Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Hershey Kiss Cookie

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister

In 1957, Freda Smith from Gibsonburg, Ohio pressed a Hershey Kiss into a peanut butter cookie and history was made! This cookie did not win the 1957 Pillsbury Bake-Off contest, but it become a huge star in the cookie world!

Peanut Blossom is the official title of this classic cookie but it goes by lots of different names including Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie and Hershey Kiss Cookie to name just a few.

The Chocolate Kiss comes wrapped in silver foil which needs to get removed.

Some of the basic ingredients needed to make the cookie (shown below) may already be in your kitchen –

The “baking specific” ingredients (shown below) are –

(Crisco is a vegetable shortening. Be sure to buy the one with zero “trans fats”).

Let’s startcooking!


  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

and put these ingredients in a medium bowl.

Using a whisk, gently whisk these ingredients together and then set the bowl aside for the moment.

Measure out, using dry measuring cups,

  • 1/2 cup of shortening and
  • 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter

Put the shortening and peanut butter into a large mixing bowl and, with an electric hand mixer, mix until well blended.

Add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and…

…1/3 cup of lightly packed light brown sugar.

Beat these ingredients together until everything is light and fluffy

Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Crack one egg into a small bowl. Check to see that there are no shell pieces and then add the egg to the mixing bowl.

Add 2 Tablespoons of milk and…

…1 teaspoon of vanilla extract…

…blend everything together…

…really well…

…making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, start adding the flour to the mixing bowl.

Beat well after each addition.

The batter will become very stiff.

Now we’re going to roll the batter into balls to make the cookies.

This recipe will make approximately 48 cookies. For the cookies to bake evenly, they all need to be the same size. It helps to put all the batter onto a plate and divide the batter into four parts.

Then divide each part into fours again.

You should now be able to get three cookies from each section.

Roll the cookies into uniform balls…

…and roll the balls into some granulated sugar.

Place the balls on a cookie sheet. (You will have to do this in two batches. The cookie sheet must to totally cool before adding the second batch of cookies.)

Bake the cookies in a pre-heated 375 F. degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

As soon as you remove the tray from the oven, press an unwrapped chocolate kiss into the top of each cookie. The sides of the cookie will crack slightly.

(GREAT TIP from Natalie in the comment section – “While you make the dough and roll them into balls, press a Hershey in each cookie and then remove them so when you bake it there will be no cracks in your cookies.”)

Then with a flat spatula, remove the cookies from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.

It will take a couple of hours for the chocolate kiss to become totally firm again. Then you can store these cookies in an air-tight tin, between sheets of wax paper, at room temperature. Be sure they are the cookies are totally cooled before storing them. If they do begin to dry out, place a slice of bread on a sheet of waxed paper and put it inside the air tight container. Replace the slice of bread as needed.


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5 Steps to Perfect Home-Made Gifts from the Kitchen

posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister

This is the year for you to WOW! all of your family and friends with that perfect home-made gift from the kitchen. There is no reason to spend money on gourmet-shop treats when you can make them yourself at a fraction of the cost. All my recipes are designed for the novice cook, so there is no need for you to feel like you are heading to an area outside your comfort zone.

1. Start by making a list of everyone who would really appreciate a decadent and truly delicious home-made gift.

This is not just the “naughty or nice” list. Any hand-made gift will be seen as a gift from the heart just because it shows a bit more effort than a store-bought gift. Let’s face it; some people would be just as happy with a beautifully wrapped jar of olives!

2. Choose the recipe

This is not as difficult as you might think! Have a look at these recipes and decide which one fits your skill level:

Chocolate – Fudge


Chocolate – Brownie Cupcakes – These would look beautiful individually wrapped with a nice big red bow tied on each one!http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_8803.JPG

Hershey Kiss Cookie


Rudolf’s Christmas Cookies


Chocolate Bark


Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate


Chocolate Chip Cookies


Decide how many cookies or pieces of fudge will make up a gift. Four is a good number to start with for an individual. Many cookie recipes, including my Hershey Kiss Cookie recipe, make 48 cookies. That’s 12 potential gifts right there! (By the way, the cookie jar in the above photo was my Mom’s cookie jar. From the age of about 5 years old, I was always the one who got their hand caught in the cookie jar!)

Of course there may be someone on your list that would prefer savory treat! Chicken Soup anyone?

Chicken Noodle Soup


3. Make up a grocery list

Check your food cupboard for the ingredients you may already have on hand. Be sure your ingredients are still fresh. Things like sugar and vanilla extract have a very long shelf life, but flour and walnuts will eventually go off even if stored properly. (Are those miniscule black dots in my flour actually moving????)

4. Decide on what’s the best way to wrap your food gift

This is a REALLY important step. You want your gift to stay fresh and still look fantastic.

