Posts for baking

Constantly Happy I Married a Boy Who Bakes

Cookies, Recipes, Uncategorized - Jennifer - April 5, 2011

I went away this past weekend for some much-needed, relaxing time with friends:  a girls’ weekend, free of responsibility and full of laughs.  I left my poor husband home to fend for himself with all four children, and he never once complained.  And he baked.  So I returned refreshed and rejuvenated, to find these little lovelies in the cookie jar:

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. softened butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly
2 tsp. orange extract
2-1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment.  Mix butter and sugar well with a wooden spoon, and beat in the egg yolk and orange extract.  Sift the flour and a pinch of salt together into the mixture, add the chocolate chips and combine well.  Scoop out cookie dough by the tablespoonful, roll into balls, and place on prepared cookie sheets, spacing them well apart.  Bake 12-15 minutes, cool 5-10 minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to continue cooling.  You can also roll your cookie dough balls in superfine sugar before baking, but since the kids would be eating these, we usually refrain from introducing gratuitous sugar.  My only complaint about this recipe is that it only makes about 30 cookies, which is barely a day’s worth in this house.  Double batch!

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My Longest Lasting Roommate, Ever!

Uncategorized - Jennifer - April 1, 2011

While cleaning out the refrigerator in my frenzied attempt at spring organizing (which truly has not extended past aforementioned fridge), I decided we needed a new box of baking soda to freshen things up a bit.  So my husband went up into our baking supplies, and pulled out an unopened box of Arm & Hammer.  Upon closer inspection, we noted that it had expired in 1993.  1993!  EXPIRED! Which means it had to have been purchased, what, one or two years earlier than that?  Where the heck did it come from?

Let’s see, I turned 25 in 1993, and was living in Milwaukee while finishing up my Master’s Degree at Marquette. I had a very cool internship for the Milwaukee Brewers, and I lived in a teeny tiny studio apartment with a range that was the equivalent of an Easy Bake Oven.  I didn’t bake there, ever.  So the ancient baking soda is not likely to be mine.

In 1993, my husband was 23 years old and living at home with his parents.  The next year he bought his house and moved out.  He loves to bake, so I blame him.  His mom probably gave it to him as a house warming present.  But wait, at that point it was already A YEAR PAST EXPIRATION!

In 2005, after several years of marriage and many children later, we moved from DH’s original bachelor pad into our current home.  I remember a couple of months of easing up on the shopping, eating from the pantry so there wouldn’t be as much to move.   But somehow, we managed to move into our new home with a box of baking soda that was then 12 YEARS EXPIRED!

I almost felt sad ripping the box open and putting our nearly 20 year old friend to work, and thus hastening the end of its unnaturally long life (I won’t be brushing my teeth or baking with it, but I figure it’s fine as an air freshener for the next month).  As I look around me, I don’t see too many other objects in my home that have been with me for nearly as long.  Thanks for waiting so patiently to be called to duty, little Arm & Hammer!  I think my next move had better be to see how old my spices are.

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When My Daughter Is Old Enough to Be a Girl Scout, I’m In Serious Trouble

Cookies, Recipes, Uncategorized - Jennifer - March 3, 2011

I have three Cub Scouts, and every year they sell popcorn . . . really expensive popcorn that is actual WORK to sell because you have to convince people to buy it.  On the other hand, the Girl Scouts have it easy.  They’ve been in cahoots with those Little Brownie Bakers for more than 80 years!  Granted, the brightly packaged bundles of sweetness have diminished in size and grown in price over the years ($4 a pop now, they were $1.50 when I sold them in the -ahem- 1970s), but people look forward to the annual tradition and honestly don’t think twice about spending the money.  I should know; there are currently five boxes hiding on the tippy-toppiest shelf of the most out of the way cabinet in my kitchen.  Hey, they were expensive!

Since Girl Scout Cookie time comes but once a year, I looked around to see if anyone has any recipes for black-market approximations out there, and there are plenty!  I’ll give you a super simple one here, but if you want others, all you need to do is google Girl Scout Cookie recipes.

LIAR LEMONADES

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream the butter in a stand mixer, then slowly add remaining ingredients until mixture sticks together when pressed into a ball.  Roll the dough to 1/4″ thickness, and cut out shapes with a small cookie cutter (I think these would be cute and springy in a variety of flower shapes).  Transfer to baking sheet and bake at 375 for 11-14 minutes, or until the cookies have just set.  Sprinkle lightly with lemon zest and sparkling sugar.  And then hide them on the tippy-toppiest shelf of the most out of the way cabinet in your kitchen!

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The Big Pantry Cleanout

Cookies, Desserts, EZ Baking, Recipes - Jennifer - February 11, 2011

Does this ever happen to you? One day, you feel like there’s nothing in the house to eat, even though your pantry is so crammed with “stuff” that it wants to explode when you open the door? Well, we had been completely out of snacks for school lunches for some time, and I made a stock-up run to a certain warehouse club. When I realized I had no room to put anything away, I started a pantry audit and reorganization. I found that I had FOUR unopened cans of Canada’s Pure Jam (two cherry/two raspberry), which didn’t even take into account the open one in the fridge!

So when we were deciding what to make for Valentine’s Day, it was a no-brainer that jam would be involved. Here’s what we came up with:

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp. jam or jelly, flavor of your choice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375, and line your cookie sheets with baking parchment or waxed paper.  Mix sugar and butter, then beat in egg yolk, vanilla extract and peanut butter.  Sift together flour and salt into the mixture and stir until combined thoroughly.  This makes some dense dough, so a husband or partner with large hands and strong arms is highly recommended!  Scoop out tablespoons of dough and hand-form into balls, spacing them well on the cookie sheets.  Dampen the handle of a wooden spoon to make hollows in the middle of each cookie, and fill with your jam or jelly.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown; cool on cookie sheets for 5-10 minutes and then on a rack.  This makes about 25 cookies, so we doubled the recipe. 

They might not be pretty, but they sure are good!

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