Skip to main content

Salted Caramel Pecan Linzer Cookies

I’m reading What Alice Forgot. It’s about a woman who has no memory of the past ten years of her life. She thinks she is a blissfully in-love newly wed, pregnant with her first child when she is really a mother of three going through a nasty divorce. And she isn’t proud of the type of woman she has become: "a point-making hussy who went to the gym and upset her beloved sister and hosted cocktail parties…" 

It got me thinking. What would the 2001 version of myself think of the 2011 me? Would she be proud? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t think of myself as a point-making hussy. So that’s a win.

What would surprise me? What would disappoint me?

I’m pretty sure I would be shocked that I make Linzer cookies and have a food blog. Ten years ago I was just trying to figure out how to cook, skipping steps and trying to cheat recipes.

Am I going to be proud of the 2021 version? That older model with the inevitably fancier techno-gadgets and an 11 year old daughter? What would she tell me? What would I remind her?

She: "Even though you want to kick people in the shins when they tell you to "enjoy the baby years, they go by fast!" They are right. ENJOY chasing your naked toddler around the house before bath time because that will end"

Me: "Don’t forget how much work it took you to get where you are an appreciate it."

Who knows what else.

Where do you want to be in 2021? Or even the end of 2012?

What is stopping you? Make yourself proud, that 2001 version, the 2008, 2010 version. 2021 is going to come whether you like it or not. Where do you want to be?

Think about those goals you have neglected, like books on a dusty shelf. Those ones you would be embarrassed to have to answer to 2006 for not having even attempted.

They seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all right now, just take a step. One today, one tomorrow. Order a catalogue from a college that has the major you have been thinking about. Start a business plan for that small business you want to start. Or just buy the domain name (about $10 at godaddy.com) for inspiration.

Leave that boyfriend that treats you like crap.

Take that photography class because you know that photo is in your blood you just have to figure out what aperture means.

Take on a part-time job so you can save for that trip to Europe that you are always talking about.

Actually volunteer.

Be the person you wanted to be ten years ago.

It takes work, but it’s worth it. If was easy it wouldn’t make anyone proud.

Linzer cookies are a sign of progress in my life, I never would have tried this ten years ago. And the look so fancy!

Salted Caramel Pecan Linzer Cookies

Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) of Butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups of flour

1 tsp salt

Filling:

4 tbs butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tbs light corn syrup (like Karo)

2/3 cup chopped pecans

2 tbs heavy cream, brought to room temperature

1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt plus 1/8 tsp salt, divided

Plus 1/4 cup powdered sugar for topping, if desired

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well combined. In another bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt, mix with a fork until combined. Add the flour to the stand mixer and mix until the flour is just incorporated into the butter mixture.

Form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. It is important that the sugar cookie dough is cold or the cookies will spread too much during making.

Preheat oven to 350.

Once the dough is chilled, roll out and cut into 2 1/2 inch circles. Use a small cookie cutter to cut out a small window in the middle of just half of the cookies.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just barely start to brown. It will probably look as if they need another minute or too, but cookies continue to bake once they are out of the oven and you don’t want these to be too crispy.

Allow to cool. Top the window cookies with powdered sugar, if desired.

In a large sauce pan over medium high heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.  Allow to boil, without stirring, for about 5-7 minutes or until the sauce has turned an amber color. Remove from heat, stir in the pecans, vanilla and the cream and stir until combined. Allow to cool until thickened, but not hardened.

You don’t want to make the caramel sauce too far in advance because it will harden in the pan once cooled, making it impossible to add to your cookies.

Add about 1 tsp of the caramel mixture to the middle of the solid cookies (the ones without the cookie cutter windows) be very careful not to touch hot caramel, it will burn the crap out of your fingers. Use two spoons to get it into place without needing to touch it. Top immediately with a cookie with a cookie cutter window. Sprinkle a few grains of salt in the window. I used a super fancy large grain salt my sister bought me for my birthday. Yes, I am now the sort of person who gets excited to receive a box of super fancy salts from all over the world as a present. Take that 2001.

Allow to chill in the fridge until the caramel has set, about 30 minutes.

Santa Hat Cookies & Why I Hate Santa

I guess HATE is too strong, but I don’t like Santa.

Except maybe this Santa. He’s awesome:

(Photo taken by my brother-in-law, and Hawks fan, Austin Metz)

It all started years ago when I was working at a group home with teenage foster and probation kids in South Central Los Angeles. I know, the white girl from the farm, in South Central.

I loved it.

I was able to see these kids as more than just Gang Members with horrible parents, but human children with potential, talent, hearts and brains. Being raised by grown-up damaged children.

It changed me.

I was teased, laughed at, listen to, and trusted.

I’ve posted so many serious posts lately, I’m no going to go into great detail about that first year, the first christmas. The kids who, at 16 years old, received their first Christmas presents of their lives, or how none of the parents came to our "Holiday Party."

But I will tell you this: Nearly every kid had a story about thinking he was bad because Santa didn’t bring him presents. After all, that’s the story, right? "Santa brings presents to good boys and girls. Bad kids don’t get any."

Or knowing that Santa wasn’t real because the Christmas after he turned 5 he sat in the living room, all alone on Christmas morning with no presents because Mom was on a bender and never came home.

This probably doesn’t apply to you. You will probably never have a Christmas when your kids don’t have presents. Hopefully.

But this year, more kids than ever won’t have presents. And the last thing I would want is for my daughter to carry that message with her to the kids at school who didn’t get presents, for her to think the reason those less fortunate kids didn’t get any gifts during the holidays was because they were bad. 

And I would never want ANY kid to think that the reason he didn’t get presents was because he’s bad.

We don’t need this.

