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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

12/12/2017

~Chocolate & Peanut-Butter-Snickers Cookie Squares~

IMG_1526Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.  Just when I thought Snickers couldn't be improved upon, I find out they make peanut-butter-Snickers bars.  Yes, my love of milk chocolate and peanut butter struck again for the second time in two weeks -- this time in the form of bar cookies.  By the time you read this post, I will have sliced these into small, three-four bite squares, individually wrapped them in plastic and stacked/stashed them in a corner of my freezer. 

IMG_1287Amongst the foodie cravings I get, believe it or not, chocolate isn't in my top ten.  That said, I confess to having a big weakness for Reese's peanut butter cups and Snickers bars.  There's just something about the combination of mellow milk chocolate and salty peanuts or peanut butter that I find hard to resist.  I love it enough to keep a bag of mini-Reese's cups and a bag of fun-sized peanut-butter Snickers bars in my freezer.  My recipe for  ~ Over-the-Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies ~ is a tribute to Reese's peanut butter cups.

Everything I love in each & every bite:

IMG_14493/4  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 1/2 sticks)

2  cups light brown sugar

3/4  cup Jiff extra-crunchy peanut butter

2  large eggs, at room temperature

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon baking powder

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1  cup Quaker old-fashioned oats

1  cup milk chocolate chips

16  fun-size peanut-butter-Snickers bars (Note:  In the event you're using different sized Snickers bars, this is 14 1/2-15 ounces total candy.)

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing pan

IMG_1443 IMG_1443 IMG_1443 IMG_1443~Step 1.  While the butter and eggs are coming to room temperature, spray a 10"-square baking pan (preferably with a removable bottom) with no-stick cooking spray, place a 10"-square of parchment in the bottom, then spray the parchment.  Set aside.  Unwrap, then chill the Snickers bars for about an hour.  Once they are cold, which makes them easier to evenly cut, slice each one into four pieces, placing the pieces in a  bowl as you work.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350°.

IMG_1454 IMG_1454 IMG_1454 IMG_1454 IMG_1454 IMG_1480 IMG_1480~Step 2.  In a large bowl, on  medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla.  Using a large rubber spatula fold in (all at once) the flour, baking powder and salt, followed by the oats, then the chocolate chips.  You will have 5 cups of stiff cookie dough (I measured it for you).  Remove 1 1/2 cups (about one-third) of cookie dough from the bowl.

IMG_1484 IMG_1484 IMG_1484 IMG_1495 IMG_1495 IMG_1495 IMG_1495~Step 3.  Transfer the larger portion of the cookie dough (about 3 1/2 cups) to the prepared pan. Using your fingertips, spread, pat and press it evenly into bottom of pan.  Scatter the chopped Snickers over the surface of cookie dough.  I like to arrange them chocolate sides facing up.  Using an ordinary teaspoon, dollop 3/4-1-teaspoon sized pieces of the reserved 1 1/2 cups of the cookie dough in between and around the candy pieces.  Using your fingertips, lightly-press down across the surface to flatten the dough.  Don't worry about the little empty spaces -- the dough will bake up and fill them in.

Don't worry about the cobbled looking empty spaces.

IMG_1504The cookie dough will bake up and fill them in. 

IMG_1510 IMG_1510Step 4.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325° oven, 24-26 minutes, until puffy and lightly-browned on top.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, in pan, 1 hour -- or until pan is comfortable enough to handle without burning your hands.  Remove cookie from pan by pushing up on the removable bottom then return the cookie (still on the pans bottom) to wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour, prior to slicing.

Once out of the pan, cool completely prior to slicing...

IMG_1518... into 25, 2" x 2" Snickers bar cookie squares. 

IMG_1522Stack 'em up on a favorite holiday plate & party on:

IMG_1542Chocolate & Peanut-Butter-Snickers Cookie Squares:  Recipe yields 25, 2" cookie squares. Cookies squares, individually wrapped in plastic, freeze and thaw perfectly.

Special Equipment List:  10" x 10"-square baking ban w/removable bottom; parchment paper; cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; wire cooling rack; 

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09ded3e8970dCook's Note:  To make candy out of milk chocolate and peanut butter, I can't say enough about the recipe I was given by my friend and pastry chef from Ohio:  ~ Confection Perfection:  Theresa's Buckeye Candies ~.  There are a lot of recipes for these famous candies out there, but, they all pale in comparison to Teresa's.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)

12/09/2017

~ Cranberry and Soy Sauce Glazed Pork Loin Sliders ~

IMG_1415Intermittently halting the holiday preparations to interject an impromptu tailgate party into the festivities is a pleasant break from the hullabaloo.  Who doesn't love kicking back on the couch to watch a game for a few hours -- for me, the feeling is akin to playing hookie from school.  That said, coming up with a menu (after the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone and before the Christmas gluttony begins), is tricky -- for me, it's gotta be low-key, stress-free, easy, and, seriously tasty.

