Dark Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Dark Chocolate  Sandwich Cookies Instagram  (1 of 1)One of my most favorite things to do, is to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket, a glass of iced cold milk, and some cookies, and a really good magazine. You know that kind of magazine, right? The one that you cannot wait for the new issue to come out each month…the one that you read from cover to cover… and then go back to read it some more…

Well, I have a little news for you…
About a month ago, my sweet friend Collette Osuna of Spindle and Rye, contacted me, and asked me if I’d like to be a part of her new project. Not knowing what the project was, without hesitation, I said Yes!

Come on…it’s Collette. She is fabulous. I just knew that it had to be something really, really good.
And it really really is…

Collette asked me if I’d be interested in contributing to the Farm to Table Recipes Column in Everything Home Magazine, that she and her friend (and now my friend) Daraka McCrackin of Farmhouse For Five had created!

Imagine my surprise…
And then… imagine my delight! 
I have been walking on air for at least three weeks now!
I couldn’t be happier…and am so excited for this wonderful opportunity!
Everything Home Magazine Everything Home Magazine is a digital monthly home (and more!) magazine written by your favorite bloggers and Instagram friends. It premieres November 1st, and the Everything Home Team and I are beyond excited!

I now have the pleasure to work with some really talented people… and I hope that you take a few minutes to go to Everything Home Magazine’s website to meet everyone involved. You’ll be blown away by these beautiful people, and the talents that they’re going to share in what is going to be a fabulous magazine! While you’re there…be sure to leave your name, email address, and click the “receive email updates” box to automatically receive magazine news to your inbox, so that you don’t miss one tidbit of information!

I’m so excited, because every month, I’ll be developing and sharing a new seasonal recipe with you in the magazine! If you happen to try one of my recipes… take a photo of it, and share it to my Instagram hashtag #EHrecipes for a chance to be showcased on the @everythinghomemagazine Instagram page!

You are going to love it.
I do already.

But just know that I’ll still be here at butter, basil, and breadcrumbs sharing my recipes and crazy stories with you every week, too! I know that I’ll have your undying love and support while I begin this new adventure…

And to get you started, I’m providing the cookies portion for your milk and cookies while you read the first edition of the magazine on November 1st…

I have to tell you, if you like the typical milk and cookies, cookies…that dark chocolate cookie with the cream filled center… then these are the ones for you! The dark chocolate cookie is crisp, and most importantly, softens exactly like it’s supposed to when you dunk it in milk… They are super easy, super delicious… and perfect for that “Curl up on the couch and relax with cookies and milk” kind of day! Oh, and your family will love them too…you know…if you decide to share!

Life is good. It’s a “Cookies and Milk and a really really good magazine…it just doesn’t get any better…” kind of good.


Chocolate Sandwich   Cookie

Dark Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Serves: 2 dozen
The Cookie
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup special dark cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1¾ sticks butter
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup whole milk
The Cream Filling
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
The Cookie
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, until fully incorporated.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl to your work area, and divide in half. Roll each half into 1½" to 2" in diameter logs. Roll each log in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove from waxed paper, and slice into ⅛" cookie slices. Place each cookie slice on the parchment lined cookie sheets, about 1" apart.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. The cookies will crisp as they cool.
The Cream Filling
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the vegetable shortening, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Begin beating on low, and add the water until all ingredients are fully combined, and increase the speed to high. Beat on high for about five minutes. The filling will be stiff.
Assemble the Cookies
  1. Take about one tablespoon of the cream filling, and and roll into a ball. Place the ball of cream filling into the center of one cookie slice. Place another cookie slice on top of the cream filling, and gently press both cookie slices together until the cream filling is sandwiched to the edges of the cookies. Repeat with remaining cookie slices.
  2. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
  3. Enjoy!


Spicy Clams with Linguine

Spicy Clams and LinguineHave you ever been so overwhelmed with all of the work that you have to do, that it stops you in your tracks? Instead of getting caught up, you do absolutely nothing?

That was me.  Seriously. For two weeks. 

My messy house made me feel tired.

I found myself most nights standing in my kitchen, leaning against the counter, watching low quality horror movies or romantic comedies on Netflix, and eating toasted walnuts out of a baggie. When the walnuts were gone, I switched to chocolate chips.

