When it’s hot outside, but you still want a chocolately treat, what’s a girl to do? Fudgcicles would work, sure, but I wanted cookies… So when I ran across this recipe for no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, I knew today was the day to try them out.
I made these for a neighborhood potluck, and they were a hit. I personally ate more than a few. Ahem. But they have almond butter, so… protein? Yes.
1 box brownie mix (I prefer Ghirardelli), plus eggs, oil and water as called for on the box
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Prepare the brownie batter according to package directions. Spread in a greased 8 x 8 pan. Top with the cookie dough, dropping clumps of the dough over the batter to cover. You may not use quite all the dough, but that’s what “sampling” is for!
Bake for 20 minutes uncovered, then cover with foil and bake for 20 more minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the cookie layer is browned and the brownies are almost set in the middle.
Remove from the oven and let stand until cooled, at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
When I first posted about fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies, a number of you asked where you could place your order. Well, now I have an actual answer, and it’s for a great cause!
You may have heard (and if you live in Texas, you’ve certainly heard) about the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked West (comma) Texas last month. People lost their homes, their livelihoods, their pets and some (mostly first responders) sadly lost their lives. West has a special place in my heart. I’ve driven through this little town many, many times on the way to or from home in DFW and college in Austin, or between home in Austin and visiting in-laws and friends in DFW, and I always loved stopping for a kolache (cream cheese, please!) at the Czech Stop. It may not even be the best Czech bakery in town (West has a huge Czech population), but it sure is good, and it’s definitely convenient. One of my law school roommates, Amy, is from West, and I attended her wedding there a decade ago.* It’s a wonderful, friendly, tight-knit community, and it has been unimaginably devastated by the explosion.
*Sidenote: I am getting old.
We were just there, at the Czech Stop, on our way through last weekend. We stopped and got a half-dozen kolaches (please don’t ask how may of those I personally ate) for the road. We stood in a long line (much longer than usual) with various passers-through like us, as well as some firefighters from as far away as Calgary who were in town for the funerals, which had been held the previous day. It felt good to do a little something, to inject even a little money into this town’s struggling economy.
Now I can do a little bit more, and you can too. As we speak, I have a couple dozen fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies baking, and they’ll soon be on their way to a bake sale site.
Austin Bakes for West is a city-wide bake sale benefiting recovery efforts in West. Please check the poster above for the site nearest you and come out and buy some cookies to help the folks of West out. And if fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies aren’t your thing (who ARE you?!), I won’t take it personally if you buy some of the plethora of delectable baked goods on offer from other area bloggers and bakers instead.
So, please come. And if you’re not in Austin, you can donate directly to Americare‘s relief efforts in West. Let’s help West get back on its feet!
Good gravy this is some awesome bread. Let me just get that out of the way up front.
When I saw the recipe for coconut bread over on Smitten Kitchen, I knew it was going to make an appearance in my kitchen soon. I had half a bag of sweetened coconut left over from my coconut macaroon adventures just languishing in my pantry, so it was meant to be. When I weighed the coconut on my handy-dandy kitchen scale,* it turned out I had 7 ounces, rather than the called-for 5 ounces. What the heck, I thought. Let’s just coconut the damn hell out of this bread. So I used coconut palm sugar, too.
*I used to think kitchen scales were the height of silliness, but the hubby insisted on getting one years ago, and although I rolled my eyes at first, I heart it now. It’s especially awesome for baking.
It turned out super-moist and rich, and coconut-y but not in an overbearing tropical sort of way. The coconut palm sugar gave it a deeper flavor, and, although I haven’t tried it with regular old refined sugar, I’d be hard-pressed to do so, since it was so flipping amazing with its unrefined, high-nutrient cousin.
Not that this bread is health food, per se, but it is so darn amazing I will just have to buy another bag of sweetened coconut soon, on purpose. You should, too.
Okay, I’ll admit, I thought the name was overkill when I first saw this recipe over on Maggie Louise Bakes. I mean, “food of the gods?” No, really. It is. Don’t take my word for it — make these cookies!
You may need a superhuman tolerance for chocolate, as there is a whole lotta cocoa in these babies, as well as three different kinds of chocolate chips… but that is not a problem for me. Far from it.
I took a batch of these to a barbecue a couple of weekends ago, and they disappeared quickly, receiving rave reviews. I may or may not have eaten a couple of them myself. And Nora’s telltale chocolate mustache let the world know she sampled some too.
Some days are just roller coasters. Yesterday was like that. Most of the day was fabulous — the sun was shining, Nora was in a fantastic mood after being super-cranky for days (oh, how I hate teething), and I got lots done around the house. In fact, she was in such a good, self-entertaining mood that I was able to cook a fairly ambitious meal, including this gorgeous cloverleaf French bread cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
The bread requires a total of five rises. Five! I still can’t believe we made it through all of that without a major meltdown or something. Small miracles. I followed this recipe from Fresh Eggs Daily, and I highly recommend it. It was extraordinarily tasty in addition to being a showstopper in presentation, and the loaf is so large that I was able to save plenty in the freezer for a rainy day, in addition to keeping some around for our breakfast toast.
