Category Archives: Blogger Collaborations

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple with Almond & Honey Streusel

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple - Title & Text - Inside NanaBread's Head

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite things about fall and one of the first comfort foods I reach for when the temperature drops and leaves start to turn. This year, I’m jumping into fall with a simple but flavorful sweet potato side dish for Eileen of The Joy of Caking and her collaborative Fall Harvest Dinner.

Fall Harvest Dinner Logo

Don’t let the term “simple” fool you – this dish is packed with flavor. It starts with one pound of peeled & cubed sweet potatoes, two cups of fresh pineapple chunks, a simple sauce of pineapple juice, orange juice and vanilla and is topped off with a lovely streusel of almond meal, flour, butter, honey & cinnamon sugar. The result? Sweet potato perfection.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple with broiled struesel topping - Inside NanaBread's Head

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple with Almond & Honey Streusel:
1 pound fresh sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (or 1 can, if needed; juice reserved)
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and drain the pineapple chunks, reserving the pineapple juice for the sauce.

In a large non-stick skillet over high heat, combine the canola oil and butter, and heat until melted. Toss in the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are nicely browned. Add the pineapple and stir to combine, then turn off the heat. In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice, pineapple juice, agave nectar or honey, vanilla extract and cornstarch until smooth. Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes and pineapple and place the skillet into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and fork tender.

While your sweet potatoes and pineapple are roasting, mix up your streusel topping and set out a ceramic serving dish (or individual dishes).

For the streusel:
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond meal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled slightly

In a bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, cinnamon and sugar; blend with a fork until well blended. Add the melted butter and stir until combined. Using your fork, break it up into 1/2″ clumps or crumbles and set it aside.

When the sweet potatoes are fork tender, remove from the oven. Spoon into your ceramic serving dish(es) and evenly spoon the crumbles of streusel mixture across the top. TIP: Place the dishes on a rimmed baking sheet to make them easier to get in and out of the oven. Turn your oven to the “Low Broil” setting, and pop the tray under the broiler just until the streusel turns a light golden brown. (Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.) Serve warm with a drizzle of honey or agave nectar over the top. If there are leftovers, try spooning this over the top of a bowl of oatmeal the next morning. Yum!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple - Ready to Eat - Inside NanaBread's Head

Please don’t forget to visit our Fall Harvest Dinner bloggers, who’ve contributed everything from a fall tablescape to cocktails, salads to main dishes, and of course – dessert. You don’t want to miss this!

• Eileen (our hostess) from The Joy of Caking – Invitation & Roasted Chicken
• Sandra from Sweet Sensations – Fall Harvest Tablescape
• Terra from Café Terra – Homemade Apple Pie cocktail
• Monet from Anecdotes and Apple Cores – Harvest Goat Cheese appetizer
• Dionne from Try Anything Once – Eggplant Caviar appetizer
• Amy from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes – Roasted Pear Salad with White Balsamic
• Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head (that’s me!) – side dish
• Denise and Sharon from BeBetsy – Onion Rolls
• Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake – Pumpkin Challah Bread
• Anne of From My Sweet Heart – Cinnamon Applesauce Tart

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Pumpkin Week: Hazelnut Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Title Text

Pumpkin – most people either love it or hate it. I am firmly in the ‘love it’ camp. It’s one of the things I love best about fall. When All Things Pumpkin bombard Pinterest & Twitter full force, I know cooler weather is on the horizon. So hang on to your butts, because the Theme Weavers are celebrating all things orange and tasty with Pumpkin Week and an array of our fall favorites.

