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Archive for the ‘Martha Stewart’ Category

Big Brother was in kindergarten last year and his teacher commented on how much she liked the home-made cookies and breads I’ve sent for snack time.  I offered to bake heart-shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day and she jumped at the chance.  She explained that they should be plain so the students can add frosting and decorations during the class party.  No problem!

I chose a recipe from one of my recent additions to the kitchen library.  This was a previously untested recipe so I was risking complete failure by doing this and not sticking to my recipe for Christmas cutouts.  I held my breath and went ahead.

The recipe only made about a dozen large hearts and I needed to bake at least 27 cookies for the party. After the first pan was cleared off to the cooling racks Little Sister helped herself to a cookie the size of her head. I heard the faint noise of munching behind me and realized what just happened. I couldn’t get mad. I knew another batch would have to be made to make my quota anyways. Pleading with her, I scooted her out of the kitchen and looked for a distraction in the form of a cute fuzzy animated panda. “Panna!” Little Sister plunked herself on the couch with her cookie. The rest were safe for the next 98 minutes.

Heart Cookies for a Decorating Party

Adapted from Sugar Cookies by Martha Stewart Living Magazine (COOKIES cookbook)

  • original recipe, plus
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (added)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (added)

I chilled the dough for an hour, then rolled it thicker than the recipe calls for.  I put the giant hearts on parchment paper lined cookie sheets and baked until firm but not browned.  This is a great recipe for any shape of cookie to suit the holiday.

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I know, my iPhone camera sucks, I’m sorry.  This is the only picture I had time to take before all the Snickerdoodles vanished!

There’s been a tremendous amount of change going on in my life and I’ve had to leave the kitchen to get to know more neighbors.  These cookies were a thank you batch for a neighbor, an in kind trade if you will.  Since school started I’ve been driving from work to the school to pick up Big Brother and drop him off, then returning to work.  All told it’s a 1 hour 20 minute excursion at a minimum.  This was wasting precious fuel, my lunch hour, and my wits.  There is no bus service because we only live 2 miles from the school.  There’s no way in hell he is walking, alone, along a 45 mph road for two freaking miles!  So I made the trip.  I asked a neighbor, who has kids at the same school, if she could lend a hand with pickup.  I offered money for gas and instead she wanted cookies!  Sure, I can pay you in cookies!!!  The Snickerdoodle was the first flavor she said she liked.  Done deal.

I’m grateful for the friends and neighbors that have crossed my path.  It’s difficult to come out of my shell (aka kitchen) especially in turbulent times, but those small steps outside of the comfort of the oven, measuring cups, and stacks of flour are now more powerful than I could have imagined.  It gives me a glimmer of hope that things will get better, one batch of cookies at a time.

Next time you see someone down and out, please bake them some cookies.  It will make them feel warm and fuzzy, even if it’s just during that moment they are presented with those warm chewy delights.  They are a light in their darkness.

Snickerdoodles

The recipe I used was from COOKIES by Martha Stewart Living Magazine.  I found a similar recipe on her website here.  Here are the changes to the online recipe you might want to use:

  • no cream of tartar
  • use 2 tsp baking powder instead of baking soda
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • no vegetable shortening
  • add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • oven at 350ºF

Depending on the size of your dough balls, it may take anywhere from 8 to 14 minutes.  I would go for heaping tablespoon size balls, they result in a chewy center.  The batch made almost 3 dozen regular size cookies (about 3.5 inches in diameter) .  Put a pinch of the cinnamon sugar mix on the balls after you roll them, that way you get extra cinnamon in the middle of the cookie.

We enjoyed these cookies and I hope you will too!

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The early summer days have yielded figs galore.  I’m lucky enough to have received two different types of figs from family and friends this week.  What am I to do with so many figs?

Fig Cake

Adapted from Open-Faced Plum Cake, Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 large black figs, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Grease two round cake pans (8-inch or 9-inch diameter) and set aside.