Even though I don’t like the message that comes along with Santa (and I won’t even go into my fear of Mall Santas and their inherent creepiness) Santa is still an iconic symbol of Christmas. He is a great decoration. Which is why I made these Santa Hat Cookies.

I even have one Santa decoration at my house. Just one. I bought it in Paris a few years ago because I really wanted a Christmas Ornament from France and this was all I could find in September.

Links to donate to those in need, if you want:

Toys For Tots

Salvation Army

Angle Tree

Donation Town

These Cookies are pretty adorable, and really easy to make.

Santa Hat Cookies

Sugar Cookie Base:

1 cup (2 sticks) of Butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups of flour

1 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz) softened

1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup, room temperature (very important)

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup powdered sugar

Hat:

24 large strawberries, stem and leaves cut off


In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well combined. In another bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt, mix with a fork until combined. Add the flour to the stand mixer and mix until the flour is just incorporated into the butter mixture.

Form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. It is important that the sugar cookie dough is cold or the cookies will spread too much during making.

Preheat oven to 350.

Once the dough is chilled, roll out and cut into 2 inch circles (or just larger than the base of your strawberries).

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just barely start to brown. It will probably look as if they need another minute or too, but cookies continue to bake once they are out of the oven and you don’t want these to be too crispy.

Allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on high for about 2 minutes. Add your room temperature butter and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and beat again until combined. Turn the mixer off and add the powdered sugar, return mixer to a low speed and mix until the sugar is incorporated into the cream cheese.  Add the frosting to a piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, add to a large, heavy duty, zip lock bag and cut about 1cm off the bottom corner of the zip lock bag, this can be used as a make-shift piping bag.

Pipe a dime sized amount onto the cut end of the strawberry and place in the middle of your sugar cookie.

Pipe the frosting around the base of the strawberry, as well as a pea sized amount on the tip of the berry to resemble Santa’s Hat.


Baked Apple Rings: Healthy Indulgence

Another healthy post! We have to have ways to indulge and still enjoy. Of course, after I made these little 35 calorie rings of goodness, I smothered them in caramel sauce. Not quite as healthy. I had some leftover from Thanksgiving, so it was more like recycling. 

These are also a great treat for kids.

Or, a great dessert to bring to a party so that you will keep your grubby little hands off the chocolate tray, but still have somethings to snack on. 

Only 35 calories each. And even if you eat an entire apple, all by yourself, it’s only 160 calories. But you should probably stop there. Just sayin'

Baked Apple Rings

5 medium sized fuji apples, peeled cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/3 cup flour 

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 tbs sugar

1 tbs cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup skim milk

1 large egg

1/2 tsp real vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400. 

In a bowl combine the flour, Panko, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, stir with a fork until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg and vanilla extract with a fork until well combined.  

Spray a baking sheet with butter flavored cooking spray. 

Place one of the apple rings in the milk mixture and into the flour mixture. Turn the ring over, coat well with the flour mixture. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat for all slices. 

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Turn the rings over and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm. 

World AIDS Day & ATrue Story Of AIDS In An Elementary School

The Oldest Soul in the School Yard

In 1985 AIDS had formed the perfect storm of mass hysteria. A catastrophic cocktail of ignorance, death and wild-rumors-routinely-reported-as-fact on the Nightly news had whipped the world in to a wide eyed, froth mouth frenzy. We were all going to die, it was air born now, right? It was piped into the water supply by the communists, wasn’t it? It’s the bubonic plague of this generation and will surely swallow up one third of civilization. As I entered the second grade, the loud cries of the public were largely muted by my bubble of Care Bears and Fraggle Rock, until AIDS walked into my elementary school in the form of a five year old boy named Ryan Thomas.

Photo of Ryan and his Father, (from www.aclu-sc.org)

The youngest of three boys, Ryan had contracted the virus from a blood transfusion shortly after birth, arguably the worst time in history to do battle with the AIDS monster and what it had created in and around Santa Rosa Road Elementary school. His presence at the school had thrown the surrounding public and all of its housewives into a polo shirt clad lynch mob. They wanted him out. How dare a 5 year old want to go to kindergarten?! A line of station wagons pulled their kids out of school so fast only a trail of checkered Vans was left. “Mom, is it a vacation day? Why is the school so empty?” I asked from the back of our 12 passanger van as we pulled in to the lot on what I thought would be a typical fall morning. She threw the shifter bar on the steering column into park, swiveling around to look at us. “There is a Kindergarten boy named Ryan how has a disease. There isn’t a cure for it, so he will die. There are only a few ways to get it, like a blood transfusion, and that is how he got it.” She explained that we couldn’t get it from playing with Ryan, using the bathroom or drinking fountain after him and that it was OK to hug him. That morning I learned that the very thin and pale boy, Richard, who sat next to me in class, was Ryan’s big brother. Our teacher announced that Richard had a presentation for us and asked us to keep our minds and hearts opens, disregarding anything that we had heard before. Richard pushed his tiny frame out of his yellow metal desk and dragged the weight of the world to the front of the class. “I want to talk about AIDS, my brother has it.” The class was frozen on the words that came out of his burdened old soul. I’m sure I heard a lot of words spoken from the front of the class that year, but his were the only ones I remember. Later that day the playground was full of chatter about this grown-up topic. Debates about what Richard had said, what other teacher and parents said ("Better safe than sorry!") and who was right. My mom was right, Richard had reinforced that, and no one would sway my mind. That evening, my sister who didn’t have the gift of the Old Souls teaching lowered her fork to her diner plate, “Mom, the other kids moms are saying to leave Ryan alone, like we should be scared of him.” My mom hardly looked up from the highchair that currently had her attention, to speak the wisest sentence of 1985, “You should be much more afraid of ignorant housewives than of Ryan Thomas.”

Ryan Thomas died Thanksgiving Day, 1991 at the age of ten. 

