Peanut Butter Cookies

peanut buttery-ness

peanut buttery-ness

For a self-proclaimed sweet-tooth, I’m rather particular about my desserts. I hardly ever order dessert at a restaurant, I never prefer candy, and most of the time I pass up sweets in the office unless I brought them in. I can be found eating dessert in one of two ways: 1) my sisters swirling slightly too much whipped cream directly into my mouth only to snort it out ten seconds later because one of them made me laugh, or 2) standing next to the oven shoveling too-hot, barely baked cookies into my mouth and subsequently burning all nerves into oblivion.

These cookies were born out of a momentary panic on Sunday when with an exclamation of “AHH I have nothing to take to my friends apartment when we go watch the Giants game in 30 minutes!” followed closely by a “UGH I don’t have any chocolate chips to make their favorite blondies!” After staring into my cupboard for .4 seconds, I grabbed the jar of peanut butter hoping I’d be inspired through osmosis. Then, Hark! I remembered that my sister, who has a [strange] aversion to chocolate, made these recently and they were devoured seconds upon removal from the oven.

The peanut butter cookies here bake up rather quickly. In fact, I like to take them out a minute or two prior to the suggested baking time so they retain their chewiness. I have great visions of stacking these little guys up in cellophane bags and tying them off with über-atumnul ribbon to dole out to unsuspecting friends on a rainy fall day.

Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted slightly from Joy of Cooking, via Disgustingly Good)

1/3 cup (5 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2-3 tablespoons sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line 2-3 baking sheets and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add egg, vanilla, and peanut butter and mix thoroughly until combined. Stir in baking soda and flour until a dough forms.

Scoop the cookie dough out in 1-inch rounds and place them on a baking sheet approximately 2-inches apart. Press dough with a fork twice — once each way — to achieve that “classic” peanut butter cookie aesthetic. If desired, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each cookie.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Do your best not to singe your taste buds.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

chia goodness

chia goodness

Like most 90s kids, I most closely associate chia seeds with this. Spread some chia seeds on this terra cotta animal and violà! Your very own [creepy] grass pet. I happened to be partial to Beanie Babies, but hey, if you’re in to that thing, to each her own.

Chia seeds are the new black in New York right now. I’ve seen them in salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and yoghurt. They boast benefits such as enhanced hydration, lower blood pressure, reduced food cravings, and Omega-3 potency. If they spill on your counter, you might freak out and think they’re little bugs. Generally, though, they are a great enhancement to your everyday snack.

After about a month of living on the chia pudding from Liquiteria, it dawned on me that this was simple enough to create at home and has since become my favorite post-workout snack. It’s a super-easy, one-bowl recipe and could also be a great breakfast (with some granola for the Crunch Factor!) or healthier dessert. Added bonus: the flavor profile will impress the hell out of your friends.

Vanilla Chia Pudding (adapted from Giada)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 cup plain Greek yoghurt

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup berries (optional)

Whisk together almond milk, yoghurt, maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of the kosher salt in a medium bowl until just combined. Whisk in the chia seeds and let the mixture stand for approximately 30 minutes. If seeds have settled, stir to redistribute. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The following day, stir the pudding and taste. If you’d like it to be a bit sweeter, add a tablespoon of maple syrup at a time to reach desired sweetness. Spoon pudding into a bowl and top with your preferred accoutrements – sliced almonds and raspberries are my favorite. Serve and enjoy! Pudding will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Summer Street Corn

summer perfection

summer perfection

My family is big on superlatives. Everything is always “BEST SONG EVER” or “MOST INTERESTING FACT IN THE UNIVERSE” or  “GREATEST MARGARITA IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TEQUILA DRINKS” or “MOST WONDERFUL FRIENDS ON EARTH.”

You get the picture.

Sure, this kind of zeal is probably irritating to people who aren’t intimately involved with the Taylors, but I live for this enthusiasm. It has contributed to the highest highs and lifted me up from the lowest lows in my life. It’s the kind of passion that has the power to permeate a deflated spirit that comes with the most terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day.

