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Apple Cider Cookies for the Go Bo! Bake Sale

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen recently that I signed up to donate decorated cookies for the Go Bo! Bake Sale. For the whole story, go check out that link. In short, a 12 year-old boy (Bo) was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. While fighting cancer, he started the Go Bo! Foundation to fund cancer research and childhood treatment. The year he passed, a bake sale was planned as a fundraiser for the foundation. A local cookier took to social media to spread the word about the bake sale and ask any other cookiers to donate decorated cookies. That was in 2012, and they raised $5,000 at that bake sale. As word has spread, more and more cookiers have donated. Last year they were able to raise over $30,000!

When I heard about the fundraiser, I knew I wanted to decorate some cookies to donate. I pored over cookie after cookie on Pinterest, and finally settled on a design. It was a hybrid of a few others I had seen out there, and I have to say I really love the way they came out. I made royal icing transfer and then attached them to the flooded cookies. Here are the images I used as templates.

After I knew what design I wanted to create, I had to decide what flavor to make. I love my basic butter cookie recipe, but I wanted something a little more special. So I thought about the apple cider shortbread I had made at Christmas last year. I knew I could combine that idea with my favorite butter cookie, so that’s what I did. Most of the flavor comes from instant hot cider mix, but I felt like it needed another punch of apple flavor, so I reduced some apple cider down to a syrup and mixed that in as well. It was exactly what I was looking for! I think these will be making a reappearance at Christmas this year!

There aren’t a lot of easy substitutions for this recipe. But you could brown the butter and then cool and solidify it before creaming with the sugar. Or, use maple syrup instead of the cider syrup for a hint of maple. And, I suspect you could use instant (sweetened) ice tea mix instead of the cider mix (leaving out the reduced cider syrup) for a summery version of this cookie. In fact, I may try that next summer!

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Apple Cider Cookies
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place apple cider into a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat and cook until it is reduced to 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cream butter with sugar and hot cider mix.
  3. Beat in egg, vanilla, and cooled reduced cider.
  4. MIx in salt and flour until well blended.
  5. Depending on how warm your butter was, you may need to chill the dough for up to an hour to make rolling easier.
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to nearly 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out with desired cookie cutter.
  7. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned around the edges.
  8. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
  9. Decorate as desired. You can also decorate with sprinkles before baking.
Recipe Notes
  • Use parchment or silicon mats on the cookie sheets if desired.
  • Roll thinner if a crisper cookie is desired.
  • Use maple syrup in place of the reduced cider for a slight variation.
  • Omit the reduced cider and replace the hot cider mix with sweetened ice tea mix for a summery cookie.
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Zucchini Bread – Made with Spaghetti Squash!

Hi Everyone! I know I’ve been pretty absent here this summer, but I promise I am getting back to baking and will be bringing you lots of new recipes soon! I am so ready for fall – fall weather, fall flavors, fall color. It’s my favorite time of year. 🙂

But for those of you still clinging on to summer, and the bounty of your vegetable garden, I have one more summer recipe for you. Actually, with the cinnamon, it tastes like the start of fall, but it’s a great way to use up your squash.

This was originally my mom’s zucchini bread recipe, and people LOVE this bread. It’s got a nice strong cinnamon flavor and is super moist because of the zucchini. I was gifted a spaghetti  squash from a co-worker, and of course I was immediately challenged to bake something with it. I wondered if I could use it in place of zucchini in baked goods. So I did a little research, crossed my fingers, and went for it. 

This is the second recipe I’ve tried using that substitution, and I can’t tell the difference between the original and the spaghetti squash version. Yes – it works! The only difference is that you have to cook, and shred, the spaghetti squash first, whereas the zucchini is shredded and added to the batter raw. Also, you need to measure the squash by weight, since it is much more dense than shredded zucchini. 

