Latest Posts

Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies & The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cancer, Pediatric Cancer, Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, Cookies for kids CancerIf doctors would prescribe baking to their patients, one might say “that the world would be a happier place.” I know, I know, don’t judge me for possessing a bit of childlike whimsy. But what if cookies had the capability of curing the worst of illnesses? And what if you could choose the type of cookie that cured your unwanted illness or disease? What if a chocolate chip cookie were capable of curing the chickenpox , a simple sugar cookie doused with sprinkles could cure pneumonia or just maybe a salted peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookie took away your cancer?

My cookie choice for this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap was inspired by this notion, the notion that cookies have the power to heal. And it was my desire to chock this cookie full with all of my favorite things from chocolate to peanut butter and a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning. So needless to say, these cookies are best enjoyed fresh from the oven. And don’t cut your self short, I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips, Good Spread Peanut Butter, Dixie Crystals brown sugar, local eggs, and Land O’ Lakes unsalted butter. Lets cut to the chase, if you’re trying to cure an illness or disease, you should probably use the best ingredients available.The Salted Table

If you’re not familiar with the Cookies for Kid’s Cancer, its a non-profit formed to fund research for pediatric cancer, the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S. It’s an organization that is near and dear to me since my father in law, and wife have both fought the disease and my mother in law was currently diagnosed with it. We never plan on life handing us these tragic occurrences but when they do, a cookie in hand couldn’t hurt anything.

When these cookies came out of the oven, I couldn’t help but to smile. For One, they smelled like an autumn day from my childhood — two, they were purty, and when cookies come out looking beautiful and idea, it always puts a smile on this ol’ heart and its my hope that they will do the same for you. Merry Christmas to you and yours, be sure to eat your fair share of cookies, they may keep you from an unwanted illness…fingers crossed and prayers up. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup AP flour – unbleached
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temp
½ cup Good Spread peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract
1 medium egg
½ cup Quaker old-fashioned oats
1 cup Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips

1 Tablespoon of kosher salt for sprinkling

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheet pans with Dixie Crystals silicone baking sheets.

2. Whisk together the AP flour, baking soda & salt; set aside.

3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 2 minutes or so. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low-speed, slowly add the flour until just combined. Stir in the old-fashioned oats, and then the chocolate chips.

4. Use a large ice cream scoop (roughly 3 tablespoons) & drop dough onto silicone baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with kosher salt according to your preference. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden (slightly undercooked). Cool completely on the silicone baking sheet & then store in an airtight container. Do not put cookies in the fridge…unless you like cold cookies.

Cast-Iron Skillet Chipotle Chili

Cast-Iron Chipotle Chili  We could go around in circles discussing whether or not ‘real chili’ has beans in it or not. But I’m simply going to shut down that discussion because I’ve never known chili to ‘not have’ beans in it until I saw something about it on a cooking show, and all the Texans were giving the rest of us ‘bean in our chili’ eaters the “thumbs down”. And that’s ok…we forgive them!
In my book chili is an all year around meal because you can dress it up or dress it down according to the season. In the Spring, maybe you want a chili chock-full of full of fresh vegetables, and in the Summer maybe you desire something like a white chicken chili in a light broth. But it is indeed, undisputed that when the breeze begins to roll in from the hills and those leaves begin to burst into shades of burnt orange, cranberry and coffee — I want all the beef and canned tomato goodness with a kiss of peppery heat that one can stand, to fill my bowl to the brim. And this recipe gives you nothing less than that.Cast-Iron Chipotle Chili : The Salted Table
This recipe is also great for the adventurer within, so maybe you want to have a campfire in the backyard and invite a few friends or hang with the kids, maybe there’s a camping trip in your near future? This is the chili you’re gonna want for those “chili” nights in the wilderness.

You may be wondering why this chili isn’t smothered in avocado, sour cream, cheese and onions. If you are a lover of toppings then feel free because this chili may need to be cooled down if you’re sensitive to heat but I tend to be a purest if something’s made well and this chili is pretty darn perfect! So grab a warm blanket and eat a bowl…or two for me.The Salted Table Food Blog, The Salted Table, Nashville TN, Nashville Food Bloggers, Chefs, Personal Chef, Food Photography, Food Styling

Cast-Iron Skillet Chipotle Chili

1 lb 80/20 ground beef
3 Tablespoons Chipotle Chilies in Adobo (diced)
2 14.5 oz cans Red Beans
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 Heavy Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (to taste)

Method
1. Place your cast-iron over medium-high heat. Add your ground beef and crumble with a wooden spoon. Stir occasionally, breaking down the chunks of beef until meat is fully browned/cooked. Allow the liquid from your beef to reduce by half then, add your chipotle chiles, chili powder, ground cumin, granulated garlic, and salt. Stir until spice are incorporated into the beef but be careful not to burn, you may need to turn down your heat.