Cream 6 tablespoons of the butter with 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat in the egg and then the milk.  The mixture may look a little curdled, it will be fine.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients.  Gradually increase the mixing speed to make a smooth batter.

Divide the batter between the two greased pans and smooth it out to cover the bottom of the pans.  Lay the fig halves on top of the batter in a pretty pattern.

Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the figs and cake batter.  Dot the fig halves with the remaining butter.

Bake until the edges are golden and the cake has puffed around the figs.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.

The kids loved this cake and polished off their first slice before I had a chance to eat mine!  They both had a second piece before we headed to the park to enjoy a brief reprise from the 100 degree weather.

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“What’s that?” said Big Brother.

“Cookbooks.”  I replied.

“Why do they have so many pages?” he asked.

“Well, there are lots of different ways to make food.  Cookbooks have lots of recipes.” I explained.

“Can we make some?”

I pulled the COOKIES book off the kitchen shelf.  I pointed out the pictures of all the cookies you could make using recipes in the cookbook.  Big Brother saw the brownies and said “The chocolate one!”.

Two sous chefs eagerly awaited instructions as they perched on a chair at the counter in front of the mixer.  We read the recipe together and measured and mixed the ingredients.  Most of the chocolate ended up where it was supposed to.

I used unsweetened chocolate and had to adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe, otherwise the kids would not eat these brownies.  It would have been better to use the semi-sweet chocolate called for, the extra sugar gave them a crunchy outer crust.  We enjoyed the rich (and sweet) brownies garnished with strawberries.

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Little Sister was at the helm of the KitchenAid mixer for this recipe.  She was supposed to be supervising the making of big chewy cookies, which translates to counting the cups and spoonfuls of ingredients going into the bowl.  She wants to help mommy and I’m more than happy to have her with me learning the craft.

Unexpected things can happen when 2-year-olds bake.

I turned around for a second and Little Sis had grabbed the baking soda box and her measuring spoon.  As my eyes and brain tried to work together, she had already dispensed an unknown amount of the white powder into the bowl.  This would not have been so dramatic except there was whipped butter and a measurement of sugar sitting in the bowl at the time of her “addition”.

I had to guess how much was in there and left it as it was and hoped that it was enough and not too much.

Little Sister was allowed to stay and help.  She was now manager of the M&Ms.

Monster Cookies

Adapted from Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies from COOKIES by Martha Stewart Living Magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms or Smarties
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Cream butter, peanut butter with sugars.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Add a little of the flour at a time, then the chocolates.  Chill for 15 minutes (I didn’t).

Drop by large spoonfuls on baking sheets.  Flatten using your palm.  Bake for 10-14 minutes (it will depend on the size of your cookies).

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There are two books I want to tell you about.  The first is a cook book I won from Chef DeHome (thanks again for the beautiful book!).  It is Martha Stewart’s COOKIES and I love this book.  There is a picture of each and every cookie featured in the book.  If you are a fan of her Martha Stewart Living television program, you will remember watching some of these delectable confections come to life.  If only there was smell-a-vision.  At the end there is a section for wrapping your goodies to share with friends and family, all in Martha’s usual whimsical style of color co-ordinated boxes, tissue, and fabric.  I received the book just prior to leaving for the holidays and it was packed and ready to be used at Grandma’s house.  Turned out Grandma made snicker doodles and asked me to bake a cake for Christmas Eve, I read over the recipes during tea and cookie time.  The bonus is not having to download each cookie recipe from the web, now they are all in full color in one place.

The second book is Julie Klam‘s You Had Me At Woof! about her coming into adulthood being led by her trusty companions, Boston Terriers.  I saw this book at the store and Hubby caught me reading it.  I mentioned that it seemed like a good read and it was about Bostons.  Hubby took the very heavy hint and picked up a copy for Christmas.  I finished the book in a matter of days, even with two kids and my own fur baby to take care of.  If you love dogs, own a dog, or want a dog then read this book.  I was laughing, crying, then laughing again by the end.  I will avoid spoiling this quick read and just give it two paws up!

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