Feasting is Always Better with Good Company

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything since...well, forever. DO NOT FEAR! I assure you that I am still alive 'n' well. In fact, I've been feasting on life more than ever before!

They say feasting is always better with good company. I never had a problem with eating alone, but I've found the best "company" on earth to enjoy life and the really Life for the rest of my life and now I can wholeheartedly agree.

I'll be blogging again soon with adventures straight from the Dickinson kitchen. Trust me, my friends, my other half brings out the culinary best in me: from hand stuffed South African sausage to homemade mozzarella and even home roasted coffee?!?! Yummm...isn't love grand? And fattening??

ATK Chicken Marsala

Crisp, tender chicken with a sweet, rich sauce. 
1/2 C all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt & pepper to taste
3 Tbsp oil
3 oz pancetta (I used 3 slices of bacon, chopped)
8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced (they shrink so next time, I'll use 12 oz or more)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 3/4 C sweet Marsala
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Spread the flour in a shallow dish.

Pound the thicker ends of the breasts as needed to make chicken even. Pat dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of the chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm in the oven.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and mushrooms. Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the Marsala, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice, and any accumulated chicken juice from pan in oven along with chicken. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, one piece stirring until mixed. Add chicken to pan. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cast Iron Cooked Brussels Sprouts

You want to know the best way to hate these mini cabbages? Boil them to death to draw out that zingy bitterness from the mushy mess. Yuck-o. Want to know the best way to fall in love with these little gems? Roast them in an oven OR cook them on high on the stove with a cast iron skillet. They'll retain a lovely crunch with an almost sweet, nutty flavor (sometimes with a slight mustard bitter kick at the end for a good time all around). 

I buy mine on the stalk at Trader Joe's not only because the sprouts stay fresher longer, but because it's plain fun. (It is like a mighty sword of brussels sprouts!) Look for tight little heads, compact, firm and livingly green. 

To prepare them for a cast iron cooking, remove the heads from the stalk by cutting at the base and cut in half. Heat up your cast iron on medium to medium high heat. When it's hot and ready, add 1 tsp of olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Add each brussels sprout half, cut side on the pan, being careful about the water hitting the oil (ouch!). 

Let it cook for about 1 minute. With the lid ready, pour in about 1/4 C of water or chicken broth and cover immediately. What you want to do is steam the sprouts a little bit, cooking away the liquid without fully cooking the sprouts. This will take some practice, but while you're learning remember to check on your sprouts by taste testing one or two as it's cooking. If it's cooking faster than the liquid is evaporating, then take the lid off. When the liquid is fully evaporated, the sprouts should still be uncooked but the outer leave should be a brighter green and a little softer. 

Remove the lid and keep cooking until the cut side of the sprouts turn a nice roasted color. Stir to cook the other sides and then season with salt and pepper. If you'd like garlic, add it before you pour in the liquid. A few minced cloves will do the trick.

Walnut, Ricotta & Lemon Pasta

Light, clean, simple and fresh. Tastes like a summer evening dinner in the backyard with a string of lights above you while having casual conversations with good friends. Phoebe thinks it tastes gourmet. I think it's deceivingly easy and fun to throw together.

It's been so long since I've last cooked a meal I've forgotten how alive it makes me feel; the vibrant lemon, the pungent and crispy garlic, the cool and smooth ricotta on my fingers, and then the combination of all the elements in my mouth...sensory overload!

Side note: Have you noticed a change in the photos? Ah, Instagram has changed my life. I'm not sure if it's for the better. For the record, none of the photos (before my FIRST dessert bar entry) have any filters nor are they photoshopped in any way. What do you think? I don't know...do you like it? I'm not sure either...

I haven't decided if I like photos in their "natural" state (er, well, as natural as it can get from a digital camera) or tinkered like the above. Only time will tell. In the meantime, enjoy the food. 
1/4 C olive oil
4 large garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound pasta
1 C spinach, cut into thin long strips OR fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves from 1 small bunch, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1/4 C walnuts, toasted well and roughly chopped
1/2 C fresh ricotta cheese
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pan over low heat until simmering. Very thinly slice garlic (a mandoline would help if you have one...otherwise reading that will probably only get you coveting). Add to oil and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is pale golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Don't turn the heat too high or overcook, or you'll get some pretty nasty bitter garlic chips. Turn off the heat and spoon the garlic chips into a small bowl, letting the excess oil drain back into the pan (reserve oil). 

