Cast Iron Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

If there is one thing on my blog that you have to make, and make RIGHT NOW, its this peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts. Or don’t like insanely awesome rocking desserts. If that’s you, then ignore this post and carry on. But if you think peanut butter and chocolate are the greatest combination ever, then please read on. Excuse me while I take another bite….

Ok….where were we? Cookies!! Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why don’t we just make one giant cookie?” Come on….you know you have. If not, are you thinking about it now? Don’t lie to me. If not, I’m not sure I want to be friends with you. Cuz let me tell you….this was pure awesomeness!! Fantabulous!! Heavenly!

I’ve got to give credit to Tracy over on Sugarcrafter credit for this one. How did I stumble upon her site? Believe it or not, from a BBQ forum called the Smoke Ring. Seems there’s a section on cooking with cast iron over there and somebody else had made her giant cookie. Once I saw it, I knew I had to make it.

Mmmmm…..cookie…..

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (she used light, all we had was dark)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips (she did not use peanut butter, but used 1 3/4 cup chocolate chips)

Directions

  • Preheat your Egg to 375 with the place setter legs down. If you are using an oven, pre-heat to 350.
  • Coat a 10″ cast iron skillet lightly with PAM.

    Flour, baking powder and salt
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt

    Every good cookie needs sugar and butter
  • In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat about 2 minutes

    Wet ingredients
  • Add in the egg and vanilla,Beat 2 minutes longer
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well combined
  • Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips

    Pressed into CI skillet
  • Press the dough into the skillet as evenly as possible

    On to the Egg!!
  • Bake about 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown, rotating part way through to ensure even cooking, making sure to elevate the cast iron skillet off the placesetter using the three green feet or something else as as a spacer.

    Done!
  • Allow to cool. When ready to serve, cut into wedges and add a scoop of your favorite ice cream (and that better be Blue Bell)

    Doesn’t that look good?

I gotta admit that I was a bit skeptical. I mean…..would it come out? Would the bottom be over cooked? Or the edges done way before the center? I don’t know if it is the cast iron skillet that makes this work (and no, I have not tried it in another pan, do so at your own risk). Maybe the fact that cast iron takes such awhile to heat up, it allows the center to get a head start over the bottom and edges. Or maybe its due to the fact that….I don’t really know. All I know is that it was wonderful. The edges had a bit of crispiness to them and the center was moist and delicious. The creaminess of the peanut butter chips worked so well with the chocolate. And with some ice cream melting on top of it…..oh, I’m making myself hungry again.

But wouldn’t the cookie pick up hints of smoke you may ask? It might if you were using a real smokey lump charcoal or if you added any wood (which I didn’t). No, I used a charcoal that was given to me by a friend to try out. Komodo Sustainable Coconut Charcoal. This is an extruded coconut charcoal that is supposed to burn with a high heat, low ash and produce a sweet smell. I figured that if anything, it would add to the sweetness of the cookie. Look for a review from me of this stuff coming soon, but in the meantime here is a review by the Naked Whiz. Now go on and make this cookie. You know you want to. Or your family and friends will want you to. You can thank me later. 😉

Komodo Sustainable Coconut Charcoal
Advertisements

Italian Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

Manicotti

     Yesterday, you saw us make a Simple Tomato Sauce. Today, we are going to show you what we did with it. We made these lovely stuffed manicotti! Filled with Homemade Hot Italian Sausage (Yep! We made our own, but you can easily use store bought. Speaking of, this was the last of it, time to make more.), chopped spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. Can you imagine what our house was smelling like? Just what I had been craving, but have never made before. But why let something like that stop ya?

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 16 oz Italian sausage, hot or mild
  • 1 (10 oz) box of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed out
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese (we used light ricotta)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • slat and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package of manicotti
  • 1 batch of Simple Tomato Sauce 
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese (to top if desired)

Directions

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion until fragrant

    Browning Italian sausage
  • Add the Italian sausage and brown it, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. Drain the excess fat and set aside to cool

    Making the filling
  • Mix together the Italian sausage and onions along with the drained chopped spinach, ricotta,  1 1/2 cups of Parmesan and eggs in a large bowl.
  • Cook the manicotti shells in a large pot of salted boiling water according to directions. Drain and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet to allow to cool
  • Preheat the oven to 400F with the oven rack in the center

    Spread sauce evenly on bottom of baking dish
  • In a 9 x 13″ baking dish, spread two cups of the simple tomato sauce

    Zip-lock bags work great to “stuff” things
  • Stuff the manicotti with the filling. I found it easier to fill a zip lock bag with the mixture, cut an end off and squeeze it into the manicotti. A pastry bag would also work if you have one of those handy.

    Place the filled manicotti in a single layer in the baking dish
  • Arrange the manicotti in a single layer in the baking dish. We had room for 13 and did not use all the shells (I think there were 16, but some of them ripped anyway, so we tossed ’em)

    Top with remaining sauce
  • Spoon the remaining simple tomato sauce on top evenly and then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup grate Parmesan on top. In addition, we also sprinkled on some shredded Parmesan cheese at this point. I’m sure you could use some mozzarella or any other cheese desired.

