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Let’s go camping. Inside. Without bugs. I’ll bring dessert!

We’ll take every camper’s favorite fireside treat–roasted marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers with some Hershey bar melted inside–and blend it with my recipe for chocolate chip cookies (CCCs for short). No doubt, you’ll find yourself wanting s’more of these. I was torn between using Golden Grahams cereal or straight up graham crackers, so I used both! 🎶 Oh, those Golden Grahams! 🎶

KATTY’S S’MORES CCCs

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar*
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (one whole graham cracker, crushed–I used a cinnamon one, NOM NOM)
1/4 cup Golden Grahams cereal, lightly crushed
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona feves, finely chopped
2 Hershey bars, chopped coarsely (so you can still see it’s a Hershey bar)
3 mini marshmallows per cookie

*I send my turbinado sugar (a.k.a. Sugar in the Raw) through the food processor so it’s not crunchy. I process the whole box at a time and pour it right back into the box to store.

Put a gentle crush on those Golden Grahams (left). Finely crush the graham cracker (right). Like so. Set aside.

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Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined: do not overmix. Blend in finely chopped dark chocolate chunks, graham crackers and crushed Golden Grahams.

Refrigerate the dough for at least few hours or overnight. Make it easy on yourself and portion out the dough with your handy scoop beforehand. Much harder to scoop chilled dough–trust me. I used my smaller ice cream scoop to make BIG COOKIES.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. I space the cookies out in rows of three–nine cookies per sheet. We’re going to swap the cookies up the river, down the river exactly halfway through baking.

Tip: have the marshmallows ready to grab from either a plate or paper towel as you are more than likely to wind up with melted chocolate on your fingers as you position the marshmallows and Hershey bar pieces in each cookie.

OK, so into the oven they go, then set a timer for 7 minutes. Take both sheets out of the oven, then quickly press 3 mini marshmallows and 2-3 Hershey bar pieces into each cookie. When you put them back into the oven, switch the position of each sheet from front to back, top to bottom, and let them bake for 7 more minutes. When they’re done baking, remove from the oven and let them rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes or so before moving the cookies to a cooling rack.

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Let them cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. Good luck, by the way–they rarely last that long around heah. ;) Too many cookie monsters.

Hope 2016 is off to a sweet start for you. This kat? I’m living my life like it’s golden. :) You do the same.

buckeye brownies Kattys Kitchen

My friend Amy loved sweet treats as much as she loved good tunes. And this one’s for you, Amy. Inspired by buckeye candies, I’ve taken my favorite brownie recipe and topped it with a light as air, rich as all get out, thick peanut butter layer. I think I love these even more than buckeyes. Amici, just try this and see!

KATTY’S BUCKEYE BROWNIES
adapted from my all-time favorite brownie recipe from Ghirardelli

For the brownies
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
3/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa
2/3 cup unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks (I chopped up Valrhona feves)

Let’s make the brownies first. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a spoon, stir eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter.

Chop the chocolate.

Sift dry ingredients together. Or shake them in a canister if you want to take it easy on yourself. :)

Stir dry ingredients into egg/butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks. Spread the batter in a buttered 8″ square pan. I line mine with a silicone mat.

Bake for 25 minutes. Could be a bit more or less in your oven–I like mine chewy/fudgy and 25 minutes gets the job done here. Let the brownies cool completely before you frost them. As they do, it’s a fine time to whip up the peanut butter layer.

For the peanut butter layer
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick salted butter (4 tablespoons), softened
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark
2 tablespoons sour cream (you can substitute milk for this and/or the Maker’s Mark
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

It doesn’t get easier than this. Cream together the peanut butter, butter, Maker’s Mark, sour cream and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and salt. Combine slowly, then whip it good! The texture will be almost mousse-like.

Frost the brownies evenly with the peanut butter layer. Because the frosting is so light, I left the brownies in the fridge to chill. Let’s keep in mind these are absolutely fantastic for breakfast.

buckeye brownie breakfast Kattys Kitchen

And now, a dedication and a short story for my 200th post. Maybe once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, you meet someone like Amy. We felt like forever friends since we met just short of two years ago. We laughed and shared and loved nonstop in that all too brief time. My heart’s been breaking since I learned late last week, she had passed away in her sleep without warning. I know she’d want me to keep smiling, keep baking and to remember the good times, so that’s what I’m here to do with a lesson or two: Life is short, enjoy the ride, love one another.

So glad you were in my orbit, sister. Till we meet again, I’ll do my best to let the good times roll. And it goes a little somethin’ like this, here we go! Keep dancin’! Thank you for making me part of your family. Love you more!

Amy December 2014Amys Luna

Amy n Rocco 2
Amy my favorite strawbig boobs and music

roasted butternut bisque with sourdough toast and fresh chive chevre

Falling temps, falling leaves–what better time of year to roast something delicious to warm your bones and your home? I’ve got just the thing. Let’s grab some butternut squash and get cookin’!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE

2 butternut squash (4 pounds total), halved, seeded, cut in cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 medium-large sweet onion
3 carrots
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon additional Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt–toss squash to coat.

Spread out evenly over a roasting pan or baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then toss and return to the oven for 15 minutes more.

Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat, add carrots and onion, cook about 7 to 10 minutes till tender. Add chicken stock, squash, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon more Kosher salt, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add cream and nutmeg, blend with an immersion blender.

butternut squash stick blender

Enjoy a taste of fall!

chocolate ribbon whisky bread pudding

The chocolate bread pudding I usually make is an old favorite, clipped from the local paper years back. I’ve since adapted it a time or two. This latest variation is inspired by something ultra-delicious I enjoyed at Matunuck Oyster Bar this summer. Just out of the oven, it’s crisp on top and delightfully light and custardy beneath, with a bit of bourbon in the mix to make it extra nice-nice.