Summer tends to do this to me. I’d rather be out playing, than housework. But now, I’m paying the price…I have so much laundry to do, and some major heavy duty cleaning to do… that I was seriously considering hiring someone to do some deep cleaning for me.

But you know how that goes.  If you’re like me, and if you’re going to hire someone to clean your house for you…

What is the first thing you’re going to do?
Yep. You’re going to clean your house.

Of course you are. Because you just cannot let the cleaning person see your messy house.

And that’s exactly what I would have done if I would have hired someone to help me.  So instead, I’m picking away at it, little by little…room by room.

And cooking nothing.

Well, I can’t say I haven’t been cooking, I’ve just been cooking quick and easy meals, like these spicy clams with linguine. Meals that take no time at all, yet are so delicious…that you’ll have everyone thinking that you spent all day in the kitchen..

In less than 1/2 hour, you can have a delicious tomato, lemon, wine, and garlic sauce all ready to steam the clams! Served on a platter of fettucine, the sweet tomatoes, along with the lemon, wine, and garlic make a perfect base for a little taste of the ocean. Another squeeze of fresh lemon, and life just doesn’t get any better!

Life is good. It’s a “Laundry. I hate it. I’d rather be watching a horror movie with a one star rating… ” kind of good…


Spicy Clams with Linguine

Spicy Clams with Linguine
Serves: 2 servings
  • 1 dozen littleneck clams, soaked and cleaned in cold water for an hour or so, replacing the water every half hour. Give them a good scrub after they've soaked.
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  1. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan, and let drain on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve the grease from the bacon in the pan. If there’s more than two tablespoons of grease, discard the rest.
  2. Place a pot of water to boil on the stove. Keep the water boiling on low.
  3. Add the butter to the pan, and let melt. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and parsley to the melted butter. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the linguine to the boiling water, and cook according to directions on package.
  5. Add the wine and lemon to the sauteed vegetables. Let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your desired taste.
  6. Increase the heat to medium high, and add the clams all at once to the pan. Let them cook for about three minutes, or until all of the shells have opened. Discard any that haven’t opened.
  7. Once it’s fully cooked, drain the linguine, and place on a big platter.
  8. Add the clams to the platter of linguine, nestling them in the middle of the pasta. Pour the sauce over the clams and linguine.
  9. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
  10. Enjoy!
I am far from pro when it comes to cooking clams…but here are a few tips that will help you to cook them to perfection…

First, don’t be afraid to be fussy when it comes to buying clams. If you’re buying them from the seafood department, make sure they’re picking out the cream of the crop for you..no cracks or chips…and they must be fully closed.

If the clam is open a little, just give him a little tap on the shell. If it closes, that means he’s alive…and he’s safe to eat. If the shell remains open, I wouldn’t even take the chance. Discard it.

Keep the clams refrigerated until you’re ready to clean them.

And finally… after they’ve cooked, if there are any clams that haven’t opened, discard them.


Peach Cobbler

Peach  Cobbler...Bursting with flavor...peaches, so sweet in their own right, are sautéd in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to make a deliciously fruity caramel sauce.  A moist cake topping is so delicious with the fresh peaches...and a generous dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream over the warm cobbler melts over the peaches and into the caramel sauce, for delectably creamy bite after bite.

I tend to timeline summer…not by months…but by the fruit that is in season. We welcome summer with strawberries and rhubarb, which is why I think they get along so well… cherries, blueberries, and raspberries grace us with their presence sometime during mid-summer…. And then peaches and plums tend to show up toward the end.

And while I wish that they’d all hang out all summer long, I do love the anticipation of each fruit harvest, and then fill up as much as possible on the fruit that is in season, knowing that its timeframe is so very short lived.

And I know that I’ve said that I realize we can get this fruit all year round….and I also know that I’ve mentioned that it’s just not the same as when the fruit is actually in season. That’s when it tastes the way it’s supposed to taste…

Sweet and juicy…the epitome of summer.

I always feel like peaches are the essence of summer. The ambassador, if you will… They’re the fruit that tends to show up to the party a little early…and they stay a little later, right into apple season. It’s almost as if the peaches are passing the torch of summer off to the apples of fall.

