Tag Archives: La Petite Pancake Blog

“One Kitchen, Many Hearts”

That theme keeps recurring in my circle of blogging friends. We continually share recipes, swap family and personal stories, and most of all keep each other in stitches. When we’re not blogging, we’re usually chatting on Twitter or sharing recent finds on Pinterest. We’ve even joked about building a blogger commune with one giant kitchen so we can do this on a permanent basis (once one of us wins the lottery & all of our spouses or soon-to-be-spouses agree). Although we are literally spread out across the U.S., we are bound by our mutual love of blogging, food & family. “One Kitchen, Many Hearts” has not only become our mantra, it aptly conveys how much we’ve grown to care about one another.

Top: Mads, Kirsten & Megan; Bottom: Jeanne, Allison & Kat

Like any great group of gal pals, we love to make each other laugh. We not only support each other through thick and thin, we cheer each other on. And since some of us occasionally take it one step further and mail packages to each other, we thought it would be fun to start a gift box exchange program with a focus on sharing some of our favorite things, regional cuisines, and anything else that might tickle our fancy. Armed only with a list of food allergies and strong dislikes, our boxes are “sender’s choice” and open to just about anything that can safely be shipped (which obviously rules out kittens and cheese curds). Our goal is to ship & receive all boxes during the same week and then reveal what we all got on the same day. If this first round of boxes is any indication, this is going to be fun. I mean, who doesn’t love getting surprise packages in the mail?

This month was our first “One Kitchen, Many Hearts” box exchange, and today we’ll all be sharing what we received in a blog post on each of our blogs (links below). My first gift box came from Allison from Decadent Philistines Save the World in Arizona. Here’s what she sent:

Direct from Arizona - Cactus Candy & local chili infused olive oil

Now, some of you may be thinking “Cactus candy?” but not me. I actually love the flavor of prickly pear cactus fruit. Maybe it’s a southwest thing, but it’s not totally unique to me. In fact, the best restaurant margarita I ever had was a frozen lime concoction with a thick, sweet prickly pear cactus fruit syrup swirled into it. Have mercy, it was delicious. So when I saw the candy, and given my recent love affair with Turkish Delight, I was thrilled. Prickly pear cactus fruit tastes a little like pomegranate mixed with strawberries, and the texture of these candies is like my childhood favorite orange slice candies. They’re like soft jelly gummies coated in crunchy granulated sugar, and they are lovely.

The bottle of olive oil was fate. On the very day I received my box from Allison, The Complete Package and I had a conversation about infused olive oils. Flavors we like, types we would like to try, and the basil & garlic infused oil our son-in-law had just made the previous night for eggplant and chicken parmesan. Which, by the way, was fabulous. When I opened the box from Allison and found the chili pepper infused oil, it just seemed like kismet. Somewhere, the infused oil gods were smiling on us. Now my mind is racing with all of the ways I could use it – brushed onto grilled meats, drizzled over a pizza, in salad dressings, mixed with herbs and dipped with bread. The list is literally endless.

Special thanks to Allison (and to Her Royal Highness, Allison’s young daughter) for selecting the perfect items to share with this Texas gal. I will enjoy them thoroughly and think of you fondly as I do. ¡Muchas gracias!

To see what everyone else received, click on these links:
Kat at Tenaciously Yours (recipient of my box)
Mads at Le Petite Pancake
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic
Megan at Wanna Be a Country Cleaver
Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World

NOTE: Tomorrow I’ll be sharing information on the Foodie PenPal program that inspired this inner circle box exchange. It’s a much larger project with over 200 participants, and it inspired our smaller version with my blogging buddies. Think you might be interested in joining? Tune in tomorrow to learn more!

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Filed under Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts

Cookie Week: Coconut Shortbreads and a Holiday Cookie Baking Giveaway


**UPDATE: Congratulations to Mads from California. She is the lucky winner of my Holiday Cookie Baking Giveaway. Enjoy your goodies, Mads, and thank you for supporting Cookies for Kids Cancer. You are a Good Cookie!**

It’s Be A Good Cookie Week! Is there any more perfect holiday treat than cookies? They’re easy to make and fun to bake. It’s one of my favorite things about the holiday season. I can’t speak for all of the other little elves participating in this project, but I’m pumped. Cookie Week is going to rock! Much like Pie Week in November, my blogging inner circle was inspired by Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic to do something this holiday season that would bring us all together. In this case, she added a special invitation to help her bake for a cause – Cookies for Kids Cancer, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting pediatric cancers.

