Cookie Day 2014

Friends, this is really happening!  The most wonderful day of the year is here, and that is COOKIE DAY @)!$!  Oops I mean, 2014!

Who candied that orange peel?  I did.


Oh who again?

I DID.

Caramel snaps are like ginger snaps but with caramel instead of molasses.  Salted caramel.

Cupcakes on cookie day?  Of course!

Yes I do use my kids' plastic fish bowls for baking purposes.

Chill out, dough!  Time to chill out.

Check out those no-fade cupcake wrappers!  They did not fade.

Pignolis are Italian cookies with almond paste centers, meringue exteriors, and crusted with pine nuts.



Chocolate orange cupcakes.

Piles.

And Piles.



Soup break!  Even cookie bakers need to eat lunch.

Finished plate!  By that time the light had failed.  Best subjects get the worst pictures.

Want some?

Revere the Pig






Le Menu

Sourdough French Toast
Chocolate Cake
Brown Sugar Oat Muffins
Cheesy Potatoes
Squash Sausage Feta Bake

This is the menu for the coming week!  Lots of nice winter flavors here.  My fruit/vegetable shelf is overflowing with squash and my fridge is full of cheese.  Yay! 


Pfeffernusse


Ugh, sorry about the posting gap!

First, my baby decided to get all her teeth at once.  Incisors, molars, wisdom, you name it.  She has all of them now.

Then I got sick.  Yeah, the puking kind.

Then my preschooler got sick.  That same, special kind.


Then it was Thanksgiving, and now we are here.

I have so many excuses!

Oh the last one is the most delicious - my internet connection has become, shall we say, unreliable.

Anyway.  It's aight.  I'm just getting back into this business anyway, right?  There's time to iron out the, uh, bunches?


I'm so addicted to these little cookies.

They are like ginger snaps, but gingery-er.

No wait, SNAPPIER.

They're little molasses bombs with just enough black pepper to catch in your throat.


 Pfeffernusse
adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 4 dozen

Important recipe information:  pfeffernusse means peppernut!

1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, honey and butter.  Cook and stir over medium heat until melted.  Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.  Stir in eggs and extract.  Smell that?  Mm.

Combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, pepper and salt.  Gradually add molasses mixture and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight (do not, by any means, eat it all at this point).

Roll dough into 1-inch balls.  Place one inch apart on greased baking sheets.  Bake at 325F for 9 minutes (longer if you like your peppernuts crispy).  Remove cookies to wire racks.  Roll warm cookies in confectioners' sugar.  Cool completely.  NOW devour.

Farmer's Market, November


Today was the last day of the outdoor farmer's market.

It sounds more dramatic than it is, because they pretty much pick it up again next week at an indoor location.

But it's different.  The indoor location doesn't have the same vendors, and there is (understandably but disappointingly) a much larger emphasis on gifts than on food.


Brussels sprouts for roasting.


Apple cider for warming.  I'm going to mull this so hard.


And these beautiful babies?  Well, they will be appearing in everything.  EVERYTHING.

This was my final haul from the very end of the season.

Pretty November, so pretty.

Chrysanthemum Pumpkin Sugar Cookies


Flavored like pumpkin, frosted like chrysanthemums, that is.

Everything is all right tonight.  That's a nice feeling, isn't it?

Kids in bed, sleeping sound.  Roast chicken for dinner, nice neighbors dropping in and sharing it with us.


It's still cold, of course.  Always cold.

But I have a blanket.

Sugar cookies are probably my favorite kind of cookie.  I'll pick them over a whoopie pie, I'll pick them over chippers.


Sometimes I get a terrible craving for a gingersnap, but there's nothing like a smooth, buttery sugar cookie.

I thought I'd throw some pumpkin in, just to get my last pumpkin baking in before the season ends.  It was a nice variation on a settled theme.

It's a bit late in the season for chrysanthemums but you know?  You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit.


That's how it is in our house.

Now eat your cookie.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
adapted from The Wicked Spatula

Makes 24 cookies, cut thick

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a stand mixer, beat together your pumpkin, butter, sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla and eggs until smooth, about 3 minutes.

In another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and spices.

Dump dry ingredients into wet and mix until well incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Roll out dough, I like it thick so I roll it to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness.  Choose your own adventure and adjust baking time accordingly.  Cut with flower-shaped cookie cutter (or whatever shape you want!).  Let your kid help.

Bake for 8 minutes, less for thinner cookies.  Just until barely golden at the edges.

Let cool, make frosting by beating together butter and powdered sugar for 3 minutes.  Add vanilla, salt, milk and cinnamon and beat for one minute more.

Frost!  And eat!  And share! 

Cinnamon Yogurt Twists



The weather is crazy!

This is the time of year I like to call "High Fall."


Its royal colors are iron gray and deep yellow.

My coat is deep yellow too!  But all the buttons are missing.  Can't have everything (don't wear your non-maternity clothes when you're pregnant).


There are frosty veins on rusty leaves when we walk to the crepe stand.

(They opened a crepe stand nearby!)


Fall is dramatic as an opera.

The down-side is the cold, of course.  It's started seeping in the windows and the places where you can see daylight in the doorframe of this 1970's house.


I guess I'd better get sewing those buttons back on.  And picking which knit hat I'll be wearing from now until April.

Cinnamon Yogurt Twists
taken from Taste of Home

Sometimes there is a fine line between a snack and a dessert.  These could even qualify as a breakfast, if you wanted them to.  They made a lovely snack or small lunch served with tea and pears.  Crunchy and sweet but not quite dessert sweet.  Cinnamon is the flavor of fall.

1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, cubed
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large bowl combine the yeast, salt, and 2 1/2 cups flour.  In a small saucepan heat the butter, yogurt and water to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit, add to dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed for two minutes.

Add the eggs, vanilla, and 1/2 cup flour, beat 2 minutes longer.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.  Do not knead.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside.  Punch dough down (whee!).  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-in. x 9-in. rectangle.  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar over the dough; fold dough into thirds.  Give the new rectangle a quarter turn and repeat rolling out, sprinkling, and folding.  Do this three more times, totaling four roll-outs.

Roll into a 12-in. x 6-in. rectangle.  Cut into 24 1/2-in. wide strips.  Twist the strips!  (fun)  Place on baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 F for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Cranberry Cake with Warm Cream Sauce



I think my face is broken.

Do you ever get that?  Like you're fine, and you're fine, and you're fine, and then you're SOOOO TIIIIIIRED.

My eyes are sort of collapsin' like a stroke victim and I think a headache is gonna start pounding soon.

Pre-emptive Advil!  Or maybe five?

I'm all right.  It was just a long one.  I got stuck at the dentist's and I had to clean my kitchen.  And the baby cries.  How she cries.


So mundane.  Such is life.  The beauty is only ever in the details.  And that is why I love food.

The sunset was red-gold.  The polenta bread we ate with soup was soft.  The cranberry cake was exceptional.


Cranberry Cake with Warm Cream Sauce
adapted from Taste of Home

Anybody who knows me knows I have a weakness for old-timey foods.  This simple, single-layer cake is not too sweet, with a pleasant sauce that tastes rich but has less butter and sugar than frosting.  It's the kind of delicacy you could serve your friends for tea.  If you wanted to share it at all...

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh cranberries

For sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease 9-inch baking pan, preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in milk.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and gradually add to milk mixture.  Beat in the cranberries.

Pour into greased baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For sauce, melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in sugar and cream.  Bring to a boil, stirring often.  Boil 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.

At this point you can simply pour it over each slice as you serve it, as the original recipe recommends.  However I did not have time for that so I used a chopstick to poke holes all over the cake and poured the sauce over the whole thing.  It soaked in and gave it a delicious, moist, tres leches-type feel.  Predictably, I recommend doing it my way.