Tag Archives: giveaways

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

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

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miscellaneous Thoughts

We Have a Birthday Box Winner!

Congratulations to Susan K. from the great state of Florida! She is the winner of the blog birthday celebration box. Susan, your gift box should arrive late next week. I hope you enjoy this collection of some of my favorite things. Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway, and to all who continue to return to my little blog week after week. I love you more than chocolate! -NanaBread

Birthday Box gifts; Salt Lick BBQ Spice Rub included but not pictured.

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Technical Stuff

“NanaBread’s Head” Turns One Today

July 1st marks the one year birthday of my NanaBread blog. Can you believe it? Neither can I. While time seemed to fly by, it feels like we packed a lot into this first year. Favorite recipes, photos of the family, Ziggy’s adventures in… well, snoring. We even started highlighting some of the culinary creations of The Complete Package, my beloved husband. We’ve also seen the grandkids grow at an alarming rate, shared Hoegarden stories about our “ladies only” family weekends, thrown in a few crafts, and shared some of our travel pics. We’ve highlighted local products, spotlighted some of our favorite barbecue joints, and sprinkled in some of the things I love. I think this first year definitely lived up to my blog header in that it truly is a lot like my junk drawers. It’s happily filled with random tidbits, trash and treasures. Mission accomplished.

Overall, it has been a great year, and I couldn’t have done it without you. In fact, you are the reason I’m still here. Your comments and support are what keep this blog (and me) going, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I really do. I appreciate each visitor and value every comment, but those of you who return again and again are more than readers, you’re friends. And that is the gift I most value from my first year of blogging. You. Without you and my family, there would be no Inside NanaBread’s Head. I keep writing because you keep reading. I don’t always understand why, but I’m so happy that you do!

Here is a look back at a few of my favorite posts. Click on any title to see the full post and take a walk down memory lane.

My name is NanaBread and I’m a Peppermint Bath Product Junkie.
In this post, I got a chance to bare my soul and share my addiction – peppermint bath products. I’m not proud that I’m an addict, but if you’re going to get hooked on something, I suppose this one’s pretty harmless. Not cheap, but harmless. And it answered the burning question “Is there such a thing as too many peppermint bath products?” with a resounding “You’re joking, right?”

Menopause, you hateful bitch…
This post still makes me laugh. I was suffering from a particularly raging hot flash when I sat down and let it rip. I don’t rage often, but I let it fly with this one. I felt like life had lied to me by omission, and I didn’t want another woman to be taken by surprise ever again. This one was for the ladies, especially those in the inescapable grip of “the change” like me. It also confirmed for me that if menopause had a rubber wristband, it should be black like my mood swings.

Hidden Treasure Cupcakes: Mocha Fudge Cupcakes with Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups Inside
Of all the recipes I’ve posted, this is the one I personally enjoyed the most. I’ve never had an experimental recipe come out of the oven and make my eyes roll back in my head like this one did. Deep down in my soul, I’m a pie girl. But these cupcakes almost converted me. Dark chocolate, coffee and peanut butter? Seriously – it is probably the closest I’ll ever come to cupcake perfection.

Playing With Food: Big Sister’s Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cupcakes

Speaking of cupcakes, the prettiest cupcakes of the year (by far) were my Big Sister’s rainbow tie-dyed beauties. These were inspired by a food blogger I love, but Big Sis put her own spin on it by using one of our mother’s old white cake recipes and a frosting recipe she found on the Tasty Kitchen website. She brought all those elements together to make not only a gorgeous cupcake, but a tasty one. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s adaptable. You can substitute any white cake recipe or mix, and you could use any frosting recipe. But honestly, the one Big Sis found was awesome. For pure fun and beauty, these rocked my world and made me think outside the (cake) box.

Vacation Photos of Amsterdam: Let’s just say it was…interesting.
Of all the stories I’ve shared, this one continues to get regular weekly hits months after it was posted. Evidently, Amsterdam is a highly searched travel topic. Who knew? Maybe it’s the cheese; maybe it’s the weed; maybe it’s the waffles. It truly is a “whatever floats your boat” city. It was a great trip and an interesting place, and months after it was posted this story is still going strong.

“Buy Local” Spotlight: Salt Lick BBQ
This post will always be special to me because it was the first time one of my stories was selected as a FoodPress feature. It got attention from around the world, which seemed to open my blog up to an expanded global view. I received comments from exotic locales, and gained a few subscribers from far away places who visited and decided to stick around. For that, I am eternally grateful. It left me wondering if good BBQ might be one of the keys to world peace.

In Honor of Mother’s Day
This was by far my most read post of the year thanks to a feature on the WordPress “Freshly Pressed” homepage. I don’t know how they select stories to feature, but I was blown away that this one garnered their attention. It was highlighted on the Friday before Mother’s Day and left up the entire weekend. Because of that, it got over 8,000 hits in 3 days. Some bloggers hope that their blogs will hit the big time, but in all honesty this one made me a nervous wreck. That kind of attention brought a lot of spam and more than a little anxiety, but it also provided an opportunity for others from around the world to share memories of their mothers and siblings, or lack thereof. It was both an emotional and enlightening experience for me. It also provided my mother with more than 15 minutes of fame, which was fun for her. She deserved it.

In honor of my first blogging birthday, I’m extending the celebration to one lucky reader. That reader, selected randomly, will receive a gift box containing some of my favorite things from my first year. Gift box items include:

1 bottle of Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla bean paste
1 jar of Dickinson’s Black Raspberry preserves
1 jar of Salt Lick BBQ spice rub, not pictured
1 set of small Nordic Ware spatulas
1 set of colorful measuring spoons
1 set of colorful measuring cups
1 set of Le Creuset silicone measuring prep bowls
1 bar of Garden Botanika oatmeal & peppermint soap
2 boxes of Stash tea – Chai Spice & Black Currant (decaf)
1 ladies print kitchen apron, handmade by NanaBread

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED TO COMMENTS. THE WINNER OF THE DRAWING HAS BEEN NOTIFIED BY E-MAIL, AND WILL BE POSTED AS SOON AS I HAVE A CONFIRMED MAILING ADDRESS. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SUSAN FROM FLORIDA. YOU’RE A WINNER! I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR GIFTS. -NB

Here are my rules:

1. Leave a comment on this post.

2. The selected reader will be notified by e-mail. Once I have a confirmed mailing address, I will announce the recipient of the gift box on my blog.

3. Participation is limited to residents of the United States.

4. One name will be randomly selected on Friday, July 8th at Noon (Central).

Disclaimer: All gift box items were purchased by me with my own money except for the apron, which was handmade by me. None of the products were donated or sponsored in any way, shape or form. They are simply items that I love, shared with one lucky reader.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a reader of my blog. Your support and friendship over the past 12 months has meant the world to me, and I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

Hugs & birthday kisses to you all,
NanaBread (Jeanne)

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts