Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt

Peanut butter and dark chocolate are flavor soulmates.  These cookies are the perfect combination of sweet (but not too sweet) and savory, thanks to the addition of sea salt.Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt | A Nerd Cooks

I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter?  They’re great alone, and even better together.  The only thing that could possibly elevate this classic flavor combination to new heights is the addition of sea salt.  And it does.  It’s perfect.

I made these for coworkers, and all four dozen were devoured.  I think that’s a good sign.

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt | A Nerd Cooks

I found these cookies on the blog Baker by Nature.

You’ll need (makes ~4 dozen cookies):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
  • sea salt, for sprinkling on top

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and peanut butter for a minute or so.  Add the sugars and cream together for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.  Make sure the first egg is incorporated before adding the second.

In a couple of batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Fold in the dark chocolate.

Using a cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Chill for 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).  Normally I’m not a huge advocate of chilling dough, but here I think it’s necessary.  The dough is pretty soft and fluffy, and would spread waaayyy out if you didn’t chill it.  Depending on how big your cookie scoop is, you’ll likely need to do this in a couple of batches, as all of the dough won’t fit onto just 2 cookie sheets.  Alternately, line more cookie sheets with parchment paper and do it all at once!

When you’re ready to get your bake on, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  With the refrigerated dough balls a few inches apart from one another, bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Sprinkle the warm cookies with sea salt.  Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt | A Nerd Cooks

Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese – Updated!

Citrus zest and rosemary were made to be included in the cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese.Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

I was somewhat skeptical of this recipe when I first saw it, but was intrigued nonetheless.  I mean, I think that rosemary makes enough sense, but citrus flavors in mac and cheese?

It totally works.  Trust.  You can also mix it up based on the citrus that you have on hand.  I just happened to have lemons and oranges in the house, but grapefruit zest would probably be pretty great too.Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

I blogged about this this mac and cheese before, and my original post can be found here.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb short cut pasta (I used whole wheat mini shells here)
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz shredded cheese*
  • 2.5 oz shredded parmesan cheese

*I’ve used a mix of cheddar and gruyere, and also all cheddar. It’s all good.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package, but undercook it by just a couple of minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In the same pot that was used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk together.  Cook the roux for about 30 seconds.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the milk in.  Whisk occasionally until the white sauce starts to thicken up.  Add the citrus zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Whisk to combine.  Add the cheese (not the parmesan) and whisk until it is melted into the sauce.  Taste and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat everything.  Pour it into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the shredded parmesan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until everything is bubbly and lightly browned.  Let it cool for a few minutes before digging in.

Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd CooksCitrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

Broiled Grapefruit

Broiled grapefruit is a tasty, healthy way to spice up your brunch routine.Broiled Grapefruit | A Nerd CooksI don’t know about you, but when I hear “grapefruit” the only thing I can think of is Aziz Ansari’s bit about how 50 Cent doesn’t know what a grapefruit is.  Haven’t seen it?  Here it is.  Even better: 50 Cent insists that he knows what a grapefruit is, despite Ansari’s claims.

Ridicule of 50 Cent aside, these broiled grapefruits are an easy, healthy way to dress up a breakfast/brunch staple.  The brown sugar and whipped cream offset the natural tartness of the grapefruit, and the cinnamon really works with and complements the citrus flavor.

Broiled Grapefruit | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need (serves 1-2):

  • 1 grapefruit, halved
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • whipped cream, optional

Preheat the broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Use a paring knife to cut around the outside of the grapefruit and to separate the segments.  Sprinkle each half of the grapefruit with 2 tsp of brown sugar.  Dust each half with a bit of cinnamon, too.

Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the brown sugar is bubbly and is beginning to caramelize.  You can broil it for longer, but make sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.

Let it cool for a minute or two before topping with whipped cream and a little more cinnamon.  Dig in!

Broiled Grapefruit | A Nerd Cooks

Skinny Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are full of chocolate and raspberry flavor, and are kept super healthy by using bananas and Greek yogurt, too!Skinny Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins | A Nerd CooksFor those of you who saw my Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread earlier this week, you can see that a bit of a pattern is forming here.  That pattern is delicious baked goods about which you don’t have to feel so bad for eating =)

I’ve been grabbing one of these muffins to have as a mid-afternoon snack every day this week.  They definitely satisfy cravings for something sweet and carb-y, while still being pretty decent for you.  The sweet/tart pop of the raspberries adds a nice contrast, too!

Skinny Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins | A Nerd CooksI put the next recipe to appear on this blog to a vote on Facebook (click on over and give A Nerd Cooks a like!), and these muffins beat out some macaroni and cheese and a broiled grapefruit by a landslide!

