These cookies are a holiday favorite! Topped with a kiss and filled with peanut butter chips, these sweet treats are perfect for giving to neighbors and friends. I keep some unbaked dough in the freezer so we can have fresh baked cookies anytime we want!
Peanut Butter Cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp good salt
1/2-3/4 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips
Sugar for rolling
24 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
With an electric mixer beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy, then add in the peanut butter and mix well. Add in the egg and beat well. Add in the vanilla and milk. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add it to the rest of the ingredients and then stop. Do not over mix once the flour is in. Fold in the peanut butter chips. If the dough is too warm to roll into balls you can put it in the refrigerator to chill for a bit. Form into golfball size portions and roll in the raw sugar. You can freeze them at this point, or continue with baking. Place evenly spaced on your prepared sheet pan and bake until puffed and light golden brown, 10-11 minutes. Do not overbake.
Once they are out of the oven, top each cookie with a Hershey’s kiss and allow them to cool on the sheet pan, or transfer to a cooking rack. The Hershey kiss will firm up after they are completely cool.
Yield 24 cookies. *pro tip: write the baking time and oven temp on the ziplock bag when you freeze the dough balls if you are saving some to bake later. Frozen dough will only take an extra minute or two to bake. Watch them closely as oven temperatures can vary.
Chicken Tinga for Tacos & Tamales, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
2-4 chicken breasts
1-2 T olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T roasted garlic
Covered braiser or Dutch oven
Heat the braiser and add the olive oil. Season the chicken breasts with Traeger Rub and a pinch of salt. Brown the chicken on both sides. Add the roasted garlic, dried oregano, and enough chicken broth to come up 2/3 of the chicken. Cover and cook on your Traeger at 350 for 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Remove from the grill and allow to cool a bit before shredding. Reserve some of the braising liquid so the chicken doesn’t dry out.
1 pint grape tomatoes, blistered in a cast iron pan
1 can of chipotles in adobo
1T roasted garlic
1 sweet onion roasted for 45-60 minutes
1 tsp salt
Place ingredients in a blender and blend briefly. You will want some texture.
Mix the Tinga with the chicken and heat through for tacos or use as a filling for tamales. Follow package instructions for preparing tamale dough.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa:
Pinch of salt
Fire roast tomatillos, with the outer paper like skin removed. You can use a cast iron pan, or go directly on the grates. Roast until skin is blackened and flesh is starting to soften.
Place in a blender with a splash of fresh lime juice, a bit of cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Blend until just combined and cilantro is chopped.
Traeger Wood Fired Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
This is an updated version of one of my favorite recipes that I created while I lived in East Tennessee a few years back. You can use fresh roasted pumpkin or canned. If you can’t find Speculoos cookies for the crust, use graham crackers and add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the crust mixture.
I smoke these on my Traeger Pro 34, but you could certainly make them in the oven. You just won’t have the awesome wood fired flavor that comes from baking on a Traeger.
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Speculoos Crust
Yield 18 mini cheesecakes, bakes at 275F for 25-30 minutes
1 package of Speculoos cookies
4 T butter, melted
16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature. (2 8oz packages)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups pumpkin
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Preheat the Traeger grill to 275F according to manufacturer instructions.
For the crust, break the Speculoos cookies in half and place in a food processor. Pulse until small crumbles and then add the melted butter. Pulse a few times until combined.
Portion the crust into lined cupcake tins, using a heaping tablespoon for each. Press into the bottom using your fingers or a small glass. Reserve any leftover for garnish if desired.
For the pumpkin cheesecake filling.
Pulse the cream cheese a few times until smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Transfer to a measuring glass with a spout to make it easier to pour. Fill the cupcakes tins almost to the top. The batter will not rise.
Bake on the Traeger at 275F for 25-30 minutes. The cheesecakes should be set around the outside. The center will continue too cook as it cools.
Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes at room temperature before transferring to the fridge. Chill for at least 2-3 hours or over night.
Top with whipped cream, Speculoos cookie crumbles, and candied pecans if desired, just before serving. Mini cheesecakes should remain refrigerated until ready to serve.
I love a spicy fried chicken sandwich. These were inspired by a photo I saw on Instagram. I never thought to sous vide chicken in pickle juice, but had always brined chicken in it. The result of the sous vide is a flavorful tender chicken that fries up in a flash! The addition of my favorite Gochujang Sriracha from Bushwick Kitchen gives it a unique spice that leaves you wanting more.
Spicy Gochujang Sriracha Fried Chicken Sandwich
Set your Anova Sous Vide to 155F. Cooking time 1 hour for chicken breasts, 2 hours for chicken thighs.
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or 2 boneless skinless breasts
1 jar dill pickle rounds and juice from the jar
1-1/2 cups self rising flour
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 T kosher salt
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
2 T Gochujang Sriracha plus more for serving
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
1 T butter, optional
3 T Ranch dressing
1 T Gochujang Sriracha
Dill pickle rounds
Place the chicken thighs in a plastic bag with the pickle juice and sous vide for 2 hours at 155F. If using breasts, pound them so they are even thickness, place in plastic bag with pickle juice and sous vide for 1 hour at 155F.
Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and place on a rack while you prepare to fry. You may want to slice the breasts into smaller pieces if using smaller Hawaiian rolls.
Heat an iron skillet with about half an inch or enough canola or vegetable oil for a shallow fry. The oil should be 375-400 degrees.
In a bowl, mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and kosher salt. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk and Gochujang Sriracha, using additional Gochujang Sriracha as desired.
Dredge the chicken, first in the seasoned flour, then into the spicy buttermilk mixture and back into the seasoned flour. set on the rack until ready to fry. Repeat with remaining pieces.