And while I enjoy plenty of peaches fresh, in their natural stateI do love to cook them up in jams, jellies, pies, crisps…and of course, cobbler.  Bursting with flavor…peaches, so sweet in their own right, are sautéd in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to make a deliciously fruity caramel sauce.  A moist cake topping is so delicious with the fresh peaches…and a generous dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream over the warm cobbler melts over the peaches and into the caramel sauce, for delectably creamy bite after bite.

Life is good.  It’s a “Peaches are like aromatherapy.. hold one up to your nose, close your eyes…take a deep breath and smell the summer… ” kind of good. 



Peach Cobbler...Bursting with flavor...peaches, so sweet in their own right, are sautéd in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to make a deliciously fruity caramel sauce.  A moist cake topping is so delicious with the fresh peaches...and a generous dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream over the warm cobbler melts over the peaches and into the caramel sauce, for delectably creamy bite after bite.

Peach Cobbler
Serves: 4 servings
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 peaches, pit removed, sliced thin (leave the skin on, or peel them…your choice)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2½ tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tbsp granulated sugar, or more, depending on your desired sweetness.
  • Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease four mini skillets with butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Whisk in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla, and let come to a simmer.
  3. Add the sliced peaches, and let simmer for about five minutes, stirring gently.
  4. While the peaches are sautéing, prepare the topping for the cobbler:
  5. In a medium bowl, add the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, whisking it a few times around the bowl to combine the dry ingredients. Blend the butter in to the dry ingredients with a fork until the size of peas. Add the milk and egg. Stir until completely combined.
  6. After the peaches are finished cooking, divide them among the four mini skillets. Pouring the remaining caramel sauce in the pan over each.
  7. Top the peaches with the cake topping.
  8. Place the skillets on a cookie sheet, and place in oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cake topping is golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about ½ hour.
  10. While the cobblers are cooling, beat the heavy cream, granulated sugar, vanilla seeds, and vanilla on high until whipped thick and creamy.
  11. Place a generous spoonful of whipped cream on top of the warm cobbler. Serve immediately.
  12. Enjoy!



Zucchini Bread

Zucchini BreadI was thinking about this, yesterday… as I was driving past my neighbor, Loud Race Car Driver, who was sitting in his driveway waiting for traffic to pass. I gave the friendly wave and smile, and he reciprocated…and then we went on our merry way.

You see, I don’t know his real name. I’ve always called him Loud Race Car Driver, because he is always outside working on his racecars, revving them up. It’s very loud.

In fact, I don’t know any of my neighbor’s names, except for what I have named them myself:

Loud Race Car Driver
Drunk Lady
Motorcycle for a Mailbox Guy
Buffalo Sabres Banner in their Front Window People
Cute New Couple on the Corner
Fruit Stand Family
Fireworks Man
Doofus Down the Street

I grew up in the city. Everyone knew each other…and I’m not talking in a close proximity…I’m talking the whole street. I could walk down the street and name the family in every house, from my Grandma Bucolo’s house at the very end of the street to Frieda Maiorana’s house way down at the other end of the street.

I don’t know if that’s a “living in a rural area” thing…or if that’s what it has come down to in this day and age….but I do have a feeling that it’s the latter.

Zucchini     Bread

I don’t think that neighbors don’t know each other because people aren’t as friendly as they used to be…but I think it’s more because of the fast paced environment in which we have become. There simply is no time to get to know each other. And when you do have a little extra time on your hands, it’s usually spent catching up on chores that have been ignored for way too long. Like a massive amount of laundry that I’m not going to even talk about right now…

It’s sad, really…to think that people just don’t take the time to introduce themselves…to get to know each other anymore.

Maybe it’s time for a change. 
I think we need to get to know each other…

Well…maybe with a few exceptions…. I have had a couple of run-ins with Drunk Lady. One incident involving her runaway dog, and my next door neighbor hosing her down with a garden hose…and it wasn’t a pretty scene… Hmmm…that just might be a story for another day…

So, I’m not going to lie… some introductions are just better left avoided…

Anyway…there are no introductions necessary for this zucchini bread. It’s been around forever, and I bet has visited just about every home in every neighborhood around the country. And just like neighbors, it’s a favorite for some…and not a favorite for others.