“We’re staying up late telling scary stories, and in the morning I’m making waffles!” Donkey from Shrek. These gorgeous pumpkin waffles are laced with toasted hazelnut meal, buttermilk and a hint of fall spice. Seriously, friends… if we just had smell-a-vision, you’d be clamoring to get over here for breakfast. They smell HEAVENLY! And I’ll use any excuse to break out our vintage waffle maker (circa 1982). Don’t laugh; it works. But before we do anything, we need to plug in the waffle maker and let it start getting good and hot.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Our Vintage Waffle Iron

Please don’t laugh at my waffle maker. She may not look like much, but she’s a beast. And for the record, she’s not dirty, she’s just well-seasoned. While the waffle maker heats up, let’s prep the ingredients. I like to start with the wet stuff.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Wet Ingredients

Then I toast the hazelnut meal in a non-stick skillet and toss it in with all the dry ingredients. Don’t be like me and forget the brown sugar until the last possible second (hence the golden brown blob in the photo below). If you think food bloggers are miraculously flawless and free of mistakes, you are quite mistaken. Trust me – I screw up all the time. I just don’t show you that part.

Pumpkin Waffles - Dry Ingredients Collage

Once your wet and dry ingredients are ready to go, take those egg whites and beat the tar out of them. We have one of those awesome KitchenAid stick blenders with a whip attachment that makes short work of this step. If you don’t have one yet, you should think about it. They are the Mighty Mouse of kitchen tools. When your egg whites hold firm peaks, they’re ready to roll.

To blend all of this into pumpkin perfection, whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk your wet ingredients (except for those egg whites). Then invite the wet ingredients to play with the dry ingredients and blend them together with a whisk until they’ve all gotten to know one another better. Then it’s time to fold in those fluffy, snow-capped egg whites. Just remember – they’re sensitive. Fold slowly so you don’t scare the fluff out of them. Patience pays off in fluffy waffles here.

Pumpkin Waffle - Egg White Collage

When your batter is blended, it’s time to start makin’ the waffles. I always spray my hot waffle iron with a little of that canned cooking spray before the first waffle hits the pan, just to be safe, because no one wants to sit in the floor and cry when the first one refuses to release and burns. No one.

Remember when I said food bloggers make mistakes? Well, here’s your peek behind the curtain. Proof that I’m just like you (if you like to slop your waffle batter onto the machine and say ‘Sure…that looks like enough. Why not?’).

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Over Run

It’s not tragic or anything, it just takes longer to clean up. So for my waffle maker one cup minus 2 tablespoons = the perfect amount of batter for one waffle. I can’t speak for your waffle maker, so you’ll just have to get in there and give it a shot. If yours do run over, though, please promise you’ll tweet me a quick pic, because that would make me feel SO much better. #WaffleWrecks

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Just Out of the Waffle Iron

Hello, Gorgeous! So my first waffle may have been a mess, but when the second one came out PERFECT, you can bet your sweet bippy I did a happy dance. If you’re happy & you know it clap your hands {clap! clap!}

So let’s talk toppings. These waffles are so rich and fragrant, they just need a little something sweet on top. I chose cinnamon honey butter. Because butter is a given. Adding cinnamon and honey (or agave if you like) just brings it all in for a big group hug. I make it the night before and chill it so it’s scoopable. Yum.

Pumpkin Waffles - Honey Butter Collage

When that scoop of honey butter starts to melt into a hot waffle, I promise your eyes will roll back in your head and your heart will beat a little faster. And the only thing better than one hot waffle with honey butter is a big pile of them. You can poke me with a fork now; I’m done.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

NanaBread’s Hazelnut Pumpkin Waffles:
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk + 1 cup vanilla milk
OR 1 cup buttermilk + 1 cup of whole milk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill hazlenut meal
2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pre-heat your waffle iron while you mix up your waffles. To make, blend the egg yolks (egg whites come in later), buttermilk and milk, pumpkin, melted butter and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well blended. In a non-stick skillet, toast the hazelnut meal over medium-low heat until it just starts to take on some color and smells robust and fragrant. Toss it into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until thoroughly blended.

In a deep mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they form and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. I like to scrape to the bottom of the bowl and flip it once very gently, then turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the process until you can no longer see streaks of egg whites (see photo above). Once blended, you’re ready to bake.

