Triple Berry Pie

triple berry pie-1triple berry pie-2Last night I had an inspiring conversation with my friend, Ashley, where we spoke of our frustration with “keeping up appearances” with our photography, Facebook, Instagram, whatever it is that we somehow feel compelled to keep going in order to please our various audiences (mostly those audiences just include my oversized ego.)  I had said that this blog was suffering because while I have been cooking pretty much every meal over the last few months and some of those meals have been really good (like mozzarella stuffed rice balls rolled in panko and fried), I just haven’t felt like taking our meals’ pictures.  And then she said, “Do it because you enjoy the process…remember life before the internet?”

Remember life before the internet?

Well, I do, even though a lot of “kids these days” don’t. And what I remember is that we just…did things. All the time. And no one knew about it. No one saw it. We did crafts and went outside and ate burritos without ever documenting the occasion. And I seem to remember enjoying life before the ever present, all-encompassing documentation of all the things in life.  No one in their right mind would spend valuable money on film to take a picture of their cup of coffee…every day.

But I WOULD have liked to share recipes I really love. And I would’ve written the recipes down on cute little cards and maybe even take a photo and put it in a book or send it to a friend. That, I would have done and those are going to be the types of recipes I share on this blog.

Like this pie. I had a brief moment of modern-woe yesterday in which I wished I had made it prettier so that I could’ve blogged about it. Shoot. It’s delicious – who needs it to be picture perfect?! I went all hodgepodge with the top crust instead of doing something perfectionist and I put lots of heart cut outs because I have little girls. So there you go. And I was super proud of the results. Perfect juice in this pie – not runny, not dry! No soggy crust – flaky throughout and super buttery and slightly grainy (in a good way).  I used a white whole wheat and added a bit of extra sugar for the crust and it gave the entire thing this hearty cornmeal-esque effect. Loved it. It’s perfect. And I think there was something to using all frozen fruits. So I can’t vouch for this if you use all fresh, although I bet you’d just have to adjust bake time. Whatever you do, try it. And take a picture to share with your friends if you want, but remember to just enjoy the process.

Thanks, Ashley. 🙂

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Eleanor waiting patiently while I did something utterly confusing to her… triple berry pie-4 triple berry pie-5 triple berry pie-6 triple berry pie-7

Triple Berry Pie

3 1/2 cups mixed frozen berries – I used blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
1 cup sugar
3 TBS flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 sticks of butter (8 oz) cut into tiny cubes and reeeeally cold
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar

Deep dish pie plate (if you don’t have a deep dish, you could easily make two small pies with this recipe)

For the crust, combine one cup of flour in a large mixing bowl and add the salt. With the paddle attachment and your mixer on medium, add all the cubes of butter in little increments until each addition stops beating against the side of the bowl. After all your butter is incorporated, add the second cup of flour and the two tablespoons of sugar and mix on low until well incorporated. Add a splash of icy cold water until the dough comes together. If it feels a bit too wet, add in a little more flour. I think I used about an extra 1/8th cup. Divide your dough into two portions with one being slightly bigger than the other and shape into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the bigger portion and line your pie plate and let it sit in the fridge while you mix up your filling.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the fruit, sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour and cinnamon in a big bowl and let it sit for a few minutes, then stir to incorporate again. Pour the filling into your pie crust, top with whatever fancy shapes, basket weave, self portraits you want, brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and put on the center rack of your oven. REDUCE the heat to 350 and bake for 1 – 1.5 hours until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. It took mine a full hour and a half because of the frozen fruit, but if you’re using fresh, you may only need 45 minutes until it bubbles.

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Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cookies with Lemon Cream Glaze

blueberry oatmeal cookies002
My girls love to waste oatmeal. They pick their favorite jams to stir into a base that I so lovingly prepare with vanilla bean paste and butter and cinnamon. They seem excited. Then they eat two bites and say they’re all done. And so I eat a lot of oatmeal. And I really get tired of wasting it. I actually despise wasting food. We are a family who eats every bit of our leftovers if I can help it. So naturally I had to find a solution for the oatmeal leftovers (besides cooking something different for breakfast, which is obvious, but every time I think, “Today is the day. Today they will eat oatmeal.”)

