Banana Cookies

This recipe tastes and make the house smell just like Banana Bread…but in cookie form!  The cookies are moist and cake-like with the perfect amount of sweetness drizzled over the top.  The best way to store them, especially during the summer is to layer them separately to prevent them from sticking together.  Sweet Stackers convert your containers to multi-level using stackable trays and risers.  They insert perfectly into major brand air-tight food storage containers to make the perfect cookie container.  This whole batch of cookies were layered neatly in one 3″ deep container.

Sweet Stackers Cookie Storage

This recipe came from a blog called Pots Pans & Parkers.  The banana cookies turned out delicious and of course everyone in the house wanted one immediately when they came out of the oven based on the aroma.  I had to shoo them out of the kitchen in order to make the frosting!

Banana Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 mashed bananas (3 if they are small)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add egg, vanilla and bananas.  Sift flour, baking soda and salt together.  Gradually add the flour mixture.

Place a scoop of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 9 minutes or until the bottom are golden brown.

Banana Cookie Sheet

Banana Cookie Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter (one stick)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Scald the milk in a pot. Add the butter, brown sugar and vanilla.  Bring to a boil on a medium heat.  Gradually add the powdered sugar into the pot, constantly stirring to avoid sugary clumps.  (note: you can add more or less powdered sugar depending how thick or thin you want the frosting)

Frosted Banana Cookies

The Sweet Stackers risers are versatile!  The risers are used to stack full-sized cooling racks to let the cookies cool and the frosting dry – saving space on the kitchen counters.

The cookies in this container didn’t last long!

SS Banana Cookies

Visit sweetstackers.com for more details about the product and the containers they fit.

Shop on Etsy using coupon code LABORDAY20 now through 9/6/2014.

 

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Promising Ice Cream….Sandwiches!

The first week of school is coming to an end.  My little one has started Kindergarten and had a rough morning.  Day 1, excited, but clung to Dad as she was getting on the bus.  Day 2, tearing up, got in line to get on the bus, then made a quick turn to run back to me.  Day 3, crying most of the morning, crying to the bus stop and needed me to hold her hand onto the bus.  Of course, she has a great day and is super smiley when she gets off of the bus!  But with all of the tears this morning, we promised her ice cream when she gets home.  Hoping to distract her from her anxiety.

But I have really, really wanted to make homemade chocolate chip cookies and tada – I had a great idea!  Ice Cream Sandwiches.

PK Ice Cream Sandwiches

Actually tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe from Allrecipes and they were delicious!  They turned out to be the perfectly shaped, with a thin crispy outside and soft chewy middle.  I baked these an extra 2 minutes, but followed the recipe exactly.  They made 45 cookies using a 1 inch cookie scoop.

SS Cookie Rack

Love the versatility of the Sweet Stackers risers.  They elevate cookie racks at the perfect height to save space on the kitchen counter tops!

Once cooled, I transferred the cookies to a staging container to keep them extra fresh.  Sweet Stackers neatly organizes the cookies in tiers.

Sweet Stackers Cookie Container

Time to fill the cookies!  Place a good round scoop of ice cream in between two chocolate chip cookies (they bottom of the cookies touching the ice cream).  I used a smaller container to store 12 ice cream sandwiches separated using a Sweet Stackers tray.

Even though I was in a cool room, the ice cream melted quickly.  I suggest placing the container in the freezer and adding one or two sandwiches at a time.  But even is some ice cream dripped, the container and trays wipe down easily.  The trays also made a nice surface to work on.

SS Ice Cream Sandwiches

There were extra cookies for a later treat!

The kids had a great day at school and were very excited about this yummy summertime treat!
Sweet Stackers convert your food containers to multi-level using stackable trays.  Available in 4 sizes and designed to fit major brand food storage containers. Visit the Sweet Stackers Etsy Shop today.  

 

Muffin Tin French Toast and Raspberry Syrup

Good morning!  Wouldn’t you like to wake up to this homemade breakfast?

I love muffin tin recipes because they bake quickly and make cute individual portions….especially for kids!  This is a delicious recipe for the weekend, but next time I am going to make an extra batch of muffin tin French toast and refrigerate it.  Then zap it in the microwave to heat through for a quick homemade breakfast before the kids head off to school!  (Plus the syrup made enough for another batch of French toast.)

Muffin Tin Frech Toast Raspberry Syrup

Muffin Tin French Toast

adapted from the book Muffin Tin Chef by Matt Kadey

  • 6 sliced whole-grain bread
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Raspberry Syrup

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (or any choice of berry)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt together.  Stir in the bread cubes and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb.

Preheat the oven for 350°.  In a small sauce pan, combine the berries, maple syrup and cinnamon over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 1 minute.  The syrup should start to thicken.

