Recipe: Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies

Among other gifts, Mike got some candy for Christmas, including some Fun Size Milky Way bars. In contrast to their peanut-filled cousins, Snickers, Milky Ways are relatively tame — mostly caramel and nougat. So, on a lark, I decided to check AllRecipes to see whether there were any Milky Way-based recipes. Sure enough, I found one: Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies.

Since I had some free time yesterday, I decided to give it a shot. The recipe is fairly easy — just three steps — and the only thing to keep in mind is that the recipe needs bite-sized Milky Ways (a typo at one point mentions Fun Size, but the recipe’s reviews confirm that bite size is needed).

Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 36 fun [bite] size bars Milky Way [If you have Fun Size bars instead, just cut them in half to create bite size.]

Directions:

  1. Cream together white sugar, brown sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla, peanut butter and the egg.
  2. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Wrap 1 heaping teaspoon of dough around a bite sized Milky Way candy bar. Bake 13-16 minutes at 350° F (175° C). Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

So, I mixed up the cookie dough and decided on 14 minutes cooking time (well, the directions said 13-16 minutes and 14 sounded like a good mid-point). And even though my oven doesn’t heat that unevenly, I swapped the two cookie sheets halfway through just to be sure.

I took out the cookies after 14 minutes and — as directed by the recipe — I let them cool for 5 minutes. It’s not that they were all that hot, but they needed those few minutes to firm up. And, as soon as the 5-minute timer beeped, I grabbed one and gingerly took a bite.

To my delight, the nougat/caramel had become warm and molten — similar in some ways but even better than a Caramello bar. The cookies turned out even better than I expected and I’m tempted to cookieify some Fun Size Snickers bars later this week :).

Apple Crisp Recipe from Good Eats

I have a Season Pass in my TiVo for Good Eats — a cooking show on Food Network. Oftentimes, the show’s theme may be obscure and I won’t end up watching it — and I thought that the Apple Family Values episode (yeah, just apple recipes) may have been one of those.

I somewhat expected an apple pie recipe in there somewhere, but Alton didn’t go for that. Instead, there were recipes such as Waldorf Salad and Apple Sauce (neither of which were particularly useful to me since I have no plans to make those). However, the Apple Crisp recipe (which he calls “Baker, Baker” on the site) caught my eye. Not only does it look delicious, but it seems fairly foolproof as well :).

Other than the ingredients for the streusel topping, there’s no measuring in the recipe. Mostly, it’s a matter of cutting a hole in the apple, filling most of it with honey, then adding the topping. In short:

  • Cut tops off apples with a knife using a diagonal cut towards the center of the apple
  • Use a melon baller to remove the seeds and form a shaft down the apple
  • Fill the shaft with honey, but leave room where the cone-top used to be
  • Add the streusel mixture to the top of the apple until overflowing
  • Bake

The recipe looked rather easy and Mike and I were tempted to try it that evening (alas, we had no oats). However, as I looked through the cupboard yesterday, I noticed that Mike had picked up some oats; so, perhaps we’ll be able to make some in the next few days.

Baker, Baker

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Apple Family Values

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 Braeburn apples (Fuji will substitute)
  • 4 teaspoons honey [You don’t really need to measure this]

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients and diced butter. Rub mixture briskly between finger tips until it forms small moist clumps in a loose sandy mixture. Refrigerate while preparing the apples.

Cut a small layer off the bottom of each apple to create a flat, stable bottom surface. With a small paring knife, cut a cylindrical cone out of the top of the apple, moving about 1-inch outside of the core, similar to removing the top of a pumpkin when carving a Jack O’Lantern. Remove the top and discard. With a melon baller or a teaspoon, remove the remaining core and seeds taking care not to puncture the base of the apple.

Place apples on a baking sheet or pie dish and fill each center with a teaspoon of honey. Spoon in mixture, packing lightly until heaped and overflowing over sides of the apples.

Bake in oven at 350° on the top or middle rack for 40 minutes or until filling is golden brown and the tip of a paring knife can be inserted into the side of the apple with little or no resistance. Let apples stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Grilled Cheese Recipe from Good Eats

I enjoy watching Good Eats on Food Network — it’s a cooking show hosted by Alton Brown. Each episode, he goes over recipes around a common theme along with the science behind why things cook the way they do (not to worry, this isn’t a science show).

Just last night, I saw the episode “For Whom the Cheese Melts”. The episode was about melting cheese and, ostensibly, fondue. I had a small hope that maybe he’d sneak in a Metallica reference during the show, but he didn’t go for that. And, for the most part, the fondue recipes didn’t interest me much since I have no plans to make fondue on my own.

However, the episode did conclude with what Alton calls “the best grilled cheese sandwich you have ever had”. Well, I looked forward to that segment since I not only enjoy grilled cheese, but I expected that the recipe wouldn’t be terribly difficult either.

The full recipe is below, but these are the key points:

  • Grate the cheese first, as it apparently melts more evenly [I didn’t know this.]
  • In addition to the cheese, Alton also adds a spoonful of Dijon mustard and fresh ground pepper to the sandwich [Sounds good to me!]
  • Use a spritzing of olive oil on the outside, instead of butter [I suppose it makes sense that olive oil may impart a more delicate flavor to the sandwich.]
  • Use two heated skillets, stacked, to cook the sandwich from both sides [This hadn’t occurred to me either.]

And, here’s the recipe itself:

Big Cheese Squeeze

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: For Whom the Cheese Melts

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread, cut thin (as far as bread selection goes, all I’ll say is the bigger the loaf the bigger the sandwich)
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Grated cheese (This is the soul of the thing, so use the good stuff. We like a semi-hard, semi-soft combo like smoked gouda and Gruyere or Fontina with a young Asiago. If you’re a purist, go for the Cheddar, but make it sharp and aged if possible.)
  • Good quality olive oil for spritzing.