Yes, you can absolutely use zucchini as originally intended. And while I used walnuts in mine, as always, the nuts are optional or changeable. Pecans are always delicious in sweet breads. Hazelnuts or macadamia nuts would be really interesting too.  This recipe uses only cinnamon, but you could change that up too. Add in a little bit of nutmeg or cloves for more of a fall flavor. And you can absolutely bake this in standard 8″x4″ loaf pans. I couldn’t resist trying out this beautiful new swirl pan I just got. And I have to say that I am loving it.

Serve this warm or at room temperature. Or toast it and spread on a little butter. Or cream cheese. Or, if you want to go all out, drizzle on some cream cheese icing for a decadent treat. I think I need to go make another batch of this and do just that….


Print Recipe
Zucchini Bread - with Spaghetti Squash!
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and very light yellow in color.
  2. Whisk in oil and vanilla until combined.
  3. Stir in shredded zucchini or squash.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and stir into batter along with nuts, if using, just until combined.
  5. Pour into two 8"x4" greased loaf pans.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes. (See notes).
  7. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or room temperature.
  8. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature or a week refrigerated.
Recipe Notes
  • Zucchini should be grated raw, with or without the peel.
  • Spaghetti squash should be cooked (steamed or baked) and shredded before adding to batter.
  • If you are using larger loaf pans (like the pan I used, or a 9"x5" pan) the bread will cook faster. Start checking after 35 minutes.
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Mocha Irish Cream Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day

It snowed this morning!! We have had almost no snow this year, and actually hit 80 degrees last week, and I was missing winter. But I woke up this morning to big wet snowflakes! That has absolutely nothing to do with these cupcakes, but I was so excited I just had to share. 🙂  

Anyway, on to the cupcakes! Do you guys do anything special for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you attend a parade, or bake anything special? I’ve never really celebrated it much, but a few weeks ago I was in Michaels, mostly just browsing, but with my Cherry Chocolate Chip Rolls in mind. I was supposed to be looking for something Valentine’s Day related while I was walking down the baking aisle, and then I spotted these St. Patrick’s Day sprinkles.

 

I decided I had to have them, but then I had to figure out what to do with them. Cupcakes sounded like a good idea, but what kind? So I started searching Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day ideas. It seems like Irish cream is pretty popular right now. And since Irish cream has a lot of the same flavors as mocha, I decided to incorporate in into a favorite mocha cake of mine. And make them cupcakes, because cupcakes are just more fun.

I thought it might be easier (and cheaper!) to use an Irish cream coffee creamer. Since I don’t drink coffee, I had never tried the creamer before. Before I started trying to add it to my cake recipe, I tried it straight. Oh my goodness, you guys, it is SWEET. So I knew immediately I would have to reduce the sugar in the recipe. Thankfully, it turned out perfectly on my first attempt, but I sure am glad I tried the creamer first!

To top the cupcakes, I figure I might as well go all the way and make an Irish Cream buttercream. It was a good idea. The cupcakes aren’t overly sweet, so a nice big swirl of buttercream compliments them nicely. And it gives the sprinkles a pretty place to land. 🙂

If you aren’t a fan of Irish cream, or coffee in general, you can make some adjustments to this recipe pretty easily. Try any flavor of creamer that sounds good to you. And if you are using a non-mocha flavoring you can leave the instant coffee out of both the cake and frosting. Amaretto would be fantastic (I LOVE chocolate and almond together!). You can amp up the flavor by adding a little bit of almond extract. Or what about the salted caramel mocha? I might add some salted caramel into the buttercream for that one. A peppermint or peppermint mocha version would be fantastic at Christmas! For now, I’m going to stick with the Irish cream, but I definitely have other ideas brewing! 😉


Print Recipe
Mocha Irish Cream Cupcakes
Adapted from the Mocha Coffee Cake at Health.com. http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000112136,00.html
Course Dessert
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Course Dessert
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners and spray lightly with non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Dissolve instant coffee granules in the coffee creamer and set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar until very well combined, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  6. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with first the sour cream and then the creamer. Mix just until combined after each addition.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the cupcake tins, filling each about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Cool completely before frosting. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Frosting
  1. Combine creamer and instant coffee. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter, shortening, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Add half of the powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Add half of the creamer mixture and mix again.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar, followed by the remaining creamer mixture. Beat until combined.
  5. Turn mixture on high and beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time or creamer 1 tablespoon at a time to adjust consistency if necessary.
  6. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.
Recipe Notes

Buttercream makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes. If you prefer a smaller layer of frosting, cut recipe in half.