I have no idea what happened to his family, or his brother Richard. But I would love for him to know how much his words impacted me. Helped me to stand up to fear and ignorance. Helped me to see through mass hysteria, right to the truth.

I almost didn’t post this. But this afternoon I read an article about a 13-year-old boy who was denied admission to school because he is HIV possitive. The world needs more Richard Thomas’s. 

Teach your kids how to be like him. I’m gonna do my best. 

Because this is a food blog:

In honor of Ryan, and kids everywhere with HIV and AIDS, here are 4 healthy treats. Perfect for all kids.



1. Vegan Brownies, full of healthy goodness and completely delicious.  This is a post from a blogger friend of mine, Chinmayie of Love Food Eat. She cooks amazing vegan and vegetarian food from her kitchen in India.  

2. Homemade Fruit Snacks. A fun way to eat a couple servings of fruit.

From All Day I Dream About Food 

3. Fruit Chips. A perfect replacement for those not so good for you potato chips.  

From Slow Food Chef

4. Veggie Muffins. Perfect to stick in the lunch box, or even an on-the-go breakfast! 

From Cook Republic

Black Garlic Brioche Rolls

I have a pretty serious garlic addiction. Which turns out, is a good thing. A great thing even, garlic has a ton of health benefits. (Here is the part where I spew a bunch or nearly useless facts like the true food geek that I am). 

First of all, it protects you from cold and flu viruses. When I as pregnant with Tater and I was feelin that sick feelin come on, I was too scared to take any medicine. I was completely nuts about everything I ate, CONVINCED if I made one wrong move, it would destroy my adorable, growing fetus-child (for more on that story, you can read this). I roasted 3 heads of garlic and ate them spread all over a loaf of crusty bread. I stunk for 3 days, but I didn’t get sick. 

Not only that, but it also helps lower cholesterol, manage blood pressure and it even has antibiotic qualities. Wheeew! So glad that’s over!

The second I heard about Black Garlic, I wasn’t able to focus on the rest of my life until I bought some. 

SO I did. And I offically have a new addiction. 

Black garlic has a sweeter flavor, and the texture of black licorice. It can’t always be used in the same way, but it has a beautiful flavor that works well baked. 

I strongly recommend ordering some (click here), and trying to see what you can make out of it. Let me know how it goes. 

Salted Black Garlic Brioche Rolls

1/2 cup room temp milk

1 envelope of dry active yeast (1/4 oz)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoons salt,

3 large eggs

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbs Fresh Rosemary, minced

Topping:
1 tbs melted butter
1-2 tbs course salt

Add the milk to a microwave safe container, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds, test the temperature (you want it between 105 and 110) and repeat until the desired temperature is reached. Put the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to get foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour, salt and sugar and mix on low with the dough hook attachment until shaggy, flaky lumps form (about 1 1/2 minutes).
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined.
Add the softened butter (softened is important), beat until the dough gathers around the hook and is smooth and shiny. Add the garlic and the rosemary and beat until just combined.
Coat the inside of a bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball in inside.
Wrap with plastic wrap leave in a warm place until it’s double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Grab the dough at the sides until it has deflated.
Allow to rise a second time at room temperature, until it has doubled in size, deflating every 15 minutes by grabbing the sides, about 45 minutes.

(If you need to make this the night before, this is a good place to stop. Place in a very cold fridge, below 40 degrees, take out of the fridge the next day and continue. Note that if the dough is cold, the next rise will take longer.)

Remove from the bowl and place on a floured surface, shape into a long log, about 4 inches wide and 1 foot long.
Using a sharp knife, cut in 3 equal sized pieces.
Then cut each of those pieces in half (you will now have 6 pieces.)
Now cut each of those pieces in half and you will have 12 equal sized pieces.
Each of these pieces will be a roll, but you have to make some more cuts first.
Cut each slice into 3 equal sized pieces, rolling each into a ball and placing all three into the same well of a greased muffin tin. Repeat for each slice.
Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to double in size at room temperature, about 30 minutes. 
Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle generously with course salt. This is when you break out the fanciest salt you have. Or buy some just for the occasion.
Preheat the oven to 400. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Printable:Salted Black Garlic Brioche Rolls

Take a second to Like my Facebook page to receive updates about new posts!

Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce & 3 Ways to Use the Leftovers

Of all the Thanksgiving foods that I am asking you to make from scratch, and not out of a can, cranberry sauce is by far the fastest and easiest. It takes almost as much time to try and slop that phallic shaped, hideously ridges gelatinous mass onto a crystal serving dish as it does to throw a few ingredients in a pot and let it simmer. You have no excuse. Put down your reservations, and your can opener and give it a try. You can do it. I believe in you. 

As for those leftovers, that best part of that Black Friday, you have so many options. Cranberry sauce is the one thing that freezes super well, so you can put it in tupperware and save it for a week when you aren’t so double stuffed. Maybe there is a Christmas/Hanukkah party coming up and you signed up to bring the cupcakes? You are in luck. Freeze the leftover sauce, make the Cranberry Cream Cheese frosting below and you will have a cupcake hit on your hands. 

First, we’ll start with the recipe that gets us to these fine leftovers fit for transformations.

Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

1/2 vanilla bean

4 cups of fresh cranberries

3/4 cup of water

2 tbs bourbon (good quality)

1 tsp real vanilla extract

1 cup of sugar


Slice the vanilla bean down the center the long way and scrape out the insides with the back of a knife. Place the vanilla scrapings, and the rest of the ingredients in a pot over medium/high heat. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until thickened. The longer you allow the sauce to cook, the thicker it will become.  

*all the alcohol burns off once heated, so this is safe to serve to minors. 

As I said before, cranberry sauce freezes well. You can save your leftovers for future use. 


Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting

2 3/4 cups cream cheese (softened)

1 1/4 cups butter (softened)

1/2 cup cranberry sauce

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cream cheese frosting is super, super easy to make and about a billion times better than that crap in a plastic can, as long as you follow the rules. Seriously, if you try to cheat this you will end up with a mixing bowl full of lumps that give your frosting the consistency of ground beef. The biggest rule: everything needs to be room temperature. Sounds wrong, but it’s true. Leave your butter and cream cheese on the counter for a few hours to let them soften. Here are a few acceptable shortcuts to get your ingredients to room temperature, since you may have patience issues, or lack of time issues, like I do.

1. If you are baking and the oven is on, place your sticks of butter and cream cheese (still wrapped) on top of the warm oven. That is, if you have an oven that gets warm. Turn them every 8-10 minutes to warm all sides. In about 30 minutes, they should be softened. 

2. Microwave. The problem with this is that you really don’t want anything melted, and since cream cheese is almost always wrapped in foil, this just works for butter. Put your wrapped butter on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 8 seconds. Turn one quarter turn and then repeat. do this until it is softened, but not melted. 

3. Cut everything into cubes and leave at room temp for about 30 minutes, should do the trick, unless your house is freezing cold. 

Put your softened cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for about 3 minutes. This will allow it to blend with the butter better and prevent any clumps. Add the softened butter and beat on high until well combined. Add the cranberry sauce and mix again until well combined. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. I don’t like my frosting super sweet, but if you do, add more powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is mixed into the cream cheese mixture. 

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

1 cup cranberry sauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup walnuts, chopped

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 400.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla; mix well between each addition. While the mixer is on low, add the sour cream and then the cranberry sauce, mixing until well combined. In a separate bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. With the mixer still on a low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the cranberry mixture. Mix until just combined, don’t over beat. Stir in the walnuts. Add cupcake papers to a muffin tins.  Fill each paper until about 2/3 full.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched.

Allow to cool. 

Cranberry Pancake Syrup


1 cup cranberry sauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

Put both in a bowl, stir well, heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Serve over pancakes.

 

Take a second to like my Facebook Page to receive info about new post in your feed.

Crab Cake Mini Muffins

You always have fun when you’re eating crab cakes. Actual fact. But, here is the thing about crab cakes: Lots of work.

I made Wolfgang Pucks recipe once and it took me about an hour. They were really incredible, so if you ever get your hands on some really amazing, fresh, never touched a can, right out of the sea- kinda crabs, that would be a worthy recipe to slave over.

This time of the year, food is more about the biggest shine for your time. You have about a zillion things to cook for right now: the holidays, your office party, your kids school gathering-that-we-legally-can’t-call-a-party party, AND family type people. Here you go: 15 minute crab cakes. Looks super fancy, like you spent that hour I spent with those other crab cakes, craveably addictive, AND 15 active minutes, then bake.

 

Crab Cake Mini Muffins 

3 tbs cream cheese

2 eggs

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco, Tapatillo)

1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped

1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

½ tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbs green onions, chopped (more for garnish if desired)

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (plus ¼ cup for topping, divided)

¼ cup flour

6 oz lump crab meat, drained

Makes 16-18

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until softened. While the mixer is on high, add the eggs, one at a time until well combined.

Reduce speed to medium and lemon juice, mustard, and hot pepper sauce, mix until combined.

Add the Old Bay, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, green onions and mix until combined.

Add ½ cup Panko and flour and mix until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the crabmeat with a wood spoon or spatula.

Very generously grease enough mini muffin tins to hold about 18 mini crab cakes.

Add the crab mixture to the wells of the mini muffin tins until just below the top. Sprinkle the top of each mini muffin with the remaining ¼ cup of Panko.

Bake at 350 for about 18-20 minutes

Questions that I think you might have:

 

If I don’t own a mini muffin pan, can I make this in a regular muffin pan?

I don’t recommend it. My guess is that by the time you get the inside cooked (about 30 minutes) the outside will be burnt and dry. But my other guess is that if you buy a mini muffin pan, you will use it all the time.

 

I like to dip things, What about a dipping sauce?

 

I like to dip things too. Easy dippin’ sauce, since I know you have a ton of other things to do: 1 cup sour cream, 1 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp hot pepper sauce. Adjust depending on taste, oh and throw some of those green onions on top.

 

I don’t like hot stuff, can I leave on out the pepper sauce?

 

They will be bland. But the small amount that is called for isn’t enough to make it spicy. They sell Tabasco in supper tiny bottles, and it lasts for about a million years in the fridge.


Take a second to like my Facebook Page to receive info about new post in your feed.

Top Five Best Classic Pies: Reinvented

 

A pie post for you. I feel a little guilty about this, even though I know this is super valuable information if you were, in fact, the person who was chosen to bring the pie this year. Usually, I spend all weekend cooking, baking and photographing to present to you 3 solid posts each week. But, I was at the International Food Bloggers Conference all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to indulge in my weekend food rituals. I did, however, have an awesome non-cooking weekend meeting all of those friends that I only see in the computer, giggling over glasses of wine, eating beautiful & copious amounts of food, making juvenile jokes, and turning on-line friendships into lasting ones. 

So, instead of trying to "throw something together" that isn’t worth the web space it takes up, or just forgetting about you and how much I value your visits to my little corner of this huge blogland, I am providing my picks for the BEST pies for Thanksgiving. 

Pie that is both familiar and brand new. Three are made from my own hands, and two are picks from other very talented bakers that I love and hope to try out some day. 

I do have a great post lined up for Friday, an amazing pre-Thanksgiving appetizer. 

And next week I will be bringing to you fun, delicious and inventive ways to use leftovers. 

But for today, please enjoy my favorite twists on old favorites. And forgive me for "calling in sick" today. 

