening.

For a foodie like myself, this is a crime because Thanksgiving is unequivocally the best day of the year–a day where we are finally accompanied by family and friends in our passion for food and the desire to consume exorbitant amounts of it. So to miss such a momentous event…well, it’s downright depressing. So my family decided to have Thanksgiving round #2. They say it was just for me, but how many people really keep a spare Butterball in their freezer?!? A 16 pound one no less…

We made all of our Thanksgiving family favorites; starting with a juicy Lemon-Herb Roasted Turkey, accompanied by Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Lemon-Scented Broccoli, Rosemary and Sage Infused Stuffing, Corn, and my mom’s delicious Homemade Gravy!

But it wouldn’t be a proper Thanksgiving feast without some sort of pumpkin-flavored dessert, so my sister and I decided to try out Paula Deen’s recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (although we made some modifications, as one must with Paula Deen’s butter rich recipes!).

Overall, I thought the cookies had a really great flavor but they were more cake-like than cookie in composition. If you are a fan of soft cookies, then you will love these!! I would probably opt for my Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting in the future though, because I like crunchy cookies instead.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups (1 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper
{ To Make the CookiesPreheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or nonstick spray.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the sugar, whisking until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, until everything is well combined.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture in 3 parts, and continue to mix on a low speed until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and drop cookies onto prepared cookie sheet. NOTE: I like to use a small ice cream scoop so that the cookie batter is evenly distributed!

Place the cookie sheet into the oven and allow to bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool and serve!

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{ The 12 Desserts of Christmas }

Foodies keep tabs on other foodies–especially blogging foodies! I must admit–with some embarrassment–that I spend a great deal of my day looking at food related tweets, facebook posts, RSS feeds, photos, and last but not least, blog posts (the I-pad has only made my food addiction more accessible!). I want to know what people are eating, and where people are eating.

For this Christmas, I have decided to compile a list of my favorite holiday desserts, drawing on the delicious recipes of my blogging idols, celebrity chefs, and family members. And since I have a sizable amount of free time on my hands, I have decided to present them in song format as the 12 Desserts of Christmas! Just click on the image and it will redirect you to a page with the recipe!

Merry Christmas everyone!


                                                               On the first day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Christmas Rocky Road from Nigella Lawson
 
                                                             On the second day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
                                                   Fat Fluffy Snickerdoodles by How Sweet Eat Is
                                                              
                                                              On the third day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
                                                             Mixed Nut Turtle Cookie by Me

 

                                                               On the fourth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
   Italian Rainbow Cookies by All-Recipes

 

                                                                On the fifth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
                                                                       Pecan Tassies by Me

 

                                                              On the sixth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
Almond Cake with Clementines by Two-Tarts

 

                                                              On the seventh day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
Ricotta Cheesecake with Blackberry Compote by Design Sponge

 

                                                              On the eighth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
Peppermint Infused Brownies by Jennifer Joyce

 

                                                              On the ninth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Coconut Macaroon with Chocolate by Fosters Market, NC

 

                                                              On the tenth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                      10 Hungarian kiffles
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Hungarian Kiffles with Lekvar from Great Grandmother’s Recipe

 

                                                            On the eleventh day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                 11 chewy amaretti cookies
                                                                      10 Hungarian kiffles
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Chewy Amaretti Cookies from The Smitten Kitchen

 

                                                            On the twelfth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                 12 ginger bread men cookies
                                                                 11 chewy amaretti cookies
                                                                      10 Hungarian kiffles
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
Homemade Gingerbread Men with Royal Icing by The Food Network

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{ Pecan Tassies }

As I have mentioned several times on blog, I am not particularly keen on sweets. Given the option, I would always prefer to gorge more “real” food, rather that save myself for a dessert. This being said, I am a major proponent of one-bite desserts that let you have a little taste without a full dessert commitment. Something small that you can just pop in your mouth and be done with in seconds (not an obnoxious slice of cake that you have to try to pawn off to everyone around you, before finally stashing it under a pile of napkins in the hostess’s garbage can….hey, we’ve all done it).

These pecan tassies are a perfect dessert for holiday meals, because you can always find room for at least one, no matter how much you have already eaten.  My mom makes this recipe every year, and finds that they are always well received at the annual cookie exchange (a nice switch-up from the santa sugar cookie cutouts!).

