Chocolate Covered Strawberries – How Romantic!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries –
How Romantic!

I have lots of experience with chocolate fondue, but I can honestly say I have never made chocolate covered strawberries. Not certain why, but I decided for Valentine’s Day to step it up and be a bit more romantic. And my hubby, who “owns” our kitchen, wanted to help me, so we made this decadent dessert together. How romantic!

I don’t have a passion for cooking like most of you do, but I do have a passion for arts and crafts. So I approached this as if it were a craft project. And I loved it! It all started with a visit to a cake store. If you are a baker you know what I am talking about, but for the novice cookie and cake maker that I am, I had no idea this store even existed. It was truly like walking into the “Michaels” or “Hobby Lobby” of baking. And the best part – everything is edible! Doesn’t get much better than that. I purchased my very important oil-based pink food coloring and my toppings of pink/white/red nonpareils, red coarse sugar, and tiny multicolored valentine hearts.  Let the chocolate covered strawberry project begin.

There is no creative twist to this chocolate covered strawberry recipe – you can find them all over the internet. But I can share some things I learned while making them. And of course, I will share my finished masterpieces.

I’m hoping to inspire you to be romantic this Valentine’s Day and make some chocolate covered strawberries!
Heck, be romantic any day!

chocolate covered strawberries 5


  • 1-12 oz. bag Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-12 oz. bag Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
  • 2 T Coconut Oil
  • Oil-based food coloring. Pink for decorating.
  • 2 pounds strawberries
  • Toppings: Almost anything goes. I did colored coarse sugar, nonpareils, candied hearts, crushed candy canes, and some dried pink chocolate flakes.

Recipe and Tips
Wash strawberries first, so they are dry by the time you start.

  • Tip – Don’t wash entire strawberry. Just dip the berry in water, not the leaves. This way the leaves won’t dry up. It is all about presentation with this dessert!
  • Tip – Don’t rush this step. Strawberries must be completely dry before dipping.
  • Tip – Like any good craft project, have a plan and get organized ahead of time. Divide strawberries out into groups to be dipped in chocolate only, white chocolate only, and multi chocolate.  Set up areas for dipping, toppings, and drying.

Melt chocolate either in a small fondue pot or in a small dish in the microwave with a little bit of coconut oil. I did 20 seconds at a time, then stirred and reheat. Don’t overcook. Much easier than a double boiler.

  • Tip – the coconut oil helped prevent the chocolate from setting up, and it gave it a nice glossy sheen.
  • Tip – to make pink chocolate, it takes only a couple drops of food coloring in the white chocolate! I put the pink chocolate in a small squeeze bottle so I could drizzle on my decoration.

Hold the stem of the berry and dip in chocolate, covering the berry almost to the stem. Nice to have some red strawberry showing.

  • Tip – Let excess chocolate drip off for about 1 minute. Touch to side of bowl to get it to release.
  • Tip – If you want to double dip two different chocolates, make certain the first chocolate is dry before you dip in the second colored chocolate.

Dip in toppings. Gently roll the berry in topping or turn it and set it in topping 4 or more times.

  • Tip – I found that “dipping” in toppings did not really work. If the chocolate is too wet, it pushed the chocolate out of shape, or left some chocolate in the toppings.

Place strawberries on parchment paper for drying.
You can store them in the refrigerator for a few days, or eat them immediately. If you put them in refrigerator, let them warm up about 30 minutes prior to eating. The chocolate is less likely to crumble off.  I was so proud of my chocolate covered strawberry “craft project” I took lots of pictures to share with you.  Enjoy.

chocolate covered strawberries 1

chocolate covered strawberries 2

chocolate covered strawberries 3I found my inspiration on Pinterest at The Yummy Life. Thanks for giving me the courage to try this.

Printer friendly: Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Ring in the New Year with Champagne Lavender Baklava

Ring in the New Year with Champagne Lavender Baklava

As the new year approaches, it is time to start planning your celebration. Thankfully we’ve got Chef J around to supply us with the perfect recipe to accompany our champagne toasts: Champagne Lavender Baklava! This beautiful and delicious dish is a great way to say goodbye to 2014 and ring in the New Year in style!