Lightly spray your hot waffle iron with cooking spray. Depending on the size of your waffle iron, spread one cup of batter (if your waffler makes one waffle) or up to two cups (if your waffler makes 4 smaller waffles). It truly depends on your machine, so use a little caution on that first one and adjust as needed until the batter spreads to all edges without running over. When done, remove from the waffle iron and place it on a ceramic plate; cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm while the others bake. My old-school Belgian Waffler made seven waffles. Two died immediately and the others were frozen for later. These will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days or in the freezer (wrapped in waxed paper and placed into air-tight freezer bags) for up to six weeks.

Cinnamon Honey Butter:
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1 cup of your favorite local honey (or agave nectar)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat together until smooth and creamy. Scrape into an airtight container and chill until needed. To use, simply scoop a tablespoon on top of a toasty warm waffle and enjoy. So good, y’all. So, so good.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Waffles - Digging In

Before I go, don’t forget to drop in on our other Pumpkin Week participants:

Monday
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Streusel Bread

Tuesday
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Pumpkin Pie Macarons

Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – Look, Ma! I made waffles!

Wednesday
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Mini No-Bake Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Crumble Topping

Allison @ Decadent Philistines – Pumpkin Marshmallows & Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Shanna @ Pineapple & Coconut – Creamy Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto

Thursday
Anne @ From My Sweet Hear – Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Icing & Candied Pepitas

Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart

Madelyn @ La Petite Pancake – Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

Friday
Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Savory Pumpkin Tart

Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Pumpkin Mousse with Candied Squash

Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Kiss Cookies

Saturday
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Scones

Monica @ The Grommom – Pumpkin Ice Cream

Pumpkin Week Badge

Note: this recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

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One Kitchen Many Hearts: August

OKMH Collage 2013

It’s that time again – time for another OKMH box exchange! I love getting a box of love from my blogging buddies almost as much as I love sending them. This month, my box came from Megan of Country Cleaver fame. Megan hails from the Seattle area and mark my words – she will be a famous foodie soon. She’s destined for greatness and a spot on the Food Network. And I’m going to be a founding member of her fan club. Perhaps even Vice President.

Our theme this month was “Pimp My Desk” or “Office Essentials” or “Back to School” – whichever you think is less offensive. Here’s what Megan sent:

Photo5

This sweet little bookmark is adorable and Megan’s timing was perfect. I literally just set a new paperback out to read when her box arrived. It was immediately put to use in my copy of ‘The Winter Garden’ by Kristin Hannah. Ever read her stuff? This one tells the story of two sisters who grew up with an adoring father and a ridiculously frigid mother. Without giving too much away, the girls learn more about their mother through the Russian fairytales she shares from her youth. It’s a good story, but overall I think I preferred her other novel ‘Firefly Lane’. If you’ve read any of her other books and have recommendations, please share!

Collage3

What better accompaniment to a good book and a lazy Saturday than a cup of tea and some sea salt caramels? Again, perfect timing. The caramels died as soon as the box was opened (yes, all 3 of them). The tea lasted longer, but only because it wasn’t rolled in caramel and dipped in chocolate. So stinkin’ good!

Next up was a spa treatment box filled with lip balm, hand salve and a soap truffle. See my previous comment to know why Megan slapped a post-it note on it that read “Soap Truffle – DO NOT EAT!” She knows me well.

Collage2

She knows me so well, she fostered my obsession with Seattle’s Beecher’s Cheese by sending me a bag of their crackers. Beecher’s is always the first place I hit when we go to Seattle and walk through Pike Place Market. I love that place. If it were possible to die from the over-consumption of fresh squeaky cheese curds, I’d be the first to do it. I could eat them by the tub. Oh wait, I totally HAVE eaten them by the tub. I’m not called ‘The Cheesel’ (like weasel) for nothing, folks.

Collage1

These little pupper magnets have to be the most adorable things ever. There’s actually a Boston Terrier magnet in honor of our beloved Ziggy who passed away in March and a pug to represent our sweet friend Miss Josie Pugglesworth of the Long Beach Pugglesworths. If the magnets didn’t having me smiling ear to ear, the pens certainly did. They’re anti-theft pens for your desk. Why anti-theft? Just read them. Springfield Sexual Addiction Center? Hilarious!

