No-Bake Oatmeal Cookie Bites

Hello! It has been quite a while. I wish I could say I had a decent excuse for my prolonged absence. I mean, I do have an excuse, but it is not decent in the slightest.

I’ve been lazy to the max. Great excuse, right?  I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. Instead, I’ve been lounging around in Connecticut and Boston eating lazy person fare (aka peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) while dreaming about living a successful life. I’m not making much progress, obviously. Oops.

Now to talk about these cookie bites. They are the perfect summer dessert. There is absolutely no reason to turn on the oven and slow roast your family. The weather is hot enough. They are also somewhat healthier than your average cookie, but don’t get too excited. There is still sugar in them. And chocolate. Can’t forget the chocolate.

These cookie bites are made with peanut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, oats, cranberries, honey, and chocolate chips. Hurrah. If any of these ingredients sound unappetizing to you, you’re in luck. You can easily substitute the ingredients. You could use almond butter, raisins, agave, and butterscotch chips instead. Go crazy with the variations. These might taste good with almond butter and maple syrup rather than peanut butter and honey. Now I’m regretting that I didn’t use that combination first.

As I was mixing the ingredients, I tried to think of a good name for these little cookie bites. Due to the bird food like ingredients, I really wanted to have the word ‘bird’ in the name. Initially, I wanted to call them “bird balls.” At first that sounded like a wonderful plan. Then I thought about it some more. Finally,  I came to the realization that “bird balls” was possibly one of the worst names I could’ve thought of. My second idea was to call them “bird bites.” That name seemed alright at first, but it sounded too much like a meaty hor d’oeurve that you would be offered at a fancy party. After a few more feeble attempts (bird seed cookies, bird spheres) I gave up on the idea of putting ‘bird’ into the name.

That, my friends, is how I came up with the boring, unoriginal, unexciting name: No Bake Oatmeal Cookie Bites.

But don’t fear. These cookies do not taste boring, original, or unexciting. They are sweet, oat-y, chocolate-y, and peanut buttery. Maybe just a little bird-y too.

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Wow, you can see all of the ingredients! That’s uncommon these days. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup peanut butter (or allergy friendly alternative)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds, finely ground (I used a coffee grinder)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cranberries

Directions: 

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then roll dough into 1 inch balls. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Very simple, very easy. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Lime Pie

Happy 2016! I hope you had a fantastic 2015, and I hope that you have an even better new year. My goals are to cook lots, eat well, run a ton, and post more on my little blog. I want 2016 to be a great, healthy, happy year.

But… in my mind, 2016 doesn’t really start until January 10th. You see, many people associate a new year with a fresh start, which means healthy food. Ha! Not in our house. My sister and I both have early January birthdays, so cake and candy are thrown at us left and right. On our birthdays, we have cake with breakfast, and cake after dinner. It’s nuts, I know. For her after dinner treat, my sister recommended key lime pie, and of course, I jumped on the opportunity to bake.

Key lime pie is unbelievably simple to make. The hardest part is waiting for it to chill. But your patience is rewarded. This pie has a sweet, buttery, graham cracker crust, and a smooth, sweet and tart filling. Oh my gosh.

Not very new years resolution friendly, is it?DSC_0737

Ingredients: 

For Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole crackers)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  1. Mix all ingredients together, then press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

For Filling:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  1. Whisk all the ingredients together, then pour into the prepared crust. Bake for 17-20 minutes at 325 degrees. Chill before serving. (I recommend 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the fridge.)

Wow. So easy. The leftover egg whites would make a healthy breakfast after you stuff yourself with this pie.

Its dangerously delicious and easy. You’ve been warned.

*If you hate whacking the life out of graham crackers until they become crumbs, then use a food processor. I got one for my birthday. LIFE CHANGING.

 

Perfect Holiday Sugar Cookies

There are only like five days left until Christmas. How did that happen? The older I get, the less time it seems to take for holidays to arrive. Maybe it’s because I have to buy everyone a proper gift and not make beautiful homemade cards. But in all honesty, calling them beautiful is quite a stretch. I’m not going to lie.

Anyway. Time for sugar cookies. This is our family go to recipe. They are perfect for decorating, because they have a nice flat surface and they keep their shape while baking. These cookies are perfect, simple, buttery, and crisp. Not like rock-hard crisp, but not flimsy or chewy. They are great on their own, but they are also a perfect vehicle for any type of frosting.

Irresistible, easy, delicious, and adorable.

Ingredients:DSCN1142.JPG

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2  1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until thoroughly mixed, then beat on a higher setting until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  2. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough begins to form into one large clump. Divide the dough into three sections, flatten them a bit, and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Take one dough portion out onto a floured surface and roll it until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out desired shapes, and place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (I think a bare sheet would work just fine too). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 7-9 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Be warned-these cook quickly.
  4. Place baked cookies on a cooling rack and repeat step three with the remaining portions of dough. Let the cookies cool entirely before decorating them.