Staring with an EASY and delicious homemade crust is a must. 

1. Caramel Apple Pie: Traditional Apple Pie with a Creamy Caramel Makeover

This will become a family favorite. Creamy caramel, apples and an adorable start crust.

2. Chocolate Covered Cherry Pie: A Chocolaty Version Of A Traditional Pie

This beauty includes a chocolate pie crust, chocolate ganache and fresh cherries. Even Warrant would be proud.

3. Sour Cream Pumpkin With Bourbon Whipped Cream: A Creamy Boozy Version Of A Fall Favorite 

Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple. Make the best one they have ever had and top with a bourbon whipped cream.

4. Chocolate Pecan Pie: From She Wears Many Hats

I have been wanting to try to make a Chocolate Pecan Pie and this one looks pretty damn perfect. 

5. Spicy Sweet Potato: From Bitter Sweet   

I love the spicy take on a southern favorite


Take a second to like my Facebook Page to receive info about new post in your feed.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole, the Grown-up, Food Lovers Version

I have a lot of Non-American readers, making it necessary for my to explain why I’m doing a post about a green bean casserole.

In America, we have this very strange tradition of making our Thanksgiving feast from cans of food. Nearly every dish that most Americans grew up eating on that November Holiday involved a can of soup, or a package of Jell-o. I see you all, nodding your American heads in agreement. A smile for Grandmas Jell-o salad that still graces your Holiday table because your own kids would FLIP if it wasn’t there in that big Pyrex bowl. I know, don’t think I was exempt from this in my upbringing. But we are grown-ups now. We live in a country that has over 13 million acres of farm land dedicated to fruits and veggetables. We even grow 100 million TONS of produce every year.

We should eat it.

A lot of it. Eat food, not chemicals.

Try it, my American friends, we are lucky enough to live in a country with more produce that we could ever eat. Let’s give it a shot.

Could you do it? Cook an entire Thanksgiving without ONE can? I’m gonna.

Grown-up Homemade Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

Topping:

  • 2 leeks
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs salt

Casserole:

  • 5 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 4 cups Crimini mushrooms (baby bella), washed and chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 cup cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cut the leeks (white and very light green portion only) into thin rings. Cut the onion into thin slices. place in a small bowl and toss with the olive oil to coat. Add to a baking sheet and add the Panko bread crumbs and salt, toss to combine.
  3. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, tossing about every 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven when a golden brown color is reached.
  4. Place the green beans in a pot of rapidly boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes and immediately drain by pouring into a colander, rinse with cold water for 2 minutes to stop the cooking.
  5. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they turn a dark brown. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  6. In a separate bowl, add the chicken broth and the flour, stir to combine. Pour into the pan through a mesh strainer to remove any flour lumps. Stir until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the cream and stir until combined. Return to heat and allow to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the green beans and 1/2 cup of the onion/leek mixture, stir. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish.
  7. Time management tip: If you want to make this the day before Thanksgiving, this is where you stop. Cover the baking dish and put it into the fridge. Put the cooled onion/leek mixture in a separate container of Ziplock bag to prevent them from getting soggy from sitting on the top of the casserole all night.
  8. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, covered with aluminum foil. Remove foil, add onions, and bake for 10 more minutes or until warmed through.

(note: if you are cooking this after removing from the fridge, as in the above Tip, cook covered for 20 minutes then add the onions and bake for ten more.)

That’s Nacho Crostini

More party food for y’all. These are fun because Corstini’s sounds fancy and Nachos are the greatest of all American Tex-Mex bar food.

I brought these to another book club, or more accurately, a Girl-Talk/Wine-Time club. We talked about our babies, working mom vs stay at home mom, birth stories, laughed about those things we (all) think but are kinda embarrassed to say out loud.  This is a healing ritual for all you people who just became parents. An incredible club to belong to, as long as you find others who will let you speak freely, without judgement. Tell you their deep dark secrets and find that you share the same ones. Book? Oh yeah, we didn’t like it. Horrendously violent and self indulgently written. Next time, we are reading What Alice Forgot and I hope that there is some type of food item in that book that I can spend time obsessing over and attempt to recreate, like my Caramel Cake from The Help. Here’s hoping.

nacho-crostini2

Nacho Crostinis

1 baugette, sliced into 1 inch thick slices

3 tbs butter

1 large tomato, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or whateva your fav Nacho cheese is)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 large avocado, sliced

1 tbs sliced black olives

Preheat the broiler in your oven.

Heat 1 tbs butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the slices of bread and allow to cook until toasted, about 2 minutes, turn over and cook on the other side. Don’t crowd the pan with too many slices of bread, cook in batches if necessary, adding more butter when the pan gets dry.

Places the toasted slices on a baking sheet.

Add the tomato, onion and cilantro and add to a small bowl, toss to combine (you can also sub in Pico De Gallo for this, but make sure to drain well or it’ll make the bread soggy).

Top each of the toasted bread slices with the tomato mixture, sprinkle with a generous amount of cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiled and toast for 2-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top each Crostini with a slice of avocado, then a dollop of sour cream, then a slice of olive.

Serve immediately, enjoy.


Thank you to all the ladies of my Mom’s group. You have all meant so much to me in the past 18 months. I found you when postpartum, colic, lack of sleep, total life-change, overwhelming baby-love…had me completely consumed and I felt alone in the big City of Los Angeles, without any Mommy friends. You understood me, shared advice, laughs, tears, food and never judged me. I am a better mom and better human because of you.





Salted Hefeweizen Brioche Rolls

Napa SmithWheat is a perfect baking beer. It has crisp, clean flavors, sweetness and bold tones that hold up to the oven. A smooth wheat beer with citrus and peach notes.