Preparation:

Find 2 heavy skillets that will nest together. Two (10-inch) cast iron skillets are ideal. Heat them over high heat.

Meanwhile, spread mustard on one slice of bread. Distribute the cheese evenly over the mustard, season with fresh black pepper and top with second piece of bread.

Spritz the bread surface that’s staring up at you with olive oil using either a Misto or a pump sprayer. A light coat will do, don’t soak.

When the pans are hot enough to vigorously sizzle a drop of water, remove them from the heat and place the sandwich, top-side down in the middle of one pan. (if your pans are a different size, this would be the smaller one.) Spritz the slice now facing you, as well as the bottom of the other skillet. Lay the skillet right on top of the sandwich. If the top pan isn't cast iron, weigh it down with a brick, can, or something of similar heft.

Wait patiently, crack a beer. When you hear the first bit of cheese run out and sizzle on the pan, it’s done. This will take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the top skillet, (you may need to coax it off with a spatula, but I doubt it). Just look at it. It’s perfect…better than mom’s. (no reason to tell her)

Remove to a plate, count to 10 and slice it in half. Take a bite. Take another. So they lost… there’s always next year.

I look forward to trying one of these sandwiches. I prefer other mustards to Dijon, so perhaps I’ll substitute another mustard. And, since all my skillets are aluminum (or some other non-iron metal), I’ll have to find a heavy object to place on top of the skillets.

A New Take on Tuna Burgers

I heard about an interesting recipe for tuna burgers from the AllRecipes.com Recipes Notes newsletter. Sure, even Food 911 has featured a tuna burger recipe, but that episode was almost a farce — a daycare center writes to the show to ask about how to make tuna more appetizing for the kids, and Tyler proceeds to make them tuna burgers made from diced tuna filets (not exactly an affordable solution for a daycare center).

Anyhow, back to the tuna burgers on AllRecipes. What struck me about these is that not only are these burgers tasty (“My husband … loves these tasty tuna burgers.”), but this recipe calls for regular called tuna (aha, that’s much more affordable).

The only downside, perhaps, is that the recipe calls for an extensive ingredient list. From bread crumbs, to onion, to red pepper, to dill weed and Worcestershire sauce, there’s a lot that go into these. Nonetheless, I’m quite tempted to try them sometime.

Tasty Tuna Burgers

Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 22 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes
Ready in: 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs [Atkins people might be able to omit this]
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed [I don’t even know what dill weed looks like. Yeesh.]
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 4 leaves of lettuce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine tuna, egg, bread crumbs, onion, celery, red bell pepper, mayonnaise, hot chili sauce, chili sauce, dill, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Shape into 4 patties (mixture will be very soft and delicate). Refrigerate for 30 minutes to make the patties easier to handle, if desired.
  2. Coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray; fry tuna patties for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. These are fragile, so be careful when turning them.
  3. Serve on buns with tomato slices and lettuce leaves, if desired.

The Elvis: Peanut Butter, Bacon, and Banana

I have my TiVo setup to auto-record shows with various keywords, such as “brownies” and “sandwich*” (no kidding). So, it auto-recorded the All About Peanut Butter episode of Sara’s Secrets that aired recently. Among the recipes — and the one that triggered the recording — was The Elvis, which is a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

According to The Presley Family Cookbook, the sandwich eaten by Elvis contained only peanut butter and bananas (which was then pan-fried, of course). However, the chef from Peanut Butter & Co (the guest on Sara’s Secrets) spoke of a variety with bacon as well. And that sounded mighty tasty.

So, during my trip to Super Target on Friday, I picked up some bacon and bananas (we already have peanut butter and Mike has some honey). The bananas were a bit green around the edges, at the time, but they were just perfect by today (small brown speckles here and there). So, Mike and I decided to embark on the Elvis adventure.

We started by frying the bacon and, as a non-bacon-connoisseur, I was surprised by how much the bacon shrank during cooking (some 10-inch pieces shrank to about half that size). The bacon happened to be low sodium, but I’d be kidding myself if I were to say that it made a difference to the overall healthiness of the dish ;).

As Mike kept watch of the bacon, I prepared the bread — which was just a matter of buttering the outside of each slice and spreading peanut butter on the other side of one slice (so, invariably, some slices end up butter-side down on the cutting board). I then sliced a banana length-wise and placed those pieces onto the peanut-buttered sides.

Once the bacon was ready, I placed the bacon on top of the banana (which, of course, was on top of the peanut butter). Each sandwich was about to hold about four slices of bacon. And, I drizzled some honey on top of the bacon to finish it off. After that, we grilled them grilled-cheese style in the pan.

Sure, Velvet Elvises are good, but the bacon is a really nice touch. In particular, its oily saltiness goes very well with the peanut butter. And, the honey gives balance to the sandwich’s sweet-vs-savory nature.

Believe it or not, Mike and I each had two of these artery-busting monsters. And, man, they were fantastic. We both agreed that we’d have to make them more often :). Though the recipe is fairly straightforward, here's also the official version from the show:

The Elvis

Recipe courtesy Peanut Butter & Co.
Show: Sara’s Secrets
Episode: All About Peanut Butter

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 large, ripe banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 12 slices bacon, Sauteed until crispy (optional)

Preparation:

Spread the butter on 1 side of each slice of bread. On the other side of half of the slices spread peanut butter. Place banana slices on top of peanut butter. Drizzle honey over bananas. Place 3 bacon slices on top of the banana, then place the remaining buttered bread slices on top, butter-side-out.

Place sandwiches on a preheated grill pan or griddle. Flip them over when they become golden brown and crispy. When the sandwiches are browned on both sides, remove to plates. Slice in half and serve immediately.