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chocolate chip zucchini bread cookies

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choc zucchini cookies

Zucchini makes me think of J’s little brother, Collin.

Collin is a senior at Texas A&M University- Whoop!  He lives in a house with two other guys- brothers that grew up on a farm.  They planted a garden in the backyard in College Station, and it’s not just a little herb garden or tomato garden.  They have a HUGE, full garden.

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When we lived in Texas, we would get buckets overflowing with zucchini and yellow squash.  It was awesome.

 

As soon as J and I get a yard, Collin is going to come help us get a garden started.  :)  Right Collin?

I adapted a cookie recipe from Martha Stewart.  Martha’s recipe used a cream cheese filling to make cookie sandwiches, but since I was mailing these, that wasn’t going to work.  I wanted to add some sweetness, so I added chocolate chips!  These cookies, however are delicious without the chocolate chips and would be pretty tasty with walnuts.

chocolate chip zucchini bread cookies

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup grated zucchini- (FYI: 1 med zucchini =1 ½ cup zucchini)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips (can substitute with chopped walnuts)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Beat 1 stick butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  • Beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  • Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Smells like zucchini bread. Very soft, delicate cookie. STICKY.   Cinnamon, moist, chewy. Wheat flavor.  Yum!  Little bites of zucchini bread.    It’s even good without the chocolate

strawberries with balsamic vinegar and almond cream

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balsamic strawberries

Delicious with almond whipped cream.  The longer the strawberries set, the soggier they will get, so it’s best to eat this the day you make it.  However, I had leftover strawberries that I put on a spinach salad the next day, and I still thought the berries tasted good.  The strawberries are so yummy as a salad topping, no salad dressing needed!

strawberries with balsamic vinegar and almond cream

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

16 oz fresh strawberries, sliced

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup granulated sugar

Place strawberries in a bowl.  Add vinegar and sugar and gently stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Place strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle vinegar over strawberries, and sprinkle with sugar. Stir gently to combine. Cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but not more than 4 hours. Just before serving, grind pepper over berries.

Almond Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

soft chocolate cookies w/peanut butter frosting

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April was a busy month with visitors for J and me.  Blake and Amanda were here during J’s Birthday in the middle of the month.

Philip visited the following weekend, and then my parents were here at the end of the month/beginning of May.

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I loved being busy with visitors!  I got to try out several new restaurants, bars, and bakeries.  I also tried expresso for the first time- thanks Phil!

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Unfortunately for J, I didn’t have time to bake him a Birthday cake, so I made these cookies as a belated B-day dessert.

I did surprise him with a slice of red velvet (from across the street) the morning of his Birthday, but he still deserved a homemade treat.

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J loves his Reeses peanut butter cups, so that was the inspiration for these cookies.  The peanut butter is his favorite part- crazy person!  He also is a soft cookie person.

I, personally, am an any-kind-of-cookie girl.

Soft, hard, chewy, crunchy.  I love them all.  Except for stale cookies…

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Which brings up another weird thing about J.  He prefers his Oreo cookies stale… stale!

He will intentionally leave the bag open so they will get stale… and soft.  I prefer Oreos crunchy-  aka not stale!  The way they were intended to be consumed!

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These cookies tasted great on their own, however, as far as J is concerned, everything is better with frosting!   The frosting has a nice fluffy consistency- perfect with the soft cookies.

Chocolate and peanut butter-YUM!  Can’t really go wrong with that combo.

Soft Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Soft Chocolate Cookies   

From Allrecipes.com

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.
  2. In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; mix well.
  3. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and combine well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate dough for about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  6. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes.  Cool cookies for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack.  **Optional** Instead of frosting cookies, dust warm cookies with confectioner’s sugar.

Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Double recipe if frosting cookies individually (not making cookie sandwiches) or if extra icing desired.

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon milk (use more milk as needed to reach desired consistency)

  1. In medium bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with mixer.  Gradually beat in sugar.
  2. Mix in vanilla.  Add milk (one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached).  Beat frosting for ~3 minutes.
  3. Holding cookie bottom-side up, spread about 1-2 tablespoons of frosting on cookie.  Top with another cookie to create cookie sandwich.  Repeat with remaining cookies and frosting.

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s’mores bars

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One of J’s friends requested these for his Birthday.  He remembered them from the assortment of Christmas cookies I gave him in December.

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My mom, sisters and I go a little crazy with baking at Christmas time.  We always start out with the intention of being organized, however, no matter how much planning, phone calls or lists we make, our annual Christmas baking ends up being a bit chaotic– and I love it that way!

It wouldn’t be nearly as fun if everything went smoothly and exactly as planned.  :P

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Sometimes one of us introduces a new recipe to try.  After serious taste-testing, the recipe will be eliminated, added to the “every few years” list, OR  if it’s a really good recipe, it will be added to the permanent list of annual Christmas cookies.

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This s’mores bar recipe was added to our rotation a few years ago.  My mom got the recipe from a co-worker at church, and we have been winning over peoples’ hearts with it ever since.

I’m pretty sure my brother’s girlfriend is still dating him just for the s’mores bars she knows she’ll get at Christmas.  ;)  Just kidding Dave!

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This is one of the recipes that will be baked every year no matter what.  Not only is it delicious, but it’s a bar cookie, so it’s super easy to make too.

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These aren’t always the prettiest cookies, but you forget about that once you taste them.

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By lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, you’re able to transfer the bars to a flat surface for easier cutting.  It also helps if you wipe the blade off in between cuts.

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Gooey, sticky sweet deliciousness.

S’mores Bars

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (=8 whole graham crackers or 1 package)

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I normally use fat free)

¾ cup chocolate chips

¾ cup butterscotch chips

1 ½ cup miniature marshmallows

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, making sure the left and right edges stick out for easy removal later.
  2. Combine butter and graham cracker crumbs; mix well.  Press into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Carefully pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips and butterscotch chips over condensed milk.  Top with marshmallows.  Using your hands, firmly, but carefully, press down on bars.
  5. Bake about 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Cool completely.
  6. Move bars from baking pan to a cutting board by gripping the edges of parchment paper sticking out on both ends.  Refrigerate or freeze bars for ~1hr to make cutting easier
  7. Cut into bars.  Store in air-tight container at room temperature.

irish soda bread

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This is my second time making Irish soda bread and I was happier with this recipe than the last one I used.


I don’t think DH was too thrilled with the caraway seed which has a very distinct flavor.  I enjoyed it though!

Caraway seeds are often found in rye bread.

Most Irish soda bread recipes call for raisins or currants (mini raisins!).  I’ve also seen golden raisins used.  I decided to use both currants and golden raisins.

Currants are smaller than regular raisins (see picture above) so they spread more evenly throughout the bread.

If you’re like me, and you normally don’t have buttermilk, you can use this easy buttermilk substitution:

Combine 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon of white vinegar

Let stand about 5 minutes.  You should see little bubbles on top (see picture below)

You can also use lemon juice if you don’t have vinegar.

I don’t buy buttermilk often because I don’t enjoy drinking it.  What am I supposed to do with the leftovers after I’ve used what I needed for the recipe?

The only person I know who does like drinking buttermilk, is my dad.  Now that I think about it, Brittany probably does too, but that I don’t know for sure.  I’m just guessing, since she likes everything-like my dad!

Growing up my dad would try to encourage my siblings and I to taste new food/drinks by giving us money to try it.  This really didn’t happen very often- only a few times.

One of those instances involved a glass of buttermilk.  I remember the deal was we would get a little bit of money for just tasting it (maybe a dollar or less).   BUT, if we could drink the whole glass of buttermilk, we would get five dollars.  Five whole dollars.

I couldn’t get down more than the first sip, but David (my twin brother), he was able to choke down the whole glass.  I was jealous of the money, but it wasn’t worth it to me!

Buttermilk does wonderful things for baked goods–muffins, breads, biscuits, pancakes.  And as far as I’m concerned that is the only reason to buy buttermilk.

This bread tastes soo good toasted with butter and/or jam!

Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from King Arthur

Makes 6 mini loaves or 1 large loaf

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup currants

½ cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional

1 large egg

1 ¾ cup skim milk*

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons white vinegar*

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

*If you have buttermilk, substitute it for the milk and leave out the vinegar.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease mini loaf pan- 6 mini loaves (or 9″ x 5″ loaf pan).
  2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine milk and vinegar—set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants, raisins and caraway seeds.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk mixture (or buttermilk) and egg
  5. Gently stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  6. Stir in melted butter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bread pan.
  8. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes (50 minutes – 1 hour if making one large loaf) or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Loosen edges of each loaf and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Carefully turn loaves out onto cooling rack.  OR transfer to cutting board and dig in while it’s still warm!  Store in airtight container at room temperature.

I made spritz cookies to take in to work on St. Patrick’s Day.  I try to bring in baked treats whenever I have to work a holiday.  :)  I’ll post the recipe later.

challah french toast

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Brittany and Katie came to visit last weekend- finally!!  I’m still waiting on Meagan to get her cute butt up here.  ;)

We were running all over Manhattan and Brooklyn the whole time they were here!  We went to Rockefeller Plaza to see the Christmas tree, went shopping at Chelsea Market, had drinks and popcorn at 4th Ave Pub, ate pizza at Fascati’s, took pictures on the Brooklyn Bridge…

Katie and I also went ice skating at Central Park—at the skating rink from Serendipity.  :)

Challah bread was new to me when I moved to NYC.

Challah (pronounced hah-lah) is a traditional Jewish egg bread eaten on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.

My first experience with challah was at a diner in Brooklyn.

French toast made with challah.

After my first bite I was hooked—so perfect together!

I wanted to share my discovery with Katie and Britt so I made challah french toast for brunch while they were here.

The bread soaks up the egg mixture and the end result is soft, sweet, golden french toast.  dE-licious!

Challah French Toast

5 eggs

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 challah loaf- about 12 inches (I used whole wheat)

  1. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.  Stir in sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Set griddle to 300 degrees.  While griddle pre-heats, slice challah into 1 inch slices.
  3. Dip each slice in egg mixture, flip 2-3 times.  Allow excess egg mixture to drip off into bowl and place on pre-heated griddle.
  4. Cook ~3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  5. Serve warm topped with butter and syrup or powdered sugar.

**To keep warm, set oven to 200 degrees.  Place French toast on a baking sheet or oven-safe plate, cover with foil (optional) and keep in warmed oven until ready to serve.

cranberry walnut oatmeal cookies

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Every year during cranberry season I think about using the berries for decoration… but I have yet to do this.

There are so many creative ways to use them!  They make simple, pretty centerpieces, festive holiday decor and tasty snacks.  Love the idea of putting cranberries in a mason jar.

And I definitely have to try this Sparkling Cranberry Centerpiece – edible decorations!?  Yes please.

And of course, you can substitute dried cranberries with fresh cranberries in a recipe like I did — only when cranberries are in season (and cheaper!) that is  ;)

This recipe specifically says NOT to use instant or quick-cooking oats, but that was all I had AND I didn’t even have enough of that.  I had to use a ½ cup ground oats I had leftover from making pancakes.

This is a light, delicate cookie that falls apart in your mouth.

Wholesome wheat-y, oat flavor with a tangy zing from the cranberries–Yum!  A cookie you can eat for breakfast and not feel bad about.  :D

Cranberry-Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

slightly adapted from Cookie Madness

1 cup instant oats, ½ cup ground oats (OR use 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats)

½ cup white whole wheat flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts + 3 tablespoons

1/3 cup fresh cranberries, halved or quartered + 3 tablespoons

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper
  2. Combine 3 T walnuts and 3 T cranberries in a small bowl; set aside for later.
  3. Mix together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
  4. Using hand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and blend well.
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir together.  Add remaining 1/3 cup walnuts and 1/3 cup cranberries; mix well.
  6. Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet, spaced about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart.  Using the reserved walnuts and cranberries, press a few gently on top of each dough ball.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool cookies on sheet for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring to cooling rack.