Substitute any flavor creamer for the Irish cream, eliminating the instant coffee granules if preferred. Enhance with extracts if desired. Almond in Amaretto, peppermint in peppermint mocha, etc.

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Mardi Gras Cookies, and Let’s Talk about Archaeology

Hi everyone! I’ve been kind of under the weather this week, so I decided to make a pretty simple cookie. They take almost no time to put together, they are delicious, and you can totally customize the colors to suit any occasion.

Since it’s a short and sweet recipe, I thought now would be the perfect time to talk a little about archaeology, and to show you some pictures from past projects I’ve been on. If you’re just here for the recipe, go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of the post – I won’t be offended. 🙂

For those of you who are interested in my “other” job, let’s run through a quick FAQ.

First, What is archaeology? Well, the biggest misconception is that archaeologists dig up dinosaurs. In fact, paleontologists deal with dinosaurs, while archaeologists deal with the human past. Specifically, the material remains left by humans. This includes everything from arrowheads and other stone tools to foundation remnants and broken plates and glasses.

Second, Why do archaeologists do what they do? There are a lot of ways to interpret this question, but here I am getting at the reason my job exists. Because of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and specifically Section 106, all federally funded or permitted projects have to undergo a historic and archaeological review to determine the impact that the project will have on any historic sites. That means if federal funds or permits are involved, archaeologists and/or historians have to survey the area to be impacted to determine if there are significant historic or archaeological sites that may be impacted. If there are, the project is either re-routed, or the site is excavated to retrieve any data possible.

So, finally, What do I actually do? The vast majority of the fieldwork that I do involves archaeological survey. In other words, I am out walking across the project area. In plowed fields, we simply look for artifacts that have been brought to the surface by the plowing. In pastures and other where the ground surface isn’t visible, we dig small holes at regular intervals, and pass the dirt through a mesh screen to look for artifacts. When we find artifacts or structure remnants like foundations, we record the site and report it’s location and any information we can gather to the state. If the state determines the site may be significant, we may have to return to do further testing on the site, and perhaps even full excavation, but this is rare. Many sites are not considered significant, that is, they won’t provide us new or important information. And those that are, or may be, or often avoided by the project by a re-route.

Ok. I’m sure I’ve bored you completely by now. 🙂  But now, its time for cookies. These really couldn’t be more simple. It’s a quick and easy dough to put together. Then you divide the dough in half, roll each half into a rectangle, and add sprinkles. Roll it up, chill it, slice it, and bake it. And like I said earlier, if you’re not celebrating Mardi Gras, or want to use the recipe for a different celebration, you can just change up the sprinkles. Think red, white, and blue for July 4th…or red and green for Christmas…or brown, yellow, and orange for the fall…or school colors for graduation. I could go on and on with all the ideas I have for this, but I’m sure you’ve got ideas too, so I’ll just give you the recipe so you can get baking!


Print Recipe
Mardi Gras Cookies
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, and mix well.
  3. Add salt and flour, and mix until combined.
  4. Divide dough in half. Place one half onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Dust lightly with flour and cover with another piece of waxed paper. (Or chill until firm enough to roll without sticking to the rolling pin.)
  5. Roll into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick.
  6. Using one color of sprinkles at a time, coat the dough with a long "stripe" of sprinkles, covering about a third of the rectangle. Repeat with the remaining colors, lined up next to each other.
  7. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the long end.
  8. Wrap the dough cylinder in the waxed paper and refrigerate 1 hour, or freeze 15-20 minutes.
  9. Repeat with remaining half of dough.
  10. Remove waxed paper, and slice dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place on Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  11. Bake at 350 degress F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  12. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely. Store in airtight container up to one week.
Recipe Notes

Change the sprinkle colors to suit the celebration. For example, red, white, and blue for July 4th. Red and green for Christmas. School colors for a graduation, etc.