When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss with enough garlic oil to coat lightly. Toss with the lemon, spinach/parsley, and walnuts. Dot with cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine, being careful not to fully incorporate the cheese. Garnish with more parsley leaves and serve with garlic chips.

Serves at least 2

A Doing Christian is a Living One

We think "doers" are those who try their best to follow the word they hear and understand. But this is not the "doing" in the Bible. It is true we should resolve to practice what we hear, but the "doing" in the Bible is not a "doing" with one's own strength. Rather, it is to allow the Holy Spirit to live out from one's life the word he knows. This is a kind of living, not a kind of work. 

Messenger of the Cross by Watchman Nee

ATK's Caribbean Grilled Kebabs

This marinade is so easy and so flavorful. This may be my go-to recipe for grilling. If you're using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water and use 2 sticks to thread the meat.
2 pounds of chicken, trimmed and cut into 1 1/4" chunks
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C minced parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces
2 onions, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
Other vegetable ideas: mushrooms, zucchini, etc.
For the meat and marinade: combine all of the ingredients in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping the bag after 30 minutes.

Turn all the burners to high, close the lid, and heat the grill until very hot, about 15 minutes. Clean and oil the grill. Leave all the burners on high.

For the vegetables: meanwhile, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Using 8 12" skewers, thread each skewer with 3 layers of onions, 1 pepper and 1 cube of meat. Repeat the sequence two more times.

Grill the kebabs, covered, until well browned on all sides, 8-12 minutes.

Transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4-6

Quickest Pecan Tart

From the best dessert recipe book ever in 2120 Grace Garden...or anywhere. Shua used to make this for our house prayer times. Oh, that sweet, sweet girl. Don't expect a pecan pie but chewy, mellow caramelized sweetness with lots of pecans and a crumbly crust.

I couldn't wait after it came out of the oven and ate it out of the pie tin a bit early, but the filling oozed out. Not that that's a problem or anything.

Rather than a tart pan with a removable bottom, I used a regular pie tin. Also, other sites recommend pressing and smoothing down the crumbs into the pan using the backside of a metal measuring cup. A lot easier than using my stubby fingers that only make lumpy crusts.
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 C graham cracker crumbs (11 sheets)
½ C firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
¼ C light corn syrup
2 Tbsp half and half or heavy cream
2 C pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 5 Tbsp of the butter in a saucepan, stir in the graham cracker crumbs. Press the graham crackers mixture evenly across the bottom of a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom, and all the way up the sides of the tart pan, packing it tightly with your fingertips so it is even and compacted. Place the pan in the freezer until ready to use.

Combine the remaining 3 Tbsp butter, the brown sugar, and corn syrup in the medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 1 minute, stir in the cream and pecans, and boil for another 3 minutes.

Pour the hot filling into the tart pan and use a spoon to distribute the nuts evenly across the pan. Bake until the filling is bubbling and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on the rack before removing the sides of the pan and serving. 

Lemon Pepper Papardelle

Trader Joe's has got these awesome noodles--lightly citrusy with flecks of pepper. There's enough flavor in them to keep your sauces simple and light. For example...
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
TJ's Lemon Pepper Papardelle (prepared according to the packaging)
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
TJ's kale (pre-washed and chopped)
Shredded parmesan
Heat up the oil in a pan and add the garlic. When garlic is softened, add the vegetables. Toss the cooked noodles in the pan and drizzle with a little more oil and sprinkle with a handful of cheese. Give it another toss and serve immediately. Salt and pepper it to taste.

Sushi Candy Kit

Sushi Candy Making Kit by Popin Cookin is AMAZING. The box has a bunch of cute illustrated instructions in Japanese, but it's also pretty easy to Google it if you're not that good at Pictionary. With a dozen little packets of dry powder and a plastic tray with different textured wells, you drop water, stir, mix, "micropipette" liquid to watch it become solid once it hits water, and roll out little sushi! And the best part? It's all edible. The roe pop in your mouth. The rice is gummy, the raw fish is fruity jello. No wait...the best part? The sushi are adorable!!!!!! So adorable, I couldn't eat them. They stayed on my desk for unrestrained admiration until they melted into adorable puddles of color. Awwwwwwww...