This may be my new favorite spin on bread pudding. Will it be yours?

CHOCOLATE RIBBON WHISKY BREAD PUDDING

half pound of croissants cut into 1-inch pieces (conveniently, Stop & Shop sells mini croissants in a half-pound package–how did they know?)
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup (½ stick) of butter
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (I use Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate feves)
cinnamon to sprinkle over the top–along with 1-2 teaspoons of granulated sugar (I used ground Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish and fill with half the cubed croissants. Sprinkle chopped chocolate evenly over this layer. Then top with remaining croissants.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, bourbon and vanilla.

Separately, warm the cream, milk and butter till the butter melts. I use the microwave on the defrost setting, but you can use a pan on the stove, if you prefer.

While whisking the egg/sugar/bourbon mixture, slowly add the warmed cream/milk/butter. Pour this combination over the croissants. Sprinkle with cinnamon and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. Granulated is fine, I just happen to buzz Sugar in the Raw in the food processor for making chocolate chip cookies, so I have a whole box on hand.

Place your 8 x 8″ pan into a larger (9 x 13″) pan filled with an inch or so of hot water. The water should come no higher than two thirds of the way up the side of the pudding pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the edge of the pan comes out clean.

chocolate ribbon whisky bread pudding serving

I serve this dish warm (it reheats beautifully in the microwave), but you can serve it cold as well. It’s perfect for dessert and even breakfast! NOM!

 

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For the longest time, my friend and neighbor, Sharen, told me about the yogurt she buys from a farm the next town over. Finally, she said, “C’mon! We’re going for a ride. I’ll show you where it is!” And off we went to Deerfield Farm–just down the way from us, off Route 68 in Durham, Connecticut.

Deerfield Farm barn

Their self-service farm store is stocked with creamy, European-style yogurt (plain or vanilla) that’s perfect to top with homemade granola and fresh fruit. And, though I’ve not yet tried it, they also offer raw Jersey milk (chocolate, too!), eggs, and two items high on my gotta-try list: ricotta and a soft, creamy, fresh cheese called Brianna.

Deerfield Farm prices

Sometimes you’ll find people along with the cows and cats in the barn, but the payment system is simple and old-fashioned. So be sure to bring cash and exact change.

Deerfield Farm honor system
Now that you know what prompted me to make granola, let me show you how–so easy, so delicious. You’re gonna love it!

KATTY’S GOOD MORNING GRANOLA

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients
3 cups rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill–they’re great!)
1 cup shredded coconut (Baker’s is my fave)
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons golden flaxseed
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (30 seconds in the microwave did the trick for me)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Ready for how easy this is? Combine dry ingredients well. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then spread out evenly over a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, then bake 15 minutes more. Let cool, then store. Or enjoy right away over your favorite yogurt. Or gelato. Or however you like to enjoy–just by the spoonful works, too!

 

 

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They say if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. So, after a failed attempt at making salted caramel pudding a few weeks ago–and after eating all the not-quite-thickened portions myself, MOO–I gave it another go this afternoon. These little babies are heading over the river in their own little individual containers for a cookout with my family, so I’m not going to trick them out even further with caramel sauce and whipped cream as directed in the original recipe, but you sure can!

Let’s do this in steps to keep everything straight. I find it easier to follow this way.

BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL BUDINO
inspired by Marcie Turney’s recipe from Barbuzzo (Philadelphia, PA) via Bon Appetit

8 Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers, crush and set in jars (2 per serving)

1. In a small bowl, whisk and set aside:
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2. In another small bowl, whisk and set aside:
3 egg yolks

3. In a small saucepan, combine and heat just to a simmer; then set aside:
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, scraped

4. Get ready to add at the end:
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Maker’s Mark

5. In a separate saucepan, stir to combine over medium heat till sugar dissolves:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
Increase heat; cook without stirring for approximately four minutes, then remove from heat. Now, here’s where we start moving quickly and combining the previous steps.

Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into eggs.
Whisk milk/eggs into milk/cornstarch.
Slowly whisk all the above into saucepan with caramel in it and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon Maker’s Mark.
Pour through a fine-mesh sieve.
Pour 1/2 cup of budino over each chocolate-cookie lined jar.

Chill. When the east is in the house, ohmygod! Danger! Enjoy! Happy Labor Day, amici!

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Your hometown may have its merits, but does it have a watermelon man? Mine does. How cool is it to pull over on a side street on a hot summer day and buy a watermelon from a friendly gentleman and former Navy SEAL?

Meet Cowboy, watermelon man

Meet Cowboy, watermelon man

Of course, after meeting Cowboy, my next mission was to go home and blitz up some fine watermelon margaritas. I made a couple of batches before I landed on the perfect formula to share with you. Ready? Here we go.

WATERMELON MARGARITAS
4 heaping cups of watermelon, cubed
3 limes, squeezed (plus 1 extra for garnish, if you like)
1 cup tequila
2.5 oz. Grand Marnier
2.5 oz. Cointreau

Into a pitcher, pour watermelon cubes, lime juice, tequila, Grand Marnier and Cointreau. Here’s where it can’t get any easier: grab a stick (immersion) blender and blend away! If you don’t have one, you can use a traditional blender, it will just give you one more thing to clean up. :)

Now that you’ve got that down, it’s time to make these drinks sparkle. Combine sanding sugar (the coarse kind you use to decorate cookies) and some Kosher salt on a small plate. Then dip the rim of each glass into some tequila you’ve poured onto another small plate, then into the sugar/Kosher salt mixture.

Is there a bit of tequila left? You can pour it into the pitcher, or bartender’s treat, just drink it yourself. ;) Garnish with a lime wheel if you wish. And remember, if you drink, don’t drive, do the watermelon crawl! CLINQUE!

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