The year is almost over! Hopefully it was all that you dreamed it would be — but if not, at least you get to try again. ‘Tis the season to reflect on the ups and downs of the previous twelve months and set new goals for the new year in an effort to create a better life and a better world. But mostly it’s the time to pop some corks and scream as a giant, glittery ball drops. Whether your New Year’s celebration is going to be decked out in tuxedos and little black dresses or pajamas and fuzzy slippers, there will probably be a hefty amount of gluttony …before signing up for that gym membership that you are totally going to use this year. Viva la resolution! So before we all start writing checks that we know we can’t cash, let’s enjoy the one last day to get away with – nay, embrace –  the social acceptance of overeating and public drunkenness (besides Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, The Superbowl, Cinco de Mayo, President’s Day…)!

When I ring in the new year this season (in pajamas, of course) I will be doing so with hefty amounts of alcohol and sugar, so it’s the perfect excuse to make one of my favorite wine-based desserts.

Champagne Lavender Baklava is a delicious treat that is relatively easy to make and will surely stand out in a crowd this New Year’s Eve!

Champagne Lavender Baklava 

  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 2 TBS lavender
  • ½ t cardamom
  • 8 oz. melted butter
  • 1½ cups finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups Champagne (or less expensive sparkling wine)

In a sauce pot mix 1 cup of sugar and the champagne and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes until syrup is thick. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a mortar and pestle, crush lavender and cardamom; throw it in a food processor with remaining cup of sugar and blend until fine.
Mix ½ cup of the sugar mixture with the hazelnuts and set aside.
In a buttered, high-sided pan or baking dish, begin layering sheets of phyllo dough and coating with melted butter.
Every two or three layers sprinkle liberally with the sugar/lavender/cardamom blend.
After using a third of the phyllo, sprinkle half of the hazelnuts on with the sugar. Do this again after using the next third of the dough.
Continue layering and sprinkling then give the top an extra coat of butter.
Cut baklava into the classic diamonds or triangles and bake at 350° for 35 – 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Pour the syrup over the hot baklava.
Let cool, loosely covered for at LEAST 24 hours.
Top with whipped cream or dip in coffee or cocoa.

Printer friendly recipe: Champagne Lavender Baklava

Cookie Swap! Impress with These Monster Cookies!

Cookie Swap! Impress with These Monster Cookies!

It’s officially Cookie Swap season! Sarah W. is back with a fantastic recipe  for Monster Cookies! Gather your friends and family for a fun night filled with sweet eats. These giant treats are perfect for a cookie swap. I’m going to keep mine all to myself, though! Teach us how to cookie, Sarah!

Cookie Swap

Are you having a good holiday season? Did you get invited to a cookie swap and just throw your arms up in the air with a big dramatic sigh because making cookies is THE WORST? Well stop worrying, and step away from the bakery section of your grocery store (although cookies made by Grandma Grocery Store are always a good backup. I have taken them out of the plastic package and put them in my own Tupperware containers to claim ownership in the past, and I am NOT ashamed).

I love to bake, truly. Stealing a swipe of batter from the beater, the whole house smells good, getting creative with a recipe and tweaking it to make it special — these are all things I love about being in the kitchen. But my lack of patience ends at the oven. My favorite things to make are cakes, brownies, bars. I am willing to spend an hour mixing things together in the right order for the right amount of time, but once that’s done, I would like to put ONE thing in the oven and be DONE.

I discovered my “cookie fatigue” moment comes when the third batch hits the oven, so this recipe is great because using two large cookie sheets at a time, it made two quick batches for me. If you check your peanut butter and mix-ins, these are also gluten-free — there’s no flour!

These Monster Cookies will impress everyone at your holiday Cookie Swap! Give them a try!


Ingredients (I quartered this recipe so it fits in a stand mixer – you’re welcome!):

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ lb brown sugarCookie Swap
  • 1 c white sugar
  • ¼ tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ lb butter (1 stick)
  • ¾ lb peanut butter (approximately 1 heaping cup)
  • 4 ½ c oatmeal
  • ½ bag chocolate chips
  • ½ bag M&Ms (I used a combination of peanut butter and regular M&Ms — use your favorites!)

Yields 20-25 cookies


Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Add the ingredients in order. I turned my mixer on after adding the peanut butter and mixed the ingredients well for a minute or so (Note: I made batches with both crunchy and creamy peanut butter, and the crunchy held the cookies together better.). Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl — this is a looser batter than standard cookie dough at this point.