Fry the chicken until golden brown on both sides, turning once. This should only take a few minutes.
Place the fried chicken on a paper bag lined plate or tray to drain.
In a small bowl, mix together the Ranch dressing and Gochujang Sriracha. Adjust heat level to your personal taste.
Slice the Hawaiian rolls in half and toast with the butter, cut side down in an iron skillet, until golden.
Spread the Gochujang Sriracha Ranch on the Hawaiian rolls, top with dill pickle rounds and then a piece of the spicy fried chicken.
It may still be hot in Texas, but I’m feeling all the fall vibes with these tartlets! Use a pâte brisée dough for the crust or a graham crust. Buy my favorite Spicy Maple here: Bushwick Kitchen
Pumpkin Mascarpone Tartlets
Halve, seed and brush the pumpkin with olive oil. Reserve the seeds for roasting.
Roast Pumpkin on the grill at 350F for about an hour, until the skin changes color and the flesh is soft.
Let cool, then scoop out the pumpkin from the skin. Chill until ready to use.
Pumpkin Mascarpone Filling
2/3 cup roasted pumpkin
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp organic pumpkin pie spices
In a food processor, mix the pumpkin, mascarpone, sour cream and sugar until well combined and mixture is smooth. Then add the rest of the ingredients, egg, salt, vanilla and spices. Continue to process until combined.
Blind bake your tart shells at 350F and allow to cool. Fill the tart shells with pumpkin mascarpone filling and bake at 275F for 22-24 minutes. Cool for 20-30 minutes, then place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.
Top with Spicy Maple Meringue and toast the meringue with a kitchen torch.
Spicy Maple Swiss Meringue
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T Spicy Maple Syrup
Whisk the first four ingredients over a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites have gained some volume. Put on a mixer and whisk until stiff peaks are formed and mixture is glossy. Add the Spicy Maple and vanilla and whisk until combined. Meringue can be piped and torched or baked at a low temperature for meringue cookies.
🍄Cedar Plank Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms🍄
10 cremini mushrooms
2 T shallots, diced small
3 T pesto
2 T pine nuts, toasted
2 T panko breadcrumbs
1 Campari tomato, diced small
1 T Italian parsley, chopped
Herb salt, to taste
Wash and dry the mushrooms and remove and reserve the stems. Finely chop the mushroom stems. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the mushroom stems and shallots for 2-3 minutes until they start to turn golden brown. Add the pesto, panko, pine nuts, tomato, and salt, and sauté for another minute or two. Add in the parsley off the heat.
Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping teaspoon of the filling. Place on a pre-soaked cedar plank and top with Parmesan.
Grill the mushrooms on the cedar plank for about 20 minutes at 375F.
Cowboy Candy Jalapeños
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar, filtered (not cloudy)
2 cups organic cane sugar
3 cloves garlic chopped
Wearing nitrile gloves, slice the stems off of the jalapeños. Core out the seeds with a small spoon. Slice each pepper into 1/8 to 1/4-inch slices.
Stir the remaining ingredients (vinegar, sugar, garlic) together in a large sauce pot. Heat over medium high heat stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until it comes to a frothy boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in the jalapeños, and simmer for 8 more minutes, stirring occasionally. They will start to change to a darker color.
Remove the peppers from the syrup using a slotted spoon. Spoon into two half pint glass jars.
Bring the syrup to a boil and boil 5 more minutes. Carefully pour the syrup into the jars of peppers. Allow to cool at room temperature for at least an hour, and then refrigerate.
One of the many things I learned recently at the grilling class I took at Premier Grilling in Frisco, TX was how to make an all purpose salt that has herbs, garlic and green onions. You can check our their classes here: Premier Grilling Classes. It has me wondering why I haven't been doing this for the past 15 years?! It's that good. It's a simple process, dries out low and slow in the oven for two hours, and makes an excellent gift. Who doesn't love something delicious and homemade around the holidays?
The salt used is kosher salt. It's a great texture, and one of my favorite for seasoning everything from proteins to pasta water. It's also an affordable salt which is great when you're making a big batch of it for all your friends and neighbors. Fleur de Sel is my favorite salt for baking and it's a bit pricier.
As for the herbs, you can add anything you like, omit things you don't enjoy or don't have on hand. The ratio is 411, four cups of Kosher salt to 1 cup of garlic and 1 cup of herbs. I made a half recipe and it made enough to fill a half sheet pan and my food processor. If you don't have professional sized oven and kitchen equipment, you'll want to make the half recipe that I have listed below or do it in two batches and use two half sheet pans.
Garlic Herb Salt:
2 cups Kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh herbs
I used parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, green onions
Preheat your oven to 180F. Rough chop your herbs and remove and woody stems. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until the garlic and herbs a chopped and everything is well combined. Do not over process. Place the salt herb mixture onto a sheet pan and place in the oven for 2 hours to dry out. You can stir it around a few times during the process. You do not want it to brown. The idea is to dehydrate the herbs and garlic, not roast it. After two hours, remove the pan or pans from the oven and allow the salt mixture to cool. Place the cooled salt mixture back into a food processor and process again to break up any larger pieces. The final texture is your preference or you can get it back to Kosher salt size. Pour into glass jars for storage and gifting!
These cookies are a huge hit in my house. I seem to make them more often than any others, and I use a variety of whatever chocolate chips I have on hand. If you use good salt like fleur de sel, you too will be come addicted to this recipe. I also freeze the dough in portioned rounds and write the baking instructions on the bag. If frozen they take the higher end of the time range to bake, but they sure are good warm! Use high quality chocolate for delicious results.
Home cook, Mom, wife, and crafty creative, Mandy is from California and has traveled the world and lived in lots of places. She has fallen in love with Dallas, TX and calls it home.