Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Before I get to the delicious reason for today’s post, I’d like to take just a moment of your time to tell you how this year’s celebration will look a little different in our house. I know that we all want to be with our friends and family during the holidays, but that just isn’t a good idea for those of us living in the ol’ U.S. of A. at the moment. I have family members that I want to see (and hug) as well, so I know how you feel, but we’re all keeping this Thanksgiving small, in the hopes that I can spend many more Holidays with my extended family in the future, and I hope you will do the same. It’s not a lot to ask, and it’s nothing that hasn’t been asked of essential healthcare workers and military families most every Holiday. That being said, since  I am apparently incapable of cooking for less than a crowd, I will be offering curbside takeout to those loved ones outside of my immediate bubble!

Anyway, if you are anything like me, Thanksgiving has kind of snuck up behind you and yelled “BOO!”  I mean, I understand that 2020 has bent any and all rules of time, but I just didn’t expect to suddenly find myself facing both a turkey and a Christmas tree quite yet. (BTW, my tree is up. Is yours?) Well, my last-minute planning friends, I have a quick and easy Thanksgiving dessert recipe for you! Rarely straying far from my Southern roots, I’m bringing you yet another pecan treat. My Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars are absolutely out of this world! Chocolate shortbread, topped with a rich caramel pecan layer, and finished with chocolate ganache and pecans, they’re unbelievably easy to make, feed a crowd, and pack beautifully for takeout or shipping! Just because our Thanksgivings have to be smaller, doesn’t mean they have to be any less delicious! (Read more…)

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Brownies

At the time of this writing, it’s a few days after Halloween 2020. It’s also the day after Election Day 2020. The true All Hallows Eve. Oh, and I almost forgot, it’s also the Year of the Pandemic 2020. You know, THAT year. Yeah. Lots going on here. It’s all a bit overwhelming, so let’s escape for a moment. Let’s pretend that none of this is happening. It’s a peaceful November day. In this version of the world, Election Day was just the regular amount of stressful. In this version of the world, old people freely mouth-breathe on your neck in line at the Mega Mart. And in this version of the world, the interweb did a “which candy is your favorite?” contest and the loser was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The world said, “peanut butter and chocolate? I’ll pass.” In this world, all you find at the bottom of your kid’s orange plastic pumpkin, two days after Halloween, is a bunch of unwanted Peanut Butter Cups. In fact, there are so many Peanut Butter Cups that you are now looking for things to do with all your Peanut Butter Cups. In that unlikely scenario, I’ve got you covered. (Read more…)

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Rye Bars

Hi friends! It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you, and for that I apologize. I don’t know about you, but it has been pretty darn stressful around here. There are some days that I just want to hole up with my family and then there are some days that I hate absolutely everyone and I just want to lay in bed and binge an entire season of The Real Housewives of Anywhere Else. That being said, I’m still cooking most days and you can usually find my current creations on my Instagram Story, but actually writing up a recipe and posting it can be more than my brain can handle. I’m sure you all understand. I will try to do better.

One thing I haven’t slacked on is making some kind of treat for the Emergency Room staff who work with The Boy day in and day out. No matter what is going on with me, no matter how I’m feeling, whether I like The Boy that day or not,  I still push myself to make them something every Saturday to say “THANK YOU” for everything they do. It doesn’t matter how you feel politically, if you are an intelligent human being existing in 2020, you know that we are facing a serious health crisis, and these people put themselves on the line every damn day. Some days are worse than others, for sure, but they never know what is going to walk through those doors from one minute to the next. So if I can make them the best damn Dark Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Rye Bars they’ll ever taste, by golly I will!!

You should go make some for someone you want to thank, even if that person is you. Especially if that person is you (Read more…)

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Cookies

Who would’ve guessed that a pandemic could inspire so much creativity in the kitchen? Every Saturday, I send The Boy off to work in the emergency room with a treat for the staff. I want to make them something to thank them for all their hard work, but sometimes I just can’t think of what to make. Other times, I just really don’t want to enter the chaos that is my local Mega Market. Luckily, a lack of creative drive and no desire to mask up and venture the Mega Market aisles can sometimes pay off. This was definitely one of those times! My Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Cookie is what some might call a “kitchen sink” cookie: I took what was left at the bottom of a box of Rice Krispies, the last of The Boy’s peanut butter stash (don’t worry hon, it has since been replenished), and half a bag of chocolate chips to make an amazing, crave-worthy cookie. This cookie is so good that The Boy “complained” they everyone at work is bugging him for the recipe.  (Hot tip: The Boy is the last person I’d ask for a recipe. That’s why I’m here.) (Read more…)

Black Pepper Caramel No-Churn Ice Cream

Hi 👋 It’s been a while, huh? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the world (and America in particular) has been in a lot of turmoil recently. I don’t see it letting up soon, and there are many reasons why that’s both a good and a bad thing, so… Here we are. I try to stay away from intense topics in this blog, but I just want to let you know that I’ve been spending a lot of my time in the past month educating and examining myself, and how I relate to and interact with others. I thought that I needed to take time off from blogging, and most social media, to do that properly. That being said, preparing food and sharing food, with my loved ones and with you, is my primary way of relieving stress. And… there’s been some stress, you know? I figured if I need some stress-relief, then you probably do as well. I recently eased back into sharing pictures of the food I’ve been preparing on Instagram, and I’ve received a lot of DMs asking me for the recipes of the things I’ve posted. I want to thank all of you for your patience, and I’d like to reward you with the most-requested recipe from this last month: My delicious Black Pepper Caramel No-Churn Ice Cream! I mean, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, right? (While we all scream for ice cream, we can also all scream that Black lives matter while we’re at it. Right? Right.)