Add the oatmeal, and make sure your mixer’s lid is locked down before you turn the mixer on. I swear these are called “Monster Cookies” because even with the lid locked, the machine bumps and moves like the dough’s trying to escape!

Add the chocolate chips and M&Ms after the oatmeal is thoroughly incorporated, and let your mixer run on low for a few minutes. Some of the M&Ms will break, and that’s ok.
Cookie Swap
Cookie SwapUsing an ice cream scoop or large spoon (MONSTER cookies), space these about 6-8 per cookie sheet. The resulting cookies will be about the size of your hand. They don’t spread a great deal, so use the back of the scoop to press them down slightly. In this picture, the cookie on the bottom left is flattened “appropriately”, according to my husband, who made these with his mom every year growing up.

Bake for 12 minutes — no more, no less. Give them 2-5 minutes to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. My hand is in this picture to show the scale of these suckers.
Cookie Swap
These taste amazing warm, and are best served with a big glass of milk! Monster cookies are perfect to make with little kids because there are a lot of dry ingredients to dump in, the ice cream scoop is easier to manage than something small and fiddly, and they don’t have to be pretty. They might not be the prettiest cookies on the block, but they sure are some of the tastiest!

Holiday Recipes – Time to Party!

Holiday Recipes – Time to Party!

The holiday season is in full swing and that means it’s time for parties! We’ve got you covered with some great holiday recipes that will leave your guests merry and bright!

Whether you are planning a small cocktail affair or a full-fledged feast, we have holiday recipes to meet your needs.

Looking for a signature cocktail for your soiree? How about Pancake Shots or Boozy Apple Cider? Check out these and more here. holiday recipes

Did someone volunteer you to bring the cookies this year? Here is a customizable cookie dough recipe plus a special holiday recipe from Chef J’s family.

If you’re hosting the whole family for a special fancy dinner, try this amazing Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mac and Cheese.

holiday recipe

And stay tuned for next week’s post for more holiday recipes!

Thanksgiving Tips – Just in Time

Thanksgiving Tips – Just in Time

What do you have planned for Thanksgiving this year? Will you be keeping with tradition or going your own way? Whether you plan an elaborate spread of gourmet sides or stick to the tried-and-true recipes of your family, the important thing is that you spend the day with your loved ones, be they the family you were born into or the one you have created on your own. One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving so much is because it is one of the few holidays that hasn’t completely turned into a consumer-driven gift-centric affair. It is a day to relax with and enjoy the company of loved ones, with no pressure to pick the perfect gift or spend a boatload of cash on a fancy restaurant meal. I have a lot of feelings about Black Friday creeping into Thursday, but I will save my rants for my personal life (you’re welcome), and instead focus on the hope that we will all get to spend Thursday feeling thankful for what we already have. This year, as with every year, I am thankful for my family. Some of the members are tied together by blood, but all are tied by love and friendship.

This part is going to get a little bit sappy (like that last part wasn’t sappy enough…), but I would also like to note how thankful I am for my family at Butcher Block Co. We are a small group, but I daresay we are pretty mighty. I have learned so much and have been so supported in so many ways since I started here, and for that I am eternally grateful. I was welcomed into this family on day one and have been given the opportunity to form connections to many wonderful people, including our customers. You are, after all, the reason we are here.

From our family to yours, we at Butcher Block Co. wish you a happy Thanksgiving, filled with food, laughter, and love. We are thankful every day for your continued support.

Are you all ready for Thanksgiving? If you’re struggling for ideas or just need a little refresher, we’ve got you covered!

For Turkey Carving Tips, check out this post from Chef J.

Want to try your hand at brining this year? (Yes, you do, I promise.) We can help with this informative post.

Need another side dish? We’ve got two Brussels Sprouts recipes here and here.

How about some dessert? Try Pumpkin Creme Brulee, Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake, or my family’s favorite Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie.

Thanksgiving Traditions – Make Them, Don’t Break Them!