I enjoyed this beer, the baking, the drinking, the flavors. It was an easy beer to enjoy and gave me a sense of the brewery. Relaxed, comfortable and welcoming. I’ve lived in California most of my life, and traveled all over the world and I have a firm believe that Napa is a place that needs to be experienced, a beautiful escape from the rest of reality. Winding along the back roads of  Napa county, meeting locals, sampling the local food, drinks, produce…You’ll feel like you are living in a distant land far away from the life you know. In Napa, people love to eat, drink and cook with only local ingredients. It’s charming, as if Napa could exist all on it’s own. A little bubble, a snow globe of a world, swirling around itself filled with fresh-baked bread, handmade pies and locally sourced beer.

 Salted Hefeweizen Brioche Rolls

1/2 cup room temperature Hefeweizen Beer (Napa Smith Wheat Preferred)

1 envelope of dry active yeast (1/4 oz)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoons sea salt,

3 large eggs

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Topping:

1 tbs melted butter

1 tbs sea salt

  1. Add the beer to a microwave safe container heat in the microwave for 10 seconds, test the temperature (you want it between 105 and 110) and repeat until the desired temperature is reached. Put the beer in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to get foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the flour, salt and sugar and mix on low with the dough hook attachment until shaggy, flaky lumps form (about 1 1/2 minutes).
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined.
  5. Add the softened butter (softened is important), beat until the dough gathers around the hook and is smooth and shiny.
  6. Coat the inside of a bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball in inside.
  7. Wrap with plastic wrap leave in a warm place until it’s double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Grab the dough at the sides until it has deflated.
  9. Allow to rise a second time at room temperature, until it has doubled in size, deflating every 15 minutes by grabbing the sides, about 45 minutes.
  10. Remove from the bowl and place on a floured surface, shape into a long log, about 4 inches wide and 1 foot long.
  11. Using a sharp knife, cut in 3 equal sized pieces.
  12. Then cut each of those pieces in half (you will now have 6 pieces.)
  13. Now cut each of those pieces in half and you will have 12 equal sized pieces.
  14. Each of these pieces will be a roll, but you have to make some more cuts first.
  15. Cut each slice into 3 equal sized pieces, rolling each into a ball and placing all three into the same well of a greased muffin tin. Repeat for each slice.
  16. Cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge and allow to double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  17. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sea salt. This is when you break out the fanciest salt you have. Or buy some just for the occasion.
  18. Preheat the oven to 400. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Join me: FacebookTwitter 

Pecan Pie French Toast

I’ve already told you all about my deep love for weekend breakfasts. But maybe I haven’t told you why.

I have this amazing husband, that I sometimes think loves me more that I deserve. And I always worry that I’m going to fall off this pedestal he’s placed me on.

And I have this daughter that is already cooler and more spectacular than I will ever be. I know I’ll always be proud of her, but I worry about her being proud of me.

And I have to leave her 5 days a week and go to an office. And help people.

And I worry. About being a good mom. About all the insane things that could happen to Tater, because it happened once to someone, somewhere, one time, 12 years ago.

I worry that I spend too much time away from her. Is she happy enough? Am I doing the right thing by working? Would I lose all sanity if I was a real life Stay At Home Mom? I want her to have all the things that I didn’t, but one of those things is lots of one on one time…

Being a mom is so hard. No matter what your situation.

And even though these scary thoughts consume my drive to and from work, and sometimes make me cry, I always know that I can count on weekend breakfast. I know that no matter what else made me feel like a failure during the rest of the week, I can feel like I did something right.

I cooked yummy food for my little family. We ate it together. And we all smiled. For a small window of my week, we were perfect…. except when Tater put eggs in her Big Girl cup, and threw toast on the ground, and cried because I was taking too long to get it all to the table, and she fed Sophia raisins that could make dogs sick…OK, perfect doesn’t exist when you are a human and being a mom makes you see that gap as a huge chasm that you will never even make it half way across. But weekend breakfast makes it feel smaller.

I know that when I get old, I won’t remember the lack of sleep. The long commutes on LA freeways. The tantrums that drive me to a crazy place. But I will remember that smiling face. The family breakfast. Even though I have less patience than I want to have, and the thought of all the responsibility that goes along with parenting makes me so overwhelmed…. I still believe that theses really are "the good 'ole days." At least that’s how I will remember them. When I live to be 100.

Pecan Pie French Toast

(Will make you feel a little bit closer to perfect.

To be made during those weeks when you need to know that you did at least one thing right)

For the Filling/Topping

1 stick of butter

1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup (like Karo)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups chopped pecans

2 lightly beaten eggs

For the Toast:

8 slices of thick cut bread

3 eggs

2 cups of milk

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large sauce pan over medium high heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, allow to boil for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the pecans and vanilla and allow to cool to about room temp.

In a large bowl, combine the 3 eggs,  milk, 1 tsp vanilla, salt, and sugar and whisk to combine. One at a time, soak each slice of bread for about 30 seconds. Add to a hot pan over medium-high heat, coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cook on each side for about 2-4 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet, sprayed with non stick cooking spray (slices will be stacked, two slices high, so you only need a baking sheet big enough for 4 slices.) Repeat for all slices.

In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs until combined. Add to your cooled pecan mixture and stir until well combined (if the pecan mixture is too hot, you will make scrambled eggs, make sure it’s room temp). Return to heat and allow to boil, stirring frequently,  for 2-5 minutes or until thickened. Allow to cool a bit.

On one slice of bread, add about 2-4 tbs of the pecan mixture to the center. Top with another slice of toast. Repeat until you have 4 "sandwiches "  of pecan pie stuffed french toast on a baking sheet.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Add to a plate and top each serving with 2-4 tbs of the remaining pecan mixture.

Enjoy.

Give yourself a break, you are a good human. You made a great breakfast, the rest of the world can wait.