This organization started with a mother named Gretchen and her son Liam, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Unwilling to stand by and do nothing, Gretchen decided to hold a bake sale with the goal of baking 96,000 cookies with the help of family, friends and volunteers. Three weeks later, they had raised over $400,000 for pediatric cancer research. From there, it blossomed into something even she couldn’t predict. Cookies for Kids Cancer is now nationwide, and has captured the hearts of people everywhere.

Kirsten was the first in our group to jump on the band wagon and with good cause. She lost her little sister Cheryl to pediatric cancer. Needless to say, Cookies for Kids Cancer touched Kirsten in a very personal and profound way. I’m fortunate to have never experienced this personally, but because I love Kirsten and she loved Cheryl, and because parents everywhere may someday face this same challenge, I’m proud to join their efforts and bake for a cause this holiday season along with a special group blogging friends.

For Pie Week, we used Kirsten’s fabulously flawless “No Excuses Pie Dough” as our common thread. For Cookie Week, we each selected a recipe from the Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook by Gretchen Holt-Witt. Yes, she’s the same Gretchen who started that first bake sale for her son Liam. All of Gretchen’s author proceeds from the sale of the book benefit pediatric research, just like her bake sales. More about the cookbook in a little bit.

For Cookie Week, I selected Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies. I knew as soon as I saw this recipe it was perfect for me. I love shortbread and coconut. Here is the original recipe from the Cookies for Kids Cancer cookbook:

1/2 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

But I tripled the recipe so I could bake extras for a cookie exchange next week. And because I can never leave well enough alone, I also tweaked it a little. You should know by now that I can never seem to make any recipe as written. Here’s my ingredient list:

2 cups of sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups of slivered almonds
6 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
6 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 bag of dark or semisweet chocolate chips for dipping

Pre-heat the oven to 250F. Spread coconut and slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the coconut and almonds until finely ground (but not completely pulverized).

Place butter, sugars and extracts into mixer bowl with paddle attachment and beat until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the coconut and almonds to the butter & sugar mixture and beat on low speed until well combined. Gradually add the flour and salt. Mix until well beaten. (In my case, I had to remove the bowl from the mixer and stir the end of the flour in by hand. Triple the dough was a little too much for my 6 quart stand mixer.) Scrape out of bowl onto waxed paper or the counter top. If needed, knead the dough gently until it forms a cohesive ball. Divide and roll the dough into 1 1/2″ to 2” diameter logs. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap & aluminum foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or freeze for up to 2 months.

To bake, slice cookie dough logs into 1/4″ slices and place them about 1″ apart on a lined cookie sheet. I use silpat mats, but if you don’t have them, use parchment paper instead. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn a light brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Remove to parchment paper or cooling racks and allow the cookies to cool completely.

At this point, you can stack them into airtight containers or layer them in rows into freezer bags. But why stop there? Let’s kick it up another notch by dipping them in dark or semisweet chocolate. Shall we? In a microwave safe bowl, microwave one bag of chocolate chips at full power for 1 minute. Stir and microwave again, in 30-second intervals, until the chips are melted. Whisk thoroughly to remove all lumps, and move to a flat surface for dipping. Spreading out a long strip of parchment or waxed paper, dip one shortbread at a time, covering about 3/4 of the cookie’s surface. Allow the excess to drip off, then scrape the bottom of the cookie off on the edge of the bowl. Place the cookie immediately onto parchment paper and allow to cool. If you’re really clever, put that parchment paper on a baking sheet, and you’ll be able to pop your cookies straight into the fridge or freezer until the chocolate is fully set.

There you have it. Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies from the Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook with a NanaBread twist, baked in honor of Kirsten & her sister Cheryl, and Gretchen & her son Liam, and for kids everywhere who are facing cancers no child should ever endure.

Now on to the giveaway. Here is what one lucky reader will win:

You know you want to win this spectacular Cookie Week giveaway!

One copy of the Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook
One OXO “Good Cookie” Spatula, benefiting pediatric cancer
One holiday print apron, handmade by NanaBread (that’s me!)
One cookie-themed holiday kitchen towel
One set of my favorite Nordicware mini-spatulas
One boxed set of sprinkles for decorating holiday cookies
Two sets (3 each) of colorful metal cookie cutters
Two sets of holiday treat sacks for sharing with others
Two silicone hot pads in red & green (to match your apron)
And lastly, one small Christmas Cookie candle by Yankee Candle Co.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Holy cow! How can I win this fabulous cookie baking giveaway extravaganza!” Well, here’s how you can do it. And the good news is, each of you has the chance to earn multiple entries.