Thanksgiving Traditions – Make Them, Don’t Break Them!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down. My family is lucky enough to have two chefs in it, so we are always treated to some delicious fare this time of year. Thanksgiving traditions are important, though, and sometimes the creativity gets a little out of hand. One year, my younger brother volunteered to make the dinner rolls for our Thanksgiving feast, so Mom didn’t whip up her usual fluffy white rolls. Well, little bro’s rolls were delicious, but they were weird! We don’t eat whole wheat on Thanksgiving! What was this sacrilege? This simple Thanksgiving tradition is one we didn’t realize we hold so dearly, but let me tell you, this will NOT be happening again.

We have pretty gourmet taste in this family, but Thanksgiving is sacred. Over the years our mom has announced on various occasions that she will not be making cranberry-marshmallow salad or candied yams, and we predictably throw mini fits until she agrees to do the whole spread. Hopefully things are a little easier on Mom now that we are all grown and capable of helping out with these demands. We’re all fine with having some super-gourmet non-traditional treats on Thanksgiving, we just plead with you, dear creative chef brothers, make them in addition to our traditional Thanksgiving dishes, not as replacements.

So, if you are not looking forward to bringing just the same boring mashed potatoes this year, Chef J has an easy and delicious dish that you can bring as well. You’re going to be in trouble if you don’t bring the potatoes, but this is simple enough that you can make both. And it’s tasty enough that it might become a new Thanksgiving tradition.

This year, let’s focus on making new Thanksgiving traditions without breaking the old ones.

Chef J, show the people how it’s done!

Fall is in full swing! The leaves are turning yellow and the noses are running so it’s time to start planning what will be on the table for that big meal before the onslaught of Christmas shopping. To brave the swell of holiday shoppers that you will have to wade through next Friday (unless you’re going with the highly-recommended trend of online shopping), you will need the strength and stamina that only a hearty meal of turkey and pie can provide. This Thanksgiving, or “Gray Thursday” as I like to call it, will surely host the reliable classics: mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, stuffing, and of course, the bird of honor. With that in mind, I decided to bring something new for my contribution to the family feast this season; a simple but delicious side that can be made in advance. Mind you, this won’t be replacing any of the family’s traditional Thanksgiving flavors, but will complement them beautifully.

Caramelized Onion and Apple TartThanksgiving Tradition

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green apples, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 10 x 10” sheet of puff pastry

Preheat your oven to 375°F.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and throw in the onions. Cook over low heat until they begin to brown.
Add the apples and herbs and stir to coat everything with butter.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Spread out the puff pastry and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Pile the apples and onion onto the pastry, leaving about 1 inch of space around the edges.
Fold the edges up over the apples and onion, pinching the pastry together as you go.
Sprinkle the whole thing with the pecans and cheese.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow the tart to cool a bit before slicing.

If you want to save time, you can get everything made and assembled the day before and bake it when you need it.

Printer friendly recipe: Onion and Apple Tart

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

Pumpkin season, also known as Fall, is my favorite time of year. I know I can technically make pumpkin pie any time I want, but there is just something about this time of year that makes it taste better! Maybe it’s the smell of fires crackling, or the site of the leaves changing… oh wait, that stuff doesn’t really happen in Phoenix! Whatever it is, Fall is the perfect time to enjoy something pumpkin! This pumpkin crème brulee is one special dish that I might even carry over into the rest of the year. Luckily for me, Chef J is right around the corner and I can usually bribe him for treats (although I made the ones in the photo – I clearly need more practice!). Since he can’t come to your house, you’ll have to settle for learning how to make it yourself. Teach us how, Chef J!

Besides the drop in temperature, you can always tell when Fall is officially upon us by the abundance of pumpkin pie flavored coffee drinks. These ubiquitous pumpkin lattes are flavored by the signature spice blend that makes the traditional holiday pie such a hit: allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Rarely is there anything close to pumpkin (or any squash, for that matter) in those over-priced morning mugs, but they are delicious.

A pumpkin is just a squash. Sometimes it just happens to get a face carved into it… As a squash, it can be used in place of the beloved butternut in most any recipe. Try roasting it with garlic, sage, and butter. Puree it and use it in that ravioli recipe you have always wanted to try. Toast and salt the seeds and throw them in a salad or just eat them by the handful! There are lots of ways to enjoy this awesome orange veggie (it’s actually a fruit!), but my favorite is always dessert. Pumpkin pie is a classic for a reason, but someone else can make that. I like to go a slightly different route with crème brulee! Just make sure if you’re using fresh pumpkin, you buy the kind meant for cooking, not the kind meant for jack-o-lanterns!