I loved everything in my box, but I’ll cherish this card from Megan most.

Collage4jpg

The post-it notes explained each gift, but that sweet card and the love behind it are the real treasure. Our Story: Seven friends meet on the internet via their blogs and become real-life friends forever. And that is the greatest gift of all.

Want to see more? Check out what I sent to Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic by clicking HERE. From there, you can click from blog to blog & follow the fun.

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Berry Week: Annie’s Blackberry Cake

Blackberry Cake - InsideNanaBreadsHead

Hooray for summer berries and Berry Week! Fresh produce from the farmers market is one of my favorite things about summer and each year I look forward to hitting all the fruit stands. Fresh berries, peaches, watermelon and all those glorious veggies make me happy to my core.

This week, our Theme Weavers band of bloggers is taking on summer’s bounty with Berry Week. Contributions include pies, cakes, cocktails and breakfast treats so stay tuned and plan to visit all this deliciousness.

Berry Week Logo

Monday:
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Fresh Strawberry Pie
Madelyn @ La Petite Pancake – Berry Sangria

Tuesday:
Anne @ From My Sweet Heart – Summer Berry Terrine with Mascarpone
Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – Annie’s Blackberry Cake (below)

Wednesday:
Lauren @ Grier Mountain – Vanilla Gelato with Peach-Blueberry Compote
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Strawberry Smash

Thursday:
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Strawberry Basil Sorbet Bellini
Haley @ Girly Girl Cooks – Strawberry-Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast

Friday:
Christina @ Buffy & George – Raspberry & Cherry Pie (gluten-free crust)
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – PNW75 Berry Cocktail
Monica @ The Grommom – Papaya-Berry Crisp (gluten-free)

Saturday:
Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Cherry Clafoutis
Allison @ Decadent Philistines – Raspberry Marshmallows (2 ways)

Blackberry Cake & Vintage Square Cakestand - Inside NanaBread's Head

Now let’s talk cake! I am a self-proclaimed Pie Girl. Basically, it’s because I despise dry, over-frosted cake. Yuck. I’d rather skip dessert all together than eat dry cake. Luckily, this is not that cake.

I first got this recipe from my dear friend Annie. We worked together in an elementary school front office for years and became soul sisters. She shared this gem with me and I shared it with my mom and sisters. Now it’s a family favorite. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to make and absolutely packed with blackberry flavor. I know some people hate the M word (rhymes with hoist) so I’ll refrain. Just know that this cake is the furthest thing from dry.

Annie’s Blackberry Cake

For the cake:
1 box white ‘super moist’ cake mix (18 ozs.)
1 box black raspberry or raspberry Jell-O (3 ozs.)
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup milk
4 whole eggs
4 Tablespoons seedless blackberry jam
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons seedless blackberry jam
fresh blackberries for garnish

To Make the Cake:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. The original recipe called for three 8″ round pans for a layer cake. I used a vintage square tube pan I found at an antique shop last summer, but you could also bake this cake in a 13″ x 9″ rectangle pan (even easier). Generously grease & flour your baking pan(s) and set them aside.

Next, put the coconut & pecans into a food processor and pulse until both are well combined and ground into small pieces; set those aside, as well.

Combine the cake mix, dry Jell-O powder, oil, milk and blackberry jam in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gently fold in the berries, coconut and pecans until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into your pan(s) and spread it into a smooth, even layer.

Bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. My square tube pan took 40 minutes. A 13″ x 9″ square should take 25-30 minutes, and three round layers should take 20-25 minutes. As with all recipes, baking time may vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it for the last 10 minutes and check it often with a toothpick. Once it’s done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans until cool to the touch.

To Make the Whipped Cream Frosting:

While your cake is cooling, place your mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator and chill for at least 15-20 minutes. Once chilled, remove from the fridge and add the cream, sugar, vanilla and jam to the bowl. Beat on medium-high to high speed just until firm peaks form.

If your cake is still warm to the touch, put your prepared whipped cream in the fridge and wait until the cake is completely cooled to prevent your cream from melting. Once the cake is cool, you’re ready to frost.