2. Drain excess liquid from your beans and add them to the beef along with your tomatoes. While occasionally stirring, you’re going to allow this to cook for about 20-30 minutes until the liquid begins to thicken and you have a hearty looking chili. Then you can taste to see if you need to add anymore seasoning.Cast-Iron Skillet Chipotle Chili, Quick Chili Recipes, Cooking, Dinner, Camping Food, Autumn Chili, Autumn Foods, Nashville TN, Food Photography

Notes:

Using dry beans: If you opt to use dry beans, simply soak them in luke warm water the night before you prepare the chili, this will cut down you’re cooking time though the beans will still need to be boiled off before allowing to cook in a cast-iron skillet.Cast-Iron Skillet Chipotle Chili

 

 

Chocolate Overload S’mores Cheesecake

Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

I remember my sister and I sitting on the back porch tearing yesterday’s newspaper into small ragged pieces and placing them into an empty can. Probably one of my grandmother’s #Folgers cans, you know the red one with the plastic lid? We used those as vessels to fulfill our need for the melty gooey, chocolatey goodness that would soon tangle our fingers in a web of mallowy strands and #cocoa smear. If I had to choose a house that I missed, it was this house with the huge backyard where we often watched the deer drink from the pond and the trees overflow with black walnuts, pears and apples. We were young and naive and had no real appreciation for the seasonal jewels that rolled across the forest floor. I mean, we ate the occasional fruit and cracked a few nuts now and again but nothing too serious. I remember seeing our next door neighbor gathering the nuts in the evening to crack for an evening snack.

Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

If I had the passion for food I have now back then, I imagine that I would’ve encouraged the making of pies, tarts, jams and jellies, but those are merely the wishes of a time gone. And we all know that living in the past can prove to be a detriment to one’s growth; no one wants that…do they? S’mores are the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to nostalgic childhood treats. The simplicity of those three ingredients combined have the capability to solve life’s conundrums, sartorial – political or otherwise. There may be a little embellishment in there but work with me folks, we’re talkin’ #smores.

I know that with the arrival of #Pinterest and food bloggers appearing by the dozen every hour — these once sacred treats are always getting a new makeover from pie-pops to #cake but I warn you, steer clear, it’s a trap and you won’t be happy. What I’m giving you today is an all year round invitation to the snack once cornered to Autumnal nights and snow-capped backdrops. We should be able to indulge in all of this goodness any time the mood awakes within us and be able to do so without checking the weather report. Lord knows, it won’t be correct anyway. The time is winding down and as you know I am collaborating with the fine folks of the Asheville Wine & Food Festival to bring you some delicious food posts in anticipation for the event.

I can’t begin to tell you how full my heart is full knowing that we are only a few weeks away from that Blue Ridge Mountains seduction. We found the perfect place to stay in walking distance to coffee shops and you know how I love the beans. We’re plotting out all our favorite places to dine as if we won’t be eating enough AVL goodness between the SWEET Event and The Grand Tasting! If you haven’t made plans to attend, there’s still time and you won’t want to miss it! You can purchase tickets for the SWEET Event on August 21 here and tickets for The Grand Tasting on August 22 here! In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for one of your favorite childhood treats and steer clear of all those other impostors (wink).

IMG_1544-0 Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

Chocolate Overload S’mores Cheesecake

Crust… 2 cups Crushed Graham Cracker
3 Tablespoons Granulated White Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (slightly melted)

Filling…
2-8 ounce pkgs Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/3 Granulated White Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Nielsen Massey Bourbon Vanilla
2 Large Eggs 1/2 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Topping…
6.2 ounces of Hershey’s Chocolate (4 1.55 oz bars)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Cups Miniature Marshmallows

Method

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until mostly melted but not hot. Mix together your graham crackers, granulated sugar, salt and butter until you can squeeze the mixture in your hand and form clumps. You may need a little more butter depending upon the dryness of your grahams. Place the mixture in the bottom of an ungreased cake pan, square or circle, it doesn’t really matter. Evenly pat down the crumbs until no holes remain. If you have a pan slightly smaller and the same size I would use it smash it down evenly. Smash…giggle. Bake in the oven for ten minutes, remove and allow to cool. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees for your filling.