This recipe is low cost, straight forward, and delicious. Try it out this Christmas!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is best)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (Madagascar is best!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • dash of salt

{ To Make the Dough Cups } Using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the 2 sticks of butter and the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Then mix in the flour, until well combined.

Using your hands, roll the dough into about 48 small balls. Place the balls into a small, lightly greased muffin pan. Create small wells in the dough, using the pressure of your thumb (remember, the well must be large enough to contain the pecan filling).

{ To Make the Pecan Filling } Combine the brown sugar, melted butter, honey, vanilla extract, salt and eggs. Stir until well combined. Add the chopped pecans and mix to coat.

{ To Assemble the Tassies } Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spoon the pecan filling into the wells of the dough cups, until all of the filling has been used up.

Bake the tastes at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat 250 for the final 10 minutes of baking.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving!

 

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{ Hungarian Cream Cheese Cookies – Kiffles }

When I was growing up, the the holidays were marked by my Hungarian grandmother’s homemade cream cheese cookies (or Kiffles, as they are called in Hungarian). They would make their first appearance on Thanksgiving, and then she would continue to bake them until Christmas day. I couldn’t get enough of these little cookies, eating them by the plateful (and always getting caught because of the powdered sugar trail I would leave behind).

A kiffle is a moist and delicate pastry dough filled with lekvar (tart prune) or apricot preserves. This year, I have decided to continue the family cookie tradition here in Buenos Aires by making my great grandmother’s original recipe (yes, this is it). It is a simple recipe to make because only a few ingredients are required and no “special equipment” is needed!

NOTES: It is very important that you be patient and allow the ingredients to properly soften before beginning, or the dough will not come together right. Also, I suggest using King Arthur flour in this recipe because it is the best flour for baking. Since the dough is composed of so few ingredients, it is really important those those couple be of a very high quality. Splurge on the King Arthur if you can, but the recipe will work if you can’t find it (I couldn’t here in Argentina, and my cookies still came out fine).

{ Ingredients }

**Makes about 48 cookies

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 stick of margarin, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
  • Lekvar or apricot preserves
  • Confectioner’s sugar

{ To Make the Cookies } Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using and electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the softened butter, margarin, and cream cheese. Add the vanilla extract and continue to mix until light and fluffy.

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Add 3 cups of flour and mix with hands. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. If it is too sticky, continue to add flour until the right consistency is achieved. Divide the dough into four balls, cover in plastic wrap and put in freezer for 20 minutes.

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Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and then cut the dough into small squares. Place a dollop of lekvar or apricot preserves in the center of the square and then bring two of the opposing dough corners together atop it.

Arrange cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve!

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b-Blue Natural Bar & Deli ****

Armenia 1692
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 4831.7024

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

There are an infinite number of cute sidewalk cafes and restuarants in Buenos Aires. There are little vegetarian spots, tea houses, ice cream parlors, and even places strictly devoted to the sale of coffee and chocolates. The task of choosing just which one to spend your afternoon at can be quite overwhelming, especially in the crowded Palermo area. As I was walking to the gym the other day, I passed by at least 18 adorable cafes, each one begging me to abandon my work out plans and indulge in something delicious and homemade. I tried to fight the urge, but finally caved when I passed by bBlue Natural foods. I could see the salads being served in enormous porclain bowls and almost every table had a brightly colored fruit smoothie on it. I couldn’t resist.

I took a seat and ordered the b-Pollo Salad, which is a bed of mixed greens with shredded chicken marinated in honey, soy sauce, and dijon mustard, topped with sundried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, carmaleized onions, and croutons, and tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos). Personally, I like the bBlue house dressing with olive oil, vinegar, blueberries, lemon, honey, and mustard. It adds a sweet fruity flavor to the salad, which is a nice contrast with the sundried tomatoes. So far, this place serves the best salad in Buenos Aires (in my opinion, of course!). The portions are huge and they aren’t stingy with the meats or the cheeses. Also, the ingredients are incredibly fresh and absolutely everything is homemade. Ohh and finally a place that serves a non-mayonnaise dressing!! Major brownie points for that!

Since my first time at bBlue, I have become a regular and I have yet to have a bad meal. Another favorite salad of mine is the b-Deli Salad, which is a bed of baby spinach, lemon-marinated mushrooms, cubes of brie cheese, and toasted almonds, tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos) (I like to put the homemade pear dressing on this salad).