So… Who wants ice cream?  (Read more…)

My Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have a story for you today. A story about a cookie. No, not a cookie. THE cookie 🍪 Cue the lights. [The lights dim.] Thank you.

Before I even started this recipe, I thought to myself: does the InterWeb really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe? Was I bringing anything new to the table? Was there a unique spin or a new flavor combination that I felt the world needed to hear about? Can a chocolate chip cookie even be perfect? Everyone has different taste and texture preferences, so how can I call one chocolate chip cookie perfect? That’s when it hit me, I didn’t need to figure out what the best chocolate chip cookie in the world was. I just needed to make my perfect chocolate chip cookie. The perfect cookie for me and my tastes. See, here’s the thing: The only chocolate chip cookie experiences I’d had as a child were store-bought, and, no offense to cookie manufacturers, I hated them. They were too hard, too crunchy, and too sugary. Thus, I found a goal for my chocolate chip cookie recipe development: I needed to figure out how to make a chocolate chip cookie that I loved, one that was the exact polar opposite of those store-bought cookies. I wanted a crispy edge, but a chewy middle. One that held together when it went for a swim in milk, but fell apart when I took a bite. Not too sweet and just a little bit salty. So, I got to work. And I did it.

Okay, you can turn the lights up again.

Pardon the dramatics, but this is truly My Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie. This is a cookie that I absolutely love and I hope this is a recipe that will intrigue you and make you want to bake some for yourself! Because you really should.

Now seriously, you should turn the lights back up. Reading in the dark is bad for your eyes. Besides, you can’t bake cookies in the dark (Read more…)

Hero Sandwiches (aka Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies)

Hey. Hi. Hello. Starting Week 9 of the lockdown here in New Jersey and I’m (just) holding it together. I’ve been keeping busy in my usual fashion by finding new dishes to cook every day (I get bored eating the same things), watching Survivor from the very beginning (how cute is baby Amber in Season 2?), and thinking about what to bake for The Boy and his hospital (hero) coworkers on Saturdays (also low-key fearful of the revolt if I stopped doing it now 😳). I had a few ideas rolling around in my noggin this week, but at the last minute I pivoted to these Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. I mean, what‘s better than two crunchy peanut butter cookies hugging a fluffy peanut butter filling? Right. Decision made.

The Boy experienced a little separation anxiety as he watched all of these beautiful cookies get packed up this morning, but after I gave him a calm down cookie and showed him his private home stash he was good to go. So, listen. If you have any spare time, and someone you know needs a calm down cookie, I highly recommend making a few dozen for yourself them. (Read more…)

(p.s. but hey, let’s not just call them heroes, let’s pay them like heroes, yeah?)

Birthday Cake Cookies

In these unprecedented times, we are being constantly bombarded with gentle-voiced reminders of how unprecedented the times truly are. I mean, could times be any more “challenging,” “trying,” or uncertain?” Are we doing enough to “stay connected” despite the “distance between us” as we “stay at home?” The incessant reminders that {insert-car-company-here} is now in the “people business” and are “here for you” is enough to make anyone want to disconnect. Well, guess what? I’m “here for you” too, with a recipe that you can eat “all alone,” and “all by yourself.” Remember the perfectly sized  Confetti Snack Cake we made a few weeks ago? It was just enough Un-Birthday cake for two or three people to enjoy? I have a faster, easier, just as delicious alternative, for when you really, really (really) need some time (and cookies) to yourself. My Birthday Cake Cookies have all the fun and flavor of my confetti cake, in a portable, hoardable, pocket size. Trust me, there’s nothing “challenging,” “trying,” or “uncertain” about these cookies.  (Read more… )

Peanut Butter Blondies

And now, a very special episode of Cook Sleep Read:

A good friend recently told me that baking is one of the few things that really gives her some measure of stress relief lately. Following a recipe exactly and creating something delicious gives her days a little more structure; something a lot of us are missing now, what with the whole global pandemic thing. Then she told me that she was considering not baking anymore because there were just too many sweet treats and loaves of bread in her house for her and her husband to consume on their own. But studies have shown that exercising your creative side in some way can help people feel more relaxed and happy in times of stress, so, especially now, it’s important to find a way to keep doing the creative stuff you enjoy. I suggested she might share them with neighbors, pack them up and deliver them to a local hospital, or even freeze them for later, more-structured days, when she has less time to indulge in the baking arts. For me, I’m giving my family some reprieve from my ever-growing mountain of sweets by baking up something yummy and packing it for The Boy to take to work with him in the Emergency Room every weekend. I even package up any extras and leave them at our neighbor’s door for a surprise treat. Sharing home-baked goods is my solution to all the stress of life today. Being in control of something, when we have so little control of so much, is no small thing. So bake someone happy, especially if that someone is yourself!  (Read more… )

Confetti Snack Cake

I know that, coming from me, two posts in one week is kind of crazy… but I had to share the big news! I have finally discovered the secret to emotionally surviving the current quarantine: Birthday Cake! In particular, a sprinkle-filled, cream-cheese-frosting-covered Confetti Snack Cake. Before you ask, no, it does not have to be the birthday of anyone you know. I thought very long and hard about this and have come to the conclusion that it is someone’s birthday, somewhere, every day. And if you make them a cake, light them a candle, and eat some cake in their honor, you will be at least 45% happier. And they, wherever they are, will also be at least 45% happier, without even knowing why. 75% happier if you have some strawberry ice cream on the side. I say this with all the confidence of someone who just ate the last piece of cake.  (Read more… )