Place your cream cheese into a standing mixer with the sugar, vanilla and salt. Let the mixture whip on medium speed for two minutes, add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula and then evenly distribute the filling over your cooled crust. Surround the bottom of your pan with aluminum foil. you will probably need to pieces to criss cross the bottom of the pan and create a boat for the cheesecake, be gentile. Place this into a larger baking pan and fill the surrounding area with warm water about 1/2 way up the side. Place the entire thing into the oven slowly as to avoid splashing water into the cheesecake. Let cook for 90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Once cheesecake is done, allow it to set in the water for 30 minutes and I noticed that the top didn’t crack like the last time I made it and removed it immediately once cooked. Give it a try! Allow to cool overnight or for at least 90 minutes.

Then, take your chocolate and rough chop it, place it in a microwaveable bowl with your vegetable oil. Heat it in the microwave for 20 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Be careful not to overcook your chocolate, this will give you nasty sugar crystals (not cool). Pour it over the graham cracker crust, place it in the fridge and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.

Turn on the broiler, if you have a temperature option I typically use HI and watch the marshmallows like a hawk. Let your oven come up to temp. Evenly distribute the marshmallows over the chocolate, try not to leave any exposed chocolate and more marshmallows never hurt anybody. Place the pan on the high rack , tell the kids to step back. You should be squatting with the oven door open watching your marshmallows get nice and toasty right before they burn. Though this is totally subjective on how much crunch and torchy marsh you like, I like a lot! You may need a towel at hand to slightly rotate your dish to get even torch (no marsh left behind, ask Bush) on your marshmallows. Once your topping has the right color that you prefer, allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into it. You will want to run a sharp knife under hot water if you desire perty slices.

I hope you and the family enjoy this recipe, I mean s’mores all year round, you’re winning! Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

Summer Tomato, Tart Cherry & Squash Salad

The Asheville Wine & Food Festival & A Summer Tomato, Tart Cherry with Squash Salad

The Asheville Wine & Food Festival is right around the corner and my anticipation has reached a new level of out of control! Our Airbnb is booked and I won’t even begin to spill all the goodness about the cozy-decor-ed little apartment we scored! There’s just something about being in Asheville that makes you wonder why you haven’t been there all along, but don’t worry Nashville, I’m not leaving you! In anticipation for the food-coma of a festival I’ve whipped you up a vegetarian salad that will put a smile on your heart and keep you true to that summer diet. And revel in it guys because vegetarian options are a rarity here folks!

It seems like yesterday, my eyes were rolling into the back of my head and my arms were making a swift motion to push the plate across the table. Oh, you ask, “What was on that plate?” Well, if you were a resident of the blue home on Houston Avenue it may have been anything from buttered peas and onions to turnips or rutabagas, either way I wanted no part of it. But I was young and naive to the joy that these spring time and autumnal veggies had to offer. I only knew or at least thought I knew that they were healthy and weren’t worth another look, pass the mac and cheese please (wink).

IMG_1377

My mom cooked vegetables often and I’m not even sure if she loved them or if it was just something innate from her childhood. Because often you would arrive to my grandmother’s house and there would only be a pot of stewed vegetables on the stove and a cast-iron skillet of cornbread. And I had become accustomed to this tradition and over time it became a treat, as my palate matured and all those vegetables slowly began to take on their own definitive taste in my mind. It wasn’t as simple as ‘if you’ve tried one of them, you’ve tried them all’ which I lived by this mantra back then.

And now vegetables of all kinds arouse the epicurean within me and I want to know all the ways to use them. How other cultures enjoy from day-to-day; season to season, and what kinds exist that I’ve yet to discover? The Nashville farmer’s markets are flooded with all kinds of summer goods from the soils bountiful harvest and I can’t resist leaving the market with a bag full of them to explore. I’ve been pickling, jamming and tossing all the things in vinaigrettes and it won’t cease anytime soon. I’m enamored with the color varieties that vegetables come in even if the flavor doesn’t change, it keeps that dinner plate interesting and makes for beautiful presentation.

The recipe for this salad is relatively easy, you’ll have to put a little time in but the end product is well worth it. And squash has been killer this summer, so much so, that it has ended up in many a dish for dinner. The combination of these tart cherries, earthy sweet tomatoes and the burst of brightness from the lemon vinaigrette work so well with the zesty pop of the onions. I think you’ll be making this for summers to come…if you’re smart. Also, if you want more info on the Asheville Wine & Food Festival simply click here! I’d love to see you there!