The star of the show, though, was the creamy sunchoke soup. I’m as surprised as you are, believe me — especially since the soup is definitely easy enough to throw together on a regular weeknight, compliant toddler or no. If I hadn’t been preoccupied with other tasks, I could have easily made the soup during nap time and finished it off right before dinner, which is my usual weeknight M.O.
But, as it was, the soup came together just beautifully, and I was pleased as punch, since I have never cooked with sunchokes before.
They are weird little things. I was a bit stumped when they showed up in our CSA box, and when the hubby said they had given us a massive amount of fresh ginger, I thought he was right… until I checked the list. Sunchokes (sometimes called Jerusalem artichokes) come from a species of sunflower, and are a sort of root vegetable with a delicate, earthy, almost sweet taste.
The soup was simple and creamy and delicious, and the goat cheese and pistachios are such an inspired addition. The flavors are awesome, and it really works as a hearty meal, especially with the bread.
The hubby raved about both the soup and the bread, saying he felt like he was in a posh restaurant. High praise!
Unfortunately, that is where our roller coaster took a turn, since Nora decided to go into maximum limits-pushing mode and refuse to eat her meal (even though she had tasted it and loved it earlier) while pretending to need to use the potty as an excuse to watch her favorite YouTube videos. I mean, I love Belly Breathe as much as the next guy, but I may never get it out of my head now.
Thankfully her limits-testing subsided before bedtime, but she didn’t get to enjoy the lovely dinner her dad and I did — although our dinner was rather interrupted, for obvious reasons. Too bad — she missed out!
Merry belated Christmas to you and yours! I had best intentions to stick to a regular posting schedule, but that all went out the window as we bounced from family in town to our own little Christmas celebration. And, let me tell you, Christmas with a 2-year-old is fun, but it is also exhausting.
I made gingerbread the night before Christmas, so we’d have a special breakfast to munch on in the morning (and, let’s face it, a nice, warm snack that evening).
Although I recall my grandmother making a mean gingerbread, that recipe is likely lost to the ages, so I used the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated’s Baking Illustrated, and it was predictably delicious. Moist, dense but still fluffy, and nicely spiced. Next time I think I’ll add some crystallized ginger for more of a kick.
Today is Cocktail Thursday, and, alas, I seem to have lost track of my days in the holiday madness, so I don’t have a new cocktail for you this week. But, it also happens to be the Thursday before New Year’s Eve, so the natural choice is, of course, champagne. I’d never dream of drinking anything else on NYE!
If you are in the market for a nice bottle of bubbly to celebrate, I humbly offer my two cents. Veuve Clicquot yellow label is a classic, and predictably good, but also predictably overpriced. In my opinion, it’s about a $30 bottle, so don’t spend much more than that on it. If you have a good wine shop nearby, you may be able to find a bottle of Egly-Ouriet Brut instead, which is a much better value with a similar taste profile. One of my favorite stateside choices for sparkling wine is Schramsberg’s Blanc de Noirs, which I was actually able to score at my local grocery store. Their J. Schram is also flipping fantastic, but more of a splurge.
As far as bang for buck goes, I recommend Chandon’s Blanc de Noirs,* which weighs in about around $20 a bottle. Pretty much all of J Vineyards‘ sparkling wines are brilliant, too.
* I can’t say the same for their more widely available sparklers, as I have never been more hung over in my life than the day after I finished the bar exam and enjoyed (maybe a bit too much) of their Blanc de Blancs. But that’s neither here nor there.
I’m not yet sure what we’ll be toasting with this New Year’s Eve, but you can bet it’ll be one of those bottles.
What are your plans this NYE? Are you planning to crack open a special bottle?
It has often been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As a busy mama to a toddler (and constant disaster factory) during this most hectic of seasons, I’d like to amend that statement just a bit. Let’s just say, if your well-laid plans go out the window at the last minute, cross your fingers and hope to succeed in unexpected ways!
I was fortunate enough to succeed in unexpected ways recently, when my last-minute shopping didn’t get done because of some disaster or another. I didn’t have enough ingredients for the double batch of shortbread cookies I was planning to make for a cookie exchange the next day. Oh, fudge. Literally.
Serendipitously (or perhaps not, given the season), Lightly Crunchy had just posted a couple of recipes for 5-Minute Fudge. I had 5 minutes! What I did not have, however, was sweetened condensed milk. I did have evaporated milk, though, and sugar, and a quick search told me I could boil them down to make a substitute. Tempting fate? Probably, given that I have had more than my fair share of failed fudge in my candy-making career. But, all’s well that ends well!
These are the ugly end pieces, but they are still delicious.
I decided to make a bit of a variation on the original recipe, using Kahlúa and pecans, and the result was a hit at the cookie exchange. So were the shortbread cookies, of which I still made a single batch. Even though I hadn’t been able to find silver dragées to decorate them with per my very specific vision, and they didn’t come out as cute as I had hoped, I was still pleased with the product (inspired by December’s Bon Appétit cover photo of Dori Greenspan’s Speculoos Buttons).
Not bad. Not bad at all.
