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  1. Monday, May 17

    Magic Peanut Butter Middles: Appendix

    The Magic Peanut Butter Middles recipe generated a lot of comments, including questions and additional tips. I think this recipe needs an appendix, so here we go!

    chocolate peanut butter middles appendix web

    The cookies pictured are in fact the cookies I made following the recipe exactly as I listed it. They came out perfectly for me. My friend Michelle made the same exact cookies following the same exact recipe/steps and hers came out perfectly as well…even better than mine, I’ll admit! So, let’s get down to business with the questions. Jenny D’s comment sums up several of the questions well, so I’m just going to share it directly with you:

    “I saw your post and knew I had to make these cookies today. But I think I did something wrong, maybe my dough was too dry or something. When I flattened the cookies with the cup, the dough cracked all over to expose the PB filling. I’m sure they will still taste good, but I would appreciate any tips!”

    In my experience, the dough is not too dry. I will admit that it’s a little tricky getting the chocolate to wrap around the peanut butter all the way, but it CAN be done. I flattened out my chocolate dough balls pretty thin, then wrapped them around the peanut butter balls. Since I’m not a robot and my dough and peanut butter balls weren’t all exactly the same size, I did have a few that cracked when I got the chocolate wrapped around the peanut butter. When that happened, I just redistributed the dough and smooshed the cracks away. Does that even make any sense?!?! I hope so!

    Once you’ve got the chocolate dough successfully wrapped around the peanut butter filling, it’s time for more smooshing. I think a few people had trouble at this point with the chocolate dough cracking and exposing the peanut butter once the cookies were flattened. If that happens, just pick it up and smoosh around the chocolate dough again so there aren’t any cracks. Smooshing is a good thing, so smoosh away!

    You may be thinking, are these cookies worth all this trouble? YES THEY ARE! And once they are baked, the ratio of filling to cookies is perfect.

    Reader Sarah said she added 2 Tbsp of sour cream to the chocolate dough and that the cookies came out well. I think this is a great tip…although, I’ve gotta tell you all, one of the reasons I love this recipe is because I think the texture of the cookie itself comes out perfectly, so I personally will continue to just work with the dough as is. The cracking is simply a ratio issue, not really because the dough itself is too dry.

    Reader Steph asked about the texture of the filling, so here’s my answer: the PB filling is not too sweet, is moist enough, and is simply delicious. 🙂

    Here are a few more good tips that came from readers!

    • Shanda mentioned that you can spray the bottom of the glass with pam, then dip in sugar, then smash the cookies down. Mindy said you just need to smash a few of the cookies down first to get enough grease on the bottom of the cup, then dip in sugar. A couple people said they dip the glass in water, then the sugar. My favorite solution? Cady rolls the entire cookie dough ball in sugar! Lots of great tips! My original suggestion of flattening the cookies then dipping the tops in sugar also worked very nicely.
    • Cady sprinkled a bit of salt on the top and said it was a great flavor contrast…and I believe her! Sounds like something worth trying, especially if you’re a salty-sweet fan!

    Thanks for all your questions, comments and tips! I love it!


  2. Sunday, May 16

    Week 173 Menu…and a major clarification!

    Before we get to today’s menu, I need to clear something up. Yesterday my friend Nikki used my lemon bar recipe. She told me the bars came out great, but that she used butter instead of margarine. “Butter instead of margarine?” I asked.  “Yeah, your recipe calls for margarine.” “No it doesn’t. I use butter. I’ve never even purchased margarine. I would never put margarine in a recipe,” I replied in complete confidence that Nikki was nuts. “No, Jane, your recipe says margarine.” I whipped out my iPhone as fast as my little fingers could whip and sure enough…my recipe said margarine. Oh, the horror I felt upon this discovery! (It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Just ask Nikki.)

    butter sticks web

    So, let me clarify: the lemon bars use BUTTER. Never margarine. If you made the recipe and used margarine and wondered why the bars weren’t as good as I claimed they were, now you know. The primary reason I think they are SO DELICIOUS is because the crust is a beautiful variation of shortbread. And the reason shortbread is SO DELICIOUS is because it’s basically a giant stick of butter with a little flour and sugar thrown in. This was purely a case of cut-and-paste gone wrong. I had created the recipe from a few different recipes I’d tried over the years. Obviously I read right over this very important word. Ack!

    Now that we’ve got that all cleared up, how about a menu? My rant is over and I feel better already. (I hope my margarine-loving readers don’t take any offense to this post…although I do still think you should switch to butter ;))

    MONDAY:
    Baked stuffing-coated chicken with a nice veggie

    TUESDAY:
    Butternut Squash Soup

    WEDNESDAY:
    Cannelloni

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Breakfast for dinner

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    Creamy Potato Leek Soup (without any cream – it’s a fab recipe!)