For my tube pan cake, I used a serrated knife to cut the cake into two even layers. If you use a 13″ x 9″ pan, simply top with whipped cream frosting and sprinkle with fresh berries. For a layer cake, stack one layer at a time onto a serving plate and fill with 1/2″ of the whipped cream, then top with last of the whipped cream and fresh berries. I had extra berries, so I tossed them with some sugar and used them between my layers as well.

Because of the whipped cream frosting, this cake must be refrigerated. It’s also best when eaten within 48 hours. That’s one of the reasons my family makes this for family gatherings. It’s a lot of cake to consume for two people in one weekend. If that’s an issue, you might consider baking this as cupcakes and freezing them un-frosted. Then when you need a cake fix, you can thaw as many as you want/need and make just enough whipped cream for those few.

If you’re thinking “I’m not really a blackberry fan” then try it with raspberries or strawberries. Don’t like pecans? Substitute toasted almonds. Allergic to nuts? Leave them out! I draw the line at coconut. It’s just too good to leave it out, but if you have to I promise to look the other way. It’s not brain surgery – just cake. Tweak it any way you like. Food should be fun, so play with it!

Now all that’s left to do is to dig in. My cake is going to Mom’s house. Luckily, she’s a good sharer. Speaking of sharing, here… I saved you a piece.

Blackberry Cake - A Slice - Inside NanaBread's Head

Note: This recipe was adapted from a copy of a recipe taken from an old unspecified spiral-bound cookbook. It is credited to Billie Kendrick of Springdale, Arkansas. Her original recipe called for a heavy fudge-like frosting made with one pound of confectioner’s sugar. Since I’m not a buttercream fan, my family and I opt for a lighter whipped cream topping. I also took the liberty of adding blackberry jam to the cake batter for extra flavor. My heartfelt thanks go to Ms. Kendrick for her perfect summer berry confection and to my sweet friend Annie who was kind enough to share it. XOXO

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Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

This year’s Bake Sale for Beka (aka Cookies for Crohn’s) was a great success, raising $1,680 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Wahoo! Great job and high fives to all the bakers, bloggers & bidders who participated!

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

My contribution to this year’s bake sale was these luscious Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies – so buttery and delicious! My winning bidder was Taryn from the Pacific northwest (Seattle area). To my surprise, she bid a whopping $60.00 for four dozen of my shortbreads. Thank you so much, Taryn! I hope you and your friends and family enjoy them!

Now that they’re baked and shipped, I thought I’d share them here so you can make them as well. And trust me – if you love buttery shortbread cookies, dried cherries and pecans, you ARE going to want to make them. This recipe has been doubled so that it makes approximately 5 to 6 dozen cookies, depending on how big you cut them. Mine were approximately 1 1/2″ squares and made 6 dozen.

NanaBread’s Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies
adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book (Classic Buttery Shortbread)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal (almond flour)
1 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, toasted
granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. While your butter is softening, spread the flour, almond meal and almonds onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the flour just starts to take on some light color and the almonds are fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Reduce your oven temperature to 325F.

In a food processor, combine the dried cherries and cooled almonds. Pulse until both are chopped into small chunks. Don’t pulse too long, or you’ll end up with cherry/almond paste. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the toasted flour and almond meal, the powdered sugar, salt and cherry/almond mixture; whisk to combine.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes). Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla and almond extracts, beating just until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment or a silpat mat. Scrape the dough onto the pan and with lightly floured fingers or a flat spatula, spread the shortbread dough into the pan, working it all the way out to the corners. To get a nice even layer, place waxed or parchment paper on top of the dough and use a rolling pin.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Pressing Into Pan - Inside NanaBread's Head

If you don’t have a rolling pin, lay some waxed or parchment paper on top of the cookie dough then top with a second cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and press to form a nice even layer. Peel the paper off and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, then pop the pan in the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.

