July 4th is just a little more special in my little town of Summit, New Jersey. That’s because Summit is all-American all the time. Our neighborhood, with 30-plus kids, means instant play dates, pick up ball games, sleepovers and potlucks without ever leaving the street. But, on July 4th, Summit hosts a fireworks display that rivals anything in a larger city. Families all over town host open houses and cookouts and not much has changed in the last fifty or so years. So, if you’re bringing potluck to someone’s house this July 4th, here’s an all-American recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. They couldn’t be easier to whip up and they just happen to be gluten free too!
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When comfort food and a traditional recipe collide it can only mean one thing: pineapple upside-down cake. This moist and dense cake with a sticky caramel topping was a dessert staple in the good old days but it’s so much better today with fresh pineapple and raspberries (for that bright red touch). Fresh fruit vs. canned takes an old-fashioned dessert to a new sophisticated level and this easy-to-follow recipe means you can make it any time.
For home cooks, a favorite holiday tradition is a cookie exchange and chewy molasses cookies will be your new go-to. Everyone brings a batch of their finest and goes home with an assortment. It’s not too late to invite your besties over for some good cheer and cookies and it couldn’t be easier if you follow Secrets of a Home Cook’s three simple stress-free guidelines:
These next few weeks are tough ones for us parents. With back-to-school imminent it’s a mental tug of war between kicking their heiney’s out the door and hugging them tightly so they never leave. Whether it’s your anxiety or theirs, a home-baked volcano brownies makes everything better. This classic recipe is topped with nuts, chocolate and toasty marshmallows, giving the impression of a volcano erupting. Could it be a homemade science project? Nope, it’s just a little love from home.
What do you get when you cross a chocolate chip cookie with a graham cracker? You get a rocky edge cookie, of course. It’s the best of both worlds all rolled into one and super easy for kids to make – hint hint – for Mother’s Day.
Cooking at home is not always as predictably routine as it seems. So what’s a home cook to do when the household turns upside down into an “infirmary”? That’s right, the cook, moi, vertically challenged from a broken ankle and catering to two kids, downright miserable recovering from dreaded wisdom teeth surgery. The challenge, to make a seriously soft dinner on crutches that’s good enough to please this high-maintenance foodie family. All kidding aside (sort of), this version of three cheese mac and cheese, made with the offerings from the fridge turned out to be a huge it.
Trust me, this is the last brownie recipe you’ll ever need. The edges are chewy, the middle fudgy and every bite is a molten chocolate brownie flavor so rich, and you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with store bought mixes. The secret is to take the brownies out of the oven when they seem underdone. They’ll continue to cook and as they cool they’ll take on that elusive texture that makes molten chocolate brownies just about the best dessert ever.
Remember seven layer bars? Always a hit at bake sales because it has seven sugary layers of chocolate, butterscotch and toffee chips, among other delights, baked together creating a mishmash bar of indiscriminate sugar. But, there’s no reason to languish in the past with this recipe. You can update the ingredients with high quality bittersweet chocolate chips, dried tart cherries and unsweetened coconut to balance out the flavors. Ingredients like these were always hard to find, but in 2013 they’re available in almost any supermarket. This particular recipe breaks all the rules by adding an eighth delicious layer of pretzels (shocking!). The result: sweet, salty, chewy and crunchy, so good it’s dinner party worthy.
Before there was chicken broth in a box (which lasts forever) or chicken tenders that really don’t look like chicken at all or cooked chicken in shrink-wrap (which almost lasts forever), there was plain old chicken. It’s hard to believe that back in the olden days a string of dinners started with one whole chicken. Home cooks are not the wasteful sort, so roast that chicken and save the carcass for the easiest, tastiest and thriftiest homemade mom’s chicken noodle soup ever.
There’s nothing wrong with last minute Valentine’s if you don’t mind spending a few minutes in the kitchen whipping up the best homemade salted caramel sauce ever. Not only is it tasty and luscious poured on almost any sweat treat, there are only four ingredients and you probably already have them in your kitchen. So, don’t delay.