Don’t worry, the mac and cheese and grapefruit will be posted next week.Skinny Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

Thank you, Sally’s Baking Addiction, for this recipe.

You’ll need (makes 12 muffins):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used mini), plus more for topping
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh raspberries, frozen

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.  You don’t want to use paper liners in this instance, because these muffins will really stick to the liners.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the honey/maple syrup and brown sugar.  After removing as many of the lumps as possible, add the bananas, egg, and vanilla extract.  Mix to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and start to combine.  Stream the milk in, continuing to mix until everything is combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and raspberries, being careful to not smash them or dye the entire batter pink with the raspberry juices.

Using the prepared muffin tin, fill the cups to the top.  Sprinkle with some more chocolate chips, if desired.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the muffins.  Let them cool completely.

Skinny Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread

This banana bread is dense, fudgy, chocolatey, and – best of all – HEALTHY. You can feel good about indulging in a slice or two.Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread | A Nerd CooksI bought a bunch of bananas intending to use them in smoothies.  As is almost always the case, smoothies went unmade, and I was left with some dangerously ripe bananas.

I’ve blogged about banana bread and banana bread cookies (both delicious).  But chocolate banana bread that’s healthy?  That’s what I’m talking about.

Okay so it’s not 100% guilt free, but it makes some pretty sensible swaps.  This recipe subs Greek yogurt and honey for butter, oil, and granulated sugar.

Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on the blog The Baker Mama.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, plus more for the top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Set this aside.

In another medium-sized bowl, mix the yogurt, honey, vanilla extract, egg, and milk until combined.  In a couple of batches, add this to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.

Add the mashed bananas and stir until combined.  Fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.  Top with more chocolate chips.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread | A Nerd Cooks

Slutty Brownies – Updated

These treats are everything you could want them to be and more: part chocolate chip cookie, part brownie, part Oreo, and 100% decadent.Slutty Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

My only beef with these treats is the name.  Come on now.  Judge our desserts not by their extracurricular activities.  Can’t they just live?

Slightly judgmental name or no, these brownies are amazing.  No doubt about that.  They’re a mash-up of some classic treats, and somehow the whole is greater than the sum of its delicious parts.  Make them and you will not be sorry.  Neither will your coworkers with whom you share them.Slutty Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

Continuing with my theme of late, I had blogged about these Slutty Brownies a while back, but this recipe was in serious need of a face lift.  I used a combination of this recipe for the cookie layer and this one for the brownie layer.

You’ll need:

For the cookie layer –

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 24 Double Stuffed Oreo cookies

For the brownie layer – 

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  Set it aside.

First, you’ll make the cookie layer.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions, followed by the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients, little by little, to the wet.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish in an even layer.  Top with the Oreo cookies, pressing them into the dough slightly.

To make the brownie layer, mix the eggs, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl.  This is actually surprisingly difficult to do.  Mix things together as well as you can.

Add the granulated sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined.  Add the butter/sugar to the cocoa/egg mixture and stir until combined.

Add the flour, stirring until the flour just disappears and everything is smooth.  Spread the brownie batter over the Oreo and chocolate chip cookie layers.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Slutty Brownies | A Nerd Cooks

Mexican Chicken Soup – Updated!

The addition of tomatoes and jalapeños put a fun twist on traditional chicken soup. Mexican Chicken Soup | A Nerd Cooks

I’ve been making this soup regularly for the past 5 years.  It is definitely a favorite of ours, for so many reasons.  The broth is flavorful and zesty, it’s packed full of vegetables, and depending on how you dress it up, it’s pretty healthy, too!  This soup is great immediately after making it, as leftovers later in the week, and it freezes beautifully.  Mexican Chicken Soup | A Nerd Cooks

You can certainly eat this soup plain, and it would still be great.  But let me highly recommend that you add some shredded cheese and crumbled tortilla chips.  But not just any tortilla chip: whole grain tortilla chips.  Do this, and you will not regret it.  Trust.Mexican Chicken Soup | A Nerd Cooks

I blogged about this soup 3 years ago.   The original is a modified version of one of Ina Garten’s soups.

You’ll need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla chips, for serving

For the chicken, you have some options: poach the chicken breasts, roast them, or use the meat from a rotisserie chicken.  Set the cooked meat aside.

Add the olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot (I use a Dutch oven) and heat over over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the broth, tomatoes, jalapeños, frozen corn, cumin, salt, pepper, and cooked chicken.  Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and tortilla chips, if desired.

Mexican Chicken Soup | A Nerd Cooks