Printable: Pecan Pie French Toast

Take a second to like my Facebook Page to receive info about new post in your feed.

Thanksgiving Craft: Chocolate Turkeys Made From Halloween Candy

Edible Thanksgiving crafts! Tater really isn’t old enough yet for this (but that kid will be tortured with many holiday crafts in her life, once she is old enough) but this is perfect for kids who are a little older. And an excellent way to use up that left over Halloween candy. They only take a few minutes each, and would make an adorable name card holder for your Thanksgiving feast.

For each Candy Turkey you will need:

2 miniature Reeses Cups

1 Hersheys Kiss

1 Yellow Starburst Candy (one can be used for up to 4 turnkeys)

1 Red Starburst Candy (1 can be used for 8-10 Turkeys)

1 Orange Starburst Candy (1 can be used for 2 Turkeys)

6 Almond Slices

Candy Melts to be used as "glue" (you may also be able to use Hersey’s kisses for this job)

1 Squeeze Bottle (can be found at most craft stores)

1 toothpick

Start by putting about about 1/2 cup of Candy Melts (Hershey’s kisses should work fine as well) in your squeeze bottle. I’ve only had one of these squeeze bottles for about a year and I use it all the time, so handy. After I’m done with it I just store it, with the candy melts still inside, in a large ziplock back and reheat it when I need it. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds, remove and shake to check consistency, heat for another 30 seconds and repeat until the chocolate is melted.

Then squeeze a small amount of melted chocolate on the top of a Reese’s cup (removed from all wrappers) and place the narrow end of the almond slices in the chocolate.

Use all six almond slices to make the Turkey tail, about halfway around the Reese’s cup.

Set aside and allow to dry.

Unwrap the red Starburst candy and cut off a small sliver (if this is a craft that kids are helping with, make sure to make all cuts yourself, or have the kids use a butter knife)

Cut the slice in half the long way to make a long skinny strip.

Take your long skinny "gobbler" and wrap it half way around the point of your unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss

Pressing the candy into place should be enough to hold it.

Cut the corner off your unwrapped yellow Starburst Candy.

Smash it and pinch it, to soften it and mold it into the shape of a beak then gently press into the point of the Hershey’s Kiss until secure.

(Man, I wish I’d gotten a manicure before I made this post)

Then cut off a small amount of the orange Starburst Candy and roll into a ball, flatten and press onto the kiss above the beak to make an eye.

Make another one, the same size to make the other eye.

Dip one end a toothpick into your melted chocolate and place a small dot in the middle of the orange eye.

Retrieve your Reese’s cup and turn it to the smaller side, opposite end from the one with the almond feathers. Place a dot of chocolate in the center.

Then place your Hershey’s Kiss head on top of that.

Slice off a small piece of your orange Starburst Candy.

Squeeze two thirds of it, making it narrow while leaving one end flat.

Make two cuts in the flat end to resemble Turkey toes (there is probably a more scientific name than "toes").

Make another Turkey leg, using the same method. Then place both over your second Reese’s cup, hanging down just slightly to the side of the middle. Place a dot of melted chocolate on the top (this is be used to fuse the Turkey to the base)

Retrieve your Turkey, and shave a small amount of the bottom Reese’s cup, below the Turkey face, between the almond feathers.

Place the Turkey, cut side down, on the base, over the legs.

Cute, right?

You can use this with your name card holders for your Thanksgiving place settings, or just put them on each plate. So cute.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

If you read my How To Make Stuffed Cupcakes post, these pictures probably look familiar to you. I had so many people ask for that recipe (OK, one. One person asked, but still…) that I decided to post my recipe for Boston Cream Pie cupcakes.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

For the Cupcake:

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

4 egg whites

3/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of oil

For the Filling:

 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, plus one extra yolk

2 tbs flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Ganache Frosting:

2 cups dark chocolate chunks

1 cup cream

1 tsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter (softened!) and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. In another bowl, add the milk and oil.

A bit at a time, add the egg whites to the butter and beat on high until well combined and fluffy. With mixer on medium, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating between the two until everything is just combined (don’t over beat).

Add the batter to the cupcake papers until about 2/3 filled.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.

Allow to cool.

While those are baking, make the pastry cream. You’re gonna love this stuff. I hope that this is what you will make from now on to fill your cakes with, instead of frosting. SO delicious, and pretty easy to make.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring the cream to a slight simmer, removing from heat when bubbles start to form around the edges. You don’t want to boil you cream, just heat it.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolk, and flour until well combined and slightly frothy.

While continuing to whisk the egg mixture, add the cream about 1 tbs at a time. This is called tempering and basically, it’s a way to avoid turning your pastry cream into scrambled eggs. Once your have added about half the cream a tbs at a time, pour the rest in slowly and whisk until well combined.

Return the pastry cream to the stove and stir over medium/high heat until it comes to a rapid simmer. Continue to whisk until thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes. The cream should leave a track when you drag the whisk through it.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. This needs to cool before putting into a piping bag. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the cream. This will avoid that gross skin that used to grow on top of the homemade pudding your grandma used to make when it sat in the fridge too long.

You may, or may not remember my How To Make Stuffed Cupcakes post, but you use the same method of filling as I used for those.

Take a small paring knife and remove a chunk of the center of the cupcake. Make sure you leave an ample amount of the wall and sides of the cupcake intact or the filling will run all over the place.

Once the cream has cooled, spoon into a piping bag. Pipe the pastry cream into the middle of the cupcakes.

Next, make the ganache. Ganache is really easy to make, and a fantastic alternative to frosting. This can also be used as a fabulous cake filling.