Did you know that sweet and tart whole-berry cranberry sauce (the store-bought stuff), when whizzed in the blender along with a bit of soy sauce, some five-spice powder and sesame oil is a delightful marinade for pork tenderloins?  It is -- with a subtle Asian twist.  There's more.  After cooking a twenty-two pound turkey two weeks ago, and, prior to cooking a eighteen pound standing rib roast two weeks from now, marinating and roasting a package of pork tenderloins and mixing up a package of store-bought broccoli slaw is the culinary equivalent of: easy street.

IMG_1425Part One:  Mixing the Marinade & Marinating the Pork

IMG_1364 IMG_1332~ Step 1.  In a mini-food processor (or blender), whir together until smooth:

12  tablespoons whole-berry cranberry sauce

6  tablespoons Chinese soy sauce

2  tablespoons honey

1  tablespoon sesame oil

1/2  teaspoon Chinese five-Spice powder

IMG_1344 IMG_1344 IMG_1344~ Step 2.  Place tenderloins in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag, add marinade and seal bag.  Using your fingertips, squish bag around a bit, until entire surface of the tenderloins are coated.  Marinate in refrigerator 24-48 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and return to room temperature, 1 hour, prior to roasting.

IMG_1366 IMG_1366~ Step 3.  Remove tenderloins from marinade (discard remaining marinade) and place on a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Roast on center rack of 350° oven until an instant-read meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of a tenderloin reads 138º-140°, 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and rest 15-20 minutes prior to slicing.  Serve warm meat, on slider rolls, topped with chilled Asian broccoli slaw.

IMG_1399Part Two:  Mixing & Marinating the Broccoli Slaw

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8974027970bNo pretense here.  They day I came across store-bought "broccoli cole slaw mix" (cole slaw mix made with crunchy green broccoli stems instead of green cabbage), my mind immediately raced to the flavors of soy sauce and sesame oil.  Why?  Broccoli is classic Asian.  There's more.  I didn't have to experiment with the perfect dressing for it -- I'd already come up with one for my Asian chicken salad recipe.  After a quick mix of the pre-shredded store-bought raw vegetables and my honey-sesame dressing, Asian slaw perfection was revealed.  The brand I use is organic, and, contains just three crunchy ingredients:  broccoli, carrots and red cabbage. It truly is a high-quality time-saving mixture that any busy cook can and should appreciate.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220c634970c1/4  cup each: vegetable oil and white rice vinegar

1  tablespoon each: sesame oil and Thai seasoning soy sauce

2  tablespoons honey

1, 12-ounce bag store-bought broccoli cole slaw

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220c74e970cStep 1.  In a measuring container w/a tight fitting lid, combine all the liquid ingredients.  Shake vigorously.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb093a6eeb970d 6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220c78f970cStep 2. Place the broccoli cole slaw in a medium bowl and add all of the dressing.  Give it a thorough stir.

Place the slaw in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours (or overnight will work too), stopping to stir it about every 30-45 minutes in the beginning so that all the slaw gets to absorb the dressing equally.  Note:  This recipe yields 3/4 cup of salad dressing and 4 cups of broccoli cole slaw.

Sandwich some sliders in between your holiday festivities: 

IMG_1411Cranberry and Soy Sauce Glazed Pork Loin Sliders:  8-12, 3"-3 1/2"-round slider-sized sandwiches (depending upon how much pork you heap on each one) and 4 cups broccoli slaw.

Special Equipment List:  mini-food processor or blender; 1-gallon food storage bag; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; instant-read meat thermometer; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8a677ba970bCook's Note:  Buffalo-style everything and anything has become synonymous with game day fare.  So -- If it's buffalo-style you're searching for, or, you simply prefer chicken to pork, and, if you've got a bit more time to spare on the preparation, another one of my game-day crowd-pleasing recipes is: ~ Buffalo-Style Chicken 'n Slaw Sliders ~, appropriately-topped with my ~ Buffalo-Style Blue-Cheese & Celery Slider Slaw ~.  When the time is right, this is one you might want to add to your holiday game-day lineup in the near future.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)

12/07/2017

~ Over-the-Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies ~

IMG_1287Amongst the foodie cravings I get, chocolate isn't in my top ten.  That said, I confess to a weakness for Reese's peanut butter cups and Snickers bars.  There's just something about the combination of mellow milk chocolate and salty peanuts or peanut butter that I find hard to resist. I love it enough to keep a bag of mini-Reese's cups and a bag of snack-sized peanut-butter Snickers bars in my freezer.  A bite-sized nibble of either one and I am a happy woman. 