I just made a batch of my spiced shortbread dough, divided it in half and rolled it into logs in plastic wrap and froze the logs for a couple of hours. After brushing the logs with egg white, I rolled them in decorative sugar and then sliced them into cookies. After they were baked, I added a dot of royal icing and a smidge more decorating sugar (wishing all the while it was silver dragees instead).
I wouldn’t call any of that a failure. In fact, I’d call it a smashing success, since I just made two more batches of fudge to hand out to the neighbors tomorrow. I only have one dirty pot in my sink, and I’m only missing about 15 minutes of my time, which includes the time it took to wash the pan in between batches. Hooray for unexpected success!
One batch is of the Kahlúa pecan fudge (recipe follows), and the other is of Heidi’s classic 5-minute fudge, minus the currants. Although I’m sure the non-boozy fudge is lovely, I have a feeling the kids ended up with the short end of the stick on this one!
My little girl turned 2 yesterday. I can barely believe it. She is such a crazy, fun, smart kid, and I feel so lucky to have her in my life. Most days I can’t believe my good fortune in being her mommy.
But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. There are also the days she doesn’t nap, like yesterday. I ended up baking her birthday cake with her strapped firmly to my leg, muttering under my breath about the debatability of whether cranky 2-year-olds who don’t nap deserve homemade birthday cakes. Ah, good times.
Nap or no nap, I was determined to make her birthday fun and special, so I whipped up her favorite meal (mac and cheese, of course), and a from-scratch birthday cake it was.
Happy birthday to you!
I went with the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for yellow layer cake, which was amazing, and frosted it with their vanilla buttercream recipe. The frosting… not so much. Everyone else liked it, but to me, it tasted like I had frosted the cake with pure butter. Anyone have any tips on buttercream for me, or should I just try a different frosting? I liked the simple sugar icing I made for her birthday party cupcakes, but perhaps that is a testament to my sugar addiction, rather than just a taste preference. Nora obviously didn’t mind the buttercream… but of course, this is the same child who was begging me for chunks of butter while I was making the cake.
Don’t mind if I do…
Now, as for the mac and cheese, it has come to my attention that, although I have shared no less than six different recipes for my favorite dish, I have not yet shared my old standby recipe. There’s nothing quite like good ol’ fashioned baked mac and cheese, the kind I’ve been making (and tweaking ever so slightly) since… well, I can’t even remember when. I know it was one of the first things I ever learned to cook on my own. It’s good, and it’s so easy I could practically do it in my sleep. Or with a toddler strapped to my leg. Enjoy!
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and whisk until bubbling and golden, a couple of minutes. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring to incorporate well and keep smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often, and simmer until slightly thickened. Add the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the cheddar. Add the cooked and drained macaroni and stir well with a rubber spatula.
Transfer the macaroni into a 9 x9 baking dish or casserole of similar size and top with the remaining cheddar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly, and then heat until the broiler until the top is golden brown, a couple of minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
We have just finished a terrible round of the pukies here at our house. Thankfully Nora seems to have skipped the worst of it (fingers crossed), but being sick with a toddler is no fun. Even less fun is being sick with a toddler when your spouse and co-parent is also sick. But, the worst is over now, so onward and upward. It’s time to sanitize the kitchen and start thinking about Thanksgiving!
Here’s what will be on our table this year:
Turkey - I defer to my omnivore guests on the centerpiece of the meal. Hubby is in charge of the turkey business this year (as always), and he decided to order a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce – Fresh is so much better, people. Are you still using the canned stuff? Please tell me no. If you want a processed sugar-free version, use the recipe at the link, but substitute coconut palm sugar for the brown sugar. Done and done.
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie – You knew this was going to make the cut again, didn’t you? I’m pretty sure we’ll never have another Thanksgiving without it.
Bread Pudding – I seize on any excuse to make a good bread pudding, and Thanksgiving certainly is one! I’m not sure yet if I’ll be making White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding or another variation (maybe chocolate bread pudding with walnuts?), but it’s happening.
In general, I like to overdo it, but this year, just coming off of feeling like death for a few days, I got responsible and pared back a bit. What’s on your Thanksgiving table this year? Are you trying anything new, or sticking with the tried-and-true?
***GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED – CONGRATS TO WINNER ALI!***
Now, for what you’re all really interested in: the giveaway! I’ve never done one before, but when Cooking Planit gave me the opportunity to offer you one of my favorite kitchen gadgets on their dime, it sounded like a win-win to me. Just in time to help with all your holiday cooking this year, how about a Cuisinart Mini-Prep Food Processor?
Not only is it lovely, it does a bang-up job with small tasks like making dressing, chopping onions and more. All you have to do to win is visit Cooking Planit and let me know which of their featured “Alternative Thanksgiving” meals looks yummiest to you! Check out the Rafflecopter for more details and ways to get more entries.
I’m a recovering lawyer-turned-freelance writer and editor, aspiring domestic goddess, and mom to a spunky, demanding and truly awesome 2-year-old girl. I love all things food and drink, and I’ve rediscovered a love for cooking now that I’m not spending most of my days locked in the office, but I often have to improvise, since having the ankle-biter around makes it more challenging!