The passion shows through in my family’s cooking. Not in a corny way like I cry into a soup and everyone in the restaurant cries too, but I really love watching people eat food I prepare for them especially if it’s a group who makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I spent the weekend cooking up a storm with my mom and we made an awesome menu comprised of this corn, fish tacos, papas fritas, and a banging kale salad. It was, if I do say so myself, the BEST MEAL EVER (or at least, of the summer thus far).

This street corn is a riff off of my sister’s favorite corn from a restaurant in Nantucket. Unfortunately, she missed it this time, but #humblebrag, I think it’s better than the restaurant version. It’s going to become a staple in repertoire and I see myself making it every time I have access to a grill this summer.

Summer Street Corn (adapted from Saveur)

6 large ears corn, with husks still attached

1 cup ricotta salata, grated

for the crema

2 cups mayonnaise

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons vinegar from jalepeños en escabeche

salt & pepper to taste Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Fill a large bowl or pot with water. With the husks still attached, place ears of corn in water and soak for 30 minutes. While you soak the corn, make the crema. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lime juice, ketchup, vinegar from the japeleños en escabeche until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove corn from water. Place corn on the grill for approximately 10 minutes. Remove ears of corn and peel back the husks one layer at a time, keeping the husks intact. Remove the silk and discard. Brush each ear of corn liberally with the crema. Transfer corn to grill to cook, turning occasionally. Grill corn for approximately 20 minutes until charred and cooked through. Sprinkle grated cheese directly on the warm corn and allow to melt. Best served alongside a massive margarita.

{Double Batch} Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries + Cream

leaning tower of goodness

leaning tower of goodness

For those keeping score, it is not warm yet in NYC.

Shoot.

As we wait ever so patiently (read: not patiently at all) for the longest winter ever to come to a close, the days of the week are getting curiouser and curiouser. They’ve been plagued with stomach bugs, workdays when you feel like you just can’t win, disappointing conversations, and harsh, reality-busting realizations. Luckily, the days have been conversely peppered with personal productivity, international travel plans, 30 Rock marathons, and insanely late weeknights traipsing around Manhattan because adulthood and #yolo.

After a weekend of both low lows and high highs, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the week than with a sweet and simple cake. The original recipe calls for the addition of cocoa powder to the batter, but I don’t prefer chocolate cake so I eliminated that element and added chocolate chips instead (Molly made the real version!). This cake is a really easy crowd pleaser (ask anyone in my office, they reaped the benefits of my Monday night baking), and is just as good completely plain as it is with strawberries and cream. It also makes for a great dessert, or even breakfast with coffee. AND it’s vegan if you sub the whipped cream for coconut cream.

Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries + Cream (adapted from Shutterbean)

for the cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon coarse salt

3/4 cup olive oil*

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 cups cold water

1 1/2-2 cups mini chocolate chips

for the filling

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups strawberries, sliced

*I enjoy the depth olive oil brings to a cake. For a more subtle flavor, sub in vegetable oil. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 cake pans and set aside. If you don’t have a cake pans (like me for some odd reason), a square, rimmed pan works as well, and you can slice out individual cake squares that way.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and sir until mixed thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add olive oil, vanilla extract, vinegar, and water. Using a whisk or a wooden spoon (guess who doesn’t have a whisk in their apartment?! This girl. #amateurhour), mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until a smooth batter is formed. Fold in chocolate chips until consistent throughout.

Pour the batter into the cake pans or square pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, whip heavy cream into soft peaks in a medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla until incorporated and slightly stiff.

If your cakes are round, slice the domed top off one of the cakes to make a flat surface and place on a serving tray. Top with whipped cream and place a layer of strawberries on top. Top these layers with the second cake round, add whipped cream and strawberries. Slice and serve.

If your cake was baked in a square pan, slice the cake like you would a lasagna. Split the square in half, add whipped cream and strawberries, top with other half. Add extra strawberries and whipped cream to the top. Proceed to inhale.

handful. it's a technical term.

handful. it’s a technical term.