Put the chocolate in a heat safe bowl, sprinkle with espresso powder. You can omit the espresso powder, but the coffee flavor doesn’t come through with such a small amount. Coffee brightens the flavor of chocolate, that’s why so many chocolate cake recipes call for it. Heat the cream (microwave or stove, either is fine) until hot and steamy but NOT boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir.

For a while, you are gonna stir and stir, and it will just look like chunky chocolate milk.

Don’t worry, it’ll all work out. Just keep stirring until it’s smooth and creamy.

Dip your cupcakes in the warm ganache, swirl a bit.

You can also spread it on with a spoon or pipe it on with a piping bag.


Beer Poached Apples With An Amber Ale Caramel Sauce

I came across Albion Amber Ale, from Marin Brewing Co this week. It isn’t a traditional Amber, but the flavors are bright and complex. One taste of this brown ale, and a caramel sauce immediately came to mind. The rich toffee and nut flavors paired beautifully with this recipe and the strong caramel and malt flavors came through in the sauce in such an amazing way.

Even if you skip the apple, this sauce is so incredible you can eat it right out of the jar with your fingers.

Beer Poached Apples with Amber Ale Caramel Sauce

4 fuji apples

2 1/2 cups (20 oz) Amber Ale

2-4 cups hot water

2 cups brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs butter

Peel all four apples with a vegetable peeler. With an apple corer remove the core of the apples. Place in a large sauce pan or pot, cover with the beer. Add enough water so that the apples are no longer touching the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a strong simmer. Roll the apples with a fork frequently to insure that all side of the apples are evenly cooked. Poach for 20 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the apples.

Raise the heat to a strong boil and reduce the liquid to 1 cup. Depending on how much water you added, this should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, stir until dissolved. Add a thermometer with a clip to the side of you pan, submerging the tip in the liquid, but making sure it does not hit the bottom of the pan.

Boil, without stirring, until the temperature reaches between 225-230 degrees. Remove from heat and stir until the bubbling subsides. Add the cream and butter, stir to combine. Allow to cool.

Top the apples with the caramel and the chopped nuts.

Another fabulous way to serve this is to chop the apples, and serve the apples, nuts and caramel over vanilla ice cream. Amazing.

Join me: FacebookTwitter 

Party Food: Mini Galettes {Strawberry Brie & Bacon Goat Cheese}

The requirements for party food are pretty simple, but hard and fast.

  1. Yummy
  2. Must travel well
  3. Must have the ability to sit at room temperature for extended periods of time
  4. Bonus if it evokes this sentence from at least one other party goer: "Can I get that recipe from you?"
Mini galettes also have the added bonus of being adorable and fairly easy to make. If you want to make them with store bough crust, I may pound on you a little bit. The crust takes about 8 active minutes plus it’s really, really SO much better than store bought.
Feel free to make these your own and use what ever flavor combinations you love.
Miniature Galettes

CRUST

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter

1/3 cup ice cold water

FOR THE STRAWBERRY BRIE

4 oz brie, cut into slices

3/4 cups strawberries, chopped

1 tbs butter, melted

2 tbs sugar

FOR THE BACON GOAT CHEESE

6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

3 oz goat cheese, crummbled

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped (don’t use frozen, too much water)

Makes 12 (6 of each)

In a food processor, combine 1 1/3 cup flour, salt, sugar and butter, process until well combined. Add the remaining flour and process again until combined. Transfer to a bowl and add the water with a wooden spoon (don’t add the water while the dough is in the food processor or your dough will be brittle and cracker-like). If the dough isn’t moist enough, you can add more water, a tsp at a time until the consistency is right. Form dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. You can make this up to 5 days ahead of time, just place the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, in a large zip lock bag.

Place your chilled dough on a well floured surface. Top with more flour and roll until your dough is fairly thin and even. Cut out 12, 4 inch circles. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter that size so I used a margarita glass.

Place the dough circles on baking sheets that are either covered with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray.

Strawberry Brie:

A Trader Joe’s just opened on Friday down the street from my house. I am inappropriately excited about living within walking distance from such a fabulous food source. I bought these cute mini brie wheels. These are also fantastic to make mini baked brie out of, but that is for another post.

I cut each wheel into 3-4 slices. If you don’t live by a Trader Joe’s, you can also just use regular brie and cut it into slices small enough to fit inside the circle.

Place about 1 tbs of brie in the center of 6 of the circles. Top with about 2 tbs of strawberries.

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Pleat and press the edges when necessary.

Brush each of the 6 Mini Galettes with melted butter, sprinkle with about 1 tsp of sugar each.

Bacon Goat Cheese:

For the remaining 6 circles, add about 1-2 tbs of goat cheese to each circle. Top with 1-2 tbs of chopped spinach, sprinkle with bacon.

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Pleat and press the edges when necessary.

Brush the folded edge of each of the 6 Mini Galettes with melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown.

Gingerbread Ale Beer Bread

Beer bread is simple. A few ingredients creates a soft, but dense bread. The basic principle is to use the beer as the yeast. Although beer is great in this capacity, adding a leavening agent like baking soda, or self rising flour, is important to help keep the bread from becoming too dense. The simple ingredients open the possibility to so many different types of flavorings. Beer bread can be sweet or savory.

I got my hands on a few bottles of the Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewery for this batch of beer bread. The gingerbread flavors worked so well with the recipe, leaving a mild but distinct flavors of ginger and beer.

Gingerbread Beer Bread

3 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 cup chopped pecans

12 oz Bison Gingerbread Ale

TOPPING:

2 tbs melted butter

2 tbs brown sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a large loaf pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pecans. Stir until well combined.  Add the beer all at once. It will foam up. Stir quickly to combine. Don’t worry about lumps, thats normal.

Add to your batter greased loaf pan. Pour the melted butter on top of your loaf and sprinkle with the brown sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the butter has completely absorbed into your loaf and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of your loaf comes out clean.