friday links

I've created a nice list of gingerbread recipes from around the food blogging world.
Do you crave gingerbread in December?
I do something fierce.
The gingerbread mix from Trader Joe's is quite good.
If you're in a hurry and want a fast gingerbread fix, give this one from Trader Joe's a go.
You can create so many things from it:
gingerbread cupcakes 4
gingerbread cupcakes with white chocolate-cream cheese ganache

Elsewhere around the web:

hot & spicy ginger snaps from RecipeGirl
gingerbread brownies from Oh Bite It
triple gingerbread ice cream from We Are Not Martha
gingerbread cookies from Annie Eats
orange gingerbread with cream cheese frosting from Joy the Baker
gramercy tavern gingerbread from Smitten Kitchen
chocolate-gingerbread granola from How Sweet It Is
gingerbread caramels from Confections of a Foodie Bride
gingerbread-pear empanadas from Laylita's Recipes
soft glazed gingerbread cookies from Dolcetto Confections
gingerbread cupcakes w/ mango buttercream from Pies & Plots
white chocolate gingerbread cake balls from Eats Well with Others
gingerbread latte cupcakes from Bakers Royale
pumpkin spice mousse cake w/ a flourless chocolate-gingerbread cake bottom from Confections of a Closet Master Baker
cinnamon roll swirled gingerbread bars from Picky Palate
nutella gingerbread scones from Cake Batter & Bowl
gingerbread-maple moon pies from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
ginger cookie 1 12-5-2009 1-51-40 PM
gingerbread cookies from vanillasugarblog
soft gingersnap cookies w/ white chocolate chunks from Two Peas and Their Pod
gingerbread cheesecake bites from Created by Diane

Other finds:
owl cookies from Rosy Posy
eggnog bread with rum glaze from Knead to Cook
custard & white chocolate cookies from Warm, Snug & Fat
4 weeks of yuletide recipe roundup from Kitchen Historic
baking without flour for the holidays from NPR Food
global cold cures from NPR Food
go Paleo without going broke from Paleo Lifestyle Magazine
physical toll on negative emotions from Marks Daily Apple
homemade harissa sauce from Food Republic
37 ingredients that made up the Twinkie! from Gizmodo
stretch wrists to prevent hand inquiries from Greatist
sunglasses to fight the winter blues from Greatist
11 alternative medicines explained from Greatist

cinnamon roll coffee cake from Averie Cooks

Have a wonderful weekend!


double chocolate-walnut cookies

Thin and crispy cookie or soft and chewy?
How can you choose?
Can we add a third option: thick.
This third option, no, let's just call it what it really is: obsession.
This third obsession of mine started when I first discovered Levain Bakery cookies.
Those giant, quarter pound monsters had me at the first bite.
So far I've made:
original chocolate chip cookie
double chocolate with ganache
double chocolate with mint
sugar cookie (almost a quarter pound!)
What's on the list next is peanut butter with something, carrot cake like cookie--OK this is a healthy version of the quarter pound cookie to see if it can be done.
What else?
And for those of you that are thin and crispy lovers?
Try these cookies I made from past Top Chef contestant Eric Wolitzky.
You may remember that episode where he made those flat, thin cookies from Season 1, Episode 7.
Choose whatever size you want to make these, just adjust the baking times according to size.

double chocolate-walnut cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter (24 TB), room temp
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 TB half & half (or cream), might need more
1 ½ ts pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup dark double dutch cocoa powder (regular dutch ok too, but flavor isn’t as intense)
½ ts cinnamon (I used Vietnamese cinnamon for a deep intense flavor)
Oversized ¾ ts sea salt
1 ½ ts baking powder
½ ts baking soda
1 ½ cups of 60 % (or higher cocoa) dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 cup of toasted walnuts, rough chop

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, or by hand beat butter and both sugars just until creamy. Don’t overbeat. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and half & half and beat just until incorporated.
In another bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Lumps are good.
Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Keep in mind this dough is very hard and thick.  It’s also very sticky, and might be a little dry.
OK to add a dash or two more of half & half to mixture to make it come together only if it’s really dry and too crumbly.
Cover and chill this at least 3 hours before baking; this will help it come together.

