ADDICTING PEANUT BUTTER DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Not many people don’t love a good chocolate chip cookie. Combined with some peanut butter and you have just upped the ante. I made these last week and put some out for a game night we had. My friends kept asking me, ” What did you put in these cookies, they are so addicting.” We would play a round and if someone got up, they would ask that person to bring them another cookie. Eventually the whole Tupperware container of them ended up in the game zone to make for easy reaching. People made sure to take a couple extra at the end of night so they had one for the road.

These cookies are the perfect amount of chewy, with a crisp edge.  The combination of two kinds of chocolate, and a little peanut butter just made them that much more addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m sure you will want more than a shot of milk to go along with them!

Makes about 2 dozen
Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, softened
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Using a Kitchen-aid mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth
  • Beat in the eggs until light & fluffy
  • Add corn syrup, water, and vanilla and mix until just incorporated
  • Slowly combine the flour, baking soda, and salt into the peanut butter mixture.
  • Pour in the chocolate chips and mix on low until combined
  • Use cookie scoop to drop dough about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden brown.
  • Place cookies on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before eating.
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Blackberry Chocolate Molten Lava Decadence

Looking for a tasty, yet simple dessert to make for a last minute party, or guests, or just because you need something chocolatey RIGHT NOW? This is the dessert is what you have been waiting for! Impress all your guests with this and they will definitely think you slaved away in the kitchen all day making this.

This simple- one bowl- one pan- gooey- rich treat, will make you wonder why you don’t make a homemade dessert more often.

What is great about this dessert is that you can sub out the blackberries for any other berry you prefer. I did make it once with fresh blackberries, but they kind of disappeared into the molten lava and were not as good as with the frozen ones.  What the heck, throw caution to the wind and why not add three kinds of berries at once and see what happens.


Blackberry Chocolate Molten Lava Decadence

Prep time – 5 mins       Cook time – 20 mins        Total time – 25 mins
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granualted sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries
  • Vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Grease a small, deep rectangular baking dish (mine is a stoneware pan roughly 9 by 5 inches) or a square brownie pan will work as well
  • In a microwave safe mixing bowl that is big enough to take all the ingredients later, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring frequently.
  • Once the chocolate and butter is melted, let it cool slightly and then stir in all the remaining ingredients.
  • Scrape the mixture into your baking dish, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. The dessert should be set around the edges, with but still be jiggly a bit in the middle.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Chicken Apple Sausage Orecchiette

Mooooooom. Mom! What’s for dinner? I’m starving!!!!
How often do you hear your family asking you what’s for dinner and then tell you how incredibly hungry they are?  (As if that will magically help dinner appear on the table right then.)  You then realize the day has flown by and it’s now 6:00 pm and you have not even thought about what to make for dinner yet. Pasta is always an easy way out, but pasta with red sauce gets old after awhile, and so does garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and basil. You can only have those two dishes so many times a month.
I recently discovered a great new fast, easy, and extremely tasty and filling pasta recipe. I am forever trying to sneak veggies into our dinners to add extra nutrients, and this one is perfect. Swiss or rainbow chard will give you more vitamins and good things than kale, and it works great in this recipe. Throw in a few other staple ingredients and voila! you have a gourmet restaurant version of pasta you would pay $22 bucks for.
Having a vegan in the family I used Tofurky Chicken Apple Sausages, but if you want the real stuff, go for it. If you happen to have some other italian sausage or ground beef, these will do as well, but it’s the apple sausage that really compliments this dish so well.
The real key is using a cup of the hot water that you boiled the past in, so DO NOT DUMP YOUR PASTA WATER. Carefully scoop out about 1.5 cups of water before dumping your pasta and set it aside. Or spoon out your pasta into a colander,  then you have saved all the water in the pot for the end.

Sorry, I didn’t have time to take photos of this process and dish, but I will the next time I make this.  Then I will update this post with some pics for all of you!

Chicken Apple Sausage Orecchiette

Ingredients

  • 1 pound orecchiette ( usually 1 bag/box)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package of Tofurky Chicken Apple Sausages
  • 2 med-large carrots
  • 1 med-large gala or fuji apple
  • 3 cloves minced garlic or 3 cubes frozen garlic paste
  • squirt of lemon
  • 1 bunch Rainbow Chard (or swiss chard)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetarian chicken stock powder (or any other chicken or vegetable bullion)
  • Nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan to sprinkle on top
Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prepare your other ingredients. Cut the sausages in half then into about 1/3 inch pieces. Next wash carrots and slice in very thin circles. Dice apple into about 1/2 inch size bites. Wash and trim stems on chard, then roll leaves up and slice into about 1/2 in strips.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausages and cook about 3 -5 minutes.  Add carrots and apples to skillet and saute until softened – about 3- 5 minutes more.  Scoop out and place into serving bowl.
  4. Add a little more oil if needed and garlic, then toss in rainbow chard, add squirt of lemon juice; cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl with sausages.
  5. Once pasta is done, drain water (reserving about 1.5 cups of water) and place pasta in bowl with other ingredients.
  6. Add bullion to the reserved hot pasta water, mix and let dissolve. Add 1 cup to start with to the serving bowl of pasta and other ingredients. You might need the extra half cup, but add only a little at a time. This will create a light sauce that coats pasta, but you don’t want it swimming in water.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan or nutritional yeast (vegan).

