Comfort

Super Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

The Starving Artist is gonna keep this post real simple. Sometimes your day just blows up, and all you're thinking is, "Screw it, I need some f-ing cookies." So you prowl through the cabinets, scrape together whatever ingredients you have on hand, and end up with these Super Simple Peanut Butter Cookies. Sometimes life sucks, but these cookies don't.

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Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set this aside, too. Life kinda sucks today, so we're setting a lot of things aside.
  3. Now, setting aside whatever is pissing you off, grab a large mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes until well combined.
  4. Next, add in the peanut butter and continue mixing until well combined while contemplating a more peaceful state of mind, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, then mix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Now that you're feeling a little better, place the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Scoop out a golf ball sized wad of dough from the bowl, roll into a ball, and coat in the granulated sugar. Place each ball of cookie dough on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to leave a little room between each one. Gently press down with a fork on the top of each cookie to make a small criss-cross pattern.
  6. Finally, bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. And Boom! You're in a better mood, and you also have cookies.

Super Simple Sloppy Joes

The Starving Artist recently splurged a bit on a nostalgic impulse buy. When the UPS man showed up with his giant box, I was once again the proud owner of a brand spank'n new, cherry red, Schwinn cruiser. One speed and pedal brakes, just like when I was a 10 years old. Those were the glory days. That bike bought freedom. Cruising the neighborhood, pop'n wheelies, baseball cards in the spokes, stopping by a neighbor's house to grab a quick drink from the hose – not a care in the world. Just be home when the street lights come on. And once you got home, mom had the perfect summer supper on the stove. Sloppy Joes. So drop your bike in the front yard, sprint to the kitchen, and grab a plate of these Super Simple Sloppy Joes. Nostalgia tastes great.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 & 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup chunky salsa (I used H-E-B Thick N' Chunky Mild Salsa)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Potato rolls, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the ground beef. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease.
  2. Next, stir in ketchup, salsa, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 20-30 minutes. Serve on potato rolls, and taste the nostalgia.

Double Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

One of the most surprising aspects of life as a starving artist is the near complete absence of female companionship. I mean, come on, the whole reason you get into the starving artist racket is to leverage your deep, brooding, artistic sensibilities to attract the ladies WITHOUT having to go to all the trouble of learning to play the guitar and sing, or God forbid, hold down a real job. The sweet kiss of a lovely, devoted lover was supposed to be the payoff for a life lived in near poverty committed to bringing life to the beauty and depth of the human condition. Hah! Someone sold me a bill of goods. The only sweetness in the starving artist's life these days comes from these Double Chocolate Chipotle Cookies. Just like that longed for lover, they're sweet at first blush, bring a little heat later on, but best of all, they don't hog the sheets.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 & 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

Directions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place the dark chocolate in a double boiler and heat until the chocolate is warm and smoothly melted. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. While your chocolate melts, in a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, 1 & 1/2 cups of white sugar, cocoa powder, and chipotle pepper until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each egg into the mixture before adding the next, then beat in the vanilla extract and water.
  4. Next, mix the melted chocolate into the butter mixture, then gently stir in the flour mixture until incorporated. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. When the dough has cooled enough to handle, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll the cookie dough into small balls, then roll the balls in the sugar to coat. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. I roll them up A bit smaller than a golf ball, and put them 6 at a time on a standard cookie sheet.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until cookies are set, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet for a minute or two before removing to racks to finish cooling. Keep on baking until your dough is gone, and you're desperate to taste the sweet, spicy taste of romance.

Philly Cheese Steak Grilled Cheese

Leftovers can be a troublesome thing. The starving artist never knows exactly what to do with them. I'm invested. I've put time, energy, even a little creativity into whipping up something special only to find I made too much for a reclusive, single guy to polish off.  I don't want to just throw them out, but how do you bring new life to something the day after when you're a lazy starving artist? Just reheating doesn't seem right. The remains of good meal – and good times – should be polished off in way that gives new life to those memories. Sort of like remembering old friends. That's where this Philly Cheese Steak Grilled Cheese Sandwich comes in. The rebirth of leftover steak, the discovery of something new, and the rekindling of good times with solid – albeit quirky – friends.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 slices of white onion
  • 8-10 thin slices of green bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1/3 heaping cup of thinly sliced leftover steak
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 Slices of provolone cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • 2 slices of French bread
  • Butter

Directions

  1. Add the olive oil to a pan over medium heat.
  2. Slice the onion, chop the slices in half, then add to the pan once it's heated.
  3. Once the onions begin to soften (about 5 minutes), add the sliced green pepper and minced garlic, cooking for about two minutes.
  4. Next, add in the sliced steak. Salt and pepper to taste, then c ook until the steak is warm.
  5. Spread a little butter on the outside of each slice of bread, and spread mayonnaise on the inside of both slices. (Yes, I know, mayonnaise is NOT a traditional cheese steak ingredient.)
  6. Place the steak mix on the bread, top with the provolone cheese, and then the other slice of bread.
  7. Place your soon-to-be delicious sandwich in the pan, turn heat to medium, and cook until golden brown on each side.
  8. Cut in half, dig in, and remember the good old days.

Cheesy Beef & Noodle Casserole

One of the benefits of being a starving artist is the innate ability to justify long periods of inactivity. The inspiration isn't there, so you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Before you know it, when inspiration finally hits, it's been almost a year, and the weight to make something special of the late arriving but interesting idea looms large. "Don't screw it up" is top of mind, so you dive in with gusto leavened with a light touch, and as few distractions as possible. That's what's perfect about this casserole. It's full of flavor, easy to make, and almost impossible to screw up. If art were as easy as this tasty dish, I wouldn't still be a starving artist. Sorry StudioHotplate has been on such a long hiatus, but if I'm not in the studio, the hotplate goes unmanned. Anyhow, I'm back, inspired, and so is this Cheesy Beef & Noodle Casserole.

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces egg noodles uncooked
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 & 1/4 lbs lean ground beef I used 90% lean
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the egg noodles and cook according to package directions. While your noodles cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, then add the ground beef to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula.
  3. Next, add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened and beef is cooked through.
  4. Now, add the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to the beef and stir to combine.
  5. Drain the noodles and add to the pan with the beef, then toss to combine.
  6. Finally, pour the beef and noodle mixture into a 9"x13" baking dish that's been coated in cooking spray, top with cheddar cheese, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.