If you have a butane kitchen torch, this is when you get to show it off. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect excuse to get one! You can also burn the sugar under the broiler – just keep a close eye on it.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 8 oz. pumpkin puree
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water or cream
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sugar for burning

Heat oven to 350°F.
Bring cream, pumpkin and spices to a simmer.
Whisk together the egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, corn starch slurry, and pinch of salt until pale yellow and frothy.
Slowly add a few spoonfuls of the hot cream to the egg mixture while whisking constantly.
When the egg mixture is hot, pour it into the cream and bring it up to a simmer, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken.
Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove any pulp or cooked egg bits. Fill ramekins with custard and bake in a water bath until just set, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool. These can be served while a little warm, or chilled for a few hours for a thicker dessert.
Top each custard with sugar and burn with torch (or under the broiler) until bubbly and brown. Do this step just before serving to ensure a crisp sugar shell!

Printer friendly recipe: Pumpkin Crème Brulee

Fall Baking Secret Ingredient is Pumpkin!

Fall Baking Secret Ingredient is Pumpkin!

Fall is officially here, and that means time to head back into the kitchen and start baking!  I am honored to introduce you to my sister-in-law Meg, who  is the esteemed baker in the family! Meg credits her Grandma Ede and Mom for her love of baking.  They showed her how to take everyday ingredients and transform them into love. Thanks for blogging for us, Meg!

Fall is here! I love fall! I love baking! It was Saturday afternoon, and I needed to bake a dessert for a potluck on Sunday. I knew that several of my friends who would be attending were chocolate addicts aficionados, but I had three baking pumpkins that I purchased at the farmer’s market earlier in the day that were calling my name.

Fall Baking with Pumkin

Fall Baking Secret – replace sour cream in your cake recipe with pumpkin and spice!

I have a recipe for a chocolate Bundt cake that everyone loves. Why not replace the sour cream with pumpkin and throw in some spices to jazz it up a bit? The first thing I needed to do was roast the pumpkins so I would have pumpkin puree. If you don’t want to go through this step, Libby’s Canned Pumpkin is the best. I have tried a lot of other brands, and it really has a flavor that is closest to fresh.  I like to quarter the pumpkins and take out the seeds so I can roast them at a later time. Put the pumpkins on a baking sheet lined with foil for easier clean up. Cover them with foil and roast them for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees. The flesh will be very soft when done.Roasted Pumpkin 580

When the pumpkins have cooled enough to touch, scoop out the flesh – into a bowl if using an immersion blender, or into your blender or food processor. Process until you have a smooth puree. Whatever you don’t use can be frozen for use at a later date. I put a cup of puree into a plastic bag so I can pull out the amount I need. pumpkin puree 580

Now for the Cake. I frosted it with a quick ganache.  It was incredibly tender thanks to the pumpkin and coconut oil. A triple dose of chocolate without being too rich. Not a crumb returned home.Fall Baking Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Chocolate – Pumpkin Bundt Cake

  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

(you could also use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice in place of the above spices)

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree or 1 15-oz can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, or any light baking oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredient together in a bowl.
  3. Mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips by hand.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until the top springs back, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours or overnight.

cake batter 580

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 oz butter or coconut oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  1. Combine and melt chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler.
  2. Whisk in milk.
  3. Pour over cooled cake.

ganache 580

Printer friendly recipe: Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Share with us your secret Fall Baking Ingredient or Tip!

Holiday Cookies Make Everything Better!

Holiday Cookies Make Everything Better!

Chef J is back to talk about Holiday Cookies! This week he shares a basic cookie dough recipe that can be customized to your liking, plus an old family recipe for some awesome peanut butter cookies.

Remember when you were little and you would leave a plate of raw carrots and broccoli with a side of ranch dressing out for Santa Clause? No? Maybe it’s because that’s gross and nobody wants that stuff. Yet every year, at every party, there is a crudites platter; sitting quietly in the corner, tossing out awkward glances, hoping to catch someone’s eye like that weird uncle that no one remembers inviting. Let’s not waste vegetables: we want cookies! The holidays are about cramming as much sugary goodness into our face hole as possible! They’re also about family and tradition and love and stuff, but mostly cookies. Walk into any party with a tray full of chewy, gooey holiday cookies and you will be surrounded by friends. Cookies will dry the tears of your whiny niece, end the political rant of your cranky grandpa, and even soften the daggers of your judgmental aunt.

