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24 Apr

Or: Resurrecting an old favorite (ha, pun, for Easter, resurrecting, get it?! I’m so clever).

Happy Easter/Sunday/Excuse-to-eat-lots-of-chocolate-day everybody! :) I hope you’re getting to enjoy this lovely day with family, friends, or fuzzy bunnies & massive chocolate eggs.

Yep, I totally broke out the massive egg today.

I didn’t eat it all… the bunny helped, I swear (as did a few of my friends). I traded him for some of his carrots. ;)

The interior was lined with a kind of hardened cashew-nougat-type thing, just like the bon-bons the whole egg is based on (Sonho de Valsa).

They’re a typical Brazilian candy and they’re kind of delicious, you should try them if you should ever stumble upon any! :)

In honor of this lovely Sunday, I’m bringing you retouched photos of an old, bunny-friendly recipe: my Carrot Cake Pancakes.

Funny how learning to mess with really simple stuff in iPhoto vastly improves the quality of the pictures…

And I also greatly prefer having the bigger pictures in the post. Kind of amusing to read reaaaally old blog posts from last summer before I *really* got started blogging.

Click here for my embarrassing early post, and the recipe. :)
What have you been doing with your day? I’ve just been doing homework, sadly… And coveting carrot-cake pancakes. ;) I may go buy some carrots instead… you know how I do. :)

back to december.

1 Feb

Yes, I’m a Taylor Swift fan. Judge me all you want… her lyrics aren’t necessarily profound, but those songs are so damn catchy!

Unfortunately, I have no experience dating Taylor Lautner and thus have no basis for writing about going “back to december” to relive such bliss (I can dream, though…) But these pumpkin-molasses crinkles, while they may lack Taylor’s abs, are a close second in my affections. And they were baked on a cold, dreary day in December…

As evidenced by the lights of the tree in the background. Actually, that tree is apparently still there. Clearly my house falls apart when I’m not around.

But truly, could you come up with a more brilliant idea than combining spicy molasses cookies with pumpkin? I can’t. And these little morsels were simple and divine, and were consumed within minutes of arriving at my best friend’s house. Her little sister is pretty much convinced I lace my baked goods with crack.

So THAT’S what the powdery stuff is…

(Of course I don’t! I mean, um… awkward.)

These are probably most comfortable nestled somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but out-of-season I’m sure they’ll taste just as good.

Putting away the tree, however, should have a deadline…

Pumpkin  Molasses Crinkles
from Behind the Skillet
Makes about 5-dozen itty bitty cookies

1/3 cup Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp All-Spice
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
114 g (1/2 cup) Butter (room temp)
1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Molasses
2/3 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 egg (room temp)
granulated or powdered sugar (or both)
mini chocolate chips (optional, though always a good idea…)

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl.

In a separate, larger bowl, cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Add in pumpkin and molasses and beat until thoroughly combined. Add in egg and beat, again, until combined. Stir in flour mixture until well-mixed into a relatively sticky dough; stir in chocolate chips if desired. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or up to overnight (so it’s easier to handle… You may have to refrigerate between batches as well!)

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Put ~1/4 c. regular or powdered sugar in a small bowl. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them in sugar of choice, then place on cookie sheet, leaving about an inch between each one. Bake for 8-12 minutes until just set to the touch.

Enjoy and reminisce about cozy days cuddled up by the fireplace with no homework or obligations.

(Or dream of Taylor Lautner… your call ;) )

Who’s your embarrassing celebrity crush? Or what’s your musical guilty pleasure? (I have too many to list…)

Sparkled Ginger Cookies

19 Jan

I guess I’ve always had a thing for gingers.

In elementary school, my favorite book was Anne of Green Gables. My best friend was decidedly red-headed.

In high school, and now, two of my four best friends are true redheads; one of the others has dabbled in temporary redheadedness.

An oldie but a goodie :) I’m the brunette… And the darkest one…

But my true love affair is with ginger, singular, that lovely, spicy, fiery root which is my redheads’ namesake. I like it pickled. I love it candied (as does my mother, who eats it by the handful every night). I like it in tea. I like it in stir-fries. I like it in roasted veggies. I like it in cookies. I like it everywhere. (Did that sound dirty? ;) )

These cookies, the Sparkled Ginger Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance, pay perfect homage to the warm, comforting heat of ginger. They’re chewy. They come together in a snap. And the glint of light on the sparkling sugar topping makes them elegant enough for gift-giving. Even my brother liked them, and I had never pegged him as a molasses person.

And while these, like their pictured friends, were once Christmas cookies, they would be equally delightful on the snowy January day I know many of you are experiencing (not so here in California, I might add… ;) ).