In addition to the salads, bBlue also makes incredible gourmet sandwiches!! They have all sorts of spreadable cheeses and aiolis, so the sandwich isn’t dry. My personal favorite so far is the Pollo Sandwich served on French bread with chicken marinated in honey and soy sauce, sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, melted gruyere cheese, with dijon and mayo (38 pesos). The sandwich is then served with side of incredible herb roasted potatoes and a ramekin of ketchup. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but imagine a gourmet chicken cheesesteak, and that’s this sandwich.

Ohh, and I almost forgot….the POMEDLADO!!!! It’s like a lemonade, but one hundred times better becasue it is made with grapefruit juice, honey, fresh ginger, and a hint of mint (13 pesos). Seriously? It redefines refreshment.

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{ Cinnamon Apple & Brie Toasts }

Bruschetta is one of my favorite small plates to enjoy before dinner, but every now and then I like a break from the plain old garlic and tomato. It’s not exactly dinner-date friendly, and it’s getting a little overdone as far as I’m concerned. So this evening I decided to make a sweet bruschetta with oven-roasted cinnamon apples, honey, and baked brie cheese. It was absolutely delicious and it is a super versatile recipe. I used it is as a small plate for dinner, but I would also suggest serving it for breakfast, brunch, or as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. To cut back on the sweetness, use less honey, or omit it all together. Remember, the brie cheese releases oil when baked, so don’t worry about the toasts being too dry!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 french baguette, sliced down on a diagonal (1/2″ thick)
  • 2 honey crisp apples, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • A chunk of brie cheese, sliced into rectangles (1/4″ thick)
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Honey for drizzling
{ To Roast the Apples } Preheat the oven to 350 degreesLay the sliced apples in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and dust with a covering of ground cinnamon. (If you want, you can omit the honey later, and dust the apples with brown sugar here to create the sweetness!). Bake for 5-8 minutes and remove from oven.
To Assemble the Toasts } On another foil lined baking sheet, arrange the sliced baguettes side by side. Top the bread with a slice of roasted apple, a cut of brie cheese, and then another slice of roasted apple. Drizzle the top with a little bit of honey and repeat until all the toasts have been assembled. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese has become soft and gooey (about 4-5 minutes). Remove from the oven and serve!

 

 

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{ Cheddar & Chive Buttermilk Biscuits }

It’s a rainy day here in Philadelphia, which means that a pot of soup is on the stove in the Bajek household–Tyler Florence’s roasted tomato soup, to be specific! And I highly recommend that recipe if your looking to use up the last of your garden tomatoes! But as much as I love a great bowl of soup, I am a big eater and broth alone just doesn’t cut it for me. I always find myself hungry an hour of so later. To help eliminate this problem, I like to pair my soup with a nice chunk of crusty bread or even grilled cheese sandwich, when I am feeling piggish (which, lets be real, is most of the time!). In fact, I almost never eat grilled cheese with out tomato soup and visa versa. They are a perfect food marriage, intended to be consumed together. However, in an attempt to be healthy today, I have decided to look for grilled cheese alternatives–something I can eat with my tomato soup that won’t pack an extra 500 calories. My solution: these cheddar and chive buttermilk biscuits.

A little surprised that biscuits would be considered a healthy alternative? I was too, considering I associate them with good ole “biscuits and gravy” from the South. But these biscuits are just 92 calories per serving and they are delicious!!

{ Ingredients for Biscuits }

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

{ To Make the Biscuits } Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, and use two knives to cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles a course meal.

In a measuring cup, combine the egg and egg yolk, whisking until blended. Add the buttermilk. Whisk in the chopped chives. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, using a fork to mix until the dry ingredients are absorbed. Fold in the shredded cheddar cheese.

Put the dough onto a well-floured surface and kneed gently until the dough is no longer sticky. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough until is about 1/2 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to create the shape of the biscuit and then place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Allow the biscuits to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are a nice golden brown. Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

{ To Serve } Top the biscuits with butter or serve alongside a sour cream-chive mixture as I did (see photo below). To make the sour cream, combine 1/2 cup sour cream with 3-4 stems of chopped chives. Stir well to mix.


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