    Can’t wait to see your menus for the week! Please share!


  3. Friday, May 14

    Interview with Mireille Guiliano…and a giveaway for “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook”!

    This giveaway is now closed. However there is a really fun interview with Mireille Guiliano in this post, so keep reading!


    mireille guiliano headshot smallerTwo weeks ago I had the chance to do a phone interview with Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat and The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook, among many other books. Mireille is a lovely person with lovely books and I was so excited for the opportunity. Not surprisingly, we had a lovely conversation! I wish you could have all had a chance to chat with her. She was friendly, sincere, kind and gracious. I’m pretty much in love and ready to do anything she tells me to do. Eat my veggies? Done!

    french women don't get fat cookbook web

    In conjunction with the interview, we are giving away two copies of Mireille’s new cookbook, The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. Simply leave a comment on this post to enter. The book is beautiful and full of wonderful stories and recipes. Comments must be posted by Midnight, Wednesday, May 19. Two winners will be randomly selected and announced on May 20. (U.S. mailing addresses only, please.)

    On to the interview with Mireille Guiliano! (In case you’re wondering, her first name is pronounced Meer-ray, with that great French “R” sound. By the way, talking with Mireille made me want to jump on the next plance to France!)

    (>> Find out more…)


  4. Thursday, May 13

    Tulips in Bloom

    Driving home today. Still in vacation mode. Enjoy my grandmother’s tulips. 🙂

    yellow tulip web

    red tulip web


  5. Wednesday, May 12

    Cannoli Shells

    I love this shot. And not just because I’m obsessed with cannoli.

    cannoli shells web

    This is just one of many photographs from what I’m calling the 2010 Provo Dessert Tour, which I will share with you once I’m home from vacation and ready to sit down for some photo editing. The Dessert Tour has been nothing short of extraordinary…more than $50 of desserts in less than 20 hours. And I’m not even sick. Go figure.

    (Cannoli shells pictured are from Gloria’s Little Italy…more to come!)


  6. Tuesday, May 11

    Homemade Berry Saucy Syrup

    I am a sucker for a beautiful container of berries. They’re just so pretty my wallet and I can’t resist. But half the time I forget I buy them and then the berries end up kind of sad. It’s a crime, really. But if my berries do reach this sorry state, I make good use of them…homemade saucy syrup (I can’t decide if it should be called sauce or syrup, hence saucy syrup.

    saucy syrup 2 web

    I’ve made my saucy syrup with raspberries and blueberries. Most recently I made it from a small container of blackberries. It was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good. If I do say so myself. This homemade saucy syrup pairs beautifully with the texture of my new favorite waffle recipe – the waffles didn’t get soggy at all.

    Sidenote: Baby’s Got Sauce by G. Love has been playing in my head while I write this post. Which automatically makes this post 10 times more fun.

    Homemade Berry Saucy Syrup
     
    From Jane Maynard
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 1½ cups berries (one of those 5-6 oz containers) -OR- 1 C blueberries
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ⅓ cup water
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch whisked with enough water to make a slurry
    Instructions
    1. Bring the berries, sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil. Lower heat. Simmer for a 5-10 minutes, while slowly adding some of your cornstarch mixture. Add enough to get it to the consistency you like (the cornstarch makes it less watery). Refrigerate leftovers, if you have any!

    saucy syrup 1 web


  7. Sunday, May 9

    Week 172 Menu…Happy Mother’s Day!

    Happy Mother’s Day! Today I not only get to celebrate mother’s day with my sweet daughters, but we are also with my own mother and my mother’s mother. This never happens. It makes me happy.

    And, since it’s Mother’s Day, I’m giving myself the gift of not planning a menu. Okay, I can’t totally give up on it…but I am going to take it easy on myself since I AM on vacation and all. And maybe I’ll even let some of you slack off, too…but you better believe I’ll get back on you next week to get planning again!

    MONDAY:
    – traveling

    TUESDAY:
    – traveling

    WEDNESDAY:
    – traveling

    THURSDAY:
    – either traveling or just finished with traveling and too tired to cook…eating out for sure

    FRIDAY:
    – breakfast for dinner

    SATURDAY:
    – tortellini

    SUNDAY:
    – Baked stuffing coated chicken with a nice fresh vegetable

    If you have in fact planned a menu for the week, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share. And I promise next week I’ll be back in the swing of things!


  8. Friday, May 7

    I Survived Eat.Blog.Run.