Divide the bread cubes in a 12-count muffin tin.  Bake for approximately 22 minutes, until they are golden on top and the egg has set.

Serve warm with the berry syrup on top.

Refrigerate the leftover syrup.

 

 

Czech Chicken Paprika

Old world recipes can be very difficult to pass on from generation to generation.  Back in the day, recipes were not written down and made from memory.  Since they weren’t written down, you just add a little of this and a little of that until you get the “right consistency” and if not you add a little more of this and that.

As I grew older and took interest in cooking, I wanted to learn from my Grandmas how to cook their traditional meals.  I didn’t want to see these recipes lost forever.  Funny thing, as I look back it seemed like some recipes were a big family secret.

Today I made one of my favorite main Czech dishes and transcribed the recipe with measurements.  Measurements are a bonus because some of the old cook books that my Grandma owned listed ingredients without measurements.  I think you were just supposed to know what to do!

This recipe is so easy and the gravy is absolutely delicious!  Gravy always seemed to be so daunting to make from scratch…but really it is easy!

Traditional Czech Paprika

Czech Chicken Paprika

  • 2 TB cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 pieces of chicken (breast & thighs with skin on)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 TB paprika
  • S & P

Chicken Paprika Gravy

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 TB paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, add cooking oil and onions over high heat.  Cook until the onion softens.  In the meanwhile, salt and pepper chicken pieces.  Place in the pot, skin side down.  Cook until the skin is browned scraping the bottom of the pot, then flip and brown the other side.  Add 8 cups of water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil.  Cook chicken in boiling water for one hour.  Reduce the heat, transfer chicken to a platter and strain the juice. (I use a slotted spoon to get little pieces out)

For the gravy, whisk flour and water in a small mixing bowl, getting all of the lumps out.  This will create a paste.  Whisk the paste into the large pot of chicken juices, constantly whisking until the gravy comes to a boil and it will slightly thicken.  Add sour cream, continuing to whisk to get any lumps out.  Then season with paprika and salt.  Let gravy simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  Place the chicken back in the pot to heat through.

Serve chicken pieces on a large platter with a gravy boat filled with hot gravy.  Traditionally this would be served with dumpling.  But it is also delicious with egg noodles.

 

 

 

Green & Chick Pea Hummus

…and for the The Triscuit Summer Snackoff – Challenge 2!  Triscuit – check!  Peas – check! and at least one other ingredient – check!

This time I am even more determined that it would be great to meet Martha Stewart!

My inspiration for this recipe came to me as I was making a batch of homemade hummus.  I actually get cravings for hummus!  It wasn’t until I started working after college that I was enlightened about a little family owned mediterranean restaurant in my neighborhood.  I remember having hummus for the first time and I will admit that I was not impressed.  But I loved the rest of the food and after trying hummus a few more times, I became addicted.  It is a great healthy snack – and yes, I do crave it!  Always wondered if I am the only one?

I’ll be honest…this is totally my creation, I didn’t even check the web to see if there were recipes already like this!  So here is a basic hummus recipe with the addition of green peas!  The green peas sweetened and “freshened” the hummus.  Traditional hummus does not have the most eye-appealing color, so the bright green from the green peas really made for a beautiful presentation!

Green Chick Pea Hummus

Green & Chick Pea Hummus

1 large clove garlic

1 – 15 ounce can of chick peas

½ cup frozen green peas; thawed

¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, add garlic clove to mince.  Add remaining ingredients, one at a time while blending.  If the mixture is too thick, gradually add up to 1/4 cup of water until you reach a preferred consistency.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas in July Sale

Sweet Stackers are great anytime of the year!  Convert your food containers to multi-level using stackable trays.  Available in 4 sizes and designed to fit major brand food storage containers.

Christmas in July Sale – 20% off using coupon code JULYXMAS now through 7/31/2014.
Visit the Sweet Stackers Etsy Shop today

Sweet Stackers Jam Filled Thumbprint Cookies

Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies are NOT just for the holidays!  In fact, they are perfect for summer when the berries are harvested.  By preserving summer berries, we are able to enjoy them year round.  These thumbprint cookies are so easy, using a handful of ingredients and buttery delicious.  Use any flavor jam, but the homemade sweet U-Pick Raspberry Preserves are the perfect topping!

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies Homemade Preserves

Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • ½ cup raspberry preserves (or any flavor jam)

 

Using and electric mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar on high.  Add the almond extract.  Lower the mixer speed and gradually add the flour.  Refrigerate the dough for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Make an indentation using your thumb in the center of each ball.  (I make two thumbprints at 90 degree angles, to make a better circle)  Fill each center with about 1/4 teaspoon of preserves or your favorite jam.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.  Remove to a cookie rack.

Sweet Stackers Jam Filled Thumbprint Cookies,

Sweet Stackers – No matter what time of year, Sweet Stackers come in handy to store jam or jelly filled cookies.  Thumbprints are very popular holiday or Christmas cookie.  You don’t want to mess up the jam toppings or have them stick to other cookies!  Sweet Stackers convert your air-tight containers to multi-level using corrugated plastic stackable trays.  They are an inexpensive storage solution and can easily be wiped down and reused.  Visit sweetstackers.com to learn more about this product or shop on Amazon or my Etsy shop.

Look!  3 dozen cookies without a sticky mess in 1 container!

Sweet Stackers Cookie Storage Trays

 

 

U-Pick Raspberry Preserves

The weather was absolutely perfect this past weekend!  Cool, low humidity and the perfect time to pull out the big pot to do some canning.

PartyKitchen Homemade Raspberry Preserves

During the week, my kids and I went raspberry picking to a nearby farm.  Raspberries were just in season to start picking.  For a low volume day, we still ended up filling 5 pints.  My kids helped themselves to plenty of raspberries while picking.  So once we arrived back home, I picked through them and layered them on cookie sheets to freeze them for later use.

Freezing Raspberries

In the past, I had canned blueberry jam which lasted us all winter.  The kids especially loved adding a small dollop to plain yogurt (which I feel is way healthier than eating other yogurt that is filled with sugar).

Raspberry Preserves were so easy to make and only took 2 ingredients – raspberries and sugar!  Raspberries are considered to be a low pectin fruit, though I was able to get it to thicken enough.  Somewhere between a sauce and jam.  But boy, it is delicious!  I secretly was grabbing a spoon and pulling out a jar from my fridge…yes eating it by the spoonful!  But don’t tell…

Can’t wait to use it in future recipes (keep an eye out!), spread on toast, mixed in yogurt, topped on ice cream!  Oh my!

(or just eat by the spoonful…if you can’t resist)

U-Pick Raspberry Preserves

Raspberry Preserves

2 lbs. fresh raspberries

4 cups sugar

 

Combine the berries and sugar; let stand until the juices begin to flow about 10 minutes.  In a large saucepan, bring to a slow boil until sugar dissolves.  Stir frequently until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.  Ladle hot preserves into sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.  Place the 2 piece cap on the jar.  Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Practical Gift Ideas for the Kitchen

Summer and Fall are filled with weddings and bridal showers.   Most brides register for the household items that they prefer.  But when is the last time you saw food storage containers on their list?  They are one of the most used items in our kitchens.  Here is a unique and practical twist on giving gift baskets!

Gift containers wedding bridal shower gift

Stack a couple of handy food storage containers filled with kitchen tools, gadgets, towels and pot holders that the bride registers for.  The one new item that she wouldn’t know about is Sweet Stackers.  Sweet Stackers convert your containers to multi-level using stackable trays.  The stackable trays divide your bite-sized foods and desserts without a sticky mess and maximize food storage in your container.

Stackable Sweet Stackers tray inserts dividers

Sweet Stackers are extremely handy when storing cookies, dessert bars or bite-sized appetizers.  They are great for anyone from an avid cookie decorator, household baker and even a non-baker who stores left-over pizza.  Imagine all of the Christmas cookies that you can fit in a container like this to keep them fresh and looking beautiful!

stackable trays insert into container

So instead of giving a gift basket, fill up a couple of food storage containers with great items for their kitchen!

Sweet Stackers baking gift containers

Visit sweetstackers.com for more information about our product.  Find them on our Etsy shop or Amazon.com.

 

 

Triscuit Berry Cheesecakes – savory & sweet dessert bites!

Today I entered the Triscuit Summer Snackoff and a chance to meet Martha Stewart!  Why not…she is someone I would love to meet and I always have Triscuits in my pantry.

This recipe was inspired by my Star Spangled Tartlets – a bite-sized dessert that I made for the 4th of July.  Instead of using pie crust to make tartlets, the similar ingredients could be used as a spread or topping on the Triscuit.  These would make a great savory-sweet appetizer or dessert to make up in a pinch!  The sweet berry pie filling and cheesecake spread paired nicely with a savory Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuit.  My husband even said it was like a party in his mouth with all of the different flavors.  It actually take a lot to impress him.

Ha!  So wish me luck!!

IMG_3843

Triscuit Berry Cheesecakes

• 2 cups fresh mixed berries (strawberry, blueberry)
• 1/3 cup water
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 TB corn starch
• 2 TB butter
• 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 2 tablespoons butter , softened
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• Box of Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits
• sliced almonds to garnish
Place the first 5 ingredients in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and cool.

Using an electric mixer, on high, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Lower the speed and add vanilla, then gradually add the sugar.

To assemble: Place Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits neatly on a serving platter. Spread cream cheese mixture on each cracker and top with a dollop of berry filling. Place a few sliced almonds on top to garnish.