Danbing (danping) = Taiwanese Egg Pancakes

When my grandma would make this for us kids, I never knew it was a legit Taiwanese dish. Like, they sell it in the night markets! Wha?! And all this time, I thought my relatives were just being creative with their fusion cuisine. Nope. This is the food of my people. (And I'm not talking about Green Max instant mixes, Jonathan McNutt.)

With the optional ingredients, it becomes like an eggy wrap sandwich. I'm not used to all that stuff in it, but Phoebe tells me it's popular to order these with ham, corn, etc.
Flour tortilla (my choice is Trader Joe's)
1 egg
1 stalk of green onion, chopped
Soy sauce
Sliced tomatoes
Cheese of your choice
Heat up your pan and lightly oil it. While it's warming up, whisk together the egg and as much green onions you want. I'm pretty generous with it. Whisk whisk whisk then pour into the pan. Tilt the pan to even out the egg and quickly put a tortilla over it. Lightly press down to make sure the egg coats the bottom of the tortilla. Allow it to cook all the way through, then flip and cook until this side of the tortilla gets warmed up. I like it when the tortilla gets crisp with bubbly golden pockets. You can then fold this up with a dash of salt and serve with soy sauce OR you can fill it with all your goodies and then fold.

Makes 1

Honey Candied Pecans

An elegant yet quick and simple addition to salads or desserts. I think they'd also be great at a fall afternoon picnic by a lake served with Pescadero goat cheese, crusty french bread and crisp red grapes. Or perhaps spiced and served with hot rooibos tea by a fireside. Or...possibly the best straight out of my pocket.
Unsalted pecans
First heat a pan (cast-iron is my choice) on medium-low heat. Toast the nuts until lightly browned, the pecans will seem to sizzle a little. Drizzle lightly with the honey and toss in the pan then sprinkle a pinch of sugar over it. You can always add cinnamon or a spice of your choice and salt (optional). Heat until the sugar caramelizes but don't let the nuts burn!

Once the honey begins to sizzle a little too, distribute the nuts onto waxed paper and allow to cool. Break apart into pieces with your hand and you're ready to go.

Fresh Young Coconut

Even if craving fresh young coconut makes me sound like a cougar, I can't resist the tender, creamy flesh...the cool, sweet juice...mmmm...ooooh baby.

To "pick up" one, check the base of the coconut. It should be clear of dark spots and green mold. It should also feel pretty heavy. A good price is under $1.

I use a Chinese cleaver to crack these babies open although I know Whole Foods offer a free coconut cracking service. I don't know the most efficient way, but for me the trick is to imagine a circle you'd like to cut and aiming the bottom corner of the blade, use decisive, steady blows. Don't whack carelessly. Focus and conserve your energy. You know you're not concentrating your energy if it takes more than 20 blows. Oh! And don't forget to peel any plastic or stickers off of it before you start otherwise, you'll the knife might drag that trash into your coconut when you start working into it.

Grab a spoon and a straw, mama. He's ready.

ATK The Best Meatballs

I actually agree with America's Test Kitchen's title for this recipe; these are seriously the best meatballs I have ever eaten. There was so much flavor from the bread and the parmesan and then the texture! What a delightful crunch and moist, tender centers. Wow.

The book says this texture comes from the bread paste, which is called "panada" in Italian cooking. "It helps bind together the meat and flavorings. We found that fresh bread did a better job...The buttermilk also has a subtle, tangy flavor, making these meatballs the absolute best we've ever tasted."
2 slices white sandwich bread (I used sliced sourdough)
1/3 C buttermilk
3/4 pound ground beef (I skipped the pork and did 1 pound of beef)
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 large egg yolk
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
Remove and discard the crusts from the bread, then tear the bread into small pieces. Mash the bread pieces and buttermilk to a smooth paste in a large bowl, using a fork. (I eventually got in there with my fingers because the sourdough was pretty resilient.)

Add the meat, Parmesan, parsley, yolk, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform. Gently form the mixture into 1 1/2" round meatballs. You'll get about 12.

Oil a skillet (I used a cast iron). Heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and discard the oil left in the pan.

Place the skillet with any browned bits over medium heat and add the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the heat to low and add the meatballs. Continue to simmer, turning the meatballs occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

While the meatballs are simmering, it's a good time to boil your spaghetti.

