Magical chocolate malt cookies

You know I love all things sweet.  And I am not going to share something with you that does not taste wonderful.  But these cookies are truly special.

Ice cream is not my first dessert choice (don’t get me wrong, if it’s my only sweet option, I will have a bite or two) but I have always enjoyed a good chocolate malt.  There is something about the taste of malt powder whether in an ice cream treat or or in chocolate covered malted milk balls that feels very nostalgic and satisfying to me.  I found this recipe for these Chocolate Malt Sandwiches during the holiday season and my only complaint about these cookies is that I have  not made them sooner!

Chocolate Malt Sandwiches  (recipe from Food Network Magazine)


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature


  • 4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp malted milk powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, malted milk powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl
  3. With mixer on medium-high speed add the vanilla and then butter, a few pieces at a time and mix until the dough looks like wet sand and holds together when pinched, about 5 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 1/2-inch-thick round.  Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate until the dough is slightly firm, about 10 minutes.                                      
  5. Roll out the dough between the parchment sheets to 1/4 inch thick.  Peel off the top sheet and cut the dough with a cookie cutter using 1 1/2-2 inch cookie cutters.  Place the cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake until cookies are set and no longer shiny about 8-10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to rack to cool completely.
  7. For the filling:  Combine white chocolate, malted milk powder, salt and vanilla in medium bowl.  Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, then pour over the white chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.  Refrigerate until cold, about 25 minutes, then beat with a mixer until thick and spreadable about 1 minute.
  8. Spread on half of cookies and sandwich with other half of cookies.

Dough will look like wet sand

 Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper

 Make the filling

   Beat with mixer after refrigerating 25 minutes


Posted in Baking, Cookies, Dessert, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Nectarine berry galette after a fresh catch

My dad recently returned from a fishing trip in Alaska.   Last weekend we were at the family lake cabin again and got to indulge in his fresh catches.  While dinner was being made, I was thinking about dessert (you know me and my sweet tooth).  I wanted something light and refreshing to compliment the lovely fresh fish and I did not want to go to the grocery store.  With plenty of fresh fruit around, I decided to make a galette.  The beautiful thing about this dessert is that you can make it with whatever fresh fruit you have on hand regardless of the time of year.  In the fall and winter it is wonderful with apples or pears and in the spring and summer the sky is the limit:  peaches, plums, nectarines, berries, etc.  So while preparations for the fish feed were underway,

I whipped up my favorite pastry dough, pâte brisée, sliced some nectarines, rinsed some berries and while we devoured the fresh salmon and halibut, dessert baked in the oven.  To top of this simple summer delight, I made some ginger whipped cream.

Pâte brisée                      (Recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
  1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined.    Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 5 seconds.
  2. Drizzle water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together, about 10 seconds. (Dough should not be wet or sticky.) Press dough into 1 large disk (for mini pies) or 2 small disks (for large pie), and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

(I was at the lake cabin and therefore did not have a food processor so I used my hands which worked just fine.)

Roll out dough on floured work surface

Place dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of your fruit of choice
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Mix ingredients and pour or arrange fruit over pastry crust

 Fold crust over partially covering fruit working in a circle

Brush top of pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until golden brown

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream (for my ginger whipped cream, mix 1 cup whipping cream, 1 tsp ginger paste and 1/2 cup powdered sugar with a mixer until medium to firm peaks form)

Posted in Baking, Dessert, Fruit, Summer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer cocktails: Peach Sangria and Raspberry Mojitos

Summer not only has me craving fresh fruit in my desserts, but also in my cocktails.  I was given an idea for a drink with fruit in it at that 30th birthday party that I was telling you about a few weeks ago.  My version is like a white peach sangria with a little bubbly to top it all off.

White peach sangria

  • 1 bottle white wine (I prefer Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 3 cups fruit such as peaches, berries, mangoes (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 bottle sparkling peach wine

Place fruit in a pitcher and pour wine over fruit.  Let fruit soak in the wine for 2-3 hours.

Pour wine with fruit into glasses, top with sparkling peach wine and enjoy!