When ready to bake:
Always keep the dough cold as you can—this lends a nice tender/flaky cookie that won’t spread much.
Warm dough will yield a flatter cookie. Bake first batch, keep remaining batch in fridge till ready to use. Or shape all cookie dough balls, place on a plate or tray, and keep in fridge as they are ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
You can either make them into huge cookies (as I did) or smaller ones.
Whichever you choose, keep the dough in balls, do not flatten.
Divide dough into 12-14 big lumps. Mold into HUGE golfballs; do not press flat! 
Keep them as balls on the cookie sheets.  Bake on ungreased cookies sheets (one sheet at a time).
For larger cookies bake 13-16 minutes, smaller cookies 10-15 minutes.
Rotate pan halfway through.
It will be hard to tell when the cookies are done.  Look for crackles on side, cooked/semi-firm tops; they should be a bit soft in the middle.  They will set up as they are cooling (trust me).
Don’t overbake or they will turn into scones.  Once baked don’t try and move the cookies off the pan, they will break apart, let them chill a bit before touching.
Makes 12-14 giant cookies or 22-24 smaller cookies.


homemade double chocolate mint filled Oreo's

I love Oreo's.
I do, BUT....
I cannot take all those chemicals in them.
Sure as a kid I could eat a ton of Oreo's and never have that "crash & burn" feeling.
But now that I'm older,  if I have a few, about an hour later I feel like taking a nap for days.
Always wondered what would Oreo's taste like without all those chemicals?
And, what would they taste like if I used high-quality cocoa powder?
I just always felt as if the chocolate Oreo could use a lot more deeper, darker chocolate flavor.
And I wanted an Oreo filling that did NOT leave a waxy coating in your mouth.
Don't you hate that?
So I made my own....

They look hard to make, but really they aren't if you do them in steps.
Dough and filling made 1-2 days ahead.
Roll and bake next.
The only hard part, if you have to call it that?
The rolling out, as the dough is a bit sticky, so you need patience to roll, cut, and place on cookie sheet.
After that, it's easy. I mean who doesn't like the "filling the cookie" part?
These cookies look like they are soft, but trust me, they are crunchy. If you look closely at the bitten cookie you will see the "crunch".
This is the best high quality dark cocoa powder.
From King Arthur Flour.
Invest in some. It has so many other uses.
Oh yeah, I always keep Oreo dough next to my healthy green drinks. Ironic?

homemade double chocolate mint filled Oreos
recipe adapted from so many sources online

Cookie base:
7 TB unsalted butter, room temp
½ cup sugar
3 TB brown sugar
3/4 ts salt
¾ cup double Dutch DARK cocoa powder (+more for dusting board for rolling dough)
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ ts baking powder
¼ ts baking soda
1 ts pure vanilla extract
2 egg yolks

mint filling:
4 TB unsalted butter, room temp
1 + ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
¼  ts  pure vanilla extract
¼ ts (or more) pure mint extract
a pinch of salt

Cook notes:
If you can’t find double dutch dark cocoa powder then use regular DARK cocoa powder but you might need more than ¾ cup; possibly a cup? Not sure since I haven’t made it with regular cocoa powder.  I highly suggest investing in some double dutch dark cocoa powder.  King Arthur Flour sells it.
If you don’t want mint filling then you substitute the mint extract for vanilla extract; use ¾ ts vanilla extract. Do a taste test of filling to see if it needs more mint.
I used 4 inch cookie cutters, feel free to use 2 inch or whatever shape you desire.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, baking powder; set aside.
Using a mixer cream butter and both sugars. Add in the egg yolks.
Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Next add in the dry mixture (the flour mixture).  And mix until combined.  It will be a thick, sticky dough. Place dough in plastic wrap, shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and flatten into a disc.

Chill dough for at least a couple hours.  When ready to use, let it sit at room temp for 20 minutes or when it’s ready/easy to roll.  Don’t let dough get too warm; we want it to stay fairly cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Dust your board and rolling pin with cocoa powder, and roll out dough to about 1/8 of an inch thickness
Cut out circles with a 4” or 2" round cutter or whatever shapes you desire.   Use a thin metal spatula under the dough to move it to the cookie sheet.

