Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Great Food Blogger Swap! Cranberry Fig Cookies

This year I was lucky enough to get in on the Third Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which raises funds for Cookies for Kids Cancer. It was a huge honor to be able to participate in this event, especially for a cause so near and dear to my heart.

My contribution? An oat-filled, fig- and cranberry- packed cookies. Hearty, sweet, and a festive twist on the usual oatmeal raisin we see so often in lunchboxes. Swapping some of the flour for oat flour bumps the protein and fiber-- sneaky, eh?

The lucky recipients of a dozen of each of these gems were Lisa @ Taste Cook Sip (such a darling woman!),  Hannah at Fleur-de-Licious (love that name!), and Marly @ Chicago Foodies (my hometown!). Check out their blogs for their GFB Cookie Swap recipes!

Many thanks to Lindsay and Julie at Love and Olive Oil and the Little Kitchen for putting on such a huge, wonderful, fundraiser, and to the lovely bloggers to participated! Let's make cancer a thing of the past!

Tomorrow: The delightful treats I was lucky enough to receive from the Cookie Swap bloggers and sponsors!

Cranberry Fig Cookies

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup each chopped dried figs and cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a clean bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars, and cinnamon together. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between. Scrape down the sides as needed with a spatula.

Slowly add the flour mixture in in two parts, mixing well in between. Slowly fold in the dried fruit and oats. For the best cookies, loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop dough out onto baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping the sheets top and bottom/front to back halfway through; be sure to remove the cookies when they still look slightly underdone to maintain chewiness. Transfer to cooling racks and wait until coole.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grove Square Sip and Savor Party

With the holiday season rolling in, weekends are filling up already. Wedding season is giving way to family get-togethers, so I wanted to get in a nice, lazy, Saturday morning brunch in before the madness of turkey, menorahs, and mall Santas hit.

For me, brunches are best when everything is ready to go. The last thing I want to do is be in the kitchen, flipping pancakes, while everyone else is sipping coffee and socializing.

And that's saying something, because I really love pancakes.

I was lucky enough to win a Grove Square Sip and Savor party from . We received over 48 Keurig cups of various cocoas, coffees, and cappucinos. All I had to do was supply the Keurig and other treats and boom! Instant brunch.

I did bake up a storm... Pumpkin muffins, challah bread filled with apple cranberry butter, fruit, mini frittatas, and yogurt. Lazy, perfect, and caffeinated.

Sometimes, there's nothing better when it's getting chilly than just sitting, enjoying the Saturday sunlight, and curling up with a hot beverage. The peppermint cocoa was definitely the biggest hit!

We even had a little visitor!

Cheers to great coffee, friendship, and simple Saturdays!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A temporary hiatus from food blogging...

Hi, friends!

Just wanted to let you know that posts will be a bit infrequent over the next few weeks as I (attempt) to job hunt.

In the meantime, I came in this morning to find my good friend and coworker, Shannin, had succinctly outlined my dating requirements and tacked them to the wall of my cubicle:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pin there, done that!: Chocolate Orange Cake

Well, I'm still here, and still recovering from the wedding cake experience! You'd think I was sick of cakes after that, but here I am, back with another one!

Okay, okay. I'm cheating. I totally made this cake back in August for my brother's graduate school graduation. He's a big fan of citrus and chocolate (and loves the two together), so I made him this lovely orange cake from Sweetapolita and topped it with my favorite chocolate buttercream from Our Best Bites. I'd call it a success!

The combination of the super-rich chocolate frosting and the dense orange cake brings to mind one thing: Terry's chocolate oranges. I wouldn't advise smashing this cake to get started on eating it, though (unless you have a dropcloth!)

Happy Monday, friends!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That time I made a wedding cake: Part Five

Well, ladies and gents, wedding day came and went-- and boy, was it a gorgeous day!

I started out running with my favorite ladies, the Chatty Chicks. Apparently I was sweating powdered sugar and flour (documentation above courtesy of Brenda!)

Then, off to clean up and set up the reception hall!

After the ceremony (true story: I'm a crier!), I rushed over to the reception to assemble the cake!

I kind of had my hands full, so there are no photos of the actual assembly...  

Ta da!

The bride and groom!

Okay, it's always awesomely awkward to feed each other-- but it makes for some quality photos!

With the beautiful bride!

Congrats, Elizabeth and Mark! Thank you so much for including me in your special day-- I am so honored to have been able to attend and be a part of it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

That time I made a a wedding cake: Part Four

The contents of my fridge as of now:
  • Kale 
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cake
  • Carrots
  • Cake
  • Seitan
  • Cake
  • Frosting
  • Cake...

Yesterday was crumb coating day-- hurrah! Look at all the pretty tiers!

Crumb coating and freezing a cake the day before you do the final frosting is a pro move (not really-- it's just how I do it). Then your pretty layer of frosting goes on super smoothly, and no icky crumbs!

... I also made too much cake... Oops.

Today I did the final layer of frosting. I have a few extra sheet cakes to serve to make sure that everyone gets a slice. Since I'll have people/caterers helping me (and they always cut HUGE slices, which is why people run out of cake), I outlined the slices and put a chocolate in the center of each as a guide. Keep in mind these are "wedding-size" slices-- they'll be served at Elizabeth and Mark's wedding alongside a dessert buffet (thank goodness!)

And after putting the final sugary touches on the tiers today, this is how I feel:


Thursday, September 19, 2013

That time I made a wedding cake: Part Three

... and this is only the half of it. Literally.

That's right! Frosting day! Between white chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream, and cream cheese frosting, there was no issue--Elizabeth and Mark were all over the idea of cream cheese frosting on, well, everything. I used an adaptation of my favorite cream cheese frosting (below) from Magnolia Bakery's cookbook.

Thank goodness for Costco-size containers of cream cheese!

Powdered sugar for days. I feel like my whole body and apartment (and dog, for that matter), are
covered with powdered sugar. I sat down on my kitchen chair and a poof of sugar rose up.

Life is sweet.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1 lb (2 8oz packages) of cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
6 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp meringue powder

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and butter; beat for 2 minutes, until fluffy and combined. Add vanilla and beat well; slowly add in meringue powder and sugar, mixing well in between. Beat until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate frosting for 2 hours to thicken before frosting cakes.