One of my favorite cocktails is a mojito.  Sometimes I am a purist and like my mojitos to be traditional with just mint, lime and rum, but other times I like to mix it up and add some other fruity flavors.  Tonight it was raspberry and they were the perfect cool and refreshing drink for a beautiful summer night.

Raspberry mojito (adapted from Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop Summer Drinks)

  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp fine sugar
  • 5 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Crushed ice
  • 4 ounces raspberry juice (or a blend of juices including raspberry)
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Raspberries for garnish
  1. Put lime juice and sugar in glass and stir until sugar is dissolved
  2. Add mint leaves and crush or muddle them against the side of the glass with back of a spoon or muddler (this releases the mint oils)
  3. Fill the glass with crushed ice
  4. Add fruit juice, rum and club soda and stir
  5. Garnish with raspberries and mint


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Broders’ Pasta Bar (i.e. my absolute favorite)

Oh Broders’, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

  • I love that you are the perfect date spot
  • I love your intimate patio that focuses on small plates (many of them grilled) and great wine
  • I love sitting at your pasta bar and visiting with other patrons which inevitably leads to recommendations and discussion about other wonderful restaurants
  • I love your servers (always the same 3) who have been there for years and know your menu inside and out
  • I love your inverted colander lights that give off the perfect soft ambient light
  • I love your pasta (do I even need to mention this??) and unique, unexpected, simple flavor combinations
  • I love your insalate, antipasti, dolci, vino, espresso…

My husband and I went on a date to Broders’ Pasta Bar a couple of weeks ago and as usual, it did not disappoint.  We had the pleasure of sitting at the Antipasto Bar outside and the Pasta Bar inside and we also got to meet and visit with Charlie Broder, the general manager of the restaurant.  Charlie has been working in the restaurant and across the street at Broders’ Cucina Italiana (think deli, takeout, imported products) since he was a child.  While the restaurant is family run, it is interesting that no one in the family is Italian.  The space that the restaurant occupies used to be a gas station and although the restaurant has been open and successful for many years, the location at 50th Street and Penn Avenue in South Minneapolis is still Broders’ only location in the Twin Cities.  Despite lines of hungry customers everyday of the week, Broders’ has not expanded it’s successful business.  And I for one am happy about this.  There is something about waiting for your table with giddy anticipation about what the nightly specials might be and the sheer joy of feeling like you have just won the lottery when they finally tell you that your table is ready.  The wait is always worth it.

 “Ocean City shrimp”, old bay, lemon, olive oil

 polenta cakes with tomato, mushroom & caper ragu

 burrata, local baby lettuce, fava beans & wild arugula

 capellini with crab, red & green chilies, tomato & white wine

 ravioli con prosciutto di parma:  house made goat cheese ravioli with prosciutto di parma & smoked mozzarella


 carrot cake:  cream cheese frosting, pine nuts, honey & carrots

 Ahhh, la dolce vita

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Have you met my friend?

This is my friend kale.  Have you met?  If not, may I propose an introduction?

Pleased to meet you

Kale and I were introduced at my friend Emily’s pre-Thanksgiving party.  Emily and her fiancé host this party every year and, it is just what it sounds like.  Friends gather about a week before the actual holiday and each bring a Thanksgiving dish to share.  Since many of us are with family for the holidays, it is a nice way to make time to give thanks for the friendships in our lives.  Last year was the first year I have been able to attend the party and the dish that I could not stop eating was one that Emily made.  The dish was flavorful, tender and healthy sautéed kale.  Even my husband couldn’t get enough of the green stuff (that’s how good it was).  I told her that I had to have the recipe and she insisted that it was very simple to make and hardly a recipe at all.  She taught me how to prepare it and now sautéed kale with a little garlic, red chili flakes and sea salt is one of our favorite go-to side dishes at my home.  I am very thankful for Emily’s friendship and for all of her wonderful ideas and recipes.

Sautéed kale

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch kale (I like the Lacinato variety)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  1. Remove ribs from kale leaves and cut or tear kale into medium-sized pieces
  2. Heat olive oil in medium/large sautée pan over medium heat and add garlic
  3. Sautée garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute
  4. Add kale and sprinkle with salt and chili flakes
  5. Cook about 6 minutes or until kale is tender and bright green

Remove ribs from kale

Use a large pan, but the kale will shrink significantly as it cooks

See how much volume it looses at it cooks??

Another one of my last minute sides this time of year is cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar reduction.  Also very simple to make with few ingredients needed, yet a very flavorful accompaniment.

Blistered cherry tomatoes with balsamic reduction

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat olive oil in small sautée pan over medium heat
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, basil and salt and cook about 2 minutes
  3. Add balsamic vinegar, allow vinegar to come to boil then reduce and simmer about 6 minutes until tomatoes are blistered (skin is split open) and vinegar has reduced and thickened

Bright flavorful sides to compliment any main dish

Posted in Healthy, Sides, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

“Mom, can you ask her for that recipe please?”

I have mentioned before that my mom was always baking when I was younger.  There was always a cookie jar or freezer full of yummy treats.  As a result of this I didn’t have many processed snacks (thanks mom 🙂 ).  One afternoon when I was a little girl, I returned from a friend’s house and I could not wait to tell my mom about the wonderful cookie I had tasted at my friend’s.  I explained “it was two black crunchy cookies with white frosting in the middle!”  I went on to ask her if she could get the recipe for “those black and white cookies” from my friend’s mom.  My mom laughed and then I learned that you could buy these cookies at the store already made.  I loved my first Oreo and even now if I happen to spot a box of them laying around somewhere, I can’t resist having just one.  So naturally when I came across this recipe for “Oreo cupcakes” I was intrigued and had to give them a try!  There is a cookie surprise at the bottom of the cupcake and the cookies and cream frosting seals this sweet deal.  Enjoy these “black and white” cupcakes sweet teeth!

Cupcakes           (Recipe from Cooks Illustrated courtesy of Bakergirl)

  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup hot, brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 package Oreos
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Twist Oreos in half and set aside the extra cookies for later. Place the side with cream filling in the bottom of each cupcake liner, cream-side facing up.

These are some mini ones, but for the regular-sized cupcakes I placed an entire half of an Oreo in the liner

  • Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl

  • and pour the hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.
  • Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.

  • Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-20 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

These cupcakes came out of the oven so glistening and beautiful I hated to cover them up! But this frosting is so worth it!

Frosting          (Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • 1 cup Oreos, pulverized to fine powder
  1. Blend cream cheese and butter
  2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time
  3. Add vanilla and cream
  4. Add crushed Oreos
  5. Frost and garnish with additional Oreos

Recipe linked here

Posted in Baking, Dessert | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Fish tacos with homemade salsa

I love Mexican food, but I do not always enjoy how I feel after eating it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love enchiladas smothered in cheese and an authentic sauce once in awhile.  But I’m often so miserably full when I am finished that it makes me not want Mexican food for a long time.  So when I am craving the spice and flavors of Mexican food, I find lighter versions of my favorite dishes to make at home.  I will make a southwest chicken salad with rotisserie chicken, dressing made with salsa and ranch and all of my favorite toppings, chicken tortilla soup or tacos with different fillings.  Today, I was craving the light flavors of simply seasoned fish tacos with a quick homemade salsa.

You can add whatever else you like to your salsa, these are just some of my favorite ingredients.


  • 4 tomatoes
  • 6 small tomatillos
  • 1/2 jalepeño
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  1. Roughly chop all ingredients
  2. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and process to desired thickness


  • 2 tilapia (or other white fish)  fillets
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • corn tortillas
  • black beans
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  •  1/2 lime
  1.  Heat grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray
  2. Season fish fillets with cumin and chili powder
  3. Grill fish about 3 minutes per side or until fish appears opaque and flakes easily
  4. Squeeze 1/2 lime over fish and break fish up into bite-sized pieces
  5. Warm corn tortillas until crisped on griddle flipping once
  6. Serve tacos with salsa, black beans, cilantro and sour cream (I like to thin my sour cream with lime juice and add cilantro to it)

Posted in Main course, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment