Welcome! :-) Whatever brought you here today wasn't an accident, and I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm always glad to have folks drop in my kitchen for a visit and hope you'll feel right at home. We always have an ample supply of fresh lemonade, sweet tea, and a pot of coffee brewing along with a sideboard full of baked treats for you to enJOY while you're here. Relax and take your time as we visit and catch up on the latest news. Don't forget to email and let me know what's going on in your world, as well. And, come back soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Easter and Peanut Butter Cookies

Easter is one of those holidays, much like Christmas, where you don't fully understand its importance until you're an adult. When you're a child, you dress up in your best clothes for Easter Sunday and hear the stories of the resurrection of Christ in church. You also see the non-religious side of things, with the Easter bunny, hiding and seeking eggs, and receiving egg-shaped chocolates and candies in your Easter basket. Your brother and you fight over who gets the Cadbury Chocolate Eggs. Your parents take your family on an Easter picnic lunch of fried chicken and the fixings after Sunday church service. You go about the holiday, enjoying nature and the pretty Spring weather. But, especially when you're a child, it's hard to really take to heart the importance of Easter and what it means at its core.

Not to get too terribly deep (this is a food blog after all), but our family found real importance in these things, like the true meaning of Christian holidays. (See Momma's blog post last year on Easter.) I think as kids, we have this innocent idea of what life and celebrating holidays is about. And when we grow up, we realize that the things our parents taught us and by taking us to church at an early age was one of the best things they could ever do for us. I'm thankful for my Momma and Daddy and their strong faith and respect for the Bible and to follow its teachings. The truth of the matter is, Christ died for us and saved us from a life of sinfulness, and then He rose from the dead. Easter both commemorates and celebrates that truth. Of course that's a lot to swallow as a child. So maybe it's appropriate that you're introduced to these things as kids and only really understand it when you're older. It's about the gravity of what God did for us by sending his Son to die for us. It's both heartbreaking and life saving.

I'm so thankful to understand the true meaning of Easter. The chocolate eggs, the picnics and fried chicken, the bunny rabbits - that's all fun to enjoy. It's because of Christ that we can enjoy those things. Because this is my first Easter without my Momma, the truth of Christ's resurrection has held an even more crucial place in my life. I know that Momma is in Heaven with God. I know that because God sent his Son to die for us, we can be saved from an eternity apart from Him. And I know my Momma believed in her Savior and is with Him today. I know I will see God someday too, and I'll see my Momma again. That gives me so much JOY and reason to celebrate! It is with that hope that I hold on to and can fully experience the wonderful truth of Jesus's death and resurrection. That He lives. And she is with Him. And my heart is at peace knowing that truth.

This truth is reason for celebration, and Momma always said our family celebrates best with food - especially sweet desserts! One of our family's all-time favorite desserts is Peanut Butter Cookies. I can't tell you how many times I've eaten Momma's Peanut Butter Cookies over the years. Baked or raw dough, I love it all. And so does the rest of my family. Peanut Butter Cookies remind me of my Momma, and this Easter I am reminded not only of my Momma but also her presence with our risen Lord. I am so thankful for the hope we are given and the JOYful celebration that commences because of this hope!

Happy Easter, y'all!

Pat’s (Momma's) Peanut Butter Cookies

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks butter (1 cup) (Momma suggested 1 stick of Blue Bonnet margarine and 1 stick of salted butter, but I use 2 sticks of unsalted butter, both at room temp)

2 tablespoons Crisco solid (plain)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup moist brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs, beaten slightly

1 cup smooth peanut butter (basically half of a regular container)

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Optional: 1 cup M&M candies


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, sift flour, soda, salt and baking powder together, and set aside. In another large bowl cream sugars with electric mixer until well-blended. Add softened butter and Crisco and blend well; add eggs, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix thoroughly until smooth and fluffy. Do not use an electric mixer for the remaining steps. Use a spatula to combine flour mixture only long enough to form a smooth dough. (At this point add candies, like M&Ms, if using them) Using a cookie dropper or large tablespoon, dip rounded balls of dough to ungreased cookie sheets. Press cookies in a criss-cross fashion with fork dipped in flour. Bake 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven. You’ll want them to be very lightly golden. Remove and allow to sit on cookie sheet a minute before removing to countertop (aluminum foil or waxed paper lined) to cool completely before storing. Makes about 6-7 dozen, depending on size … “These are so yummy!” Momma says in her cookbook.
(Recipe Courtesy of "A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That" cookbook by Patricia Rains
Momma's Peanut Butter Cookies, arranged on a lovely Spring platter for Easter.
Assemble all of your ingredients for the cookies, making sure your butter is at room temp. (M&Ms are optional and can be added later, after the cookie batter is made.)

Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl.

 Blend sugars together.

Add butter, and cream sugar and butter together. (Add Crisco now, too, although I added it with the peanut butter, eggs and vanilla)

The mixture should become soft and fluffy.
Add the peanut butter, eggs and vanilla to the wet mixture, and blend.

This is what the final wet mixture should look like - basically like peanut butter.

 At this point, stop using the blender, and mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula. 

This is what the peanut butter dough will look like once blended thoroughly.

I took part of the batter and added regular M&Ms to give it a fun color.

I scooped out the dough balls using a cookie scoop and placed the cookie dough on a silicone baking sheet.

Using flour and a fork, I made a criss-cross pattern with the cookies. (You can do the criss-cross pattern on the M&M peanut butter cookies, too, but I chose not to on this one.)

 To the regular peanut butter cookies, I also added a sprinkle of sugar on top before baking.

The cookies are ready to bake!
The finished product - so yummy!

EnJOY this Easter!