Next, use a bench scraper (my favorite tool) or a metal pancake spatula to score the cookies into squares. I like to hold the bench scraper vertically and press until I feel it hit the bottom of the pan. (Because the bench scraper has a fairly sharp edge, just be sure not to press so hard that you damage your silpat mat!)

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Cutting into Squares - Inside NanaBread's Head

Once the cookies are scored, place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 40-45 minutes (time may vary depending on how hot your oven gets – each oven is a little different). When the shortbread is firm to the touch in the middle of the pan and the cookies are a light golden brown, they’re done. Remove from the oven and allow then to cool 15-20 minutes, then use your bench scraper or spatula to re-cut the cookies along your score lines.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Out of the Oven - Inside NanaBread's Head

Once they are completely cool, you can remove them from the pan and layer them with parchment or waxed paper into an air-tight container. These will stay fresh for about 2 weeks at room temperature, or up to one month in your fridge.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Cut into Squares - Inside NanaBread's Head

Love chocolate? Then why not dip them? For that first Bake Sale glamour shot, I dipped a few cookies in dark chocolate. For Taryn, my winning bake sale bidder, I created a variety pack of white, milk and dark chocolate dipped (1 dozen ea.) as well as one dozen plain so she could enjoy them in their pure just-baked form.

Cherry Almond Shortbreads - Dipped in Chocolate - Inside NanaBread's Head

Have mercy – the dark chocolate coated are my personal favorite. What a winning combo! Now I just have to hope they make it to the west coast without all that gorgeous Guittard chocolate melting. I packed them in an insulated lunch cooler with those blue ice freezer packs, so keep your fingers crossed.

Note to Self: Next year, don’t dip anything in chocolate. It’s summer, dummy.

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OKMH – The Summer Picnic Edition

Nothing beats a OKMH mail day. This month, our One Kitchen Many Hearts gang chose ‘Summer Picnics’ for our gifting theme. My box came from Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic from the northern regions of the great state of Michigan. Home of The Cherries (my favorite fruit). Did I mention she brought me a 4 pound bag of dried Michigan cherries when she came to visit in May? Because if there’s one sure way to get me to invite you down for a long weekend of antiquing, Texas Martinis and traditional southern cuisine, it’s to pack a huge bag of cherries in your carry-on (for future reference).

OKMH Collage 2013

Here’s a snap of Kirsten’s picnic extravaganza box:

OKMH June 2013 - Box O' Goodies

For the record, this might just be my favorite theme to date. There’s so much going on in this box. Let’s just break it down into manageable bits, shall we? First, each parcel was lovingly wrapped in cute polka dot tissue and tied with a ribbon and a ‘cherry lug marker’ as a gift tag.

OKMH June 2013 - Polka Dot Packaging

You’re probably thinking “What the heck is a cherry lug?” Welcome to the club. I didn’t know about them, either. Here’s what Kirsten said in her card about them: “The tags are vintage cherry lug markers from Morgan Farms – now the spot of an exciting new subdivision. I thought you’d get a kick out of having a few pieces of (Michigan) history.” She’s right. I love them. Not sure what I’ll do with them just yet, but stringing them onto a charm bracelet has crossed my mind. What would you do with them?

Cherry Chubs

Kirsten knows me well. A perfect example is this Dagoba chocolate bar. While friends send friends chocolate, true friends know what you love and send the good stuff. The dark stuff. As a bonus, this one had organic mint & rosemary essence. It was all that and a bag of chips, as we used to say back in 1993.

OKMH June 2013 - Mint & Dark Chocolate

In case the chocolate didn’t soothe all things, she also threw in a jar of Ancient Healer Herbal Salve. Oh, baby… you should smell this magical potion!

OKMH June 2013 - Ancient Healer Salve

It smells of all the great herby things – rosemary, evergreen trees, and earth. I love a good herbal salve. It’s my ‘go to’ ointment for burns, rashes or scrapes but is also perfect to soothe those summer sunburns. It’s lovely and perfect and made in Michigan. Know what else is soothing and made in Michigan? Wine!

