Peanut Butter

You’ll fall for these peanut butter cookies that can be enjoyed year-round and dressed up for special occasions. Get cookie recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Call it tradition, call it an excuse to eat sweets, but December calls most of us to bake cookies. My family’s cookie routine starts just after Thanksgiving, when we prepare Vanilla Bean Cookies and Chocolate Rum Balls so that they can “ripen” in time for Christmas. Many other cookies follow, with old favorites and new flavors filling the holiday platter when the family finally gathers.

Many holiday cookies only appear once a year, but I always add some all-occasion cookies to the plate. I tackled peanut butter cookies this year. These cookies have been around for close to a century, with most sources attributing the classic crosshatched pattern to a 1930s Pillsbury cookbook. But many recipes specifically avoid natural peanut butters and instead pile extra sweeteners onto commercial peanut butters already heavy on the sugar and hydrogenated oils. Recipes I’ve tried that call for freshly ground peanut butter turn out more peanut slab than cookie. By testing and tweaking basic cookie ratios, I came up with a version that can be enjoyed year-round and dressed up for special occasions.
Learn to make Freshly Ground Peanut Butter Cookies and Peanut–Ganache Thumbprint Cookies

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Savory Spreads: Toms and Zukes

High-pectin, high-acid fruits are natural partners for low-pectin, low-acid vegetables in savory spreads. Get canning recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

The first savory spread I canned, from Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, featured tomatoes and basil. It inspired me not only to evolve the recipe but also to make other spreads that feature vegetables. Krissoff’s book also showed me the advantages of incorporating fresh fruit into these spreads. Pectin occurs naturally in fruits, and some fruits, like apples and oranges, have lots of it. Most fruits also have enough natural acid that you don’t need to add vinegar to preserve them safely. This makes them natural partners for low-pectin, low-acid vegetables.

In this week’s recipes, the apples don’t have to look or even taste perfect: you’re mainly interested in their pectin. So save your sweetest apples for fresh eating and use tart, underripe ones with your tomato and zucchini. You also have lots of choices for tomatoes and basil, but for the prettiest jars, stick to one color of each per batch.

Learn to make Tomato–Apple–Basil Jam and Fall Marmalade

Sweet and Savory

Savory spreads come in many styles, have many names, and can use fruits and vegetables. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.

When we think of homemade preserves and spreads, we often picture the sweet fruits of summer, like berries and cherries. But they can be so much more, especially in fall. Late-ripening tomatoes and peppers and fall-harvested onions, apples, and plums are just a few of my favorite ingredients in jams, jellies, and other spreads.

You might be thinking, “Do you really put vegetables in jam?” Yes, I do! These savory spreads are thick with flavor but not as sweet as spring and summer spreads. Because many of the vegetables are low in acid, they need to be treated differently from fruit preserves. Some have a fair amount of sugar, some are heavy on vinegar or another acidic ingredient, and many use a combination of both to create a sweet and savory blend that’s safe to process in a boiling water bath.

Read more about making savory spreads