Or, you know, in the middle of the summer. Any time, really.

They’re that good.

Sparkled Ginger Cookies
From Vegan with a Vengeance
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

4 tablespoons turbinado or demerara sugar (regular sugar works if you don’t have either of these, but coarse sugar is best)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup soy milk
 or nondairy milk of choice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two cookie sheets. Place coarse sugar in a bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. In a separate mixing bowl, mix together oil, molasses, soymilk, sugar, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 2-3 batches, mixing only until combined.

*Note: I didn’t find the dough too sticky, but sometimes it helps to refrigerate it for a little bit if you’re having trouble!

Roll dough into approximately 1-inch balls and flatten between hands (or with a glass, if you wanna get fancy ;) ). Press one side of disk into coarse sugar and set on baking sheet, sugar side up, with around 1 inch between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are starting to firm up and tops have started to crackle. Let cool on sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Serve to your favorite ginger, and enjoy. :)

Christmas Cookies! (or just sugar cookies…)

13 Jan

Yes, you read that right. Clearly I am in severe denial about the fact that Christmas was, oh, over 2 weeks ago?

Actually, what happened was that I bought a lot of Christmas-themed things, then baked a lot of Christmas-themed things, then must post about a lot of Christmas-themed things. So there are still a few more “Christmas” cookies hiding up my sleeve ;)

I promised you this recipe awhile back, when I talked about the massive number of cookies I baked for my brother’s school. I don’t have particularly good pictures (this was before I found my DSLR when I was at home), but these are a staple for in our household for both holiday baking and regular-baking (particularly when we need a LOT of cookies)

I know I just posted about sugar cookies, but these ones are a little different. They’re a bit softer and cakier than the recipe I just posted, and originally came from a baking class my brother did in kindergarten (awww!). I guess they’re supposed to be like those big, slightly fluffy bakery cookies with cream cheese frosting, and not so much the type that you decorate in a detailed manner. They puff up a bit, as you can see…

Whatever they are, they’re damn good. In this case, we got lazy and used store-bought frosting, which kind of ruined their elegance-factor, but given that they were going to a bunch of middle-schoolers, it probably wasn’t an issue ;) I’ve included the cream cheese frosting recipe they come with; they’re amazing with the frosting and some mini chocolate chips on top! Alternatively, they’re splendid dipped in or drizzled with chocolate (but what isn’t?)


“Great Aunt Mill’s” Sugar Cookies
Makes about 60-70 medium-sized cookies

½ c butter
1 ½ c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
3 (generous) cups flour

Beat butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour and powder and mix. Do not over beat.
Turn onto floured plate and cover. Chill at least 2 hours
Roll to 1/8 inch thick (I like it a little thicker, for fluffier cookies). Cut with cookie cutter. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 7-10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 oz package cream cheese (room temp)
2 tbsp butter
2-3 c powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp milk

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Beat in lemon juice and milk. Beat in remaining powdered sugar until firm but not dry. Add drop of milk to thin if needed.

a sugary struggle.

7 Jan

I have a confession.

My life is a sham. I am no baker. I am no cookie connoisseur. I am nothing. Those 500 cookies I baked over break? They were all for naught.

I cannot decorate cookies to save my life.

Okay, okay, maybe I’m being melodramatic. About the first part, that is. I really can’t decorate cookies. And have very little patience for it. I will happily bake you hundreds of cookies and leave you with a bowl of icing and let you have at it. There’s just too much room for creativity; I don’t ever even know where to begin!

Luckily, when I suggested to my friends that we bake sugar cookies, I pretty much got to do just that.

Never underestimate the amount of time a crew of college-age kids can spend decorating cookies. And never, ever overestimate their supposed artistic ability. Our first example of this came from the poor gingerbread house, and this is our newest episode of Give-Martha-a-Coronary…

Luckily, some of them turned out okay.

As the mature quasi-adults we are, we used sophisticated shapes and colors to convey an air of elegance.

By which I mean we made swirly unicorns.

Want to try your hand? Forget that Christmas is long past, just make them anyways! This recipe worked really well and made just slightly soft, thick cookies. I really enjoyed them.

And shoved them into my mouth quickly so I wouldn’t have to look at them for too long.

Classic Sugar Cookies
from Good Housekeeping Cookie Book
3 c flour
½ tsp bp
½ tsp salt
1 c. butter
1 ½ c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs separately until well mixed. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Divide dough into four flattened disks and wrap in cellophane, then allow to chill for 3 hours or overnight (I imagine this can be modified).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 and pull out one quarter of the dough and roll out on a well-floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness (thinner if you want a crispier cookie). Cut out with fun shapes like unicorns. Bake for around 8 minutes or until edges are just slightly brown (the baking time really varies, so keep an eye on them!).

