Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Tis the season for cookies!

I’ve never participated in a holiday cookie swap, but I hope to do that next year. Between a surgery next week and moving into our new house, I’m not going to have much time to bake around the holidays.

But I was thinking of the fun cookies and treats I’ve made this year.

I know most cookie swaps or holiday cookie trays include the more traditional items: gingerbread, molasses, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, frosted sugar cookies.

Maybe it’s time to revamp that cookie table!

Here are some of my favorites from 2010:

These aren’t even a baked good, but I think they were my favorite new item of the year.


Frozen Chocolate Dipped Cookie Dough – bonus! They’re whole wheat and vegan…and you can hide them in your freezer.


Chocolate Mint Cookies. Need I say more? Mint is a requirement around the holidays (for me, anyway), and I’m a sucker for the green chips.



Want to make something outside the cookie jar? These Cream Cheese Brownies are rich and tangy and will look great on that holiday table.



Even if you don’t make molasses cookies or gingerbread, don’t pass on the ginger. I love the warmth it brings to baked goods, and combining it with dark chocolate is always a good idea. This Gingered Applesauce Cake with Dark Chocolate is one way to do just that.


What about you – are there certain cookies or baked goods your family always makes during the holidays? I want to hear them! Everyone can always use some new ideas.


Don’t forget to donate and help Holly  + me raise money for Jovenes en Camino, an orphanage in Honduras for abused, homeless and orphaned children. Tis’ the season!

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I hope you’re not sick of pumpkin yet.

I realize that pumpkin recipes have been everywhere the past few weeks, but fall is just starting! Thanksgiving is still a month away, and my pumpkin “season” goes throughout the winter or as long as I can find it.


Whether or not you’re tired of pumpkin, you can’t deny that this time of year just screams for warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger.

And combining those with pumpkin, toasted pecans, and dark chocolate? Even better.

These scones would be great any time of year, but they’re especially delicious on a crisp fall morning or with hot tea as an afternoon snack.


And please – if you’re making scones, use real butter.

You can health them up any other way, but you have to have butter to get the right texture. There’s nothing more disappointing than biting into a scone that has the texture of a muffin.


Believe me – butter is necessary.

The great thing is you don’t need a ton of it! And, thanks to the moisture from the pumpkin, you can cut out the usual heavy cream. So while this recipe does call for butter, they’re much lighter than other recipes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pecan Scones

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 1/3 oatbran
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 6 Tbsp butter, diced and chilled
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 flax “egg”  – 1 Tbsp flax mixed with 1-2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pecans
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix flour through spices together in large bowl.
  3. Cut in butter (using pastry blender, hands, or two forks) until mixture resembles cornmeal.
  4. Stir in chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
  5. In separate bowl, mix pumpkin, flax egg, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp almond milk.
  6. Pour pumpkin mixture into flour and mix until dough just comes together.
  7. Dump dough onto floured surface and knead 5-10 times until dough holds together.
  8. Pat out to 1/2 – 3/4” thickness and cut into 8 wedges.
  9. Brush tops of scones with other 1 Tbsp almond milk and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar.
  10. Bake 15-17 minutes.


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All these garlic knot recipes floating around online lately got them stuck in my head.

Plus, they were one bread item I had yet to make!


I used to be terrified of baking with yeast, but it’s so simple. Yeah, it adds another step but it makes such a difference in the final product.

You just can’t get that flavor without it!

Basic Garlic Knots

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  1. In bowl, mix yeast, agave, and warm water. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until creamy.
  2. In large bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Add yeast mixture and oil to flour and knead until dough comes together and is smooth.
  4. Put dough into oiled bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled.
  5. Preheat oven to 450.
  6. Once dough has doubled, punch down.
  7. Tear off golf-ball size rounds, roll out into long strips and tie into knots.
  8. Place on baking sheet or stone and bake 11-12 minutes.
  9. While hot, toss knots in mixture of olive oil or butter, minced garlic, and salt.


I made these Sunday afternoon and we had them along with some homemade chicken noodle soup.


I love them simple like this: just tossed with salt, garlic, and olive oil.

But they’d be delicious tossed with some fresh herbs like oregano and basil and parsley, too.

Tying these little garlic knots gave me a little practice, too – I may try making soft pretzels soon! That’s another item on my I’m-intimidated-to-make-these-on-my-own list.

If I can make homemade garlic knots, you can, too.

So get in that kitchen and bake!

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Happy Thursday! I can’t believe tomorrow is Friday – because of that telework on Monday, my week has been so off! I kept thinking that today was Wednesday at work, but tonight feels more like a Friday night. I’m so confused. At least I know tomorrow is jean day! Is it sad that I get that excited about being able to wear jeans to work? I don’t think so.

I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Honduras recap posts. I’m having tons of fun going through all the pictures again, but I have so many! It’s so hard to pick the ones to post when you have almost 600 pictures to choose from.

