Blog Tour!

Hello!! I’d like to apologize to all of you for my brief blogging hiatus (that may continue for another week or so after this post)! I had to do some traveling for work, and we’re moving this weekend so my apartment is in all sorts of pre-moving disarray. When we’re all set up in our new place and I can find my pans and dishes again I promise there will be plenty of great posts coming your way.

In the meantime, I’d like to say a much overdue thank you to my friend Anita at Kitchen Getaway for featuring me in her blog tour. Anita is always posting mouthwatering recipes, and she even raises her own chickens!! I’m super impressed with her and honored that she chose to include me in her tour. I’m finally catching up and posting my blog tour. I’m also incredibly¬†excited to be joining the party at Fiesta Friday again today – I’ve certainly missed this group!

What am I working on? Well, packing and preparing to move has consumed most of time lately but I have a goal to master macaroons, or at least make some that are pretty enough to photograph. After seeing them pop up all over the place lately I made a batch, and they were good, but not quite right. So I’ll definitely be making a second attempt at those soon.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? This is a tough one. I tend not to focus on being different but on sharing what speaks to me and what I enjoy. I haven’t met much food that I don’t like, and I’m willing to try to re-create just about anything (with varying degrees of success). I’m kind of an eclectic mix of traditional family recipes and figuring out how to work new ingredients I discover into things I’m already familiar with.

How does my writing process work? Well I keep a running list of recipes I want to try or create and then write about, but I find that most of what I end up posting is more of just our day to day food. If I make something for dinner and it turns out especially good, I’ll probably make it again the next night so I take pictures of it!

My Featured Blogs
As part of passing on the blog tour traditions I’ve selected three blogs to feature that I highly encourage you to check out!

Mezze and Dolce
The first time I stumbled upon this blog I couldn’t stop going through the recipes. The name says it all, Mezze (savory) and Dolce (sweet) always make a great combination! They’re always posting very intriguing recipes, take theseZa’atar Buttermilk Biscuits for instance. Or, if you’re looking for something sweet, these Rose-Scented Almond Cookies are beautiful and special.

Bourbon and Brown Sugar
MB is always pushing the limits with her creative concoctions. I’m constantly impressed with her vast food knowledge and compelling story telling. Her Tiny Alfajores are a perfect example of this. She always has a great story to go along with her recipes and can make anything from empanadas to beef bourguignon!

I’ll Cook You Wash
What first caught my eye about Indira’s blog was her title – sounds like the plan in my house! I’m always happy to make dinner, but not so keen on cleaning up after. She can also make a dessert out of avocados – yes avocados! Check out her Avocado cream pie and tell me you’re not impressed!

Half Moon Cookies

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Half moon cookies bring back great memories for me. My grandpa used to own a carpet shop in my hometown and the store was later turned into a bakery. Because it was once my grandpa’s, I always felt a big connection to that bakery.

Often on Saturday afternoons, after a day of running errands with my mom, our last stop would be the bakery and as a reward I got to pick out my sweet treat. Even though I have an almost insatiable sweet tooth, there was only one cookie in the bakery that I was interested in. My eyes saw right past the cakes, the chocolate chips and the muffins and were only focused on the chocolate half moon cookies. The moist soft cake and the mounds of chocolate and vanilla frosting made this cookie irresistible to me.

I don’t see half moon cookies in many bakeries anymore. Lately I’ve been thinking of these cookies and really craving one. I tried one recipe a few weeks ago and they came out terribly. I tried to make my own recipe, but couldn’t get the consistency right. So, after an extensive Google search for a well reviewed half moon recipe, I found this one from Saveur. The only thing I changed to the cookie batter was using almond milk instead of dairy milk. Instead of the frosting they show, I used a good old buttercream. Sinking my teeth into these frosting covered circles of goodness were well worth the three tries it took to get them right!

To make it even better, it’s Fiesta Friday! Check out Angie’s Blog and join the party!

Half Moon Cookies
Cake:
3 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cup sugar
16 tbsp. butter cut into pieces
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups almond milk

Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. One at a time, add the eggs to your sugar and butter, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl after each one. Then add the vanilla extract.

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3. Add half of the flour to the sugar and butter and mix to combine. Next add half the milk. Then and the remaining flour followed by the rest of the milk and mix until it has all combined.

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4. Spoon out tablespoon sized amounts of the batter and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These cookies tend to spread quite a bit so leave a good amount of room between them. Wet your finger with a little water and gently press down each ball of batter to flatten it a little, this will help you get a flatter cookie instead of one with a huge bump in the middle. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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5. While the cookies are baking make your frostings. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. If you’re frosting is too thick add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove half of the frosting and place it in another bowl. Then add the cocoa powder and combine thoroughly.

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6. Cool the cookies after taking them out of the oven. Once they’ve cooled turn them upside down and frost the flat side. Frost the vanilla halves first, then the chocolate. Enjoy!

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Butter Cookies

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Time for another holiday cookie! These simple little bites are one of my all time favorite treats. I would always get so excited when my mom would make these, but then again what’s not to love about butter, sugar and flour? I’m not usually a fan of eating unbaked cookie dough (weird, I know) but I always take a few spoonfuls of this dough for myself while I’m making these.

These cute delicate little cookies melt in your mouth. The texture that comes from pushing them through a pastry tip gives them a little something special and the literal “cherry on top” adds a touch more sweetness.

This recipe makes a LARGE batch of cookies, you can half it if you want, but I bet you’ll wish you had more once you start eating them!

Butter Cookies
4 cups flour
1 lb room temperature butter
1 cup 10x sugar
maraschino cherries

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Cut maraschino cherries into quarters and drain them on a paper towel
3. Combine butter, sugar and flour in a large bowl and mix well.
4. Using small amounts at a time push the dough through a pastry tip
5. Top each cookie with a cherry 6. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, enjoy!

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Chocolate Almond Cookies

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I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged about more about baking and sweets. ¬†For a long time all I could do in a kitchen was bake cookies and cupcakes, I had no idea how to actually cook any “real” food. So due to my lack of sweet posts I’ve decided it’s time to get some holiday treats on here! Holiday baking is truly one of my favorite things. I have so many great memories of baking sugar cookies and watching my mom come up with lists of new recipes to try each holiday season, constantly increasing her list of family favorites that she needed to make every year.

I recently discovered a new ingredient that is definitely going to be making an appearance in a large amount of my holiday baking this year. A few weeks ago my husband and I took a cooking class at Sur la Table where we made a cake with this almond paste . It adds a slightly different flavor than almond extract. Of course you could always substitute almond extract if that’s what you have in the pantry.

Chocolate Almond Cookies
2 cups flourphoto(5)
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon almond paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed almonds

1. Combine flour, sugar, butter, almond paste and salt in a large bowl and mix until everything is smoothly combined.

2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.

3. Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.

4. When the cookies have cooled, melt your chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate has melted carefully dip each cookie half of the way in. Then dip the cookie into the crushed almonds, enjoy!