Decorate with your favorite icing recipe and enjoy!

The bakers. I’m on the right ;)

back to reality.

3 Jan

Break came and went in the blink of an eye, and the baking of over 500 cookies. No, I kid you not. There is not a hint of exaggeration in that number. I didn’t eat them all, at least. If that counts for anything.

But I digress. I boarded my plane yesterday, to fly from then-sunny Seattle to rainy-California. Out the window? This.

On the plus side, it is still a solid 20 degrees warmer here. So I can step outside without instantly freezing. :)

The last few days were a frenzy of last-minute baking, attempting to use up the open bags of chocolate chips and the butter and the sugar and all those things that will spoil over the probably six months that will elapse before I set foot at home again.

One of these last minute treats was supposed to be a pumpkin pie, for my grandmother who is visiting from Brazil. It may well be her last visit; she’s getting older, and her visits are fewer and farther between. Since she is so enamored of pumpkin pie, I wanted nothing more than to share a homemade one with her.

I had planned to make one for my classy-NYE-dinner party, but I only decided the event was occurring the night before it happened. And the pie needed to be made right then! And I had no pie crust. So I improvised.

And made pumpkin pecan pie squares. They really do taste like pumpkin pie, though the pecan-pie part is a little skimpy (so if you want more of a pecan-pie feel, double the topping, maybe toss in some flour for more of a streusel… get creative!)

My grandma loved them. Unfortunately, I think she still loves the dog more than me.

Not even pumpkin pie could win out over that one.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares
From Very Best Baking
Makes 12 large squares, or 24 decently-sized ones.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned or instant oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup (one 15-oz can) canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix!)
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk (I used fat-free, since that’s what we had)
2 large eggs
2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in small mixer bowl. Beat at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until crumbly. Press on bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan (I actually used an 8×11, because that’s what I had… and the portions were still huge!)

Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine granulated sugar, pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes; pour over crust.

Bake for 20 minutes. Combine pecans and brown sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle pecan topping over filling. Continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Top with whipped cream, if desired.


Christmas in the Northwest

25 Dec

Actually taken at Thanksgiving, but the snow makes it look festive, so…

I can’t believe Christmas is already here. Or, really, for me it’s already gone. When we’re visiting relatives in Brazil, my family celebrates with a massive, gut-exploding dinner on Christmas Eve, and typically stay up until midnight to open presents. I love Christmas in Brazil. My family is loud, obnoxious, and kind of has petty arguments, but they’re fantastic. Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but better.

Our abbreviated version here in the states involves the same massive, gut-exploding dinner, but at a family friends’ house, and sans the late sleeping (they have young kids, etc). Also, in the presence of civilized company, we tend to avoid the screaming. Mostly.

My aunt helping herself to the spread…

Honestly, it’s about the same as when we celebrate Thanksgiving. Except there are presents involved. But my family’s never been huge on presents either, so we wound up just opening them before leaving (so around 2 pm) and just had a “White Elephant” exchange at the friend’s house… I won a Justin Bieber CD. “Winning” is a generous term…

Most of the food was decidedly un-vegetarian. My mom brought in HAM. Lots of ham. Here she is, cutting it…

I brought along roasted vegetables. I’d offer you a recipe but it’s pretty basic… Mix up some balsamic vinegar, a touch of olive oil, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (which I’m obsessed with, by the way) and toss it around with vegetables of your choice, sprinkled with some coarse sea salt. Cover and pop it into the oven until suitably cooked.

The only picture I have of it is rather terrible, but I single-handedly ate most of this platter. My stomach was less than pleased. See, that there pan at some point had most of a butternut squash, a yam, some Brussels sprouts, lots of chopped ginger and garlic, and some mushrooms. And I ate almost all of them.

I guess there are far worse things to overeat, no?

I also brought cookies, but I haven’t uploaded those pictures yet, and I’ll give you the recipe soon enough.

Here are some other snapshots:

Dad & I waiting to open presents. Excuse my mussed hair and lack of make-up… Oops.

The dogs getting in on the present-opening action.

My grandmother and her new best friend, our friend’s dog Jethro (he was obsessed with her, and whenever anybody came close he started growling… it was a little odd).

While I was admittedly cruising Facebook (and, uh, foodgawker) for much of the time I was there, I enjoyed seeing my family chatter away amongst those we know and love best. I hope your Christmas was equally enjoyable and filled with just as much delicious food and love as you can find.

Merry Christmas!