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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #46 and Swirl Meringue Cookies

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So we’re more than a month out from Christmas, and we at Reading and Recipes figure you’ve had a sufficient break from holiday decorating of everything from the house to your table to all those cookies (and more cookies and more cookies).

And looking at the calendar shows us that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, followed by St. Patty’s a month later, and Easter not far behind that.

So in the category of looking ahead at a wide-range of entertaining opportunities, we decided to try something a little different this week–Swirl Meringue Cookies. There are a lot of great things about meringue. It’s inexpensive, simple to make, low in calories, and easy to store and transport. But what we find most intriguing about meringue is that it is ready-made for decorating. Just take a little food coloring and swirl away–red for Valentine’s, green for St. Patty’s, blue or yellow for Easter. The resulting cookies are fun to eat and even better for decorating a dessert tray or a buffet table.

So unleash your creative beast with these Swirl Meringue Cookies. They will help you get through the long snowbound winter days.

And think warm thoughts. Spring isn’t really still two months away, is it?

swirl meringue cookies

Swirl Meringue Cookies

1 large egg white, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of cream of tartar

3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

4-5 drops food coloring, optional

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat, and set aside.

Add room temperature egg white, vanilla, and cream of tartar to a mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition. Once sugar is added, continue to beat the egg whites until semi-stiff and shiny, or about 3 minutes. *Note: If you want thicker meringue cookies, beat the egg whites until they are very stiff, or about 5-6 minutes.

Add drops of food coloring to egg whites and fold two or three times, until you get streaks throughout. Do not mix too much! You want to see the streaks.

Using a tablespoon, spoon meringues onto cookie sheet. You should get about 10 meringue cookies. Bake the cookies in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely on cookie sheet.

Store any leftover cookies in air tight container.

Makes 10 cookies.

swirl meringues

{Adapted from Taste of Home}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #46, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #46, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #45 and Fluffernutter Blondies

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Who dreamt up the combination of peanut butter and marshmallow creme? Probably someone wanting to sell more peanut butter or marshmallow creme.

But whoever it was should have a statue set up in my front yard and a national holiday set aside on the calendar. The combination is delicious, and the resulting boost of energy (give me sugar! give me protein! give me fat!) surely rivals the rocket fuel used to put astronauts on the moon. You don’t need one of those high-energy drinks–just grab a spoon and dip it first in the peanut butter jar then the marshmallow creme jar. You’ll be up there with the International Space Station (but watch out for all those pieces of orbiting space junk!).

This week at Reading and Recipes, we’ve taken this match made in Heaven (or in some marketing associate’s cubicle) and repurposed it into bar form–Fluffernutter Blondies!

This may be the perfect way to eat this perfect combination. Easy to make, easy to cut and serve, easy to transport–as in a school or work lunch. One of the biggest disappointments of my grade-school life (second only to being snubbed by a certain unnamed blonde classmate) was looking forward to my fluffernutter sandwich on a warm spring day only to open my lunchbox and find the fluff in a white blob at the bottom of the sandwich bag, all run out of the two slices of bread, leaving the peanut butter in there all alone. No need to worry about that with these Fluffernutter Blondies. The peanut butter and the marshmallow creme stay together inside the blondie, not separated at the bottom of the lunchbox!

fluffernutter bars

Fluffernutter Blondies

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg yolk

6 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup marshmallow creme

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 5×7 inch pan.

To a mixing bowl, add the melted butter, peanut butter, egg yolk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat ingredients together until well incorporated. Slowly mix in the flour, careful not to over mix the batter. The batter will be thick. Last, drop tablespoons of marshmallow creme into the batter; fold into the batter just slightly. Make sure to leave some streaks of marshmallow creme.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and press until even. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and center is just set. Do not over bake! Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Makes 4-6 bars.

fluffernutter blondies

{Adapted from Bakerita}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #45, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #45, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #44 and Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake

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I’ve always been conflicted about desserts with the word “molten” in them. If it’s on a menu, my eye goes to it immediately and my knee jerk reaction is to order it. It sounds so decadent and rich and–well, obviously–hot, or at least warm and gooey.

But if the waiter or waitress takes awhile to get back to take the order, I start getting scared of that “molten” dessert, start thinking about lava running down hillsides and swallowing whole towns in its path, start imagining that lava going down into my stomach and what it would do to my insides, so that by the time the waitress returns, my first question is “What flavors of ice cream do you have?”

Well, I’ve finally found a molten dessert that doesn’t make me ambivalent: Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake. You see, you make this molten cake in a cup; and I’m just not going to get scared of any dessert that comes in a cup. I mean, how much damage can a cup full of molten do, anyway? And oh by the way, the molten part is peanut butter; and that seems so much safer than molten chocolate which actually looks like the lava eating those whole villages.

Take my word for it: this molten cake is safe. And it’s decadent and rich and yummy and all those other good things.

Just not scary. I promise.

pb chocolate molten cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup milk

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon chocolate chips

Spray a large microwave-safe mug (12 ounces or larger) with cooking spray. Note: A mug with straight sides works best.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking powder. In another bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared mug.

Spoon the peanut butter into the center of the batter. Press the peanut butter into the batter so that it is almost covered.

Microwave the cake on high for 1 minute. The cake should look set but still jiggle slightly. If needed, microwave the cake in 10 second increments until done. (Mine took about 1 minute 20 seconds.) Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes. Put a plate on top of the mug and slowly invert the mug. Gently wiggle the mug until the cake comes loose. Serve warm.

Makes 1 cake, serves 1-2.

pb molten cake

{Adapted from Five Heart Home}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #44, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #44, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #43 and Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

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This upside-down cake formula is the stuff!

One pan baking, no frosting needed, rich caramelized topping over yummy (and healthy) fruit over dense and moist cake–what’s not to like? We’ve posted banana upside-down cake and pineapple upside-down cake, and gotten lots of response on each.

So, in a new year’s resolution of sticking with a good thing, this week we have Apple Cinnamon Upside-down Cake. After all the flash and excitement of the holidays, it’s good to get back to basics and even better to keep our cooking efforts simple and to the point.

This cake is the perfect January dessert–appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner (dessert) or a snack, it’s easy to prepare, serves neatly, and keeps well in the fridge. Just take it out tomorrow or the next day, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, and you’ll have a treat that tastes like it just came out of the oven.

Because in this early new year, post-holiday lull, we need to keep things simple and to the point. And what better point is there than this quick and easy and versatile dessert?

upside down apple cake

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (divided)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup milk or buttermilk

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large apples, peeled and sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Have an 8 or 9-inch round nonstick cake pan ready to use.

Add half of the butter (1/4 cup) to a mixing bowl with the granulated sugar. Cream these ingredients together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and whisk until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and slowly mix into the batter. Before the flour is all the way incorporated, add the milk and remaining 1/2 cup of flour, and slowly mix until all of the ingredients are well incorporated, careful not to over mix.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of butter to the round cake pan and place in the preheated oven. Once the butter is melted, remove from the oven and stir in the brown sugar. Lay sliced apples onto brown sugar mixture until all of the brown sugar and butter is covered. Pour the cake batter over the apples. Place the cake in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when touched. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting over a serving plate. Serve this cake warm with whipped cream or ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Makes 1 round cake, or about 8 servings.

apple cinnamon upside down cake

{Adapted from Babble}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #43, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #43, text © Jeffrey Anderson