Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fruit Leather

Homemade Fruit Leather

My poor husband.  He is not a morning person AT ALL.  Neither am I, truth be told, but I can make myself get up and smile and get feeling pretty good by 7:00 am most days.

He can’t.  

Remember when you were a kid and your mom got you up in the morning and you didn’t want to get up?  Remember how bright the lights were, and how your eyes would close tight and refuse to open?  Robb never grew out of this.  

He’s a thirty-something man whose eyes are stuck shut.  Every. Morning.

Me: It’s time to get up.
Him: Just 5 more minutes.
Every. Morning.

Fruit Leather

Yesterday, he thought he would get a little comfort from our daughter, the Hippie Chick.  He really should have known better.  The women in our family (both sides, really) are known for their strong, independent spirit and their gift for attitude and sarcasm.

Robb: Tell me a story.
Hippie Chick: Once upon a time, there was a man.  He was supposed to go to work, but he laid in bed sleeping.  So he got fired.
Robb: Ack!  You’re wrecking it!!

Hopefully he will be awake and alert by lunchtime.

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Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies

chocolate cookie recipeIt’s Monday, and that means it’s cookie day.

Because Mondays require cookies, that’s why.  And because I woke up with a huge headache.  AGAIN.

I thought I had this headache thing licked after I read this awesome-sauce headache book.  My previously frequent headaches had become quite infrequent, and all was right with the world.  Then I became sort of lazy about my rule-following and slightly indulgent about my caffeine intake, and wouldn’t you know it?  The headaches returned.

You know it’s going to be a long day when you wake up hoping you can have chocolate cookies and diet coke for breakfast.

I could tell the dog was feeling the same way.  He’s a full week into his required 10 days of cone-wearing after his neutering, and let me tell you… that cone is getting old.  For all of us.  He also can’t bathe until the 10 days are over, and that is getting old too.

Dark Chocolate Cookie recipe

Puppy and I moped around the kitchen, me begrudgingly making meals and doing dishes, and he fruitlessly sniffing the kitchen floor for yummy crumbs to nibble.

I also begrudgingly drove the high school kids to school, waiting for my ibuprofen to kick in and mustering all the patience I had to listen to the silly and bathroom-activity-filled conversation happening in the back seat.  What is it with talking about bathroom activities?  I literally can’t remember the last extended conversation I had with my kids that didn’t come around to that at some point.

Just as I was congratulating myself for making it all the way to school without yelling at any kids, Bam!  I suddenly remembered that it’s a rare short day, and the lunches I packed them were completely unnecessary.  And now I’m going to feel irritated all the way home, too.

I went through a chocolate cookie ingredient list in my head, thinking I would stop at the store while I’m out, if necessary, because I’m having chocolate cookies today, come hell or high water!

dark chocolate dessert

Easy chocolate cookies

Honestly?  So rarely does something as simple as a cookie balance out the day, but this one delivered on it’s promise. That lovely dark chocolate flavor really did the trick.  The high egg-to-flour ratio means the cookies spread quite a bit, and they flatten out and become rather thin.  It’s part of the charm, if you ask me.

This cookie isn’t heavy, it’s not chunky, or fancy, or frosted.  It’s not visually notable in any way but one… it’s black.  Dark, dark, black.  With a little sprinkle of salt in the middle.

It might be the most perfect cookie that ever lived.  I may have eaten fifteen a couple of them to brighten my afternoon.

Dark Chocolate Cravings?  Try these!

chocolate muffinsDark Chocolate Muffins dark-chocolate-whoopie-pies-6Dark Choc Whoopie Pies dk-choc-muddy-buddy-5Dk Choc Muddy Buddies

{Adapted from these Salted Dark Chocolate Nutella Cookies from Faux Martha.}

4.6 from 10 reviews
Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies
 

Recipe Type: Cookies
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3 dozen
A rich dark chocolate cookie topped with coarse sea salt.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add salt, soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder, and mix well.
  3. Add oats and flour and mix until combined.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, leaving room for spreading, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Immediately top with coarse sea salt, then remove from baking sheet and allow to cool.

If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Chewy Chocolate Cookies from Completely Delicious

Triple Chocolate Oreo Chunk Cookies from Jen’s Favorite Cookies

Chocolate Mint Oreo Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod

 

Breakfast Bars with Plum Filling

plum breakfastThe charter school my kids go to has many fine qualities, but NOT among them is close proximity to my house.  In fact, the school is a good 8 miles away.

So we carpool.

Which can be boring.  I would never admit this out loud, though, especially not in the presence of my children, having told them many times that only boring people get bored.  “I’m glad I don’t get bored,” I tell them. “I always have lots of things to do and think about.”  After which they roll their eyes at me.

I’ve taken to searching for interesting things on the road while I drive.  And rarely does the road disappoint.

The other day, I saw this car with a bumper sticker in the shape of a diamond, which read “DRIVE FRIENDLY.”  Not “drive safely” or “drive with care.”  Drive. Friendly.  Like this guy is my mother or something.

It made me feel like driving my friendly car right into his back seat.

plum crumb bars

Another curious thing I saw involved a truck with a camper… and an organ strapped to the back of it.

AN. ORGAN.

I swear I am not making this up.  Mobile church maybe?  Either that or their campfire is way too good for guitars.

This morning I drove the carpool before I even had breakfast. I saw nothing interesting on the road today, perhaps because I was preoccupied with dreaming about these breakfast bars.  Truth be told, I made a plum cobbler for dessert, and made these plum breakfast bars the following morning, and the difference between the two is quite negligible.

bake with plumspicking plums

Yes, this breakfast food would make an excellent dessert.  Or this dessert food would make a great breakfast.  Look at it any way you want.

The best part of baking with plums is knowing they came from my Grandmother’s plum tree.  The Lizard and I took a drive to her house to pick a boxful.  I have a list of about 6-8 things I would like to bake with them, and you’re likely to see many of them on this blog.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Adapted from Raspberry Breakfast Bars by Smitten Kitchen

4.3 from 7 reviews
Breakfast Bars with Plum Filling
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A plum-filled crumbly breakfast bar.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 24
Ingredients
CRUST:
  • ¾ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup chopped almonds or walnuts
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
FILLING:
  • 2 cups diced plums
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 T. butter, melted and cooled
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup juice, 1 T. zest)
Instructions
  1. For crust, combine all ingredients, stirring until crumbly. Reserve about 1½ cups of crust, and spread remaining crust on the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until brown.
  3. For filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl, tossing until well coated.
  4. Spread filling over baked crust, then crumble reserved crust over the top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until brown. Let cool completely, cut into 24 bars.

Wassail

The dog may have licked my oat chocolate chip muffin.

He probably just sniffed it though.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.  Because no one wants to eat a muffin that’s been licked by a dog, but a muffin that’s been sniffed?  That’s a grey area.  And I’m all about grey areas.  I live in grey areas.

My husband is the KING of the black and white world, and I constantly remind him how difficult that makes life for anyone who might happen to be married to him.  Not that that changes anything.

Case in point, this Wassail.  Truth be told, it’s not really Wassail in the traditional sense.  The real stuff is this old English drink made from mead or ale or wine, or a combination thereof, heated and spiced.  I’m not a drinker, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about here, but really, English?!  Hot mead Does. NOT. Sound. Appealing.hot wassail recipe

 

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Cinnamon Palmiers (Elephant Ears)

palmierI’m a self-admitted self-help junkie.  I can barely stand to read fiction at all.  Even the tv shows I watch are all about making life better, improving your business, or solving puzzles.

It’s a disease, but I love it.

The Animal Planet channel recently appeared on our channel selection out of nowhere.  Since we are recent new dog owners, I was hoping to come across It’s Me Or The Dog, which by the way hasn’t happened yet.  {Still watching episodes on YouTube.}  I’ve had to settle for My Cat From Hell instead.  I actually really enjoyed this show, despite the fact that I hate cats.

Don’t worry, Carla.  I’m still voting for Murray.

Elephant Ears

Here’s the thing: the host of this show refers to the people as “cat guardians.”  This really rubs me the wrong way.  Why does he do that?  Robb says it’s because cat people love the idea that you can’t really own cat, but a cat allows you to care for it.  I don’t know if that’s really true, and maybe the cat people of the world can chime in and explain this to me, but if it is…

…SERIOUSLY!  You own the cat, you are responsible for the cat, you are a cat owner.

Sorry, Jackson Galaxy.  We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

phyllo dough

Talking about cats makes me want to eat elephant ears.  Okay, no, not really.  I just couldn’t think of a good segue between cats and Palmier cookies.  {By the way, if you’re wondering about the pronunciation, it’s PALM-EE-AY.  You can thank the French for that one.}

I learned about these cookies a while ago, and I was way excited to try them.  And not because they are the easiest cookie of all time, and possibly created for lazy women in yoga pants who want to make cookies during commercial breaks.  It’s because they sounded so tasty.

Yep.

puff pastry cookies

Palmier cookie

 

Puff Pastry is a touch fussy to work with, but if you work with it when it’s about halfway between frozen and thawed, it’s not too bad.  I love the cute heart shapes these create.  I mean, yes, they would be adorable for Valentine’s day, but who needs an excuse to eat something like this?  I personally love eating them with a cup of hot Wassail, but they are equally as enjoyable with no beverage at all.

Plus, they look like you worked really hard and fussed over them all afternoon, when probably you were just watching old episodes of CSI.

Icing on the cake!

{Grab these cute PalmiersGift Tags here}

5.0 from 10 reviews
Cinnamon Palmiers (Elephant Ears)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A simple cookie made from puff pastry and sugar.
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • I piece of puff pastry (*see note)
  • about ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle work surface with about ¼ cup sugar. Combine remaining ½ cup sugar with cinnamon in a small dish.
  2. Place thawed puff pastry on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Roll out slightly, then roll both sides toward the middle. Let this chill for about 15 minutes.
  4. Cut ½" slices, brush each side with water, and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove immediately, and allow to cool.
Notes
*I bought a box of frozen puff pastry, and there are two pieces of dough in the box. I used one pieces for this recipe. You can also make your own pastry, if you prefer.

If you enjoy this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Lemon Palmier Twirls from Sophistimom

Pesto Palmiers from Eat Out Loud

Cheese Straws from Sprinkles of Parsley

This post linked up at: Hope Studios; House on the Way; Home Stories A to Z; A Lettered Life; Naptime Creations; Carolyn’s Homework; Pincushion Creations; Not Just a Housewife; SugarBee Crafts; Lady Behind the Curtain; Back 4 Seconds; Comfy in the Kitchen; Tidy Mom; Shabby Nest; Romantic Home; Rattlebridge Farm; Simple Living with Diane Balch; I Should Be Mopping the Floor; A Southern Fairy Tale; Skip to my Lou; Jam Hands; Domesblissity; Something Swanky; Katherine’s Corner; Miz Helen’s Country Cottage; Michelle’s Tasty Creations;

Chocolate Yogurt Granola Bars

Chocolate Frosted GranolaUnder normal circumstances, I try to limit the amount of baking chips I purchase.  But, let’s be honest, you can’t expect a girl to just never buy chocolate chips, can you?

I found a clearance basket at my local grocery store that was full of Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips.  I’m not sure whether they were being discontinued or what, but they were going for $1 a bag.

I bought 5 bags.  And regretted not buying more.

Having this much self control is exhausting.  I’m pretty sure I deserve an award {or at least a reward} for all the money I didn’t spend last week.  Check me out:  I went to Hobby Lobby and spent less than $20.  I went to World Market and spent less than $25.  AND I went to IKEA and spent less than $30.

If you don’t include lunch.  Which I don’t.  Because that was a separate self-control win altogether. {Chocolate cake, anyone?!}

Yogurt granola bar

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Apple Pie Cookies with Salted Caramel Frosting

apple cookieI try to keep my writing on this blog pretty lighthearted and entertaining, but some days are not like that.  Some days you want to curl up in a ball and listen to The Carpenters and eat Chubby Hubby.

I remember when Robb and I were first married, about 500 years ago, and I discovered that he knew how to make pie crust.  I had this idea in my head that pie crust was super complicated and fussy and hard to make, so I was impressed.  I liked it when he would make coconut cream pie with his homemade crust.  He would slice up the pieces of leftover crust and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and bake them up.  It felt really comforting.

He’s really good at taking care of me when I’m listening to “Rainy Days and Mondays.”

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Chunky Homemade Applesauce

homemade applesauceThe thing that has probably given me the most confidence in the kitchen has been understanding that food does not have to be complicated.  Fresh foods prepared simply are generally the best tasting.  This is why there is no comparison between, say, a homemade chocolate chip cookie and the *ahem* packaged variety.  Or between store-bought salad dressing and the fresh homemade stuff.  Or frozen chicken nuggets and fresh chicken tenders you’ve breaded and cooked yourself.

It’s not rocket science, people.

In the past, I’ve taken apples from my dad’s tree, and spent days and days canning applesauce.  It’s exhausting.  I’d just love to have applesauce sometimes that doesn’t come with all that work.  And mess.  I’m also very big on giving my kids fresh fruit in their lunches, and I think they were getting tired of plain old apple slices and grapes.  I need to kick it up a notch once in a while, just to let them know I’m still alive.

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Cookie Sticks

chocolate chip cookieThe grocery store is my nemesis.  We are locked in an eternal battle for power, and let me tell you, the grocery store is winning.

Sometimes it wins by selling me things I don’t really want.  Like candy and potato chips.  Frequently it wins by making me forget what I went in for, and thus making me return for a second trip on the same day.  This is one of the grocery stores favorite tricks, actually.  This week it used a different tactic, just to mix it up and keep me on my toes.  This week, it made me purchase the entirely wrong product altogether.

Yep.  Went in for all purpose flour, came out with bread flour.

Don’t blame me.  The store made me do it.

Not that it’s that big a deal… you can still make these cute cookie sticks with bread flour, if you want. Or not.  Whatev.

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