Makes 12 meatballs, serves 4, from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Spring Home's Roti Paratha

I have no idea why this kind of product is sold in H-Mart (I guess parathas are technically "asian" too), but I'm thankful it is! I have not had paratha that cooks up this nicely before. You don't have to oil the pan. All you do is heat a nice cast iron skillet and throw one of these frozen babies in there and you get these perfect, intricately flakey, chewy parathas. Mmm...What's that? I have drool on my chin? That's right. I do. Thank you, H-Mart and Spring Home.

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

My first ice cream cake and definitely not my last. As Marisa would sing: Ice cream and CAKE and CAKE! ICE CREAM AND CAKE!!
Chocolate cake from the black bottom cupcakes recipe: follow the recipe except pour batter into a spring-form pan, bake for 30-35 minutes
1 quart of mint chocolate chip ice cream (I used Dreyer's Thin Mint)
1 quart of vanilla ice cream, as white as you can get (I used Breyer's)
Allow the cake to cool completely, remove from the spring form pan and cut in half. Place the spring form pan on your serving platter and layer cake on the bottom.

To get the ice cream to the right consistency, do not microwave it as some recipes suggest. The best way is to scoop the ice cream into a bowl and mash it with a wooden spoon until it's spreadable. Spread one layer of ice cream (I did one layer of vanilla first). Place in the freezer and allow the ice cream to harden a bit (maybe 15 minutes) before spreading another layer.

Do another layer of ice cream and then press the second layer of cake before returning to freezer.

While the cake is in the freezer, use vanilla ice cream beaten with a wooden spoon as the "frosting". When it's ready and the cake is cold enough to come out, remove the springform pan from the cake and "frost" the cake with vanilla. You may have to periodically put the whole cake in the freezer while you work with smaller batches of the "frosting".

When the cake is done, return to freezer again before serving.

Warm Tomato Basil Bruschetta

I loved the way Shua made this bruschetta for our little dinner together in her cute Boston apartment. Simple, fresh and toasty. Feel free to alter the ingredients to your taste. I usually keep adding garlic and onion until my stomach begins to protest.

To make: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the bread and spread out on a cookie sheet. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil. Drizzle the olive oil and toss again. Top the bread with tomato mixture, salt and pepper it to taste and bake until the edges brown.

This is my kind of comfort food.
French Baguette, sliced 1/4" thick
6 roma tomatoes, with seeds removed and diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium red onion, finely choped
A good sized bunch of fresh basil chiffonade (maybe 1/4-1/2 C)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

ATK Classic Granola

This is probably the best granola I've ever made. You can get as creative as you'd like with the dried ingredients as long as you have 5 1/2 C of it. The same goes for the liquid ingredients. The oil needs to stay the same, but the ratio of honey and maple syrup can be tinkered with or substituted with another liquid sweetener.
3 C rolled oats
1 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 C almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 C sesame seeds

1/3 C vegetable oil
1/4 C maple syrup
1/4 C honey

1 C dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dates, apricots, chopped prunes) 
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together. 

Heat the oil and sugars in a small saucepan until warm, then pour over the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Spread the granola evenly over a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until the granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes. 

Stir in the dried fruit. Let the granola cool to room temperature. Loosen the dried granola with a spatula and store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Spiced Lentil Stew

"This stuff is so authentically delicious," says the Chinese girl. Seriously, this dish was so tasty without being complicated. I may not know Indian food apart from restaurants and friends' cooking, but I know I liked this recipe.
1 1/2 C (10.5 oz) lentils--I used green although the recipe called for yellow
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 fresh hot green chiles (Serrano), minced (I omitted)
1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp firmly packed golden brown sugar
2 Tbsp canola or peanut oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 dried red chile (I omitted)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 C minced fresh cilantro (optional)
Pick over the lentils, discarding any stones or misshapen or discolored lentils. Rinse and place in a deep pot. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, green chiles, and 5 C of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a low boil, uncovered, stirring often, until the lentils are very soft, about 50 minutes.

When the lentils are soft, beat them with a wooden spoon to make a chunky puree. Add the tomato, brown sugar, and 1 tsp sugar and mix until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to very low to keep warm while you make the spice mixture.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cover the pan. When the sputtering stops, after about 30 seconds, uncover and add the dried chile. Continue frying until the chile turns almost black, about 30 seconds longer; using tongs, remove and discard the chile. Add the garlic to the pan, stir briefly, and immediately pour the contents of the pan over the lentils. Mix, ladle into small bowls, and serve at once garnished with the cilantro, if desired. 

