PB&J Linzer Cookies

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I originally saw these cookies in a Christmas issue of Southern Living but instantly wanted to make them with heart cutouts for Valentine’s Day. Our homemade strawberry jam is the perfect shade of red for a Vday Heart.  And of course, nothing says “I Love You” like PB&J (unless you are allergic to peanut butter. Then don’t make these).  Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, Baby

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What kind of Mom would I be if I didn’t write a blog post about my daughter’s 1st Birthday?!? Truth is, I don’t know how much of a blogger I am these days. Before Quinn was born, I think I had this vision I would be staying home for at least the first 3 months and have all this time to blog, if not about food, about the experience of being a mother. Ha. As it goes for most first-time parents, things turned out a little differently than I expected.

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First and foremost, I used to spend 8 hours a day on a computer. I spent any breaks at work catching up on personal emails with friends and family and brainstorming things to do/stuff to make with the free time I would have on evenings and weekends. When Quinn came along, my computer time went from 8 hours to maybe 30 minutes a day, if that.  Blogging, and just about everything else, became way less important and the only thing that mattered was what was best for her. And even though life became so much different, I have never been happier. Continue reading

Chess Squares

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I am very thankful that I married someone who has family in the south. There are certain things I would have no idea about, such as boiled peanuts, sweet tea, Alabama white sauce, and Chess Squares. Good gracious, Chess Squares. Quite possibly one of the easiest and most decadent recipes I’ve ever made. Continue reading

Chilled Zoodle Salad with Herby Buttermilk Ranch

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When I wasn’t making loaf after loaf of my new go-to zucchini bread, we were eating this salad. On a hot summer day, the last thing I wanted to do was make zucchini lasagna or stir frys…and this zoodle salad is so adaptable it solved all of our problems. Here we have the basic version with a homemade, herby buttermilk ranch, but we ate this salad many times with store bought dressing (don’t tell anyone) and it was still amazing. Add different toppings, throw on some grilled chicken, just about anything works!

I found the secret to this salad was chilling the zoodles for at least an hour. It made them extra crunchy and took out some of the moisture so you didn’t have a soggy zoodle salad. Move over, lettuce…zoodles make summer salads more fun.

Recipe
Chilled Zoodle Salad with Herby Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
By Baked Northwest
Serves 2

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 1 medium zucchini, spiralized into “zoodles”
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

For the Herby Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk, shaken
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsbp siracha (if you want to add some spice)!

Directions

Make your zoodles:
Using a spiralizer (I have the Paderno Spiralizer), make your zucchini noodles: I use the small spaghetti-sized blade for this salad, but the thicker noodle blade works great too! Lightly blot dry your zoodles with paper towels and place them in an airtight container, and refrigerate for at least an hour. I find refrigerating the zoodles takes some of the moisture out and ends up giving your salad a nice crisp crunch. You do not want a soggy salad! You can make your zoodles the night before and store in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Make the herby buttermilk ranch:
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors develop.

Assemble your zoodle bowl:
   Place the red onion in a small bowl and add the tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Add a little bit of salt and pepper and let stand while you assemble the rest of the salad.
Divide the zoodles in half and place on 2 bowls or plates. Add half of your toppings to each bowl; the carrots, olives, tomatoes, feta, and onions. Serve with the herby buttermilk ranch and enjoy!

 

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

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This year, Lulu’s apple tree went crazy! We had tons of apples in the middle of the summer. They weren’t very big at first, but there were so many that we needed to do something about it. They were small and tart yet perfect and beautiful. Over the years, I have found Northwest gardening can be very strange…We got our fall apples super early yet my heirloom tomatoes didn’t seem to ripen until mid-September. Regardless of the unpredictability of our gardens, there is nothing quite like picking fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs from your yard and feeding your family with them.

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For someone like me it’s hard not to just make apple cake and tortes and crisps and everything in between…but a lot of baking recipes don’t use enough fruit to get you through your bounty before things start taking a turn for the worse…so this was the year it was time to make apple butter.

I wanted to find an apple butter recipe that could go straight to the fridge or freezer, no hardcore canning skills required. Something easy like my mom’s strawberry freezer jam. The crazy part is this recipe was even easier! Throw apples, sugar, and some spices of your choice in a slow cooker. Turn on. Walk away. Maybe stir it every few hours if you are feeling crazy. The biggest effort you have to make is coring, peeling, and dicing your apples. If you have a spiralizer, your job just got way easier.

This recipe is very adaptable, depending on what kind of apples you use. You can choose to add more of less sugar depending on how tart your apples are, and no one is going to get mad if you decide to add some nutmeg or allspice to your mix. Right now we are spreading our apple butter on toast and mixing it into greek yogurt. I’ll update you with more ideas down the line!

Recipe
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
By Baked Northwest
Makes 4 (12 oz) containers of Apple Butter

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds of apples; peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 cups of sugar (can use more or less here, depending on how sweet your apples are)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Place the apples in a slow cooker. If you have a 6 quart slow cooker like me, it will be very full. Don’t worry – the apples will cook down by more than half. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a bowl and pour mixture over the apples in the slow cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on high for one hour.