Gift wrapping does not have to break the bank. Discount houses and craft stores sell really inexpensive and festive tin cans that are perfect for keeping home-made cookies fresh. A package of clear, cellophane, gift bags is also an option. You can synch the bags together with some festive yarn which is much less expensive than using ribbon. Your gift will look just like the way the gourmet shops wrap their sweet treats.

5. Startcooking!

All of my recipes are in a video or a photo-tutorial format. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Happy Holidays!

Kathy Maister

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How to: Mushrooms

posted in Food, Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

When it comes to buying mushrooms, we often go by appearance rather than taste. We stick to those clean-cut white button mushrooms, perhaps a bit intimidated by the wilder characters in the fungus family. But it’s worth getting to know all those odd-looking mushrooms—they can really add taste and sophistication to your cooking.

Most supermarkets sell a few varieties of fresh mushrooms, including portobello, oyster and shiitake, as well as bags of dried mushrooms. But beginner cooks may not be sure how to clean specialty mushrooms, or what to do with them. This post will take the mystery out of buying mushrooms and help figure out what kind to use when.

I have already covered the basics on how to wash and store mushrooms, but the basic idea is to rinse them (never soak them) and use a cloth or paper towel to remove any clingy dirt.

White Mushrooms (Button Mushrooms)

These immature, unopened mushrooms are probably the most common in North American supermarkets. They can be bought either fresh or canned. (I do not recommend using canned mushrooms.) Some grocery stores sell them pre-sliced but, once sliced, these mushrooms spoil quickly; they oxidize after being cut, turning brown and soft once exposed to air. They can be eaten raw or cooked in almost any dish, but their flavor intensifies with cooking. Bigger button mushrooms can be left whole and stuffed, for an appetizer or side dish. Check out startcooking.com’s recipe video for bacon-and-cream cheese Stuffed Mushrooms.

Baby Bella Mushrooms (Cremini or Brown Mushrooms)

These are a darker, more flavorful version of the white button mushroom. They can be used in all the same ways as the white button mushroom.

Portobello (or Portabella) Mushrooms

These are the grownup versions of the baby bella mushrooms, and can have caps that are six inches in diameter. They may be sliced and sautéed, but are often left whole and roasted. They have a rich taste and meaty texture that’s often likened to steak; some vegetarian recipes use them as a meat substitute. Their tough stems should be removed before cooking. Although the dark brown gills under the mushroom cap are edible, some prefer to remove them. To do this, simply scrape them off with the tip of a knife. Here’s startcooking.com’s recipe for Portobello Mushrooms and Goat Cheese.

Oyster Mushrooms

These fan-shaped mushrooms grow on the sides of trees, looking kind of like an (you guessed it) oyster. They have a mild taste, and work well in stir-fries, soups, sauces and many other dishes. Cut off the base of the mushroom, then separate its layers before cleaning them.

Shiitake Mushrooms

If you like Asian food, you’ve probably tasted these in miso soup, sushi or in Chinese stir-fries. They have white stems, brown caps and typically sprout off logs. Shiitakes add a deep, smoky flavour and chewy texture to all kinds of dishes. They are available fresh or dried, which is said to have a more intense flavour. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms are associated with longevity and good health.

Enoki Mushrooms

These long, crisp mushrooms are usually used in soups, but can also go in salads and sandwiches. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are available fresh and canned. They grow naturally on the hackberry tree (enoki in Japanese). Cut off the roots before using.

Maitake Mushrooms (also known as Hen of the Woods, Sheepshead or Ram’s Head Mushrooms)

Clustering around the base of trees, these feathery fungi are known as the King of Mushrooms in Japan because they can grow very large. Used in China and Japan for medicinal purposes, they have a strong, woodsy flavour and meaty texture. They work well in stir-fries.

Porcini Mushrooms (these are the dried version)

Prized in Italian cooking, these large-capped mushrooms typically grow in Europe and North America. They can be bought fresh and, because of their meaty texture, can be grilled and sautéed much like portobellos. They are often available dried in bags, and after being soaked in water, can be added to soups, sauces, stews and risottos. Read on for more about reconstituting dried mushrooms.

Dried Wild Mushrooms

It’s nice to have a bag of mixed dried mushrooms (like the ones above) on hand to add “oomf” to all kinds of dishes. Just remember to leave time to reconstitute them. There are various ways to do this, depending on how much time you have. The dried mushrooms can sit in a bowl of cool water overnight, or in warm water for 20 minutes before cooking. They can also be boiled for 10 minutes before cooking. The water that they steep in will have lots of flavor and, if strained through a coffee filter to remove grit, can be used in place of other liquids in recipes.


After I finished photographing all these mushrooms, I sliced them and cooked them in a large frying pan with a small amount of olive oil. They were FANTASTIC!



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