Summer Tomato, Tart Cherry & Squash Salad

2 Summer Squash
1/2 cup pitted & sliced cherries (tart)
1/4 cup julienne red onion
3 Tomatoes

Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette

1 medium lemon (zested & squeezed)
2 tablespoons TRU Bee Honey
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)

Method

First, rinse all of your fruit off under cold water for about thirty seconds to remove all debris. Julienne one-quarter of a red onion, put it in an ice-cold bath for about 5 minutes. I do this to remove the sharp bite that onions may have. Take them out, lightly pat them with napkins to remove excess water. Shave your summer squash with a potato peeler or a mandolin, place in a bowl with onions. Core and slice your tomatoes into thin wedges or you may dice them if you like. Then, add them to the onions and squash, set aside.

Combine all of the ingredients for your lemon-honey vinaigrette and whisk them vigorously in a small bowl until a temporary emulsion forms. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the squash, onions, and tomatoes and toss gently with your ‘clean’ hands for about 30 seconds or so. Taste again for salt and adjust accordingly. Arrange salad on the serving platter or plates how you see fit and last, but not least, place the cherries across the top. Enjoy!

Note: I also think sherry or rice wine vinegar would be a great substitute if you don’t have apple cider vin on hand, but you may need to add a little sugar (like a teaspoon) if using rice wine vinegar. This salad would also be nice with seared duck breasts or grilled salmon if you’re feeling fancy!

 

 

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Goo Goo Cluster Recipes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nashville Recipes, Cookie Recipes, Chocolate

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

This summer heat is working me over like crazy and even the sweat beads on my brow are becoming frustrated. Its like the sun has a vendetta and its unleashing hell and taking names, literally. But as far as  I’m concerned it could never be too hot to eat chocolate or break into a textbook chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate chip cookies are my sacred-kind of childhood snack and you may call me a snob when it comes down to it. I mean, cookies run rampid on the inter webs, being stuffed with nutella and laced with truffles for the so-called ‘real foodies’ but you can keep those. I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to the circular, sometimes amoeba-shaped little puckets that pair so well with cold milk and shakes alike. Yes, milkshakes and cookies are sheer perfection, just ask my inner eight year old, he’ll tell you all about it.

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies,  Cookies, Chocolate Recipes, Nashville Food Bloggers, Bloggers, Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

Goo Goo Clusters were the equivalency of currency in our home and a treat to be savored upon the completion of one’s chores. My mother kept them tucked into the third shelf of what was better known as the snack cabinet. There were bags of Doritos, Moon Pies, Oreos and Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, because those were my dad’s vice along with bottled coke.

I remember being in the line at the grocery store and spying the sweet treat laced with peanuts and dipped in chocolate sitting snug in the silver packages on the shelf. They were always calling my name and appealing to every desire in my four and a half foot being. Whenever I received my allowance I typically bought whatever I saw first because the money was ‘burning my pockets’ as my mom would say,  and back then you could find the Goo Goos three for a dollar. So quite naturally I bought six.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I find joy in partaking in the most simplistic forms of dessert. I have a great appreciation for those creatives who taking something ordinary and make it extra-ordinary, but at the heart of it, all I desire is the textbook chocolate chip cookie, a moist slice of chocolate cake with the perfect amount of frosting, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maybe a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce. I went on the search for a cookie recipe that gave me the crunch around the edges, the chew in the center and the cookie that when you bit into it, nothing else matters and just for a moment–for a brief and satisfactory moment, you are the only person that matters. And I hope to give that to you today with these cookies. Now, remember to read all the way through the recipe before you begin, and definitely space your cookies the three inches apart because the nougat and caramel will cause your cookies to spread significantly, but thats not a bad thing in this case. Enjoy.

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melt slightly & allow to cool slightly
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Nielsen Massey vanilla
2 cups chopped Goo Goo Cluster chunks (Original & Supreme)
1/2 cup of %60 cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cover your sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

3. Beat together melty butter & sugars in a large bowl with a Kitchen-aid mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, but do it gradually so you don’t have a mess on your hands, about 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a bowl & add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to the butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until just blended, then stir in Goo Goo chunks & chocolate chips.

4. Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, placing the portions 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheet pans.

5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Remember that oven temps vary so keep an eye on your cookies. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue baking off the rest of your batter and cook it off.

Note: I have tried this recipe after dough has been frozen so I’m not sure how well it would work out but if you try it let me know!

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies