Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cookies and baked pasta... what a way to warm up!

While I'm usually the one picking out recipes to make when I menu plan for the week, I do like to give Jeff a cookbook or two and see if anything strikes his fancy. Sometimes he finds three or four recipes, other times he doesn't find anything that sounds good, but this time he came across a cookie recipe that he wanted me to try.

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Drops didn't originally have peanut butter in them, but you know we love that combination, so I experimented a bit to see if I could squeeze some in. While the recipe called for nine ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate to be melted with a couple sticks of butter, I swapped about three ounces of those chunks with a few tablespoons of creamy peanut butter.

After I tested out a couple cookies in the oven right after mixing the dark dough, I was happy to see that I didn't need to chill the dough to control any spreading. The cookies baked into circular mounds that were not too thin or too thick. With a hint of cinnamon to them, the cookie's main flavor was decidedly chocolate, but we could both feel the peanut butter lingering on our taste buds. Though, I do wish it would have came through more! Think of an assertive chocolate brownie as far as the taste goes, but the peanut butter wrangles it down a notch with its own flavor.

I also played with the sugar - I wanted a little crunch to the cookies, so I switched some of the moist brown sugar for granulated. The resulting texture of the cookies was a little crumbly (in a good way) and crisp at the surface, while the amount of brown sugar and handful of rolled oats gave them a chewy inside. Since the cookies are so dark, they are not as easy see when they are done - look for the edges to have darken a bit while the centers will still be a little soft if you press on them. Since they are a little delicate right out of the oven, let them rest on the baking sheet for a couple minutes before sliding a spatula underneath to move them onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Jeff munched on his cookies happily and said to make sure we make these changes if we were to make them again - I think I would like to try and work on adding a bit more peanut butter flavor, but I was happy with the results!

Yes, another chilly day today, which meant it was a perfect time to warm us up from the inside out with a casserole dish stuffed with this Four Cheese Baked Penne.

I guess you could consider this a type of lazy lasagna as it has similar flavors - to a whopping pound of whole-wheat penne pasta that we cooked just short of al dente, we stirred in a quick homemade tomato sauce flavored with onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary and a dash of crushed red pepper. To this hot, saucy mixture, we stirred in a combination of cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and shreds of mozzarella cheese (this is where I thought the "lazy lasagna" part kicked in).

Now, if you knew Jeff well, you would know he would so snub his nose at the notion of using cottage cheese in anything. Why? Who knows... if I told you all the times he has eaten it without knowing, I could fill quite a few pages in a book! When we went shopping this weekend, I was able to sneak the container of it into the shopping cart and hid it underneath a few containers of yogurt. See what I have to go through? If I didn't, he would probably have a "veto moment" and would find someway to accidentally "lose" the container before checking out.

Anyway, before I tossed the now-heavy casserole dish into the oven, I scattered the top with additional shredded mozzarella and of course, the fourth cheese, Parmesan! Once it had a chance to thoroughly heat through and make the cheese on top all gooey, I let it sit for about 10 minutes to give it just enough time for us to pull out tidy slices, but not too long that it was cold by the time we sat down to eat.

This time I waited until he was about a two-thirds done with his piece of pasta to give them the look of "I know something you don't know...." - after rolling his eyes, he said "Alright, what is it this time? I don't see or taste anything weird and I love the flavor!". I then went into the refrigerator to present him with the empty container of cottage cheese and said "See - you do like it!". Hee hee - was that mean? Oh well, it was creamy, warming and our bellies were completely satisfied after our pieces. We were both so tempted (even with the evil hidden cottage cheese) to take another piece, but we had to save room for a couple more of those cookies!


  1. That's hysterical about Jeff.

    I don't know how you get such gorgeous, clean slices, but that pasta dish looks wonderful!

  2. I love that you sneak ingredients into food, I do that too because I'm convinced half the time people say they don't like an ingredients they just haven't given it a chance.

  3. Everything look good tonight. I have to try the cookies with cinnamon, chocolate & peanut butter, this is really a recipe for me.

  4. Sneaky, sneaky. I like it. It's odd that some people (and some near and dear to my heart) won't touch anything if they hear one ingredient they don't care for. Like you, if I don't spill the beans (sometimes literally!) they love it.

  5. see, it didn't kill him :) hehe

  6. The cookies are delicious, once I guesstimated the right cooking time (my first batch just cooled enough to taste). I'm not a fan of too-sweet cookies, so these are perfect.

  7. Wow, every pic you takes looks like something out of a cookbook. Your knife slices things perfectly! Most of the time in baked pastas you canbarely decipher the type of noodle used, LOL.

  8. I wish we had your cool weather (and tasty food, it looks delicious)--it's 90 and humid in CT today. Ew.

  9. If you added a peanut butter chips, there might be a bit more of the peanutty goodness...

  10. Laura - Yeah... I don't think he found it as funny as I did though!

    Brilynn - That is so true! If Jeff only realized how much stuff he eats and enjoys, but says "ewww" if I were to actually mention it.

    Helene - Do try them!

    Lisa - hee hee!

    TTFN - Now I just have to worry about him checkin' my hiding places in the refrigerator to see what I've got up my sleeve next!

    Jenipurr - Glad they turned out for you!

    Cage - Thank you!

    Jen - I'll share the cooler weather!

    Anon - Good call! That would be a nice touch.