Place a couple inches apart on cookie sheet. They don’t spread much, but if your dough is too warm they might.  If you think your cookie dough got too warm then just pop them back in the fridge before baking.
Knead the scraps of dough together, re-roll and cut out until all or most of the dough is used.
Bake 10 - 12 minutes, or until almost firm.  You need to let these cool on the cookie sheet (about 8-10 minutes); they need to set up.

Mint filling:
Using a hand or stand mixer cream together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, mint, and salt on medium speed 5-7 minutes until light, creamy and fluffy.
I found that using a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip worked best.  But you can use a ziploc bag with a hole in the corner or simply use a spoon/knife to place filling into center of cookie.
Should make:
12-14 (4 inch cookies)
22-24 (2 inch cookies)
Store in airtight container. Keeps 2 days if that.


pumpkin blondies

Pumpkin blondies?
Can we call it that?
Not sure since the pumpkin is on the top, along with a hint of cream cheese. But the cake-base is a blondie mix...so why not call it a blondie.
It's delish no matter what you call it, and it has a nice light pumpkin flavor.
IMG_1054 (1)
Are you making any pumpkin dishes for Thanksgiving?  What about breakfast?
Do you do breakfast? Or just snacks until the big feast?

If you need an idea for a light breakfast, my pumpkin-butterscotch is perfect.
I love to hear what everyone is eating and making for Thanksgiving.
You know what I love most about holiday dining?  The apps, the side dishes, and desert.  Oh yeah.
I can easily skip the whole turkey and ham and just dig into the side dishes.

Need a really tasty dessert for Thanksgiving?
pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate-nutella ganache
Try my pumpkin cheesecake with nutella ganache

A couple great ideas for an easy breakfast:
sweet potato muffins stuffed w/ cinnamon-mascarpone
sweet potato muffins stuffed with cinnamon-mascarpone

crumb cake muffins w/ creamy espresso filling
crumb cake muffins with creamy espresso filling

raspberry-cream cheese crumbcake
raspberry-cream cheese crumb cake (this one is very popular on Pinterest right now)

butterscotch-banana bread      
banana-butterscotch bread

pumpkin blondies

blondie base:
10 TB unsalted butter, room temp +extra butter for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ts baking powder
3/4 ts salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ ts pure vanilla extract

pumpkin topping:
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup plain pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk
1-2 TB sugar
a few dashes of either cinnamon and/or pumpkin spice

Cook notes:
I don’t like a lot of pumpkin pie spice, so I was very gentle on adding it in the mixture.
You might want to taste test if before baking to see if you like it. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter or non-stick spray a 8-inch square baking pan.  If your pan needs to have parchment paper to avoid sticking go ahead and do so.  
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
In a glass or cup, mix the eggs and vanilla extract until combined, set aside.
In a large bowl mix the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.  Then add in eggs and vanilla mixing well.   Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  No need to overmix.
Pour batter into prepared pan; spread with a rubber spatula or wet hands. Make sure it gets into the corners.

For the pumpkin topping:
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. I used a fork to mix this, as I wanted lumps.
If you don’t want lumps then mix all this in a mixer until smooth.
Using a spoon or piping bag, place lines of the pumpkin mixture on top of blondie batter.
I just left it as lines.  If you want it more mixed then use a chopstick or thin/skinny knife and make swirls.
Bake in oven for about 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into blondies comes out “almost” clean; okay to have a few bits of crumb on the cake tester.  Cooking times vary depending on oven, so please check at 25 minute mark.
Let cool before cutting into squares. 
For decoration, dust with confectioners' sugar before cutting into squares.


friday links

It's Friday!

My latest finds at Trader Joe's:

Don't you love those free samples at Trader Joe's?
You know I hang out at that booth as long as I can.
Well this was the free sample of the day and it was heavenly.
This pizza or is it flatbread?  Tastes like a crispy thin pizza.  It's delish.  You must try this.
When you bake it at home, place it on the wire racks (or pizza stone), this way it gets nice and crispy.