OKMH June 2013 - Michigan Wine from Brys

This beauty came in a separate box, shipped directly from the Brys Estate in Michigan (seeing a theme here?). It’s one of my all-time favorite whites – a . Ever tried one? If you enjoy a nice chilled white wine for summer, you need to try one. But you’ll have to get your own – this Brys Gewürztraminer in mine. All mine! (You can’t hear it, but I’m doing my evil laugh while hugging the bottle.) Kirsten also included two ‘travel size’ bottles of Jose Cuervo margaritas – the perfectly portable picnic potion.

This cute post-it pad sums up how I feel about my morning coffee. As I said, girlfriend knows me well. She’s my sister from another mister. My pal from another gal. My… okay, I think you get what I’m saying. She gets me.

OKMH June 2013 - Coffee Post-Its

She also has the memory of an elephant. I wish I had her brain cells for even a day. Menopause has officially robbed me of most of mine, but Kirsten remembers all the good stuff. Like this vintage find from an antique shop. We saw one while antiquing when she was down in May. Next thing you know, there’s one in my June box. Do you know what it is?

OKMH June 2013 - Antique Cake Comb

Ultimate meat fork? No. Beard comb? No, and I’ll thank you not to mention my beard. :) It’s a cake comb! It’s used to slice delicate cakes like angel food or chiffon cakes. Even more effective than today’s serrated knives, these cake combs are the unicorns of baking utensils. This one will be perfect for my Berry Week contribution next month, so stay tuned. It will be making a return appearance in a few short weeks. (Thanks, K! Perfect timing!)

And a picnic isn’t a picnic unless it’s portable. Kirsten had that covered, as well. Check out these beauties! The first is a thermal insulated chill bag in a cute owl print. Who has two thumbs and loves owls? This girl! You pop the bag in the fridge or freezer to pre-chill, then pack and go. The second is a stainless steel thermal beverage bottle. In my favorite color, no less. It goes without saying that I love them both and will put them to good use this summer.

OKMH June 2013 - Portable Containers

And there you have it – a perfect summer picnic box from my blogging bestie Kirsten. Nailed it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a potato salad to make and a chilled wine to chug. I mean sip. Yeah, I totally meant sip.

To see what I sent to Megan, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Things I Love

It’s time! Bake Sale for Beka time!

Bake Sale logo courtesy of Megan @CountryCleaver

Bake Sale logo courtesy of Megan @CountryCleaver

Update: The Bake Sale for Beka is now closed. I’d like to thank Taryn L. from the Seattle area for placing the winning bid on my Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies – a whopping $60! This year’s Bake Sale raised almost $1,700 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Unbelievable, and completely impossible without the support of our friends, family and bake sale bidders. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us help Beka reach her goal!

We’ve waited so patiently and it’s finally here! The Bake Sale for Beka, also known as Cookies for Crohn’s, kicks off this morning and I’m so excited to be participating! As I mentioned earlier, I’m donating four dozen Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies dipped in chocolate. What kind of chocolate, you ask? Well, whatever chocolate the winning bidder chooses, of course!

Win my cookies, and you can pick whichever rich Guittard chocolate enrobes them – white, milk or dark. But wait, did you just say you’d pick all three? Well then, place the winning bid on my cookies and tell them you’d like them as a ‘variety pack’ and that’s exactly what you’ll get! I’ll stop at nothing to raise more money for Beka and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America!

To recap – that’s four dozen handmade shortbread cookies chock full of toasted almonds, dried Michigan cherries and real butter, dipped in the chocolate of your choice. Heck, I may even throw in a jar of homemade jam for the lucky winner. It’s insanity! So what are you waiting for? Go bid on these beauties!

Cherry & Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

To browse the mouth-watering line-up of goodies donated by 35+ food bloggers from across America, visit our hostess with the mostess – Megan at www.countrycleaver.com. Her Bake Sale for Beka post outlines the on-line bidding guidelines and instructions you need to make sure a box of baked goods arrives on YOUR doorstep. You do want fresh-baked cookies on your doorstep, right? So let’s DO this and help put Crohn’s & Colitis in our rear-view mirror.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes