Tag Archives: baking cookies

Random Thoughts Thursday

It’s early Thursday morning and I desperately need coffee. So while I’m making a cup, feel free to browse a few random things that came up this week.

1. Bake Sale for Beka (aka Cookies for Crohn’s)
My friend Megan from Country Cleaver is hosting this amazing on-line bake sale benefitting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America for the second year running. I’m participating again by baking four dozen of these Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies dipped in dark Guittard chocolate. Holy yum!

Cherry & Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

Made with flour & almond meal, dried Michigan cherries, toasted almonds & real butter these shortbread cookies stand on their own without any chocolate. But what fun is that? Seriously, when things can be dipped in dark chocolate, they absolutely should be. If these beauties have captivated you, you can bid on them! If you win, I’ll ship 4 dozen directly to your home, dipped in whichever type of chocolate you prefer – white, milk or dark. Winner’s choice.

To bid or browse the other selections generously donated by a plethora of fabulous food bloggers go to Megan’s website THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2013. That’s right, folks… this is a one day on-line auction benefiting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and celebrating Beka’s first half-marathon for the cure. For the record, on a scale of 1 to 10, Beka is a 15 kind of amazing. So mark your calendar and drop in on the Bake Sale for Beka to watch the bidding shenanigans. And if you end up with the winning bid on my cookies, I might just throw in a jar of homemade jelly. It’s been known to happen.

2. The Complete Package went to the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally in Austin and all we got were photos & disco light sabers.
Okay, that’s true but not entirely true. TCP (my beloved) DID attend the ROT Rally in Austin where his girlfriend (if I may brag a bit) took first place in the Metric Customs category. Yes, I refer to his motorcycle as his girlfriend. Here’s a snap in case you’re curious about her. Meh; she’s okay I guess. :)

TCP's Honda Fury

Each year, on Friday evening, participants in the motorcycle rally ride from the Austin fairgrounds into downtown in a bike parade that stretches more than 10 miles. MILES, people. And each year, My Baby and I take the grandkids downtown to watch the parade so they can see their Papi ride in. They get the biggest kick out of seeing him in the parade. It’s his rock star moment.

After he gets downtown and parks, we all walk Congress looking at the motorcycles and snapping photos. Here are a few from last Friday night. This first one is of Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug with ‘The Cat Lady’. She’s really popular.

ROT Rally 2013 - Jonah & Lilly with Cat Lady

ROT Rally 2013 - Strolling on Congress

ROT Rally 2013 - State Capitol

3. I took the kids back to Springdale Farm.
Remember last week when I mentioned I had the privilege of visiting Springdale Farm for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance dinner as part of the BlogHer Food conference? It was a wonderful, magical night under the stars and trees.

Springdale Farm - US Farmers & Ranchers Dinner

I enjoyed it so much I vowed to bring My Baby and the kids for a visit, and last Saturday we did just that. Despite the heat, the kids had a great time and enjoyed walking the farm, spotting fresh vegetables, and picking out some to take home. In case I haven’t been clear in past posts, I L-O-V-E a good farmer’s market or farm stand and Springdale Farm is now one of my favorites. If you’re in Austin, please visit and support a local farmer. Food doesn’t get any fresher.

Lilly & The Chickens - Springdale Farm

Jonah & Lilly - walking the herb garden at Springdale Farm

Farm Stand at Springdale

Ever wondered what an artichoke looks like when it’s left to bloom? Well now you know. You’re not going to see that in a grocery store, folks!

Artichoke Blooms - Springdale Farm

We also attempted to take Jonah & Lilly on a mural hop around Austin. More on that later, but here’s a glimpse of what we did before we died of heat stroke.

Lilly & Jonah at Austin Mural

4. Nothing rocks summer like the glitter polish.
It started with pale pink glitter polish over raspberry red and it has now morphed into pale teal glitter over a dark teal base. For a girl who doesn’t usually paint her nails, I’m totally digging the disco glitter. Hello summer!

The Megan - Teal Sparkle Nails

5. Don’t forget this weekend’s Bake Sale for Beka on-line auction!
I mean it, people. Buy my cookies and I’ll make it worth your time & money. We’re talking FOUR DOZEN HANDMADE FROM SCRATCH COOKIES and homemade jam or jelly. If I could ship a puppy, I would. I’m not above bribery. Whatever it takes. Just bid. It’s for a good cause and there are cookbooks & cookies to be had. LOTS of cookies. For a preview, CLICK HERE.