    Top with cheese
  • Bake the manicotti for 20 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with more fresh basil as garnish if desired.

    Hot outta the oven

     This was exactly what I was craving! Kinda impressed myself a bit. Tomatoey, garlicky, cheesey goodness in each bite (if those aren’t real words, they should be). And the home made hot Italian sausage really topped it off, just a bit of heat to play off all the other flavors. If you don’ t like heat, regular Italian sausage would work just as well. Served up with some garlic bread and what a meal you have!

Plated up

     I will say this meal was a bit of work. You might want to save it for the weekend if you get home late from work. This isn’t something you can come in the door at 6 and expect to have on the table by 7. In fact, I think I started at 4:30 and it was done right before 7 (although there might have been a glass of wine of two slipped in there somewhere  😉 ).  But man was it worth it! Hope you enjoy. Ciao!

Simple Tomato Sauce

Simple Tomato Sauce

I don’t know who decided that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day should be barbecue season. Really? The hottest months of the year? Obviously this person did not live in Texas. As much as I love to grill and barbecue, with the heat of summer sitting heavily upon us, you are more than likely going to start seeing a few more recipes cooked inside. Where there is AC. Where even the dogs would much rather prefer to be. I mean come on….we’ve already had 3 consecutive days of 100+ weather, no end of that in sight, no chance of rain. Maybe we’ll get a cold front soon and it will knock us back down to the upper 90’s. I think I’ve started to ramble again. Let’s rein this back in.

So I didn’t want to cook outside and I was having a craving for Italian food the other day. And what better way to have Italian food than to start off with a home-made simple tomato sauce?

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tbsp dried)
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of sugar (to cut the acidity a bit)

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften

    Sautee some onions and garlic
  • Add the garlic and cook until soft, being careful not to burn

    Add chopped basil
  • Add the basil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes

    Add canned tomatoes
  • Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil

    Simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken
  • Using an immersion blender (or a blender), pulse a few times to break up the tomatoes to achieve a sauce like consistency (you are looking to still have some chunks, you don’t want it to be completely smooth, but exact consistency is up to you)
  •  Season with salt and pepper to taste

*Note – tomato sauce will last 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Pretty simple, huh? And packs a whole bunch more flavor than that pre-made stuff in the jars. Feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs if you like. Rosemary, oregano and thyme would all make great additions to this sauce. And now that I say that I am kicking myself because we are growing all three of those, in addition to the basil, and somehow it totally slipped my mind to include them. DOH!! Check back in tomorrow to see what we served the simple tomato sauce on.

Cast Iron Skillet Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

     Dessert is something we haven’t tackled much on the Big Green Egg. Not because we are intimidated, but because Mrs. G doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth and I know I shouldn’t bake a whole cake or pie for myself. Pineapple upside down cake is one of my favorites and ever since I saw the recipe for this one, I knew that someday I would try my hand at it. Yesterday was that day. Mrs. G had to work and I had no plans and nothing to do all day. I’d like to thank Colleen (Lake Conroe Egger’s wife on the Egg Forums) for sharing this recipe. The recipe has been modified a bit from her original recipe.

     I know what you are probably thinking. You’re going to bake a cake on the Egg? Why? To answer your question…why not? I’ve said it before, if you can cook it in your oven, than you can cook it on your Egg.  And it won’t heat up the house. Will is come out OK? Yep…it certainly did. People used to use wood burning stoves and ovens after all. Won’t it be smokey? Not if you use a clean burning lump charcoal and don’t use wood chips or chunks. I actually used a mesquite lump and there wasn’t a smokey flavor at all. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 can crushed pineapples, drained (reserve juices for cake mix)
  • Marashino cherries (if desired)
  • 1 package Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Cake Mix
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup water (or use some pineapple juice from the can to replace part of the water)
  • 3 whole eggs

    Preparing Bottom Layer of Cake

Directions

  1. Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a 10″ cast iron skillet (a deep one is best). Add brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add chopped pecans to the mixture just before taking off the heat. (This step can, as was, done inside on the stove)
  2. Set skillet off heat and then add pineapple and Marashcino cherries if desired. (I did not add the whole can of pineapple, maybe about 1/2 to 3/4, however much you like)

    Pour cake mix on top of pineapple mixture
  3. Prepare cake mix per directions on the box. You may substitute some of the pineapple juice instead of the one cup of water. Stir thoroughly and pour on top of pineapple mixtures.

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake on the Egg
  4. Place skillet in Big Green Egg at 350 on top of placesetter on top of little green feet. Check every 20 minutes and rotate to ensure even cooking. Bake time is about 1 hour, but check with toothpick for doneness.

    20 minutes in
  5. Let cake cool for at least 10 minutes. Run knife around cake to loosen from sides of skillet. Invert onto serving plate.

    Done at 1 hour

     The cake turned out amazing (better than the pictures did, that’s for sure). It was light and moist, with a little crunchy, sugary crust from the brown sugar butter mixture. The flavor of the pineapple really popped out. This is the first time I’ve had one with pecans in it, but it was a nice touch. It added some texture and the flavors really worked together. I was really impressed with how it came out.