    Last weekend I was a driver for Eat.Blog.Run. It was a BLAST. Granted, I only got 3 hours of sleep on Friday night, a 2 hour nap on Saturday afternoon (outside), and then 3 hours of sleep Saturday night…and I’m still feeling it. But despite all that, the weekend was amazing!

    Since this is a food blog and our team name begins with the word EAT…let’s start with the food! Halfway through our tour of duty, we ate at an Italian restaurant in Petaluma called Sugo. We were all so grateful to eat food that didn’t come in a wrapper, and this meal did not disappoint. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their food. I can’t remember what exactly we ate…I practically slept through the lunch. But the food was very tasty and made for some nice photography.

    eat blog run lunch web

    eat blog run lunch2 web

    eat blog run lunch 3 web

    The relay started in Napa Valley. Oh. My. Goodness. The weather was perfect and the vines were green…it was the very definition of lovely. We arrived for the start of the race just as the sun was rising.

    morning vine napa eat blog run web

    I think running and/or driving an average of only a few miles per hour is the best way to see California. Or anywhere for that matter.

    heather running napa 2 web

    The team was made of 12 runners. I was the driver for Van #1 (aka Acadia 1) and I miss my girls already! Spending soooo many hours in a tight space is going to yield one of two results…everyone hates each other at the end, or everyone has a fantastically wonderful time. Thankfully we experienced the latter! And, can I say, the van didn’t even smell.  Good job, girls! Here they all are!

    van #1 web

    From left to right: Linsey of Me Too You, Heather of Rookie Moms, Marie of Make and Takes, Me, Samantha of GarzaGirl, Sherry, and Christine of Boston Mamas. This is truly an amazing group of women! And they are TOUGH I tell ya. Sherry dislocated her shoulder at the start of one leg, had a guy help her pop it back in and kept running. Marie turned her ankle on a really tough night run and still finished the leg. The girls in Van #2 were equally as tough…one of their runners was injured just days before the race, and they ended up without a driver…so not only did they drive themselves, they ran extra legs. Perseverance was the theme of the weekend to be sure.

    In case you were wondering. Driving 200 miles over 2 days with no sleep made me a bad@$&.

    jane badass driver web


  9. Thursday, May 6

    The Most Heavenly Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie This Side of Anywhere

    For the LOVE…these cookies are unreal. My friend Michelle made them for a meeting I had with her one afternoon…I promptly (as in during the meeting) got the recipe and made them myself that very evening. The texture of the cookie is perfect – crispy-ish outside, soft inside. And the surprise peanut butter filling? Better than a peanut butter cup, I tell ya.

    magic peanut butter middles1 web

    Get ready. You’ll need to do a few (hundred) laps around the track in preparation for these cookies…you will not be able to stop eating them. Okay, I may be projecting here. Giving away a little too much information about myself. What’s new?

    The Most Heavenly Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie This Side of Anywhere
     
    From my friend Michelle who got it from a friend who got it from the Tasty Kitchen website where it was posted by Karly, who originally wrote about the recipe on her blog. Karly in turn found the recipe on allrecipes.com posted by someone named Stephanie, to whom I will be eternally grateful. In case you were wondering where the recipe came from…
    Author:
    Cuisine: Dessert, Cookie
    Ingredients
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ cup white sugar
    • ½ cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ cup butter, softened
    • ¼ cup peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
    • ¾ cup peanut butter
    Instructions
    1. In small bowl blend flour, cocoa and baking soda. Mix until well blended.
    2. In large bowl beat sugar, butter or margarine and ¼ cup peanut butter, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg, beat. Stir in flour mixture until blended. Set aside.
    3. To make Filling: Combine confectioner’s sugar and ¾ cup peanut butter. Blend well.
    4. Roll filling into 30 – 1 inch balls. For each cookie, with floured hands, shape about 1 Tablespoon of dough around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely (Jane note: I also divided the dough into 30 parts to make it easy on myself). Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with glass dipped in sugar. (Jane note: maybe there’s something wrong with my technique, but the glass trick didn’t work – I did flatten the cookies with a glass, but the glass wasn’t dipped in sugar. Instead I dipped the top of the flattened cookie into some sugar – that seemed to work better.)
    5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7-9 minutes. When cookies are done, they should be set and slightly cracked.

     

    This post generated several questions – please click here to read the “appendix” for this recipe for a few more tips!

    magic peanut butter middles2 web

    link

  10. Wednesday, May 5

    Interview with Jody Adams from Top Chef Masters

    JODY_ADAMS_230x508I recently had the chance to do an email interview with Chef Jody Adams, one of the chefs from Top Chef Masters. I was super excited about this opportunity because I have eaten at her restaurant and it was one of the best meals of my life! When Nate and I were pennyless newlyweds in Boston, my boss gave us a hefty gift certificate to Rialto, Jody’s restaurant in Harvard Square. We used the certificate for our anniversary and it’s a night I’ll never forget. We enjoyed our dinner for well over 3 hours (luxurious!) and every bite was perfect. It was a special night that I’ll always cherish.