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Summertime Adventures (or Be A Tourist in Your Hometown – Part 2 – South-East Sonoma County)

:::  S U M M E R   I S   H E R E  :::

Are  you sure? I am pretty sure that last month we just celebrated Valentine’s Day right?  It seems like time is somehow stuck in hyper-drive. A month goes by and I have no idea how it happened and what I did with all that time.  Now all of the sudden I have a bored pre-teen that I am apparently supposed to wait on hand and foot as if she were the royal princess of Summer-topia.  I am finding it much more difficult to keep a pre-teen entertained than a 2-7 year old. I am not sure why that is since at this age she doesn’t need 100% supervision; no diapers have to be changed, she needs no naps, we don’t need to pack a huge bag of necessities, toys, stroller or extra clothing. Yet somehow she seems more dependent on me than ever.

It’s been a few years since I was the parent at home during the day in the summer, so I decided we needed some new rules that relate to an 11 year old. So far I have been met with lots of resistance (not surprised), but I am confident that I will prevail as the grand champion.

  • Rule #1: I am not your servant, personal chef, maid, butler, or taxi-cab.
  • Rule #2: You still have to read a book at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Rule #3: You have to help do chores and special projects around the house.
  • Rule #4: You cannot sit and watch TV or movies all day long.
  • Rule #5: You cannot sit and play on your phone or other electronic device all day long.
  • Rule #6: You can stay up late, as long as you get up at a reasonable time the next morning.

Luckily for us one of her best friends lives across the street. This is very helpful when having an only child. They can come and go as they want and they keep each other entertained for the most part.  But even with friends over, they all still get bored, and I have to step in and find something for everyone to do.


::: SUMMER ACTIVITIES :::

If you are looking for some affordable and/or free things to do this summer, I have a few fun and interesting idea’s for you. We have been to all of these places and we just love them!  For fun things to do out west please see my earlier blog post: Be a Tourist in your Hometown

JELLY BELLY FACTORY – Vacaville, CA  – Free factory tours, plus free samples and a free bag of Jelly Bellies for everyone!  I realize this is not in Sonoma County, but it is located only about an hour from Santa Rosa and this makes for a fun day. The tour is about 40 minutes, includes videos and history of the company and on weekdays you can see all the workers in the factory and all the machines going. Weekends the factory workers have off, so it’s a little less exciting, but it is still fun. They also give out free chocolate and fudge samples in the gift shop, plus you can go through the line at the jelly bean sample bar as many times as you want and try all the flavors. They do have a  cafe with all sorts of Jelly Bean shaped food which is ok, but not great.  However if you are coming from Northern Sonoma County and take hwy 116 exit in Petaluma, there is a wonderful place to stop and eat either on the way to the Jelly Belly Factory or on the way back called The Fremont Diner (see next item on this list below).

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THE FREMONT DINER – Carneros Hwy Between Sonoma and Napa (AKA Hwy 121/12) – On your way out to or back from Vacaville, (honestly anytime you want an amazing home cooked, farm fresh, locally grown, organic, free range, utterly fantastic food) stop by this quaint historic landmark for some tasty grub that will knock your socks off. They grow as much of their own food as possible in their gardens, or they get it locally.  You will be treated like family as you sit inside and enjoy the antiques or outside at a picnic table in their “backyard”. Amazing views when you sit outside with gorgeous vineyards on the hills. Once we were treated to a rare double rainbow at sunset as we dined outside.  Check out their seasonal menu (they serve what’s fresh!) however they always have the popular dishes such as the Deviled Eggs, Nashville Fried Chicken, Fremont Burger and Mac-n-cheese. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you happen to have $5 bucks in your pocket, be sure to go inside and have your photos done in the Chicken Coop Photo Booth. You get two strips of 4 poses so you can share with a friend!

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CORNERSTONE SONOMA – (About 5 minutes from Fremont Diner)  Sonoma, CA – It’s hard to describe exactly what Cornerstone is. It’s part art exhibit, part garden, mix in some interactive outdoor experiences, and throw in a cafe and a wine tasting room and there you have it. What is so cool about it is that this kind of art appeals to all ages and types of people,  and the opportunity to wander & experience the outdoor art gardens is completely free. The gardens have separate sections and each one has something different and unique, created by some pretty clever artists. One of my favorites is the metal tunnel, called RISE. It has great acoustics and its fun to sing inside of it. There’s also a wishing tree with iridescent prismatic ribbons that you write a wish on then tie it to the”tree”. The ribbons sway in the breeze making the rainbow colors so vibrant and beautiful. If you are hungry you can stop and grab a bite to eat at the cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating. (Note that we have not eaten here at Park 121 yet.) Or bring a snack ans sit out on the grass in the middle of the gardens. Lots of fun adventures and silly photos are bound to keep any child or adult entertained for hours.

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CLINE CELLARS – Sonoma, CA – Just a hop, skip and a jump from Cornerstone, is Cline Cellars.  Cline Cellars has some beautiful property that makes for a wonderful morning or afternoon walk. They have a small tasting room (free tasting of 5 non-reserve wines), California Missions Museum (also free), gorgeous pond, gardens, and even some beautiful pheasants and other exotic looking birds, they also offer tours of the estate.  This makes Cline Cellars a perfect stop with or with out kids. For those wine snobs out there, Cline Cellars are well known for having Ancient Vines, some of the oldest and most rare grapevines in California that range in age from 80 to 120 years old.  They are also pesticide free and sustain organic practices on all their vineyards.

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JACUZZI WINERY– Sonoma, CA – Only 417 feet from Cline Cellars is this fabulous Italian themed winery. They have a beautiful tasting room, food & gift shop. Here you can also sample glorious house made olive oils and vinegars.  Like Cline Cellars, they offer a complimentary wine tasting of 5 of their non-reserve wines. The grounds are spectacular and you almost feel as if you are on vacation in Italy, and yes they are the ones who invented the “Jacuzzi Spa Tub”. Go ahead and take some photos of yourself while you are here, your friends will be jealous that you are in Tuscany!

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