0100bdaf-ad5f-4856-acc3-190309dea9b9Two things transpired this week:  I replenished my supply of mini-Reese's cups via Amazon. My candy delivery prompted me to get on the internet and search "Reese's peanut butter cup cookies".  I wanted to see if I could find something other than the original Peanut Butter Cup Cookies that I've made in the past, courtesy of Betty Crocker (pictured here).  I found several on the Hershey corporation's site -- a company website is a good place to start when looking to cook or bake using one of their products.  When I was finished perusing Hershey's recipes, I noticed three or four sites touting a recipe for Over-the-Top-Peanut-Butter-Cookies.  When the blogging community is giving accolades for a common recipe, and more importantly, crediting the source, that's a recipe I'm inclined to try.

The recipe originated at a blog called Real Mom Kitchen.  As Laura explains in her post:  in Utah there is a cookie shop by the name of Over the Top Cookies. Instead of mixing specialty ingredients, like unique candy pieces, into their cookie dough, they scatter them over the tops of the cookies (hence the name of their shop).  What Laura shared was her copycat recipe for their Peanut Butter Cup Collision Cookies -- a peanut butter cookie with peanut butter cups on top.

I wish this recipe had been around when my kids were young.

Besides adding my signature step-by-step photos and detailed instructions, the changes I made to Laura's recipe, while small, are worth noting:  I made the cookies smaller by using a 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop instead of a 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop (which Laura did not specify in her recipe).  My recipe yields 3 dozen, 3"-round cookies.  Laura's yields 18 larger cookies.  I did this for no other reason than a big cookie is too much richness in one sitting for me.  I chose to use crunchy peanut butter too -- a preference of mine.  To insure that all of my cookies baked up identically, I chose to chill each pan of cookie dough for exactly 15 minutes, as well as keep the chopped Reese's cups chilled too, prior to baking -- a technique I highly recommend to you.

IMG_11753/4  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft

1  cup sugar

1  cup light brown sugar

1  cup Jiff extra-crunchy peanut butter

2  large eggs, at room temperature

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 1/4  teaspoons baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2  cups milk chocolate chips

45  mini-Reeses peanut butter cups

IMG_1177~ Step 1.  While the butter and eggs are coming to room temperature, unwrap, then chill the peanut butter cups for about an hour.  Once they are cold, which makes them easier to cut, slice each one into four pieces, placing the pieces in a  bowl as you work.  Place the bowl of chilled peanut butter cup pieces back in the refrigerator and keep them chilled for the entirety of the the mixing, and parts of the baking process, meaning:  remove them from the refrigerator on an as-needed basis as you bake.

IMG_1181 IMG_1181~Step 2.  In a large bowl, on medium-high speed of electric mixer, place and thoroughly combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a large rubber spatula, about 1 minute.

IMG_1187 IMG_1187 IMG_1187 IMG_1187~Step 3.  Remove the mixer.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Using the rubber spatula, thoroughly fold in the the flour -- this will take a minute or two.  A thick, uniformly colored cookie dough will have formed.  Add and fold the milk chocolate chips into the cookie dough.

IMG_1200 IMG_1200 IMG_1200 IMG_1200~Step 4.  Using a 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place 12 rounded-scoops of cookie dough, well-apart on each of 3, 17 1/2" x 11 1/2" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper (12 cookies on each pan).  Using the palm of your hand, slightly flatten the tops of the cookies.  When all cookies are on the pans and all the cookies are slightly flattened:

IMG_1221 IMG_1221 IMG_1221 IMG_1221 IMG_1234~Step 5.  Work one-pan-at-a-time, meaning:  Chill a pan of cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. When first pan comes of out of refrigerator, place the second pan in. When the second pan comes out, place the third pan in.  When each pan comes out of refrigerator:  Bake on center rack of preheated 350° oven for 10 minutes -- cookies will be very soft but puffed through to their centers.  Remove from oven and lightly press 5 pieces of chilled and chopped Reese's cups into the top of each cookie.  Return to oven and bake an additional 3 1/2-4 minutes.  Cookies will be slightly brown around the edges.  Cool cookies, on pans, about 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cool on pans 5 minutes.  Cool completely on wire rack.

IMG_1250Cooled Reese's will firm-up-slightly but remain pleasantly soft.

IMG_1262Milk chocolate and peanut butter nirvana:

IMG_1313Over-the-Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies:  Recipe yields 3 dozen, 3"-round cookies.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 3, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop; thin spatula; wire cooling rack.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb094ab501970d-800wiCook's Note:  To make candy out of milk chocolate and peanut butter, I can't say enough about the recipe I was given by my friend and pastry chef from Ohio:  ~ Confection Perfection:  Theresa's Buckeye Candies ~.  There are a lot of recipes for these famous candies out there, but, they all pale in comparison to hers.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)