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Sweet Rolls

Hi everyone! I have something really exciting to share with you today! Oh – and I made you Cherry Chocolate Chip Sweet Rolls. 🙂

So I’ve been back down in Oklahoma, but this time I’ve been in Ponca City, which just happens to be the next town over from Pawhuska. Now, if you read many food blogs, or watch Food Network, you may recognize that name. That’s because it’s where Pioneer Woman lives, and where her Mercantile is located. Well, I was fortunate enough to get to go visit the Mercantile and eat dinner there! The store is really amazing, and the food was fantastic. I bought a cookbook and a few bowls, and then spent too much money at the bakery. 🙂 And dinner was worth the wait (the line was out the door when we first got there!). I had the grilled cheese, and others I went with tried the ribeye reuben, the chicken fried steak, and the fried chicken sandwich. They are all highly recommended by us!

That was exciting enough, but what made the day even better was that the lodge, the guesthouse on their ranch where Ree films her Food Network show, was open for tours that day, and I managed to get there just before they closed! It was really cool to visit both her “studio” and the Mercantile. The Pioneer Woman is one of the most successful and well-known food blogs, so for a new blogger it was a real treat. I definitely recommend stopping at the Mercantile if you ever find yourself anywhere near Pawhuska!

Anyway, let’s get back to these sweet rolls. They are somewhat inspired by Pioneer Woman, since I tried her cinnamon rolls at the bakery (too die for!!), and in the cookbook I bought she has a recipe for Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls.  I was really craving some kind of sweet roll, and with Valentine’s day coming up, chocolate and cherry seemed to be an appropriate combination. 🙂

These start with a cherry curd, which is really simple to make. You just need frozen cherries, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and corn starch. The recipe makes about 2 cups, and you only need 1/2 cup for this recipe, so there is plenty left over. Spread it on toast, biscuits, pancakes, ice cream, pork chops….well, pretty much anything! You can also substitute any frozen berries in this recipe, and it would be just as delicious.

The filling is just the curd and chocolate chips, but there is so much room for adjustments! Prefer lemon curd? Go for it. Or want them even faster? Use a store-bought jam. Leave out the chocolate chips, or change up the flavor (white chocolate with the lemon curd would be perfect). Add nuts with the chips or in place of them. The possibilities are endless!

This recipe is scaled to make 6 rolls, but can easily be doubled to make a dozen in a 9×13-inch pan.

Oh, and did I mention these come together in about an hour, if you already have the curd made? That’s right – you are only an hour away from warm, chocolatey, sweet-tart cherry sweet rolls!


Print Recipe
Cherry Chocolate Chip Sweet Rolls
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine 1 cup flour and the yeast in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Combine milk, water, sugar, oil, and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each, until mixture is slightly warm, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the milk mixture to the flour and yeast along with the egg yolk. Beat with an electric mixer, or by hand, for 30 seconds or until combined. Scrape bowl, and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  4. Either by hand or with a dough hook, add in the second cup of flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead, by hand or with the dough hook, for 3 to 5 minutes, adding up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour, until dough is smooth and elastic. It will be a very soft dough, and should be very slightly sticky. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 7x12-inch rectangle. Spread cherry curd over dough, then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Beginning from the short (7-inch) side, roll up jelly-roll style. (If doubling, roll a 14x12-inch rectangle and roll from the long side.)
  6. Slice into 6 rolls and place, cut side up, into a greased 8-inch square pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 20 minutes.
  7. Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before topping with the powdered sugar glaze and serving. Store, covered, at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Recipe Notes

Cherry curd recipe here.

Powdered sugar glaze recipe here.

Recipe can be doubled to make 12 rolls in a 9x13-inch pan.

Substitute any curd or jam.

Substitute any flavor chocolate chips.

Add 1/4 cup chopped nuts instead of or in addition to the chocolate chips.

Flavor the powdered sugar glaze with extracts.

 

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