Royal Icing:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 5-8  tablespoons of water
  • Pinch of salt (Optional)
  1. Pour the powdered sugar and meringue into a large bowl. Mix, then start adding water by the tablespoon until you reach desired consistency. Add food coloring if you want colorful frosting. Who doesn’t want colorful frosting?
  2. Put icing into decorating bags and decorate to your heart’s content. You can also just smear it on if you don’t care how they look.

You can store these cookies (once they’re dry) in an airtight container for up to three days. They won’t rot or anything, it is just likely that they will begin to soften.

They probably won’t last that long anyway.

 

I got this cookie recipe from Sunset magazine in the December 2004 section. I don’t who wrote it, but I don’t want to take credit for something I didn’t write. Thank you Sunset! We have had this recipe torn out of the magazine for about 11 years. They are gross looking pages.

The frosting was created from my very own brain. Yay me.

Glorious Chocolate Cake

There’s something horrible about bad chocolate cake. It’s like having a nightmare when you bite into a piece of chocolate cake that is not chocolate-y enough or moist enough. Dry cake is a serious no-no. My ideal cake is soft (I need a synonym to moist.. Don’t want to say it too much..) enough so that if you take a piece and pinch it, it will hold together easily. That make sound weird, but trust me on this one.

I used to have immense trouble making chocolate cakes, but I have finally found a good recipe. This one. It is moist, bursting with chocolate flavor, and it is fairly darn simple to make. Cakes are a serious trouble spot for me, so if I can make it, you can too.

Believe in yourself. This cake will be worth it in the end.

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or some other oil, I used canola)
  • 2 large room temperature eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot fresh coffee

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 nine inch round pans.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients slowly, then pour in the hot coffee. Your batter will seem abnormally thin. Don’t stress.
  4. Pour the batter into your pans, then bake for 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Important STEP! Let your cakes cool completely before taking them out, or else your will have a mess. A big mess.

For the frosting: Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a hand held mixer. Slather all over your cake. Enjoy.

Yum. Serve yourself a big slice, after Thanksgiving though. Thanksgiving is for pie, and pie alone. Eat pie, lots of pie.

 

I got the recipe for this cake at Sally’s Baking Addiction:  http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/04/08/triple-chocolate-layer-cake/

Guess what though.. I made the frosting without entirely following a recipe!

Amateur baking win.

 

 

Honey Cakes

If you don’t love honey, I recommend you leave this page right now because some seriously honey flavored little cakes are about to go down here. Oh, and the lavender icing complements the sweet honey flavor so well. These things=heaven…no joke. One bite and your mouth is filled with moist, flavorful goodness.

Unlike most “honey flavored” desserts, these actually taste like honey. I hate liar desserts that are supposed to taste like honey, but they taste like vanilla or something. I love vanilla, but I asked for honey!

These mini cakes were the perfect way to soak up the remainder of summer. The warm honey, the flowery, delicate lavender… they made the perfect little treat. Unfortunately I made them for a party and I only got one.

I wanted them all for myself.

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These little cakes are delish and adorable. And yes, those are chickens in the background.

Ingredients: 

For cakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions: 

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients. In a different bowl, cream the butter and sugar (try not to be alarmed if it doesn’t cream right away. Just give it time). Add the egg and beat well, then add the honey.
  2. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating between the two. Flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk… You get the gist. Fill a greased and floured muffin tin (or use paper liners) about 2/3 full. I filled a 16 muffins total. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cakes are golden-brown. Soak the bottoms in honey if desired. It’s optional not optional to frost with lavender icing.

Icing Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Icing Directions: 

  1. Bring milk and lavender to a boil. Remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain, (I used a coffee strainer thing) and discard lavender. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Add more milk if needed.  Frost those cakes.

These are amazing cakes, but I can’t take the credit for them. The Inn at the Crossroads made these wonderful delights. Thanks a million. Here’s the original recipe: http://www.innatthecrossroads.com/2012/05/31/honeycakes/

Orange and Cherry Scones

Many scones I eat taste like baking horror stories. Dry, flavorless, feels like sand-in-your-mouth scones with a dry, over sweetened glaze. Yuck. When I was younger I asked for scones, solely for the purpose of scraping off the glaze and eating it. And here’s the sad thing: even my un-picky little kid self didn’t like the dry scones. That’s BAD news. As I got older, I stopped asking for scones because I could just make glaze and eat it plain. Yeah, I did that. So up until today, it has been years since I ate scones. Then I decided to make them. My mom just returned home from a trip to Scotland and Ireland. Every day when she was there, she had afternoon tea. Tea usually consisted of tea (duh), or coffee, and sweets like small cookies, cakes, or scones. She decided that our family should have tea time, so yesterday we went to the store and bought some tea. I instantly pounced on the opportunity to bake. Since scones are a staple tea-time snack, I decided to take the challenge of making non-horror story scones. I flipped through The Jimtown Store Cookbook and found this delightful recipe that produces moist, perfectly sweet scones with a mellow citrusy tang. The tart dried cherries in it balance out the sweet cinnamon glaze on top. Perfection. Run, eat these, pretend to be British, repeat.

Ingredients:

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Tea-Euro style

For glaze:

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For scones:

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (It should be a little cooler than room temp, but not too cold!)
  • 1/2 cups chopped tart sun dried cherries
  • 1-3 teaspoons orange zest (depends how orangey you want it)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. First, make the glaze. Wisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl. I feel stupid writing this, it’s so simple.
  2. To make the scones, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it resembles a crumbly mixture with some butter chunks about the size of peas. Stir in the cherries and orange zest. Add the one cup of buttermilk. If the dough is really dry and crumbly, add 1-2 extra Tablespoons of buttermilk. If the dough sticks to your fingers, add more flour until it is moist and smooth.
  3. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into a 9 inch by 6 inch rectangle that is about an inch thick. Spread the glaze evenly over the top. (You may not need all of it). Cut your large rectangle into smaller rectangles, then cut the smaller rectangles in half diagonally. They will (sort of) look like triangles. Chill the scones on a baking sheet covered with parchment for 30 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F fifteen minutes before you bake your scones.
  4. Set the chilled scones in the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 425 and bake for another 8-10 minutes. The scones should be golden on the top and bottom. The second they come out of the oven, grab one and eat it piping hot. (Or not, they taste just as good cooled). Top with butter of jam if you want. I enjoyed mine plain. Either way, you will love them.

Make these today. You won’t regret anything. Unless you eat the whole batch. Then you’ll sit and cry on the couch for a minute before getting up to make more. Baking is vicious.

Apple Pie

In my opinion, pie is one of the best desserts ever. The sweet filling is perfectly balanced out by the buttery crust. And of course, warm pie is the perfect companion for a blob of vanilla ice cream. I love watching it melt and drip down my pie. Heaven. I just realized that that sentence sounds a bit weird, but whatever. Warm pie with vanilla ice cream is bliss. You really don’t need to wait for fall to enjoy this pie now. You might be thinking: “What pie?” Apple pie!

This whole pie got eaten in about one day. I’m not going to make this sound like the “best pie recipe ever” because it’s probably not. It’s just pie. But that’s the magic of pie. It doesn’t need to be frilly or fancy to be the ultimate dessert.

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” -David Mamet

Ingredients: 

Filling

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 5-6 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (you can use pink lady, honeycrisp, granny smith, pretty much any apple. I used pink lady and granny smith).
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar

Crust  ~~Crust is not as hard to make as you may think! Make sure your butter, shortening, and water are very cold.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Directions: 

1. Make the crust before the filling. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Place the butter and shortening in the flour. Use a pastry cutter (or knives and forks) to cut in the butter and shortening. The fats should be no larger than pea sized. Once these ingredients are combined, add the ice water slowly so you don’t add too much. Stop adding water when the dough forms clumps. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, divide it in half, and refrigerate for two hours.

2. For the filling, pour the lemon juice over the apples and mix gently. Combine the spices, flour, and sugar, then pour over the apples. Mix well to coat every apple. ( Here,  I’ll just say apple 100 more times for you. Apple, apple, apple, apple…)

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Working on my lattice top skills. I swear.

3.Take your chilled pie dough and place it on a floured surface. Roll it out until it it can fit into a 9 inch pie pan. Fill your crust with apples; it may seem very full, but that’s fine.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

5. Make a lattice topping, or not. For the lattice top, I strongly recommend you browse another place for directions on how to make one because mine are downright hideous. For a non-lattice top, roll out your dough, then cut out a small design on the top. (If it is sealed up, there will be an explosion.) Place your dough on top and pinch the edges shut. Make it pretty if you want, just don’t ask me for advice.

6. Let the pie bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes.

7. Let the pie cool for about 3-4 hours. Then cut it up and eat a big slice with a scoop of ice cream. It will cure sadness and stress and loneliness, if you enjoy the company of good, homemade apple pie.

Many, many thanks to Sally, from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I followed her recipe for the crust, but changed some ingredients in the filling. If you haven’t seen her blog, visit it. Good food, my friends. Here’s the link for the recipe I piggybacked: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/07/04/salted-caramel-apple-pie/

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If you look in the right hand corner of this picture, you can see the faint outline of a fork. That’s my uncle, going for slice #2.