You can build them yourself with relatively little effort and you are limited only by your imagination! A great way to expand your cookie catalog without dirtying extra dishes is with a holiday cookie exchange- recruit a few friends and each pick a couple of kinds of cookies to make. Make a bit extra and trade them around. I recommend freezing the dough before baking. You can go from freezer to oven, ensuring that you are never more than 13 minutes away from freshly baked cookies. Freezing also gives you a better result: when making the dough, if you over mix you will end up with a tough cookie since the gluten gets all worked up. And if you don’t let it sit long enough you end up with crumbly cookies. By freezing (or even storing in the refrigerator), you allow the gluten to relax and the flour to absorb the liquid, giving you a perfectly chewy, moist treat! If you have room in your freezer, you can freeze individual portions of dough on a cookie sheet and then store in a zipper bag after they have frozen solid. Otherwise, roll up a log of cookie dough in parchment paper and just slice into pucks when you’re ready to bake.

Here is a basic dough recipe. You can add an extra 2 TBS of dry ingredients (cocoa powder, spices, etc.), and 2-3 cups of “name” ingredients, as in the word before Cookies (chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries, and so on…).

Basic Cookie Dough
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 oz maple syrup or honey
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 package instant pudding
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375.
Cream together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Sift together the flour, pudding and soda and slowly add to the mixture.
Fold in the goodies of your choice.
Scoop onto a lined baking sheet and bake 11-13 minutes.
My favorite cookie of all time is the Peanut Blossom! My Swedish grandmother would make these every year and I would eat so many that I would have a tummy ache until New Year’s. My mom would try to hide them under the peas in the freezer, so I can tell you they are great frozen!

Peanut Blossoms
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz milk
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Sugar
  • A bunch of chocolate kisses, about 48 (plus more for munching!)

Preheat oven to 325.
Cream together the shortening, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar.
Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla.
Combine the flour, soda and salt, and slowly add to the peanut butter mixture.
Roll the dough into 1” balls, roll in sugar and gently press onto a lined baking sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and press a kiss into the warm cookie.

Printer friendly recipes: Basic Cookie Dough Recipe  Peanut Blossoms Recipe

Holiday Cookie 2

photo by Alicia Thompson at

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: An Updated Classic

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: An Updated Classic

Chef J has been making this delicious pecan pie for the family for almost a decade. It is his number one most requested holiday dish, and for good reason! Pecan pie is a classic staple on any Thanksgiving table, but this one will have your guests thinking, “well, maybe just one more slice!” You should probably make two, just to be safe. Take it away, Chef J!

The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling down, and the relatives will soon be arriving. With a house full of family, friends and lots of food it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. And if the in-laws are visiting it might be time to get into the holiday spirits… So here is a recipe that gives you a good excuse to open a bottle of bourbon. It’s a proven fact that pecan pie is the best pie ever, but like I always say: chocolate makes it better! The bourbon lends a nice, rich, caramel flavor to the filling (don’t worry, the alcohol will cook out), and adding booze instead of water will give your pecan pie a flakier crust since it evaporates much faster.

Your family will rave about this Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and ask you to make to make it every year!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Piepecan-pie-dough


  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 oz butter, cubed & cold
  • 2 oz shortening, cold
  • 2 oz cold bourbon

Preheat your oven to 350.
In a food processor combine dry ingredients.
Add butter and shortening, pulse for about 10 seconds.
Slowly add the bourbon while mixing until everything pulls together into a ball.
Roll out the dough and press evenly into a pie dish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Perforate the dough and bake for 15 minutes.


  • 8 oz dark chocolate
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 oz vanilla
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler over low heat and cook until the chocolate has melted.
Pour filling over the pre-baked dough.
Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Give it a gentle shake after about 25 minutes; you don’t want too much jiggle!
Remove and let it cool completely before cutting. Top with more nuts and chocolate, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream!

Printer friendly recipe: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Recipe

More recipes here!