I added on some artichoke hearts.  So good.
These were good.
Haven't tried this yet.  Have you? It sounds good.
On the fence with this one.  But I might give it a go if mixed with sushi rice (like on the package).
These were really dry. Like over-cooked dry.  Maybe I got a bad batch,  Good idea though.
These are dangerously good!
This was good. Needs more rice, but the taste was good.
I love this.  Dry, salty salami with a sharp cheese.  Mmmm.
If you ever need a new idea for a pesto add in--these spicy cashews are it!
I can't remember where I got these, but if you see them get them.  They are so good.  Spicy good.
Anyone tried these new coconut almonds from Blue Diamond?
These were on sale at Whole Foods--you know they were actually quite good.
Very deep chocolate flavor.
Speaking of Whole Foods--did you hear they are FINALLY coming to cape cod?  Yes yes indeed.
I am over the moon thrilled with this news.  They announced it on their Facebook page a few days ago.  I had to do a triple take when I read the words "Hyannis, MA".
I am their number one fan--they have no idea what they're in for do they?
Where in Hyannis?  I think, not 100% sure so don't quote me, but I think they are taking the old Borders store on Rt. 132.
I will keep you updated.  (lol)
And speaking of whole foods.  Should you need a last minute appetizer (or snack), you must try these.
So good.
Yes these are my PINK kitchen counters. Not by choice--came with the house.
Recently I spilled red food coloring on them.  Nothing was working to get the stain out, until someone
on twitter told me to try those Magic Erasers.
And it worked, perfectly. So now you know.
Perfectly clean.

Worlds skinniest house.

Iron rich fruits & veggies

Outside adventure film school

Bizarre celebrity homes

Skeletal remains found in upended tree

Be a "qualitarian" and eat your way to amazing health

Backpack camera system brings Google street view to grand canyon

DIY oyster crackers

I love hoe cakes, and I guess True Blood made them popular--again

Deep dish pumpkin pie w/ dulce de leche walnut streusel

5 foods to eat for happiness (blueberries need to be on there)

Wonderful add in's for chili

Fig & walnut crackers (sounds good!)

Chili & cornbread waffles!

Famous writers overcoming writers block

Cranberry curd bars with walnut shortbread

Buddhist monk is the worlds happiest man (there's proof!)

How to carve a turkey

10 life lessons from Forrest Gump (#4 is my favorite)

Man finds his doppelgänger at philadelphia museum of art

Have a wonderful weekend!


pumpkin-butterscotch crumb cake

Are you like me when you taste good food, that first bite, your brain says "hmmm I wonder how this would be if x and x were added?"
That's exactly what I did when I made my NY Style Pumpkin Crumb Cake--I instantly thought, 'I should add a hint of butterscotch next time'.
Pumpkin and butterscotch a no-brainer right?
Well, as long as the butterscotch is toned down a bit--too much is just wrong and tastes all chemically.

This actually would be perfect for a Thanksgiving breakfast.
It's quick and easy to throw together.
And if you're a crumb-junkie (like me) then you'll love this.
Plus it's a bit lighter than the NY style crumb cake.
It makes a lot of crumb--but this is good.
If by chance it is too much crumb for you, freeze half for another cake!
Is it wrong that I wanted to eat it raw?  I mean doesn't that look good?
The smells of pumpkin and butterscotch it leaves in the house.....
pumpkin-butterscotch crumb cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ts baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
¾ cup of plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
½ can (or 7.5 ounces) plain pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
a couple dashes of pumpkin spice
a couple dashes of cinnamon
giant pinch of salt

crumb topping:
1 stick of butter (8 ounces) melted & cooled
½ cup sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice
½ ts salt
¾ cup pecans, small chop (or you could use walnuts)
¼ cup (or more if you like) butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift flour, baking powder, and spices into a bowl; add in the sugar and mix.
In a separate bowl whisk greek yogurt, eggs, pumpkin, and oil together.

Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Lumps are good, do not overmix.
Spread batter into 9 or 10 inch cake pan.
Make the crumb mixture by combining all ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and then add in the butter;  mix.
Using your hand, make medium clumps and place on top of cake batter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Please let this set up and cool at least an hour before slicing.

You could try using this batter in muffin tins.  Just reduce and/or watch the baking times.


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