Serves 6

Chocolate Cups & Whipped Cream

A quickie pot de creme! The texture is in the fatty milk and all the flavor is in the chocolate so choose wisely. I haven't tried rum or hazelnut liqueur but in the past, Kahlua and Amaretto have been way too sweet.
2/3 C whole milk (used 2% and it was ok, but the velvety factor wasn't quite there)
1 egg
pinch salt
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp hazelnut liqueur or dark rum
4 demitasse cups or 2 wide rimmed mugs

2 C whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
Mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

Heat milk in a small pan over moderate heat until it comes to a boil.

In blender or food processor combine egg, sugar, a pinch of salt, semisweet chips, and liqueur. Run processor or turn on blender to low setting. Pour in boiling milk in a slow stream. The hot milk will cook egg and melt chocolate. Process or blend 1 minute, until smooth.

Spoon chocolate into 4 demitasse cups and chill. After dinner, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add a little sugar and beat to combine. Top the chocolate cups with a dollop of cream and garnish each cup with mint sprigs.

Makes 4 individual sized cups

Wholewheat Buttermilk Waffles

During my apartment's great clean out, we found an old Belgian waffle iron tucked away in a cabinet. FREE KITCHEN APPLIANCE!? What a dream come true. I wasn't sure if it could even turn on, but this simple old thing worked perfectly. Which proves to me that a no frill iron from the 90's can still make great waffles.

This waffle recipe makes waffles that are great heated in the toaster later or freeze and reheat in the toaster for a quick snack.
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all purpose flour
2 T fine ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt (or less)

2 large eggs
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Heat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, then buttermilk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well and whisk very gently until the buttermilk is incorporated (a few lumps should remain). What you're looking for is a thick, lumpy batter.

Following the manufacturer's instructions, spread the appropriate amount of batter onto the iron and cook until golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes. My belgian waffle iron took about 1/3 C of batter and cooked for about 3-4 minutes.

Makes 4 belgian waffles

The Law

"Sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14) The trouble is that we do not yet know deliverance from law. What, then, is the meaning of Law?

Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which He places upon me: that is law.

"The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good" (Rom. 7:12). No, there is nothing wrong with the Law, but there is something decidedly wrong with me. The demands of the Law are righteous, but the person upon whom the demands are made is unrighteous.

We are all sinners by nature. If God asks nothing of us, all seems to go well, but as soon as He demands something of us, the occasion is provided for a grand display of our sinfulness.

He knows that I am weakness incarnate; that I can do nothing. The trouble is that I do not know it. God has to do something to convince us of the fact. Romans 7:7 "I had not known sin, except through the law..."

The law was given in the full knowledge that we would break it; and when we have broken it so completely as to be convinced of our utter need, then the Law has served its purpose. It has been our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that in us He may Himself fulfill it (Gal. 3:24).

Praise God, He is the Lawgiver on the Throne, and He is the Lawkeeper in my heart. He who gave the Law, Himself keeps it. He makes the demands, but He also meets them.

Bits and pieces from The Normal Christian Life, chapter 9 by Watchman Nee

Muddy Buddies Chex Mix

Chex Mixes are some of my all-time favorite snack--I even tried once (unsuccessfully) to make a batch of the savory mix as a kid. Here we are taking a stab at the sweet version. So addicting. And you know what, I don't care if it looks like puppy chow.

I used less powdered sugar than the recipe, but to get that powdery look, you can add another 1/2 C. So simple to make yet looks nice bagged up as a little gift.
9 cups Rice Chex, Corn Chex or Chocolate Chex cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar
Pour cereal into a large bowl. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.

Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.

Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Cookie Swap's Blondies

The very center still turned out a bit raw but I think that was also my oven's fault. Not quite chewy except for the edges. Proper cooling times will make sure it's not squishy.
2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13" baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1" overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove it from the heat and stir in the brown sugar until it is dissolved. Transfer the butter mixture to a large bowl and stir in the eggs and vanilla until just incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake the blondies until they are just set in te center, 25 to 30 minutes. Let them cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Grasping the overhanging foil on either side of the pan, lifet out the blondies and place them on a cutting board. Cut them into 36 pieces andpeel them from the foil. 

They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

36 bars, from Cookie Swap!