{Double Batch} Garlic Flatbread with Spicy Spinach Pesto + Leeks

garlicky flatbread

springy, garlicky flatbread

Last week, I traveled to Antigua with my family and basked in the 85 degree sunshine, splashed in the sparkling blue Caribbean, and drank the water straight from freshly-fallen coconuts. It was beautiful and restorative and just what I needed after a crazy couple of months. As they would say in Australia, not soz.

Reentry, however, especially reentry to New York City, is always tough. The 35-degree winds and grey skies smacked me back into reality quite quickly. Look, I know Phil saw his shadow and all, but it has been six weeks since Groundhog Day and I’d like to know where the heck spring is hiding. In an effort to coax the spring out of said hiding place, Molly and I made this springy flatbread for you!

Garlic Flatbread with Spicy Spinach Pesto + Leeks (adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal)

for the flatbread

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

for the pesto

2 cups spinach

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)

1/2 cup pine nuts

juice from half a lemon

a few cranks of ground pepper

for the leeks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch of leeks, sliced

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda and mix with a fork. Add egg, olive oil, and garlic and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet and press the dough until flattened — don’t worry about an oblong shape, it will still taste delicious! Cook for 15-20 minutes.

While the flatbread is in the oven, make the pesto. Put spinach, red pepper flakes, salt, thyme, pine nuts, lemon juice, and pepper in a blender or a food processor and pulse a few times. Taste the pesto and add salt, pepper, or lemon to taste if you feel like something is missing.

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and pinch of salt, stirring occasionally until brown and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.

Take the flatbread out of the oven and layer the pesto on top, leaving a bit of an edge. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes. When done, top the flatbread with the caramelized leeks. Serve immediately.

super green pesto

super green pesto

Almond-Pistachio Granola

topped with berries and a splash of coconut almond milk

topped with berries and a splash of coconut almond milk

I’m lucky enough to live four blocks away from two of my closest friends. We try to see each other as much as possible, whether it’s to walk in Central Park, try a new restaurant, attend book club, celebrate a birthday, or binge watch House of Cards. We went to their apartment last weekend to watch the Oscars and knowing they were planning to host upwards of ten people, I asked what I could bring. They protested and told me not to be silly, so I threw together a big batch of this Almond-Pistachio Granola and brought it anyway. The Nutty Maple Cinnamon Granola I made last year remains my favorite, but I had all of these ingredients on hand the time to let it get all golden and good while I caught up on Dallas Buyer’s Club before the awards.

If you’re stuck inside for the umpteenth freezing day in a row this weekend and want to taunt your neighbors with the smell of roasting oats and nuts, throw this in the oven on low and be the envy of your entire neighborhood.

Almond-Pistachio Granola

4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped

3/4 cup pistachios, shelled & roughly chopped

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

splash of vanilla extract

2 tablespoon flax seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Lightly spray two edged, glass dishes with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, pistachios, pecans, coconut, olive oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until ingredients glisten from the oil. Add flax seeds, sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, and salt, toss until fully combined.

Divide granola between the two dishes and spread evenly. Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5-2 hours, tossing every 20-30 minutes until granola is deeply golden and you can smell it from a mile away. Let cool completely on cooling rack or top of stove before enjoying. Use for party favors, make for a host gift, eat for weekday breakfasts, or have handy for hangover snacks.

{Double Batch} Brussels Sprouts Salad

blubs of beaty

bulbs of beauty

Growing up, our after-school dinners were always well-balanced: protein, salad or vegetable, starch, and fruit for dessert (or black & white milkshakes for special occasions). While I don’t necessarily recall the details of each of those meals, I do remember that the solitary instance in which my mom made brussels sprouts was not that well-received. The four (at the time) little Taylor girls were not keen on eating bright green globes that grow on weird looking stalks. Also, the name just sounds weird.

Today, brussels sprouts are the new kale. They’re popping up on menus everywhere, and I’ve recently taken to ordering a side of them every time I go out to eat. I like when they’re slightly charred, filled with crispy parts (the leaves turn into crispy chips, kind of like kale), and drenched in balsamic vinegar. As much as I enjoy them, I always find myself wanting for a bit more or less of just one aspect of these little green bulbs — more crispy pieces, less balsamic, not cooked as long.

Enter this salad and behold the power of raw brussels sprouts. Prior to talking to Molly about this salad, I hadn’t given much thought to making a salad made entirely of brussels sprouts, but I’m a convert. I almost prefer this way of eating them — who knew! It’s simple and packs a deeply flavorful punch. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Brussels Sprouts Salad (adapted from Shutterbean)

12-15 brussels sprouts, shredded

1/2 cup Parmigano-Reggiano cheese, grated

1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted + roughly chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

salt & pepper to taste

Fill a large mixing bowl with water. Chop ends off of the brussels sprouts and put them in bowl, allow to soak for a few minutes. In a small pan, toast almonds until they’re slightly darker and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Allow almonds to cool for 1-2 minutes, then roughly chop.

Drain brussels sprouts and dry on a clean dish towel. Using a large knife (or food processor if you’re fancy like that), chop/shred brussels sprouts. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar,whole grain mustard, and salt & pepper. Mix with a whisk or fork until combined.

Toss brussels sprouts, grated cheese, and almonds in a bowl. Add dressing and stir thoroughly. Enjoy immediately!

my new go-to salad

my new go-to salad

Tuscan Fig Spread

baked brie bites with tuscan fig spread

baked brie bites with tuscan fig spread

It’s no secret that I love food — I was raised to relish in delicious dishes, family dinners, and milkshakes — but I was a pretty unadventurous eater until I went to Florence seven years ago. In my favorite restaurants, I was hesitant to deviate from my standard order for fear of being disappointed the one time I decided to be brave and order something different.  Sure, I was used to Hungarian dishes like kocsonya (jellied pigs feet, which we Magyar descendants affectionally call ‘choke on ya’), but that was because it was the norm.  No one had ever put pears and cheese in pasta or prosciutto on top of melon and offered it to me as a meal, and so I saw those combinations as downright strange. (But jellied pigs feet is ok?  What’s wrong with me?)

Then I spent eight weeks in Florence and everything changed. My Florentine host parents, Carla and Maurizio, had a garden from which they sourced all of the product we ate, and so the dishes they prepared every day opened me to a whole new world of foods. My favorite of these was a fig jam that was served with breakfast, even though I didn’t know a fig from a pickle. The first time I tried it on Italian toast crackers, Carla watched me carefully with baited breath, patiently waiting for my approval. I fell in love instantly, and crave it (and Florence) all the time. I kick myself every day for not asking Carla for the recipe, but I think this adaptation would make her proud.

This recipe is really the best when you have access to fresh figs (Sophia, I’m coming to Sonoma to harvest your trees), but dried figs will suffice. This spread is so easy to put together, it’s worth always having on hand.

Tuscan Fig Spread

Adapted from Carla’s Kitchen in Florence, Italy + The Kitchn

20-22 whole figs (dried or fresh), stems removed

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine figs, sugar, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until the liquid has thickened and changes color — it should be almost golden.

Stir in vanilla extract and mix well. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Pulse until you reach the desired consistency (I like it to be a bit heartier with chunks of fig). Serve on a cheese plate, with butter on sourdough toast , slather on a brick of pecorino, or stuff it into baked brie bites.

{Double Batch} Kahlua Cookie Sandwiches

sassed up ice cream sandwiches

sassed up ice cream sandwiches

After what seemed like an eternal winter, spring has FINALLY sprung on the east coast and everyone in New York, including me, is going insane.

It’s 80 degrees right now (which might make me inclined to jump right into summer). Layers are being shed. My peacoat moved from the back of my door to the depths of my closet. Bryant Park is packed during lunchtime. I wore sandals and a sundress to work today. Forty minutes in the sun left my chest and cheeks pink. Because of this, sitting at my desk makes me antsy. This cabin fever screams rooftop barbecues against the setting sun, late night skinny dipping, competitive whiffle ball games on the beach, watermelon-spitting contests into the dunes, boatloads of time with friends and loved ones, and ice cream-laden deserts.

it's springtime in the City

it’s springtime in the City

These cookie sandwiches aren’t the ice cream truck Chipwiches of your childhood. These sophisticated, booze-infused gems taste like mischievous scheming feels — deliciously wrong and incredibly thrilling.

Kahlua Cookie Sandwiches

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup kahlua (frangelico or amaretto would work, too)

1 pint high-quality vanilla ice cream (I love Jeni’s, you can usually find it at Whole Foods!)

Line 3 flat baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Using a handheld electric mixer, KitchenAid, or a whisk, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly incorporate flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Mix until just incorporated and add the kahlua. Fold in chocolate chips.

The dough will be a bit thinner than normal cookie dough, so refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a spoon, scoop out tablespoon-sized mounds of dough and place on the baking sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown.

Allow cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack. Flip half of the cookies over. Scoop about 2-tablespoons of vanilla ice cream on to the flipped halves, then top with a second cookie to make a sandwich. Eat immediately before your cat gets too curious.

curiouser and curiouser (but seriously??)

curiouser and curiouser (but seriously??)

{Double Batch} Cinnamon Rolls

swirly and cinnamony

swirly and cinnamony

Rejoice, for Lent is OVER!! I can now eat all the sweets I want! Chocolate and ice cream and the box of Samoas I stashed in the garage freezer 40 days ago, oh my!

And now I have a MASSIVE sugar hangover.

To be fair, I wasn’t quite as strict this year as I have been in previous years and slipped up occasionally. Sometimes a girl just needs a milkshake on a Friday afternoon when she was traipsing around New York City with out-of-town coworkers until 4:30am the previous night. Can you blame her?

Usually, I want to break Lent with chocolate — I made an Almond Joy cake for Easter last year and chocolate tiramisu the year before. This year, I made good on my word and ate an entire bag of Reece’s Peanut Butter Eggs before 9am on Easter morning and then proceeded to tackle these cinnamon rolls. Molls is right, these rolls dessert AND breakfast wrapped up in a sweet ball of dough — it’s the best of both worlds!

Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Joy the Baker)

These rolls take a certain amount of patience to see all the way through because they’re a bit time consuming, but they’re definitely worth it!

for the dough

1 – 1/4-oz package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (approximately 115 degrees F)

1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk, room temperature

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and rolling

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan

for the filling

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

for the icing

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir to incorporate and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the sugar to the bowl, along with the milk, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Mix with a whisk until ingredients are combined, then add flour and salt. Using your hands, knead the dough until all ingredients just come together to form a dough.

Add the butter and proceed to knead the dough — it will be come wet and sticky. Transfer dough to a well-floured work surface and knead about 1/3 cup flour into the dough. When dough is mostly smooth (a bit sticky is alright), transfer to a large, greased bowl. Place a damp towel over the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

While you wait ever so patiently for the dough to rise, make the filling! Combine sugar, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and maple syrup in a large bowl. Set aside.

Grease a 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

When dough has risen, plop dough onto a heavily floured work surface. Add flour one tablespoon at a time until dough is no longer sticky. Place a damp towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 10 x 10-inch square. Brush the top of the dough with melted butter and pour filling on top of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on the sides. Lightly press filling into the dough. Lift the edge of the dough closest to you and roll into a tight cylinder. Place roll seam side down and slice into 8 or 10 equal rounds. Place rounds in the greased baking dish, cut side up. Cover with a damp towel and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take rolls out of the fridge, uncover, and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown and sugar is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

While rolls are baking, whisk together powdered sugar and buttermilk until mixture is smooth.

Take cinnamon rolls out of the oven and transfer entire pan to a cooling rack. Brush with melted butter and drizzle with icing. Allow rolls to cool long enough so they won’d burn the insides of your mouth, then devour as quickly as possible.