I happen to love zucchini bread. I cannot even begin to describe just how moist this bread is. The first thing you detect is that delicious taste of toasted walnuts, with a hint of cinnamon to finish… that just makes this a delicious start to your day, a midday snack, a meal, or even a little something to nibble on at night.

And since zucchini is abundant right about now, maybe it would be a great idea to bake up a few loaves, tie them up with a ribbon…and share them with the neighbors you’ve yet to meet… what a perfect way to make new friends!

Life is good.. It’s a “Love Thy Neighbor…Love thy Zucchini Bread” kind of good.


Zucchini   Bread

Zucchini Bread
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup zucchini, finally grated
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts (see notes)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8" x 4" loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Beat the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vegetable oil on high until creamy.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and beat on medium speed for about two minutes, or until the mixture is well blended.
  5. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts.
  6. Pour into the greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick that is inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven, and let sit in pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the pan, and let cool on cooling rack.
  9. When cool, drizzle with glaze.
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and water until smooth and creamy. If need be, add a little more water to desired glaze consistency.
  2. Pour over cooled zucchini bread.
  3. Enjoy!
Toasted Walnuts are so easy to prepare, and so worth the few minutes it takes to make them!
Spread the walnuts out on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. You'll know that they're ready when the delicious scent of walnuts fills your kitchen!


Watermelon Grapefruit Granita

Watermelon Grapefruit   GranitaI was told a long time ago that fuzzy bumblebees don’t sting.
That is a falsehood.
They do. And they sting hard.

I was weeding my flower beds, lost in my own little world… when I heard the hum of a bee in my ear. Not looking up, I swatted the air near my ear…and continued on with my weeding…. not realizing that a bunch of angry fuzzy bumble bees were forming an arrow above me, and I was their target. It seems that I had dug into their nest that they had inconspicuously built next to my salvia plant.

The sharp pain coming from my right leg quickly brought me out of my daydreams…and into the hard reality of screaming and flailing my arms through my yard for all the world to see as I desperately ran to save my life.

Okay. I exaggerate.

Oh, I screamed and flailed my arms all right… but it was probably only a few bees that I had agitated, because only a few bees were actually chasing me…the majority of them were still working the flowers around my yard.

Three of them did manage to get me. The others hovered around the porch while I stood at the door watching them, and examining the damage that they did to me. I found a can of wasp poison under the sink, and as soon as the coast was clear, I went out and sprayed the ground near my salvia.

I was hurt, and I was angry.

I stood back for a while, watching a few of the stray bees try to find a way back into their nest, because I must have broken their entrance. They kept trying to find their entrance, but it just wasn’t there anymore. As I stood there… I looked around my yard, watching the other bees peacefully moving from flower to flower, while unbeknownst to them, I had destroyed their home. I felt bad for them, but I knew to keep my distance, because I’m pretty sure they didn’t feel bad for me. I was their enemy. The one who destroyed their village.

And my hurt and anger turned to empathy and guilt.

It turns out that the area in which I sprayed wasn’t even close to their nest…and it didn’t take them long to build a new entrance…and within a couple of days, they were back to peacefully working their fields. We’ve figured out a way to live in peace. With my shovel hanging in the garage, I’ll sit on my porch, and watch them not five feet away from me, go from one flower to the next, without giving me a second glance.

If I leave them be, they’ll leave me be.
It turns out that they really don’t sting…unless, of course….they’re threatened…

All living things, no matter how big or how small, have to share this big living space we call Earth. And during the warmer weather, the population grows, and we become one big melting pot of human, animal, and insect, and we have to take the bad with the good.

The bad being insects.
The good being watermelon.

watermelon granita

I just cannot seem to get enough of it lately. I’m not even going to tell you how many cubes of watermelon were popped into my mouth, as I was cutting them up to throw in the blender to make this granita… I don’t know if it was the heat of July that produced such sweet and juicy watermelon, but every single one I’ve brought home has been delicious!