BakeSale4Beka

Advertisements

25 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Family Stuff, Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscoff Cookies {that’s a mouthful!}

Peanut Butter Cocoa & Biscoff Cookies - Inside NanaBread's Head

Try saying that three times fast. It’s a mouthful of title, but it’s also a mouthful of cookie. I thought about naming them “Pantry Cleaner Cookies” because that’s what I was doing when I thought of these. I found a half-empty jar of peanut butter and half a jar of Biscoff. Could they be combined? Is that legal? After a quick tweet to my Biscoff guru Megan, I decided to go for it. And if you’re going to combine peanut butter with Biscoff, why not throw in some dark chocolate because that’s how my mind works. And because more is… MORE!

For these cookies you will need:
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups Biscoff cookie butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 package (5 ozs.) vanilla instant pudding mix
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

The vanilla pudding mix may seem odd, but my friend Beka put it in her peanut butter cookies for Sweets Week and they looked amazing, so I went for it. Using the paddle attachment (if you have a stand mixer), combine the peanut butter, cookie butter, brown sugar, dry pudding mix, eggs and vanilla extract until incorporated. Stop and scrape down the bowl, then turn the mixer to medium high and beat for 5 minutes more, or until the brown sugar is no longer gritty.

Stop the mixer; add the cocoa, baking soda & salt. Beat until all dry ingredients are thoroughly blended. Stop the mixer and check your cookie batter. It may seem a little dry, but should hold together when you pinch it into a ball.

Remove the beater and pour the dough out onto your work surface. I dumped mine onto a sheet of waxed paper, forming a line of dough about 18″ long. Using your hands, smash the cookie dough into an even log and wrap it in the waxed paper. Secure each end by twisting; you can secure it with a chip clip or rubber band. Once wrapped, roll the cookie dough log as if it’s a rolling-pin, making sure the entire roll is uniform in circumference. Pop the roll of cookie dough into the fridge for 1 hour or freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to slice.

Once chilled, remove from the fridge or freezer and pre-heat your oven to 350F. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll of dough into 1/2″ slices. Note: I like my cookies thick and chewy. If you like yours thin & crispy, slice them thinner. If you intend to glaze yours like I did, leave them in smooth slices. If you’d like to skip the glaze and eat them plain, you can use a fork to make traditional hash marks on the top of each cookie. To glaze or not to glaze? That is the question.

PBCB Cookies - Slice & Bake - Inside NanaBread's Head

Lining your cookie sheets with parchment or Silpat mats; place cookies 1″ apart. Pop them into the oven while the dough is still very cold and bake for 10-14 minutes depending on how crispy you want them to be. As I said, I like mine thick & chewy, so I baked each batch for 12 minutes. They were still soft in the center and just beginning to crack around the edges like so. If you like them thin & crispy, watch them starting at 10 minutes, and check often so they don’t burn.

PBCB Cookies - Baked to a Crackle - Inside NanaBread's Head

Can I just take a minute to say that one of my favorite things about baking cookies is when I have them all out on the counter, in all stages of ‘in progress’. There’s something about seeing them out there, with all the steps visible, that makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.

PBCB Cookies - Cookie Station - Inside NanaBread's Head

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets for at least 5-10 minutes before moving them onto sheets of parchment to cool completely. Because these are flourless, they are more fragile when warm. Move them too soon, and they may crumble. Now – glaze or no glaze? I vote glaze!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4-6 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup
2-3 tablespoons milk

Place the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 30 seconds to soften it. Sift in the powdered sugar and whisk until incorporated; add the chocolate syrup and whisk until smooth. If it gets too thick too quickly, pop it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. At this point, it will be too thick to pipe, so add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the mixture is glossy and the texture of a thick caramel sauce.

I like to put a quart freezer bag into a drinking glass (folding the top over the edge of the glass) and scrape the glaze into the bag using a spatula. To glaze the cookies, press the air out of the bag and twist the bag to press the glaze into one corner. Snip the tip off the corner and pipe immediately onto the cookies.

PBCB Cookies - Inside NanaBread's Head

I push mine close together and use a straight line motion, moving back & forth over each row. But if you’re feeling frisky, you can always:

PBCB Cookies - Swirled Glaze - Inside NanaBread's Head

Allow them to sit for 1-2 hours, until the glaze is firm to the touch. Store in airtight containers. Kept in the fridge, they should last up to 2 weeks; un-refrigerated, they should be good for 5-6 days (if they last that long). If you’ve got a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, these will be all kinds of dangerous.

PBCB Cookies - Finished - Inside NanaBread's Head

PS: These are for our annual ‘ladies only’ spring fling weekend, Hoegarden. I’ll get back to you next week and let you know how these went over, if I survive it. Want to find out more? Click on ‘Hoegarden Weekends’ on the right sidebar under Tidbits You Can Choose From. We are THAT family. No apologies. None.

PPS: If peanut butter is a no-no in your house due to allergies, you might try swapping Sun Butter for peanut butter. My friend Kisten does it often, and she swears by it. And I would give Kirsten a kidney, so if I can trust her so can you.

