‘Tis the season for garland. 24 hours of Christmas carols on the radio. Christmas movies overflowing on Netflix…which leads to White Christmas and continuous loop finding their way into the same sentence. Rooftops outlined in twinkle lights…making me question people’s idea of what a straight line actually is … because if it means wavy, they are spot on – or maybe their houses need re-roofed and if that is the case, I am just being an ass…however, butthead or not, I continue to wish people would stop outlining their houses in lights if they have no desire to make the lights straight or if they have a crooked roof. They make these for a reason. And since I am on a roll here… let’s talk about the infamous Leg Lamp and A Christmas Story or as I refer to as the worst Christmas movie … ever. I am fully aware of this so-called crazy stance against an ‘American classic’…but, I can’t pretend to like something that awful. I tried, I failed. I stand firm in my distaste.
I love Christmas. I swear. I love…
The decorated trees – deciduous and coniferous alike- to be draped in twinkle lights – making city centers absolutely magical.
Christmas caroling…or at least the charming idea of such an event. An activity, I believe, I missed out on by merely being born in the wrong decade/century.
Christmas Eve midnight church service. Where it begins at the top of the final hour of a day full of anticipation and preparation, squished into pews among friends and family. There is a gentle buzz of conversation that rises and falls as the church fills with followers…This is a place where we celebrate the reason for the following day, Jesus Christ’s birth…where the service ends as the first minutes of Christmas day arrive and we stand and sing Silent Night by candle light. This is my favorite tradition.
And of course…
Cookie swapping or exchanging or trading – whatever your circle goes by is fine, because when it comes to cookies and friends – umm, it’s just bonkers amazing! (and yes, I just followed up church service with cookies) And who to take cookie swapping to the next level than we food bloggers. I have seen this food blogging cookie swapping extravaganza from afar for the past 2 years and finally decided to join in all the fun this year. Julie from The Little Kitchen and Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil have created quite an event….inviting food bloggers from anywhere and everywhere to join together to not only bake and swap cookies and share our love of butter, sugar, and flour…but also raise money for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer and to spread Christmas cheer.
From explaining this event to others not in the food blogging community, most are floored by the friendliness, friendship, and trust that is and has always been overflowing in this dear community. It is not surprising that people baking cookies and cakes and pies in their kitchens aren’t lovely people, but that a group of people, who in all rights are competing for the same audience and readers, are so willing to work together and achieve together and be such a tight knit bunch. And the trust…many have asked me ‘ you mean, you are going to eat cookies shipped to you from a stranger’…without thinking, my answer has been a quick and firm ‘yes‘. And trust me, the cookies have been delicious!
In our efforts to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and with help from the lovely sponsors, we as a food blogging community raised over $13,000. Wow, right?
To say I am thankful to find myself in and among these folk is an understatement.
Once we signed up, we were then emailed our cookie swapping matches. I mailed my cookies to Laurie from Crunchy Gooey; Carly from Icing on the Cake; and Shari from Tickled Red. I devoured cookies from Deanna in New York – she baked crunchy molasses cookies that took me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen. Deanna, so good! Valerie, from Pursuit of Sweetness , made banana bread sugar cookies with a brown sugar cinnamon glaze that took me by surprise. It is no secret, that I am not a ‘fan’ of banana baked goods (as mentioned here and here), however these cookies – HOLY SMOKES! I had to hide them from myself in the depths of my freezer behind the bacon and well, more bananas. Could not, would not stop eating. And finally, Cait from The Patriotic Baker baked chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies – think homemade peppermint Oreos – yeah they are as good as you think they might be. Girls, you seriously out did yourselves! Plus, the packaging … seriously?!? I need to up my game next year. Game on food bloggers. Game on.
So what cookies did I mail across the country? Chocolate Pistachio Sables. A chocolate shortbread like cookie…AKA durable when in the hands of the United States Postal Service. Chopped bittersweet chocolate…because what is the harm in more chocolate? And pistachios….a punch of salty nutty flavor and peeps, they are GREEN!
‘Tis the season. ’Tis the season.
- 2+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2+1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1+1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped (salted or unsalted)
- Flaky sea salt (used Maldon)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla, until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce mixer speed to low, and add dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Beat in egg white.
- Fold in chopped chocolate and pistachios.
- Divide dough into 2 sections and form into 2 logs measuring about 8 inches x 2 inches or so. Wrap tightly in parchment paper (or plastic wrap or tinfoil) and place in fridge for at least 3-4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cut logs into ¼ to ½ inch thick cookie rounds and place cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets about ½ inch apart from each other. Sprinkle cookies with flaky sea salt
- Bake in preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.
Recipe Adapted from Bon Appétit December 2013Read More
Holy October. Or mid-October. Or, Holy, I just ate an entire fun sized bag of Halloween candy-ober and now I am sick to my stomach-ober.
Wish the stomachache was fun-sized.
I am not sure I know what to say…and whatever I do say, I am going to sound like our mothers.
How much is too much Candy Corn? And hiding it in my car’s glove compartment for sugar attacks on my commute to and from work is totally normal right? I might have a problem with Halloween candy. Can I schedule my own intervention?
And well, to ease the pain of the months flying by …( I have heard an ugly rumor that Christmas supplies are able to be purchased at Kohls, wwwhhhaaattt?) aaannnddd to curve those sugar cravings like an adult…I made you some pumpkin pie biscotti…because what goes better with that warm cup of coffee than a cookie? A dunking cookie at that….
Nothing. That is the answer you were looking for. Nothing goes better with a cup of coffee than a cookie…well, perhaps a doughnut (donut?), but I don’t fry things ( it’s a toss up of being afraid of a large pan of hot oil and a dozen+ warm donuts (doughnuts?) in my kitchen, at my fingertips… in combo with very little self control) …so biscotti is what you are getting. And please don’t tell me about baked donuts (doughnuts?)…I have tried them and well, they aren’t the same. Perhaps it is a mind thing – I don’t doubt it, placebo would totally work on me, but I want my doughnuts (donut?) fried. It is a splurge anyways…so might as well go all out, yo.
But, hey…enough with the donuts (doughnut?) … I made biscotti. Totally not fried, but twice baked. Take that. Did you know that? Biscotti are twice baked. I bet you knew that. Y’all are no dummies… You probably also know that the origin of the word itself means twice baked/cooked. That second baking gets them nice and dunk-able…errr, crunchy. Errr…delicious.
The flavors of fall and a touch of pumpkin. All wrapped up in a cookie. These don’t have quite the ‘snap’ that traditional biscotti have, but I blame the pumpkin … It would make dirt moist and eatable. Man, I hate the word moist. And there I go saying it again. Even in my head, I don’t like the sound of the word.
And on a completely different note…Have you watched Derek on Netflix (a Netflix Original Series)? I think it might be one of the best shows I have seen in such a long time….such a great mix of heart warming comedy and heart breaking tragedy… I would highly recommend it …and if you aren’t a fan of Ricky Gervais, no worries…his role as Derek is so unlike anything I am personally familiar with him playing. Downside? Only 7 episodes. Upside? You can watch them all in one day …
- 1 + ¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ¾ Cup Firmly packed Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Ginger
- ⅛ Teaspoon Clove
- ⅛ Teaspoon Nutmeg
- ¼ Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- ¾ Cup Coarsely Chopped Walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Place butter in small saucepan over medium heat and melt. Add chopped walnuts. Cook, stirring constantly until nuts are browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing biscotti dough.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla.
- With mixer on low (or by hand, but easier using a mixer) beat pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients. Dough will initially be crumbly but will eventually become a moist and form into a ball.
- Stir cooled walnuts into dough.
- Empty dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a log that is 2 inches wide and about 10 inches long. Place log on a parchment paper covered baking sheet (or lightly greased) and bake for about 24 to 27 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300F.
- When log has cooled enough to touch, transfer log to a cutting board, and using a sharp knife (bread knife is great for this) cut the log into ½ inch thick pieces on the diagonal. Place biscotti cut side down and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the biscotti so the other side is facing up and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes.
- Transfer biscotti to wire rack and let cool completely before enjoying.
adapted from Cooking In an ApronRead More
Food is quite the memory jogger. A trigger of sorts. Much like music. Or certain smells.
I don’t know if everyone is like this, but I want to think that a warm chocolate chip cookie takes everyone back to their childhood – I think my first memory of a chocolate chip cookie and looking back, probably the first time I took comfort from food or felt love through its simple preparation, was when our first childhood dog – ‘Puppy’ – original, I know…died.
I was curled up on dad’s lap in our old gray (it wasn’t old yet) recliner and I was sobbing and mom, from the kitchen, offered to make cookies – ‘maybe that will make us feel better’. I don’t remember the taste of the cookies or if we even ate them that night – I am sure we did, with large glasses of milk and spoons to fish out soggy lost bits and pieces. What I remember, as dad sat reassuring us that Puppy was in heaven causing ruckus up there, was that mom, while also mourning the loss of her beloved dog (even though she would holler and throw spoons in his direction from the back door when he would bark and howl), took time to bake us cookies – hoping they would ease our tears and cheer us up a bit. Which, I am sure they did.
Cookies have that sort of power. Especially if mom is making them.
Oatmeal Scotchies … guess what..you got it, comes with a memory. Like any cookie, they remind me of my grandma. As most things I bake do, but these are most definitely a Shirley memory. On Wednesday evenings, grandma had church choir practice or perhaps it was the Women’s Society meeting…all I know, is that she was at church on Wednesday nights and the church was just 2 blocks from our house. Therefore, Wednesday nights always guaranteed a visit from grandma and she normally brought a bake good ( and I wonder where I get this habit from). Cookies or pie. And if it was cookies…4 out of 5 times, they would be chewy oatmeal scotchies.
As grandma and mom sat and chit chatted and gossiped … we 3 kids scarfed down cookies, leaving just crumbs behind. Sore jaws and crumbs.
I hadn’t had an oatmeal scotchie in years. Years! Quite devastating, seeing how the recipe for these magic little guys are on the back of the bag of Nestle butterscotch chips. And when something is this good, there is really no need to tinker with the recipe. Well, I kinda did…I added roasted pecans, because pecans kind of rock in cookies. No?
Of all the cakes, cookies, and pies I have taken into work…I believe these cookies received the most hubbub. The container was returned with a pleading of it being refilled with more. People were hiding and stowing away cookies in lockers. They were being eaten 2 and 3 at a time. I wanna believe it was because these cookies were not only chewy and delicious, but because their flavor and texture and slight hint of cinnamon took them back.
Back to grandmas, school lunches, after school snacks, Wednesday nights.
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- ¾ Cup white sugar
- ¾ Cup, light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¼ Cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ Cup Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped
- 3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- One 11-oz bag butterscotch chip
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
- With mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated – the dough will be tacky.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, pecans, and butterscotch chips.
- Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined (optional) baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
- Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.
Adapted from Nestle TollHouseRead More
And here we go again. I haven’t posted much in the month of January. I blame Disney and Tim Riggins.
Ok, fine, just Tim Riggins.
I am not bragging, but I just finished the entire series of Friday Night Lights (thank you Netflix) in 1 week…and I am rounding up to 7 days, because it may have been closer to 6. 5 years of TV in a week. Yikes.
For one week, I worked, ran, and watched FNL (friday night lights). In that order. I watched fake football instead of the real games. I missed the entire Australian Open. Congrats, Djokovic. News? You mean the world was still spinning this past week? World news doesn’t really make it all the way to the make believe town of Dillon, Texas. Sorry.
I am pretty sure I went to work last Monday with a Texas drawl from my weekend binder. I said y’all at least twice. And I fell in LOVE with Connie Britton’s hair. Seriously.
And oh, did you know that 3/4th of the cast from FNL (I just acronymed a TV show…sigh) has been on Grey’s Anatomy? Coach Taylor was part of the bomb squad and was blown to smitherings. Landry had a disfigured face and ended up dying on the table, whomp whomp.. Jess had a brain tumor and Dr McDreamy saved her life. Smash is now a lowly intern. And Saracan was a soldier who opted to have his leg amputated. I am just hoping and a wishing that Tim Riggins will wander onto the set…
I was able to whip up a batch of cookies during this period of time – mainly because I promised/owed a co-worker cookies and I couldn’t procrastinate any longer – Texas football or no Texas football…cookies full of pistachios and coconut needed to be pumped out of my kitchen. Good thing I can see the TV from my kitchen
- 2+1/4 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, tightly packed
- 1 Box (3.4 ounce) Pistachio Pudding (not the sugar free version)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
- 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
- ½ Cup Pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
- Beat in pistachio pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
- With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Fold in coconut, chocolate chips, and chopped pistachios.
- Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheet (parchment paper lined or UNgreased) and bake for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Is your tree up? Lights strung and garland draped? Candy canes hooked and ornaments placed just so? The angel tree topper straight or is there a red bow with its red tails cascading down your tree? Do you string popcorn and cranberries or perhaps marshmallows? Have you named it? It is a thing…people naming their trees.
Are you a family that pulls on wool socks and boots, layers coats and scarves, and traipse out to the evergreen forest (ok, fine, tree farm) with axe in hand and a thermos of hot chocolate thrown over your shoulder and chops down a yearly Christmas tree? My mental image of this is a tad skewed…a tad too Norman Rockwell. Because in my head Christmas carols are being sung and the kids are happy and rosy-cheeked and walking hand in hand merrily with their siblings – ha! Maybe I have seen too many Bing Crosby Christmas Specials or watched one too many ABC Family Christmas movies…because I also picture snow lightly falling ever so carelessly from the frosty night ski. Twirling to the ground, carefully so. Perfectly white and fluffy snow that gently coats the trees and ground and the ever so cheerful family. The snow being a crucial part of the magic…Read More