Granita is one of my most favorite ways to eat watermelon, or fruit in general…it’s so light and refreshing on hot summer days…the perfect sweet treat…icy and cold… This is definitely a dessert that can be dressed up…or dressed down. You can serve it in a paper cone… or with it’s gorgeous pink color, serve it in a champagne glass to your treasured guests! I do prefer the latter, only because, well… it’s pretty.

Sweet watermelon loves tart grapefruit. The flavors complement each other so well, the sweetness of the watermelon is the first your tastebuds experience…with a lingering flavor of grapefruit at the end. A taste, that no doubt, will have you and your guests enjoying spoonful, after spoonful. They’re so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making them all along! Have kids? You can leave the vodka out with no effect. This is just as delicious without the vodka, and the kids will love it!

Life is good. It’s a “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change…” (Charles Darwin)” kind of good.


Watermelon   Grapefruit Granita

Watermelon Grapefruit Granita
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
  • Pulp and juice of one pink grapefruit
  • ⅓ cup grapefruit vodka
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp flaked sea salt
  • Juice of one lime
  • Mint leaves for garnish
  1. Add the watermelon, grapefruit, grapefruit vodka, sugar, sea salt, and lime to a blender. Pulse a few times until the watermelon and grapefruit are liquefied.
  2. Pour into a glass 9 x 11 dish.
  3. Place in freezer for one hour.
  4. After one hour, remove from freezer, and stir with a fork. Place back in freezer for another hour.
  5. After one hour, remove from freezer, and scrape and stir with a fork. Place back in freezer for another hour.
  6. After one hour, remove from freezer, and scrape and stir with a fork.
  7. Serve immediately, or place back in freezer until ready to serve.
  8. To serve: Spoon into your favorite bowls or glasses. Garnish with mint.
  9. Enjoy!


Blistered Tomato Crostini

Blistered Tomato CrostiniSummer.

My relationship with it is so up in the air. Somedays I love it, somedays I hate it. But you know that already, because I complain about summer the whole few months that we live it.

But today.. today bred such a gorgeous morning.
How could I not love it?

I woke up this morning to a low lying mist among the still green on the hills. The birds were singing in the trees, which was…in my opinion…their best concert yet… and a most perfect breeze fluttered here and there through the open windows.

It just smelled like summer.

That close your eyes and take a deep breath…

Relish in the moment…moment.Blistered    Tomato   Crostini

My excitement always grows with the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer… and most of the time I love to enjoy them in their natural state…especially cherry tomatoes. Blistering them brings out their sweet sugars, yet leaves you with a hint of charred taste, which makes you want to go for that second bite..

The sweet ricotta, and saltiness from the parmesan complements the sweetness from the tomato, over a slightly charred crispy garlic toast, and topped off with a drizzle of high quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil…sprinkled with a little basil fresh from the garden..life seriously does not get any better…and this was the perfect breakfast for the most perfect morning.

Life is good. It’s a “In the blink of an eye, we’ll be covered in snow… so the next time I complain of the heat..please remind me of today, and how much I really do love summer…” kind of good.


Blistered Tomato   Crostini

Blistered Tomato Crostini
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Two small bunches of cherry tomatoes, left on the vine. (Figure about 3 or 4 tomatoes per baguette slice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup ricotta (I use whole milk)
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • ¼ cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 slices baguette, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Small basil leaves, or chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the tomatoes to the olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully stir until all sides are evenly blistered and popped open. About five minutes. Remove from pan, and place on paper towel lined plate.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, black pepper, and parsley. Stir until just combined. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Toast the baguette slices under the broiler or on the grill. Toast to your desired darkness. When the slices are toasted, rub the garlic generously over one side of each slice.
  4. To assemble:
  5. Add a spoonful of ricotta to the top of each garlic baguette slice. Top each slice with four blistered tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  6. Serve immediately…and Enjoy!
Note: I normally don't like to tell you what to buy, or how much to spend…but a high quality balsamic is so worth the price…You’ll marvel at the difference in taste. I always use D’Avolio’s 18 year traditional balsamic. It’s only like $15, and it lasts a long time! www.davolios.com (And no, they’re not paying me to give them this little plug. They don’t even know me!)


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