A few quick rules & a disclaimer:
1. You must be a resident of the United States to participate.
2. You must provide a valid e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.
3. They call it ‘the honor system’ for a reason, so please play fair.
4. Entries must be posted by noon CST on Sunday, December 18, 2011.
5. All prizes are provided by me and paid for with my own money.

Required Entry: leave a comment & tell me your favorite holiday cookie

Bonus Entries: (a new comment must be entered for each of the following)

1. Buy a copy of the Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook OR an OXO “Good Cookie” spatula, even if it is a holiday gift for a friend or family member, then return here and leave a comment telling me which item you purchased to help benefit pediatric cancer research.

2. Make a donation to Cookies for Kids Cancer at http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org/donate.asp then leave a comment letting me know that you made a donation to support pediatric cancer research.

3. Tweet the following: “I entered to win a Cookie Week Giveaway in support of Cookies for Kids Cancer at http://www.insidenanabreadshead.wordpress.com @HeyNanaBread and so can you!” and return to let me know you tweeted.

4. Share the link to my blog post about Cookies For Kids Cancer on your Facebook page, then come back and post a comment telling me you did so.

5. Share a virtual cookie from Glad on Facebook, and come back and leave a comment on this post telling me you did so.

6. Visit the Glad website, official sponsor & supporter of Cookies for Kids Cancer, and register to have your holiday baking counted as a corporate donation. That’s right – Glad will donate 10 cents for each cookie donated, sold, exchanged or given as a gift this holiday season (up to $100,000). Just count your cookies, register your information, and come back here to tell me you signed up at http://www.glad.com/glad-to-give/bake/host/ to make your cookies count for the cause.

That’s seven (7) ways each of you can enter to win. Or seven potential entries for each overachiever who participates. It’s just that easy. And it gets even better. My friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic is also holding a giveaway for Cookie Week, so go to her blog (link below) and enter to win both giveaways! On Sunday, December 18th, I will select one winner randomly from the comments I receive. The winner will be e-mailed and must confirm, so be sure to use a valid e-mail address. Your e-mail address will be seen only by me, and will not be shared. Once a winner is confirmed, an update will be added to this blog post.

Don’t forget to check in this week with all of our Cookie Week bloggers. These little elves will be serving up their own selections from the Cookies for Kids Cancer Best Bake Sale Cookbook:

Monday – Kirsten from Comfortably Domestic – also having a giveaway
Tuesday – Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head (hey, that’s me!)
Wednesday – Megan from Wanna Be A Country Clever
Thursday – Kat from Tenaciously Yours
Friday – Mads from La Petite Pancake
Saturday – Allison from Decadent Philistines Save the World

Happy holiday baking and thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping make pediatric cancer the ghost of Christmas Past.
-Jeanne

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Filed under Food & Recipes

On Guest Posting & Oatmeal Cookies

This post was created for a guest appearance on the La Petite Pancake Blog, written by my blogging friend, Mads. While she’s away attending a friend’s wedding, she invited me to write a guest post. It’s a first for me, and I’m both flattered and excited. Here is the recipe I shared with her readers. When you get a chance, click on the link above and visit her blog. She’s a hoot, and she has the cutest little pug named Josie, whom I may just have to kidnap some day. This is an abbreviated version. To see the full post, click on the link above.

NanaBread’s Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies:
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups of old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup of raisins or chopped pecans (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Using a mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together until the mixture is nice and creamy. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and beat just until well combined. Mix in the oats and blend until they are thoroughly incorporated. If you’re using raisins or nuts, add them with the oats. I like to use a cookie scoop to form golf ball sized balls, but you can use two spoons to scoop and place balls of dough onto un-greased, non-stick cookie sheets. If you have those great silicone baking mats, use them. Drop the dough balls about 2″ apart, since these will spread as they bake.

Baking time for these is 11-13 minutes, or until the centers look done and the edges are just beginning to brown. If you like them really chewy, take them out closer to the 11-12 minute mark. If you like them crispier, leave them in up to 15 minutes, or until they turn a nice golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then move to waxed paper to cool completely. Once your cookies are cooled, store them in an airtight container. If you’re going to stack them in layers, I recommend you place pieces of waxed paper or parchment between layers to keep them from sticking together.

One of my favorite ways to eat these is to make homemade ice cream sandwiches using two cookies and a small scoop of softened vanilla ice cream. You can make a big batch of these in advance and store them in your freezer. Just take them out of the freezer to thaw about 5 minutes before serving. Mmm, mmm good!

Now go forth and bake, my friends! And Mads, thanks again for including me in your guest-posting party. It was an honor and a pleasure and great fun!

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Filed under Food & Recipes