Enter: leftover oatmeal cookies! It had to be a thing, right?! It is! I did a quick search on how to use leftover cooked oatmeal and modified the recipe to include some awesome blueberry jam and iced them with a super tart lemon cream glaze. They were pretty delicious! They taste like mini muffin cookies and they were so easy. The variations are endless, too, which is what I like. Brown sugar cinnamon? Cherry chocolate? Lemon poppy seed? They’d all be awesome! For now, here’s the blueberry version! Enjoy!

blueberry oatmeal cookies001

Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cookies with Lemon Cream Glaze

makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. cooked oatmeal

 

First, make your oatmeal if you don’t truly have leftover oatmeal. I make one cup (which makes about 2 cups cooked) and I make mine with butter and two to three tablespoons of blueberry preserves. You could really flavor your oatmeal any way you like. The secret to good cookies is a little more flavor add-ins than you’d do for just eating oatmeal. Let the oatmeal cool to room temp before making the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon together. Mix the brown sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, alternating with the flour mixture.  Mix the cooked oatmeal until just combined.

Drop by the tablespoon full onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Let the cookies cool completely before adding the glaze.

Lemon Cream Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
zest from 1 large lemon
juice from the same lemon
salt to taste (this is important)

Add the cream to your powdered sugar until it forms a nice paste. You may not use the entire quarter cup. Add the zest and lemon juice and vanilla and then if you think it needs to be thinner, add more cream. The consistency should be like thin pancake batter. Gradually add pinches of salt, stirring well after each pinch, tasting along the way until the flavors start to sing a little louder. Salt is something I add to all my icings and glazes and it makes such a difference!

 

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies 2

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
I’m sitting here after putting my “baby” down for a nap a few minutes ago (praying she’ll go longer than her usual 45 minutes) and Peg and Cat are singing loudly in the background as my very grown up four-year old gets out of taking a nap because I want her to be exhausted enough to go to sleep at nine instead of ten tonight.

I’m winging it this week – Matt is away on a company trip for three days and I’m a few hours in and feeling so, so tired. I have lots of coffee and a good sense of humor, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. But having help from 5:30-9 every night is vital to my sanity. There’s something about getting a fresh set of not-exhausted-yet hands to hold the babies or take them outside and swing them so I can cook dinner in peace. And he is kind of the best there is and the most helpful person on the planet, so it’s extra hard to be without him. So I’m going backwards with my usual routine – I’m cooking lunches this week and keeping dinners simple. Because the last thing I want to do after finally getting both girls in bed is to clean my dirty dishes. I plan on reading a book or doing half of a yoga routine. And while I don’t ever recommend eating your feelings because that’s a silly thing to say and they would probably taste like sauerkraut, anyway – just eat these cookies instead. All eating is emotional eating, after all.

It’s good to be back, friends 🙂

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies 3 Cherry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: about 24 cookies
  • Print

1.5 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste
1 egg
2 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped, dried cherriesHeat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and cherries.
Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Apple Pie Roses

apple pie roses
So I saw this really fun video circulating on Facebook a few weeks ago and like everyone else, it gave me the confidence to try it out myself! These little roses are so much fun to make and they are so beautiful! I thought they’d make an excellent special occasion type dessert. I did the recipe exactly like the video said and I was pleased with the process but not really the results. I mean, they’re okay, but they are definitely prettier than they are tasty. And I honestly think that’s the point. It was a super fun and easy “cooking craft” to do with Olive and so I’ll give it points for that because not every baking recipe is truly kid-accessible. But I decided to alter the recipe to be as delicious as it is beautiful. Here’s a couple problems the original recipe has:

1. The bake time is long and the thin apple slices burn on top, so we cover them during part of baking.
2.They stick like dadgum superglue to the muffin pan and get ripped apart when you take them out, therefore…
3. I fixed that by removing them from the pan while they were still super hot, but…
4. There’s the problem with eating super-baked tiny shreds of apple peel. It gives it that rose look, however…
5. The apple peel feels like tough strings in your mouth. Not really two adjectives you want for your baked goods.
6. The apples snap in half from the original recipe, so I fixed that by soaking them in hot lemon water instead of cold.
7. They just fall flat, taste-wise, so I added a bit of scrumptiousness into the filling along with the apple slices by adding cinnamon roll type flavors.
8. Also, I’m a pie crust junkie, so I switched to pie crust instead of puff pastry and it was indeed more delicious, but…
9. The falling apartness was magnified with the pie crust, so you fix that once and for all by…
10. Using greased muffin liners to bake these babies in. Voila. Most of the problems solved.

So my suggestion for the final round of 100% deliciousness is to peel the apples. How to fix the “but they don’t look like a rose, anymore!” problem? Add a couple drops of red food coloring to the warm water while the apples soak, OR pomegranate or cranberry juice and BOOM! Red roses. I didn’t do this for my final pics because everyone in my house was getting rather sick of eating these tiny apple roses, BUT I did color some apple slices in pomegranate juice and they were BEAUTIFUL. So I’ll try them like that again and make a special Christmas rose wreath edition of this recipe for those who care. Which I think might be 5 people, total. In any case, I present to you:
apple roses Apple Rose

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies3
Hello there! This is a delightful little cookie that takes no time at all to make and is so much fun for little helpers! I had this idea a while back whenever I saw powdered peanut butter in the grocery store and have wanted to try it out. It took a little tweaking, but I loved the texture of the cookie itself. One word of advice: don’t use jelly! I know, I know, it’s a riff off of peanut butter jelly sandwiches, but use something a little thicker like a jam or preserve. I used grape jelly because it’s iconic and it really ran out of the cookies more than I would have liked. This did not stop them from being utterly addicting; it just kept them from looking super pretty.

Thumbprint cookies have always been a favorite of mine and this version is so fun and really makes you feel like a kid again. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, I think this would be a great recipe to have for a cookie exchange! Drizzle it with a bit of white or dark chocolate to make it even more fancy! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies2

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies


makes about 2 dozen

1 cup salted butter, softened
½ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, plus ¼ cup more for dusting
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup peanut butter powder

about 1/2 cup fruit preserves or jam

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, blend butter and sugar until fluffy and light, 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt, scraping down bowl as needed. Pick up the baby, who has been crying at your knee for the past ten minutes and hold her while you try to measure out peanut butter powder. Let her sneeze into it. Do everything with one arm tied behind your back. Switch to low and gently mix in flour and peanut butter powder, just until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Create some interest by making some pea-sized and some into the shape of a carrot. Pretend to eat them, but then actually do. Place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Press down the center of each ball with your thumb, making a slight depression, or a hole clean through to where you can see the bottom of the baking sheet.

Fill cookie centers with a teaspoonful of preserves and be sure to lick the spoon between each cookie. Makes it better. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffy, but take care not to over-bake. Let cool a few minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to finish cooling on wire rack.

When cookies are completely cooled, eat seven or eight with a glass of milk while singing every song you know in your best cat voice. Cookies can be kept in airtight container at room temp for a few days. Emphasis on “can.”

*recipe adapted from Chew Out Loud

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Apple Crisp: Food Memories

Fall Apple Crisp
I’ve done a few posts on food memories from my own family and ones from friends and I love those posts more than any other. They are more than just recipes – they are links to the past and to feelings that can’t be accessed any other way. Food is such a tie to our heritage, to our families and to the love we felt when we first experienced those memorable dishes. I never tweak these recipes because it’s my job to post about and honor the memory, not the recipe itself. My dear friend, Becky, had this picture of her grandmother’s hand written recipe on her Instagram account and when I saw it, I knew I had to make it.

Last year, Becky invited me over to look through her grandmother’s things before they had an estate sale in the wake of her passing. I had the honor of taking home a patchwork quilt she had made. Not only do my girls play on it outside nearly every day, but I used it as a backdrop for the photos I took of the final dish. I hope it makes this post that much more meaningful for my friend.

The recipe itself is completely delicious and comforting and full of the essence of the fall season! I love that it calls for “oleo” – a sure sign the baker lived through the 50s 🙂 So this was the only tweak I made by using butter instead. I also topped the apple crisp with cinnamon horchata ice cream because I was all out of whipping cream. I’m sure if Nana could have tasted the ice cream, she wouldn’t mind the substitution.

recipe
I asked Becky to share a few thoughts about her Nana and this recipe. She also provided this amazing picture and it makes me wish I’d known her. She looked so joyful.

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My Nana (Oma Lee) was the 5th of 6 kids born in 1926 to a generous, kind-hearted family. They took in the homeless, cared for the sick, fed the hungry. They also laughed more than most.

For a couple of years while I was in college, I got to live with her and got to know her on a deeper level. She was a counselor to me, a friend, comic relief, an adult when I acted like a child. We watched Miss America pageants and Hallmark movies together and ate dilly bars from DQ.

Nana shared an apple “pie” recipe with me during that time, and it’s the only apple pie I’ve ever made, because its kinda fool proof (I need that) and darn tasty.

I made it for her once and she went on and on about how delicious it was. When I reminded her it was one of her recipes, she laughed for the longest time then said in a straight voice, “well that’s why it’s so good”. Man, I miss her.

Apple Crisp 2

Apple Crisp

6 cups peeled, sliced apples
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
For the streusel topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter

Whipped topping or ice cream to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix together apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter.  Place in a greased 8″ square baking dish. Set aside.

Combine the 3/4 cup sugar and flour and then cut in the butter until the texture is fine crumbles. Sprinkle over the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until apples are tender*. Serve warm with dollops of whipped topping (or ice cream!)

*Becky advised that I brown the apple crisp for a few minutes under the broiler because it doesn’t really get brown during baking.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Pie Biscuits

Black Cherry Chocolate Biscuits
Dark chocolate and cherry – a pretty perfect desert combination. I regularly make dark chocolate oatmeal for Olive and myself and I will stir in dried cherries almost every time. There’s just something special about the tart zinginess of the cherries combined with the rich, deep earthy heft of dark chocolate. I’m just full of adjectives tonight. This baking project was a fun one – Olive and I were watching Tangled on a Sunday afternoon and I decided to bake something fun. A while back, Joy the Baker had this really fun baking competition and one of the challenges were these amazing apple pie biscuits. I remembered the recipe seeming like it wouldn’t work because it was too sloppy and wet, but they turned out incredible. (And there’s wonderful step-by-step instructions for how to do her biscuits, which you can apply to this recipe as well.) Fast forward to my version of this recipe and I felt the same way all over again – that there would be too much juice from the cherries for this recipe to work the same. And honestly, there was a bit more juice than with the apple version, but nothing a little draining didn’t fix. These were fun, decadent and great for breakfast during the week!

They also look so white because I had recently bought expensive, pasture-raised eggs made by chickens with PhDs and I didn’t want to waste one on making an egg wash for a few biscuits. So I brushed them with heavy cream.  Not as pretty, but it saved an egg from not getting to fulfill its destiny of becoming a fried egg on my toast the next morning.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscuits Cherry Chocolate Biscuits

Dark Chocolate Cherry Pie Biscuits*

For the cherry filling:
2 cups fresh, pitted cherries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
squeeze of lemon

For the dough:
2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 to 3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar until they are all incorporated and bubbling and then stir in the cherries. Mash them around (I use a drink muddler) and let the mixture cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the extract and a squeeze of half a lemon and add a pinch of salt. Stir around and let it cook for one more minute. Drain off all but about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid (cherries give off more liquid than the original recipe’s apples, but you don’t want NO juice) and set the mixture aside to cool while you make the dough.

To make the dough, mix the flour and butter together with your hands or a pastry blender until the butter is broken up into small pea-sized bits. Stir in the sugar and then make a well in the center of your dough. Add the buttermilk and with a fork, stir together until combined. The dough should be soft and moist, so use a bit more buttermilk if needed.

Use all-purpose flour to dust your work surface. I ignored this step in the original recipe and the bottoms of my biscuits tasted sour because they were in dusted with self-rising and there’s baking powder in self-rising flour so DON’T BE LAZY LIKE ME and just get out the all purpose to dust. It isn’t that difficult.

Spoon the dough onto your floured surface and gently pat it into a small rectangle. Dust the top with a little extra flour and roll out into a rectangle about 7 x 10 inches. Arrange the cherries over half the long side of the dough and carefully fold the other half of the dough over the filling, crimping along the edges to seal in most of the filling. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it will be messy. If you have cracks, just gently pinch them closed and carry on. You want to have about a 6 x 8 inch rectangle when it’s all said and done, so just pat it into submission. Cut into 12 squares and place on prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush the biscuits with a beaten egg that was not raised by monks and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon if desired (I just used sugar since cinnamon didn’t fit in with the flavor profile I was going for.)

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown and serve right away. The sugar topping will melt if you store these in a plastic bag on your counter throughout the week, so it’s best to eat these the same day or store in an air-tight container.

*adapted from Joy the Baker

Apricot Cream Scones

apricot white chocolate cream scones
Here’s a wonderful recipe I’ve done countless ways over the past few months and it’s delicious every time.  Quick, easy and amazingly fluffy on the inside while being crispy on the outside – these scones are an amazing way to make breakfast better.  Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite flavor combinations: apricot and white chocolate.  However, anything you want to add will work. I’ve done cheddar and chives for a savory version, a simple version with just currents and then just plain for the most amazing biscuits! This recipe comes from The Best New Recipe cookbook and so you know the recipes have been endlessly tested and work.  I loved this recipe because I had it memorized the first time I did it.  Four ingredients.  Doesn’t get easier than that.  No cutting in butter – these scones/biscuits/whatever you want to call them have just heavy cream!  I even skip the patting out and cutting into triangle method that Best New calls for and make it even easier by just making these drop-style.

I hope you add this to your arsenal of recipes to whip out when company arrives or a friend drops by for coffee (that still happens in my head, although not so much in reality).  My white chocolate chips got kind of torched, but no scone was left behind.
apricot cream scones

Apricot Cream Scones

10 ounces (2 cups, but start weighing your flour!) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Add-Ins:
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped, dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with oil.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, stir in the white chocolate and apricots and then with a fork, whip in the cream.  It gets super sticky and super hard to stir.  If it seems too dry, add a splash or two more.  I usually add just a bit more.  Then, by the spoonful, drop mounds onto your baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Brush the tops of the scones with more heavy cream and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve immediately with butter.

Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

Caramel Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake
Lately, I find myself wandering through the house, doing chores, taking care of the little people and cooking and I think, “I should be doing something more.”  And not more in the sense of extra stuff, but more…grand? Important? I am not sure.  I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on just what it is I’m feeling.  I think I remember this feeling from when Olive was a baby.  There’s a certain amount of monotony to taking care of a baby in that first year.  Every day it’s the same feedings, the same breakfasts, the same play time, the same nap schedules, the same dinners, the same bedtime routines, etc.  It’s all the same thing, every day, for months.  And when they get a bit older, you can start shaking up the routine because they don’t have to eat and sleep every 3 hours.  But for a few months, there’s a bit of a Groundhog Day effect and I have felt it even more in the winter as we’re cooped up from the cold.

Each morning I pray that God will show me what needs to be done in His kingdom.  Who needs served?  Who needs a kind word or an encouragement? Who needs a meal or maybe even just a smile in the store?  I believe, although I don’t follow through with this belief far enough, that seeking God’s kingdom FIRST, really will cause everything else in my life “to be added to me.”  I get it so backwards.  I become so self-seeking.  How can my children or my husband make ME happy today?  When I seek God’s way of serving others first, I immediately feel content.  Enough.  Important. Working for self and for the approval of others is a bottomless well. It will never be filled and neither will I.  But flip the equation around and see to it that others’ bowls are filled before my own and God will see to it that my cup is running over.  It’s not always going to look like material wealth and health, but more importantly, it will start to look like real joy – from the inside out.

This cranberry cake was made for a few sweet ladies at a ministry our church helps out with from time to time called Family Promise. It’s a program that helps families who find themselves on the brink of homelessness to live and save up their income for rent while they live in the Family Promise house.  Our church volunteers to help a couple times a year by bringing dinners, having activities for the children and staying overnight. Last week was our week to serve so Matt and I signed up to take a meal and hang out with the families for a while after we ate.  There were two single mothers with infants and one single mother with a sweet, twelve year old girl living there, whom we’d met before and were so happy to see them, again.  We brought take-out from our favorite Hawaiian BBQ joint (I didn’t get my homemade meal-act together this time) and I brought this cranberry upside down cake.  We ate and watched TV together and played and I felt blessed by them.  We just brought the food – they brought perspective and showed us real joy – from the inside out.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Orange Zest Upside Down Cranberry Orange Cake

 

Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

For the fruit layer:
8 oz frozen cranberries
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest from 1 orange

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sour cream (or Greek plain yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  I like to do this to ensure all the fruit filling comes off the pan.

Pour the cranberries on top of the parchment paper and sprinkle with orange zest.  In a medium-size sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the brown sugar, orange juice and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and boils gently.  Pour the mixture over the cranberries in the pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium until well blended.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla and almond until combined.  With the mixer on low, mix half the dry ingredients into the batter until just combined.  Mix in the sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until just combined (in other words, don’t over-mix).

Scoop the batter into the pan (it will be thick) and then spread it around evenly with a spatula.  Place cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake and invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.

*recipe adapted from the Bonne Femme Cookbook’s recipe for Pear Cake Reverse

Cranberry Orange Cake Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies Ginger Molasses Cookies
These cookies are like the feeling you get when you step out into a sunbeam with your bare feet and feel the warmth coming off the floor. You were previously a little cold and uncomfortable and now you’re warm and happy.  All that, my friends, in a cookie.  I made these a couple weeks ago when friends were coming to visit.  Paired with coffee and with the help of a red headed jabber-mouth, we had a very lovely afternoon together.  And because there was company, the redhead got three cookies before lunch.  So interesting how she didn’t want to eat her lunch that day…

There will be two original ideas from these cookies coming to you in time for Valentine’s Day.  The base recipe is from The New Best Recipe cookbook and like everything in that cookbook, it’s flawless.  Enjoy and make sure you have a friend over to help you enjoy them.

Ginger Cookies

Chewy Molasses Cookies

11 1/4 ounces (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour (use Gold Medal – it has lower protein than most which will make a softer cookie)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (12 tablespoons)
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup light or dark molasses

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

Beat the butter with the brown sugar and the 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the yolk and vanilla; increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.  Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  The dough will be very soft.

With a tablespoon measure, scoop out the dough and with wet hands, roll the dough into balls, then roll in the granulated sugar.  Place on the baking sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are browned and still puffy, the edges have begun to set, and the centers are still soft (the cookies will look raw between the cracks), about 11 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back halfway through baking time.  Don’t overbake!

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then let them cool on a wire rack to room temp.  Eat post haste.