PPSS: I don’t really have a third one; I just wondered if you’d keep reading. :D

23 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

My Cookie Craving: Kaki’s Gingersnaps

Rich, chewy and exceptionally flavorful with a gorgeous sugar-coated crackled top. That describes my friend Kaki’s homemade gingersnaps. She made them last December for our big blow-out holiday Cookiepalooza, and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since. Yesterday morning, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I baked a double batch. And the world seemed sunnier because of it.

Kaki’s Gingersnaps:

  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon candied ginger, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup additional sugar, for coating
  • 1 package white chocolate coating, for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy; add the egg and molasses and mix until well blended. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients then add the candied ginger if you’re using it and toss to coat the ginger. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

Shape a tablespoon of dough into a ball and roll it in sugar, setting it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Personally, I like to use a 1″ cookie scoop and drop the scoop into a small bowl of sugar. It works just as well and each cookie comes out exactly the same size as the next. I’m sort of obsessive about stuff like that, but that’s just me.  Bake each tray of cookies for 12-14 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely, then you can decide to dip or not to dip.

This is Kaki – making gingersnaps

This is Kaki making her gingersnaps. When she made them in December, we dipped them in white chocolate. And they were delicious. If you’d like to dip yours, melt a package of white chocolate or candy coating according to package instructions. Dip cookies half-way, scraping the bottom of the cookie along the edge of the bowl or pan to remove the excess. Place on parchment or wax paper and allow to set up until firm to the touch. If you’re in a pinch for time, you can pop the tray into the refrigerator or freezer for a  few minutes. Then bag and tag them. A single batch makes 24-30 cookies.

I liked them both ways – plain and dipped. But if I were to sit and eat them with a big glass of milk like The Complete Package and I did yesterday, I prefer them unadorned. Just plain, simple, powerful ginger goodness. But you try them both ways and judge for yourself. Will you be a white chocolate-dipped lover or a plain old-fashioned fan? Truthfully, I’ll take them any way I can get them.

Go on and bake some. You know you want to.

18 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

For the record, I am not dead.


Although, if I were, it would make me supremely happy to know that this little guy was hanging out with me. I know it has been two weeks since my last post, and for that I sincerely apologize. It wasn’t until a reader checked in on me that it really sunk in. I’ve been a terrible blogger this month. The good news is this – I am not dead. I’m not even sick. My allergies are bugging me a little, but it’s Houston in the fall and that’s completely normal. Annoying, but normal.

Fact is, I’ve just been a little too focused on other things. We were out so much for our long vacation and a week visiting family for Thanksgiving and a long weekend with the grandkids that I kind of got busy trying to make up for all that. We got our broken attic door fixed, so The Complete Package and I were finally able to drag all the Christmas decorations down. I spent 2 days unpacking it all, putting the tree up, and decorating the family room. Contrary to previous years’ decorations, I decided to focus all my Christmas cheer on one room instead of the entire downstairs. It has worked out pretty well, since it’s the room we spend most of our time in. Or at least that’s what I’m choosing to believe this year. One room is enough. Nothing beats sitting in a room at night with the lights from the tree casting a warm glow around the room, especially if there’s a fire going in the fireplace at the same time. I love our family room during the holidays.

See? When I said I finished my Christmas shopping, I wasn't lying.

I mixed up a ton of shortbread cookie dough for Cookie Week, which just happens to start Monday over at Kirsten’s Comfortably Domestic blog. It’s like Pie Week from November, but with cookies and a cause instead. Six bloggers are selecting six recipes from the Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook to feature on our blogs this week. My post will be up Tuesday, but please click here to check out Kirsten’s posts. She’s kicking it off Monday with a savory recipe and from what I understand, it was good enough to inspire snacking right out of the bowl – before they were even baked. Now that’s gotta be a good cracker. PS – I’m doing a giveaway with my cookie post and so is Kirsten. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’m giving away, so don’t forget to drop by Tuesday and enter. And visit Kirsten’s blog to enter her giveaway, too.

If you haven't tackled your holiday baking, you're going to want this.

Last week, The Complete Package and I spent two whole days sitting in a big tall building in downtown Houston for a retirement seminar. It’s hard to believe we’re attending stuff like this since he’s 54 and I’m 48, but the truth is this – you can never start planning for retirement too early. And frankly, even then it’s a crap shoot. But we enjoyed the seminar, and we learned some things we didn’t know and need to look into, and we feel like we’re better prepared to move forward. And that counts for something. Or at least it should.

We'll be THAT couple & TCP will probably honk and flip you the bird

The Complete Package made homemade pomegranate Turkish Delight last week. It was an experiment in recapturing his favorite sweet from our last vacation. It took one full week to ‘set up’ and the results were disappointing. Too soft – the texture just fell apart when you touched it instead of being the consistency of a soft gummy worm. But all is not lost. We have other recipes and techniques to try, and try again we will! As a bonus, we had leftover pistachios and we’re planning to try homemade pistachio ice cream soon. See? When God closes a door, he opens a window somewhere else.

Time to break out Christine again. She's evil; pure evil.

This weekend, TCP picked up one of his Christmas presents early. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but it’s black and shiny and produces grilled and smoke meats in an outdoor setting. Okay, so that’s not so subtle a hint. The upside is that we’ll be enjoying smokey meat for years to come. The downside is that it came in a huge box and looked like the assembly instructions for an entire Ikea living room set. He spent 2 days assembling the darn thing. It’s up, it’s seasoned, and it’s ready to roll. Now we just need 200 pounds of cow or pig to fill it. I’m not kidding – this thing is a beast, and TCP is determined to tame it.

TCP's smokey pork ribs. I'll have what he's having.

I’m hosting a day of cookie baking with friends next week. We’re going to bake holiday cookies all day, with each of us making a different cookie. While it’s all baking we going to hang out and play cards and visit. When it’s all done, we’re going to divide it all up a la cookie exchange so everyone goes home with a jumbo tray of mixed goodies. I can’t wait. Something about this Christmas just seems shinier and brighter. Maybe it’s the colder weather we’ve been having. Maybe it’s that our decorations and tree are finally up. Maybe it’s Cookie Week with my blogging friends and our cookiepalooza day next week. Whatever it is, I’m all in. I’m looking forward to this Christmas more than any other.

My favorite band of holiday misfits in finger puppet form

How about you? Are you looking forward to the holidays? Will you be traveling to see family and friends? Are you listening to that radio channel that plays nothing but holiday music in your hometown, or dragging out your holiday CD collection at home? Are there any favorite TV specials or holiday-themed movies you just HAVE to watch every year for the holidays? And lastly – and this is an important one – do you drink eggnog, and if so do you add booze or no booze? Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of eggnog, but I could be persuaded… with the right recipe. If you have one, feel free to share!

What's the story with eggnog? Booze or no booze?

Happy holidays, everyone. Thanks for checking on me. I’m well. Everything’s fine. And I hope you can say the same. -Jeanne

17 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff, Miscellaneous Thoughts

TCP Cooks: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Read it & weep, ladies. My man bakes chocolate chip cookies.

That’s right, ladies. The Complete Package bakes cookies.
Homemade chocolate chip cookies with pecans.
They’re big, they’re warm and they’re wonderful.
(That’s what she said!) Here’s how he does it.

The players, although some of those chocolate chips didn't make it

Complete Package Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 bag (12 ounces) Guittard Extra Dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

This makes me question why I separate things into cute little bowls.

To begin, set your butter out on the counter to soften. Once you can squeeze it and it gives a little, it’s ready to go. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and sugars. Whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, eggs and vanilla and mix just until combined. (Note: TCP likes to mix the cookie dough with his hands so that he doesn’t over mix the cookie batter.) Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans just until they are evenly distributed.

Do what you want, but I'm not giving up my KitchenAid.

Using an ice cream scoop, TCP creates large balls of cookie dough that are slightly smaller than a baseball. He puts the dough balls into a mixing bowl and places the bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, it may take a little longer for your cookie dough to firm up.

While the dough is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 375F. Once the dough balls feel firm to the touch but not frozen solid, they’re ready. For baking, The Complete Package insists that a thick heavy-duty baking sheet is the key to great cookies. It prevents the cookies from burning on the bottom.

One they’re ready to bake, TCP takes the dough balls out of the freezer one at a time, twists them in half, and places the “torn” side up in order to get better lift.

Grab one big dough ball at a time & twist it in half.

Place them torn side up for better lift while baking.

He bakes them six cookies at a time to give them some room to spread out. You’ll want to keep the dough balls in the refrigerator while each pan is baking so they don’t get soft. Here is TCP’s theory – soft cookie dough spreads out when baked and makes for thin cookies. Cold cookie dough that’s piled high will form taller, fluffier cookies. He must know what he’s talking about, because his cookies turn out consistently fabulous every single time.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes on the middle rack of your oven until they start to turn a light golden brown around the edges. Keep in mind that everyone’s oven is different. You may want to start watching yours at 12 minutes in case your oven runs hotter, or bake them longer if you have the opposite problem. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for a few minutes on the pan, then move them to cooling racks.

Your house is going to smell SO good when these are baking!

Once they’re cooled, grab a gallon of cold milk and get ready for a stampede. This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cookies, and they won’t last long.

One last tip: if you can find them, try the Guittard Extra-Dark chocolate chips. They are our favorites, and they are worth seeking out. They will rock your world. Guaranteed. Or my name isn’t NanaBread. Well, actually my name is Jeanne, but let’s not get tangled up in technicalities here. Just try them!

12 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes