Snacking

Panera Cookie Remake

Dining out is difficult when you have food allergies. Especially at Panera. Panera is a big no-no in our nut-free house. Which is hard because I LOVE it. Panera’s fast, healthy options are so tasty, they are perfect for busy Moms on the go.

However, for my daughter, this place is very risky. The chance for cross-contact in their kitchen is high. They use all sorts of nuts in their salads and the make-line area is very open, offering little to no menu options to be deemed as “safe” here.  Their bakery items have a warning, “Many of our products contain or may come into contact with common allergens, including wheat, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish and shellfish.” And even more details here.

However, when we are in a pinch, and this is the ONLY option, I have allowed two things from Panera.

  1. Kids macaroni and cheese
  2. Tomato Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup

I’ve always done this in PERSON and have watched the prep area make the food. If I ever feel like this is not a good idea, Chloe eats an Enjoy Life (Always in my purse, always) granola bar until we can find something else. Not every restaurant is great at handling food allergies. So why risk it.

Last week I had a chance to eat lunch with a good friend at Panera and ordered something new for the first time in a long time. Usually when I Panera, it’s a UPICK2, greek salad and panini or black bean soup.

This time, I tried a pasta dish called Baja Mac N Cheese. Basically it’s the kids mac n cheese with pico de gallo over the top with avocado. For 530 calories I was full for 5 hours, and I only had the kid size portion. This dish was so good I wanted to remake it. But I did not. YET.

Instead, I was super naughty and ate a giant cookie that I usually never order since I don’t want to make my daughter feel bad. But since she wasn’t with me, I splurged on the cookie. Which was AMAZING.

Lets make sure the cookie gets the attention it deserves.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The Kitchen Sink Cookie is my new favorite cookie. I’m not even sure I like a plain old chocolate chip cookie as much as I LOVE this cookie.

Kitchen Sink Cookie

Kitchen Sink Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, browned
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is nut-free)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. sea sat, and more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup broken pretzels, and more for on top (Rold Gold)
  • 1 and ½ cups caramel bits, and more for top (I used Kraft brand)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, and more for on top (Enjoy Life Brand)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and prepare your baking sheets
  2. To brown the butter: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, whisking as it melts, foams, bubbles, and eventually little brown bits form and it turns amber. Immediately pour into your mixing bowl, be sure to use a spatula to scrape all the little brown bits into the bowl (they are full of wonderful flavor).
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together for a couple minutes, then add the vanilla.
  4. Next add the eggs and beat until the are well incorporated.
  5. Add the baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, and about a third of the flour. Mix slowly, add another third of flour, mix, and add the last of the flour until just combined. Do not over mix the dough.
  6. Fold in the pretzels, caramel bits, and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Large Cookies
  1. Scoop out very large balls of dough (¼ cup size) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between (plan on doing multiple batches.) Add more broken pretzel pieces, caramel bits, and chocolate chips to the tops of the dough balls to preference. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  2. Bake 13-15 minutes (this will vary, according to the size of your cookies), until golden around the edges. Do not over cook! Remove and allow to set up and cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Side note: I do not like huge cookies, so we use a small ball scooper, looks like an ice cream scooper.

Special thanks to Mel & Boys Kitchen Blog for this recipe. I am so grateful + happy to have this amazing recipe in my book now!

 

Holiday Favorites, Snacking

Chocolate Chip Ghost Muffins

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Tonight we baked pumpkin muffins for school tomorrow to celebrate Halloween! We also finally carved our pumpkins, and holy cow, carving an owl was harder than I thought! But we did it, all of us (as in all four of us carved one pumpkin because it was huge and we ran out of time!), and the pumpkins are on the front porch ready for tomorrows trick-or-treating!

The kids are excited for “The Great Pumpkin” to arrive, since we do not keep our candy, the Great Pumpkin leaves a small little something in exchange for the kids candy (that is always donated). This year I found glow in the dark Thomas the Train for my little guy and a small bead bracelet kit with stickers for my little lady. I just got done hiding them – can’t wait for them to search for their surprises tomorrow night!

We found nut-free mummies for these muffins at Michael’s craft store in early September. That’s some solid advice right there. If you’re going to be baking something special for a holiday – shop early. The best selection of nut-free items always goes first.

Mini Pumpkin Muffins – You’ll need a mini-muffin pan. Kohl’s has a great one, it’s the Food Network brand and the non-stick is amazing!

Ingredients

  • 2 C flour (can subs. for whole wheat flour / GF flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life / Artisan Kettle)

Directions

  1. Line your baking pan + preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl + combine ( this is all of the dry ingredients)
  3. In your electric mixer bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except chocolate chips. This includes: pumpkin, sugar, sugar, eggs, and oil.
  4. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet and mix together.
  5. Gently fold in the 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
  6. Fill the lined muffin pan 2/3 full of batter
  7. Bake for approximately 14 minutes, depending on your oven.
  8. Top with cream cheese frosting mixed with 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes + add your decorations.
  9. Enjoy! The yield on this was quite high,  about 58 mini muffins.


     

    Happy Halloween!

    Holiday Favorites, Snacking, Uncategorized

    NYT Rhubarb Crisp

    My sweet sweet neighbor Maryellen gave me a TON of fresh rhubarb last week. We love rhubarb season. Today’s cookout was the perfect opportunity to debut this New York Times Rhubarb Crisp recipe.

    (I LOVE the New York Times recipes, they ALWAYS are fabulous. And I love reading the paper. A dead medium, I know. But it’s relaxing to me).

    Usually during this time of year we make rhubarb cake, but I wanted something a little lighter, faster and less cakey. Needless to say, this crisp was a crowd pleaser. My only regret is that I didn’t make a double batch to share with more friends! This dish is a 9 x 9 and if you dish out dessert like I do, it will only have 9 servings 🙂

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    What made this recipe even better was that I made it with my sweet daughter. She’s a smart cookie in the kitchen and very helpful. She prepped the 9 x 9 pan, and got all of the ingredients ready on the counter top while I chopped 6 cups of rhubarb.

    We had fun and dessert is that much sweeter when it’s made with love.

    Ingredients:

    • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pan
    • 2 ½ to 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, tough strings removed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 to 6 cups)
    • ¼ cup white sugar
    • 1 tablespoon orange juice
    • 1 teaspoon orange zest
    • ¾ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
    • Pinch salt
    • ½ cup rolled oats (Quaker Oats)

    Directions:

    1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking or gratin dish with a little butter. Toss rhubarb with white sugar, orange or lemon juice and zest, and spread in baking dish.
    2. Put the 6 tablespoons butter in a food processor along with brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, and pulse for about 20 or 30 seconds, until it looks like small peas and just begins to clump together. Add oats and pecans and pulse just a few times to combine.
    3. Crumble the topping over rhubarb and bake until golden and beginning to brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

    *a quick short cut if you do not want to get out your big food processor (ours is 12 cup and mammoth, then cleaning it, don’t even get me started) I used my nutribullet smoothie maker to blend up the dry ingredients. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just a few zaps. I added the oats and mixed in by hand, then dumped the entire container into my recipe.

    Serve with ice cream, whip topping, yogurt, mint, or as is.

    I hope you enjoy this fun, sweet, tart recipe as much as we did.