Finished

     I really need to get a serving plate for cakes if we are going to start making them. The cookie sheet really just doesn’t do it, but I had to work with what we had.

Slice of Pineapple Upside Down Cake

     One thing I would change next time is the pineapple. I’ve never really bought canned pineapple, but there were no fresh ones at the store. I wasn’t sure what the difference was between crushed pineapple and chunked, so I just grabbed one. I think next time I will go with chunks or even get the slices and cut them into smaller pieces. Not because there was a problem with the taste. There was plenty of pineapple taste in it, but you really couldn’t see the crushed pineapple. More of an appearance issue than anything, but I think it would have more appeal if you could see the pineapple.

     I will definitely make more desserts on the Egg after this experiment. Hmmmm….what should I try next? Anybody got a good pecan pie recipe they want to share?

1770 House Meatloaf

1770 House Meatloaf

     Let me start off by saying that Mrs. G is not a fan of Ina Garten. She finds her annoying and does not watch her show at all. And I’ve gotta say that I agree with her. She’s got the appeal of…..I don’t know….something not appealing. I’ll let you fill that one in. So how Mrs. G ever saw or got her hands on the 1770 House Meatloaf recipe that was featured on one of her shows, I’ll never know. But that’s OK. All I need to know is that it is good AHH-Mazing! Especially if you take it one step further and smoke it, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

     “The 1770 House, built over 200 years ago as a private residence, is now an inn of exceeding comforts and a restaurant of elegance and distinction.” Under Executive Chef Kevin Penner, it has won glowing reviews from the New York Times and Wine Spectator. OK….so not some place I’ll probably ever visit. And not some place you would expect to have a killer meatloaf, but if our rendition of it is half as good as theirs is, it is to die for.

     Now, this is not your Mom’s Meatloaf. There is no sticky ketchup or barbecue sauce glaze on top. There’s no thick brown gravy served with it, but rather a light, buttery (is that even a word?) herbed gravy. It doesn’t have breadcrumbs or oats or something acting as a binder, but rather finely ground Panko. And it is filled with fresh herbs (the thyme even came from our garden!) which give it such a wonderful and unique flavor.

1770 House Meatloaf on the Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork  
  • 1 pound ground beef  
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko (place Panko in food processor to finely grind)
  • 2/3 cup whole organic milk  
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock, homemade or good quality purchased
  • 8 to 10 cloves roasted-garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1770 House Meatloaf on the Egg

Directions

  1. Preheat your smoker or grill to 400 and set it up for an indirect cook. (If cooking in an oven. preheat the to 350 degrees.)
  2. Place the veal, pork, beef, chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat and film it with extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Remove the celery and onion from the pan and let cool. When the mixture is cool, add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
  4. Using clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined and everything is evenly distributed. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan (it should have sides at least 1 1/2 inches high to prevent grease runoff from the pan). Place the meat on the sheet pan and pat it and punch it down to remove any air pockets. Shape the meat into a loaf (about 14 1/2 inches long by 5 inches wide by 2 inches high). Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, for the sauce, combine the broth, roasted garlic and butter over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon of each of the chopped thyme, chives and parsley. Slice the meatloaf into serving portions and spoon the hot sauce over the meatloaf and serve.

    30 Minutes In

     We did make a few changes to the recipe, this not being our first time to make it. Obviously, we cooked it on our Egg instead of in the oven. This allows you to add a smokey flavor to the meatloaf. Ground meats DO absorb smoke like a sponge, however, so I would advise going with a light wood, preferably a fruit wood. In this case, we used apple, but cherry would have worked just as well. The original recipe calls for the meatloaf to be cooked at 350F. We’ve found that we have better results when converting an oven recipe over to the Egg if we increase the temperature. 400F on the Egg seems to work best for recipes that call for 350F.

30 minutes in

     Second, instead of a pound each of ground beef, pork and veal, we opted for 2 lbs of ground beef and one of pork. Often times ground veal can be hard to find, its more expensive and we’ve found that in this recipe it just doesn’t add that much. Ground beef subbed in works fine.

Finished at 52 Minutes

     I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….Always cook your food to temp, not by time. The cook time given in a recipe is a good guide for when the food should be done, but it isn’t always spot on. This recipe called for the meatloaf to be done in 40 to 50 minutes. It took ours 52 minutes to reach 155 (allow for meat to carry over to safe temp while resting). Not to far off, but its better to be safe than sorry (especially if you are cooking something like chicken).

Finished plate

     We served the meatloaf with roasted garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, green beans and a roll. All things that just seem to be meant to go together. Although it isn’t classic, this is definitely one of our favorite recipes for meatloaf. And the smokiness added by cooking it on the grill with apple wood just takes it a step farther. If you haven’t tried smoked meatloaf, you really need to. Once you do, you might never cook it again in your oven.

     I even brought some with me to work today. Can’t wait till lunchtime….