    Jody is a fantastic chef who is committed to supporting local farmers and charitable work. It’s been fun watching her on Top Chef Masters…and even more fun thinking up questions to ask her directly. I hope you enjoy the interview!

    Q: The culinary world is traditionally male-dominated. Was it hard as a woman to break into the field? Has being a woman in this field been generally frustrating or empowering?

    Jody: Mercifully, the days when a woman would be excluded from a kitchen because of her sex are mostly behind us.  Even three decades ago my first restaurant job was in a kitchen under a female chef, Lydia Shire, one of the most successful chefs in Boston.  My first big step up in the game was as sous-chef, for Gorden Hamersley, who had once been Lydia’s sous-chef.  Kitchens are meritocracies; at the minimum, you have to be able to do the physical labor.  To advance, you need more than that–you need drive, ambition, talent and a willingness to push yourself outside your comfort zone.  I’m a hard worker and I knew if I could get in the door I’d have a chance.  I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never been employed by some moron with dinosaur attitudes toward women.  That said, I think the current media tends to spin culinary culture in a way that doesn’t serve women well.  It has to do with the whole I’m-a-bad-boy-chef-cooking-with-lots-of-pork affect.  The press loves it, it makes good t.v., male cooks know it, and the public eats it up.  It’s an easy sell.  Not many female chefs enjoy playing in that arena; most of the male chefs I know don’t either.   Women are just as tough as men, we work just as hard, but what we’re about as cooks is often a little more complicated.  That means writers have to dig a little deeper, and the story’s a harder sell.  My hope for the future is  that the work I and other women chefs have done for the last 30 years will build a diverse culinary culture that moves forward toward the light rather than standing still or going backwards.

    Q: You do a wonderful job of supporting local farms at your restaurant Rialto. Given the growing importance of eating and growing locally, do you think other restaurants will adopt this practice in a timely manner? As consumers, what is the best way we can support this movement?

    Jody: The good news is that we ARE in the middle of a local food movement and chef/owners of restaurants like Rialto have been buying from local farmers for over 25 years.  We do it because the food tastes better, we are committed to supporting and possibly saving farms and because we can.  But not everyone has access to local food, and making sweeping statements about what consumers, in the broad general sense, should be doing is something I like to be careful about.  We as a members of the American community that eats food, that would be all of us, should do everything we can to ensure that all members of the community have access to fresh local healthy food.  People like Michael Pollan, Anne Cooper, Mark Bittman, Jamie Oliver and of course, Alice Waters are not quiet about this.

    So on the personal direct level, I say, buy from local farms and producers, support chefs and restaurants that do the same and enjoy it!

    On a community level–and this is going to be political–educate yourself about school lunches, urban food deserts, portion sizes, industrial food, government subsidies.  Recognize that these problems are ours and belong to our community and are therefore ours to fix.

    Q: We know you can’t give any spoiler alerts, so without getting too detailed, what has been your favorite part of being on Top Chef Masters?

    Jody: Finding out how much fun it was.  I was scared going into it–no support staff, no “do-overs,” none of the second chances I’d get in my own kitchen.  But my competition and I shared an enormous amount of mutual respect.  In some cases we’ve cooked at each other’s restaurants or worked fund-raisers together.  Although each of us was trying to win, there was a kind of we’re-all-in-the-same-leaky-lifeboat camaraderie, so it ended up being fun, everyone in the same kitchen cooking for their lives.

    Q: Any fun kitchen tips for at-home cooks?

    Jody: Buy one really good knife–it’s an investment in your culinary life–and learn how to use it.  Here’s my cheap tip: get a Microplane–what it can do with garlic alone is worth many times the twelve or fifteen dollars it will cost you.

    Q: One final quick question I have to ask…it’s fast, but maybe impossible to answer! What is your favorite food?

    Jody: It depends on the time of the year and the circumstances.  A lot of what I love about particular foods is the way they evoke people and circumstances with whom I’ve eaten them, and I like calling up those feelings whenever I can.  Down at the Cape where I spend time with my family every August, my favorite food is striped bass or bluefish, fresh out of the water, grilled at a picnic with friends, accompanied by local corn and tomatoes.  On Christmas, it would be roast goose, followed by my mother’s plum pudding, and then a couple of days later, goose and cranberry risotto we’ve made from at my sister’s house from leftovers.

    Be sure to check out Top Chef Masters Wednesday nights. And here are a few recipes from Jody!