This morning, we had a conflict resolution/harassment workshop to attend, which was actually pretty good. It was only about 2 hours long and the case studies we talked about were interesting – I just didn’t think some of the things could be (or would be) considered harrassment, but it’s nice to know what options are in place for the employees here.

Lunch was a HUGE salad!


  • romaine
  • spinach
  • bean/pepper/onion/corn salad
  • beer butt chicken
  • peach salsa
  • avocado dressing (mix of avocado, lemon juice, salt, garlic just blended up until creamy)

and some of these new snacks!


I got these free samples of Somersaults Snacks last week and tried the S.S.Sea Salt flavor today (love that name).


I liked these – they reminded me of those sesame breadsticks you could always get at salads bars. Remember those?

I have one other flavor to try and I’m excited to open them up. I loved the salty flavor and crunch of these snacks – they went really well with my salad.

If you want to try Somersaults, you can request a sample here! And you should – they’re good  🙂

We ate lunch pretty quickly so we could go walk around Books a Million at lunch. I love just walking around bookstores and looking through all the books and magazines I want. I don’t buy books very often  – our bookshelves are pretty full already – but I like seeing what’s new and looking through tons of cookbooks, obviously.

I think Nick and are both on the mend in regards to strange stomach stuff – it’s still been rumbly a bit in the morning and in the afternoon (I guess when the meds are kind of wearing off), but nothing like it was a few days ago. I’m hoping tomorrow is the last weird day and that we’ll be totally back to normal by the weekend! We should have some fun plans, so I just want to feel good.

While working this afternoon, I had one of my favorite snacks:


It’s been a very long time since I’ve had Fage. Since Oikos has been on sale some lately and I’ve had coupons, I just haven’t bought Fage because it’s more expensive and NEVER on sale. Until this past weekend. And since it was, I got Nick a few of the ones with the fruit and honey and got me one plain one.

I topped it with a Kashi Blackberry Graham cereal bar – so good. This was the perfect way to use this bar. It was already kind of broken up in the package since it was one that traveled with us to Honduras, so I just broke it up into smaller pieces and didn’t have to worry about making a mess trying to eat it like normal. Great combo!

I actually have a bunch of random stuff to work on tonight so I’m glad dinner was quick + easy. Since we went out last night, I just cooked more pasta, heated up the leftover turkey/portobello sauce, and roasted some broccoli for us.


I love making pasta bowls! I can get in there and make a mess and have all the flavors at once.


In this bowl, I layered:

  • roasted broccoli
  • whole wheat pasta
  • turkey/portobello/garden fresh tomato sauce
  • 2 slices of garlic  bread

I loved the bites with sauce + pasta + broccoli. Roasted veggies have such great flavor.

And can I just spend a minute on these beauties?


My baking project last night was making Nicole’s recipe for Chocoloate Chip Cookie Topped Brownies, and I’m ridiculously happy I made them.


Um, these are amazing! And healthy! And vegan to boot! Of course, I guess mine aren’t since I used regular chocolate chips, but both layers of this dessert are awesome.


cookie on top –


brownie on the bottom.

All good.

I’m about to eat this, pack lunch and get to reading some books  🙂

Are  there stores you like going in just to look around?

I love “window” shopping! And real shopping ,when I have $ to spend.

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I. Love. Coffee.

Good morning! Well, no one guessed the right thing for the baking project, but I’ll get to that in a minute  🙂

Allow me to introduce why I love our homemade coffee so much.

Exhibit A:



This is the antique coffee grinder we bought last weekend – it’s so cool! I think Nick found online that it was probably made in the late 1800’s, and yes, we use it to grind our coffee beans now. No electricity needed! Plus, it’s beautiful.

This is the other new addition to our coffee collection:



The little french press on the right was our original one, but it only made 1 cup at a time. We just bought this monster one a few weeks ago and it makes 32 oz. at a time. Possibly one of the best inventions ever?

Needless to say, I really enjoyed my coffee today. I did miss it a bit the past 2 days, but I enjoyed the tea I had, too. I think I’m just used to having that coffee flavor in the morning so it will take some getting used to, but not having any in a couple days made me really enjoy and savor our awesome coffee this morning.

Breakfast included a cup of coffee with a little skim milk and an orange I split with Nick.



Are you ready to see my baking project?  It turned out AWESOME.

I made one of Nick’s favorite things in the whole world…



Homemade Cinnamon Rolls! I used this Cooking Light recipe, but made a few changes to make it even healthier.



I used 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, and just 1/2 cup regular flour. I also used light butter in the filling since that’s what I had. They turned out awesome, and they’re basically all whole wheat!

Of course, I need a more filling breakfast than just a cinnamon roll, so…



That’s right. Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal! Holy Yum!



  • 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water, pinch salt
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • cinnamon!
  • 2 Tbsp pecans
  • 1 cinnamon roll



Total decadence.

What’s the most decadent meal you’ve ever had?

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