Reduce the heat to low, stir mixture again, and cook for another 9 hours. This can be done overnight, but I found I liked being able to stir my apple butter every few hours during its low cook time, I think it made the mixture smoother in the end. At the end of about 9 hours the mixture should be thickened and dark brown. You should be able to stir the mixture and have a great consistency without having to use a blender or anything.

Turn off the slow cooker and spoon apple butter into sterile containers. Refrigerate or freeze. You should definitely give some to friends as well.

Go-To Zucchini Bread

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This year I was determined to find *THE* zucchini bread recipe. One that used loads of zucchini (4 whole cups to be exact), could make 2 loaves but also translate into muffins (or in this case, mini loaf pans), and one that would be great either on its own or with fun extras like chocolate chips or nuts. The great news is I found my recipe…and I think I like it best plain and boring, all on its own.



After making this recipe several times I finally got around to taking pictures with a batch where I added chocolate chips. The great thing about this recipe is you can easily adapt it based on your current mood. It’s perfect on its own, but some great add-ins I tried were nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and sesame seeds (all on different occasions, not in one batch). I found whole wheat flour gave it a little more substance but while flour was fine too.

Recipe
Go-To Zucchini Bread
By Baked Northwest
Makes 2 large loaves

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (can sub white flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups grated zucchini, dried out slightly (from about 2 medium zucchinis)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit of your choice or chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

A note on the shredded zucchini – I shred mine, and put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight. This gets some of the moisture out but not too much. You can definitely use your shredded zucchini right away, I would just make sure to blot out the excess moisture with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray 2 9×5 inch loaf pans or tins with cooking spray and set aside. Beat the butter and sugars in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the oil and vanilla and stir to combine.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and stir together. Add the zucchini, nuts, and any additional fillings you may be using and stir. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. They will only be a little over half full. Bake until the bread springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and slicing and serving. This bread freezes well and tastes better the next day!

 

The Skillet Cookie

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This is one of those desserts that you see on a lot of restaurant menus, because who doesn’t love a giant chocolate chip cookie? When I found Ned Ludd’s beloved skillet cookie recipe, I knew this was the one I wanted to try at home. The cookie gets nice and browned on the top, and you’ll think maybe it’s overbaked, but the crust crackles and below the chocolate chunks almost melt into the entire cookie making for a gooey, decadent dessert.  Ice cream on top to contribute to the melty-gooey factor is a must.

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Recipe
The Skillet Cookie
Adapted from Ned Ludd
Makes one 10-inch cookie, serves 4-6 as a shareable dessert

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup white sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chunks (can use dark, semi-sweet, milk, or a combo)
Flake salt for finishing (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, salt, and vanilla extract, and continue beating until combined. Add the flour and the baking soda and mix until just incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chunks.

Flatten the dough inside a 10-inch skillet. It may seem like all of the dough won’t fit, but press it down until it’s nice and spread out, it will bake up nice! Bake for 27 – 30 minutes, or until the center is just set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with flake salt, if desired. Serve with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Enjoy!

Fruit Pizza (The Mini Version)

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Last year was the year of the sugar cookie for me. I managed to make a new sugar cookie recipe every month, and man, it was fun. One of the best experiments was making a giant fruit pizza. It received a lot of rave reviews. When it was requested again, I thought maybe I could improve on it by making individual cookies.  Any fruit can be used, but Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries make for a great Memorial Day or 4th of July treat. The updated ginger-mascarpone frosting doesn’t hurt either.

Recipe
Mini Fruit Pizza’s
By Baked Northwest
Makes about 4 dozen round 3-inch cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sour cream
4 cups flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp nutmeg

For the Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting:

12 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream (can use milk in a pinch)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger (optional)

For the Fruit Topping:

6 ounces fresh strawberries, cut into fourths (or bite sized pieces)
6 ounces fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
6 ounces fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained

other fruits that are fun to use: kiwi, canned and drained mandarin oranges, raspberries, etc.

Directions

For the Cookies:

In a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla, mix thoroughly. Add sour cream, mix thoroughly.

Sift together flour, salt, soda, baking powder and nutmeg. Add to butter mixture in
two parts and mix thoroughly.

Divide the dough into two parts and wrap each in wax paper. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Roll the dough so it’s about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick, and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes of the dough. For these cookies, I used the top of a stemless wine glass to cut out perfect circles. Use a cookie spatula (better known as a pancake flipper) to move your cookies from the floured surface to a well greased baking sheet. Ungreased silicone baking sheet liners work great here too.

Bake the cookies at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes. You never want them to get too browned around the edges, or they’ll be super crunchy. We like ours on the softer side. Baking time depends on what shapes you cut your cookies into – we have adjusted baking times from 8-12 minutes depending on the size of our cookies. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

In an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger, if using, and beat for another 30 seconds until fully combined.

Frost the cooled cookies and add the washed and sliced fruit in whatever kind of design you choose. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cookies

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This is the cookie recipe I have been waiting for. I knew it was out there, but I hadn’t had a double chocolate chip cookie since the days of the middle school snack bar. It’s a dangerously easy recipe that you can throw together before any party, picnic, or potluck. I am currently wondering if I will ever make another cookie or brownie recipe again, since these little babies are the best of both worlds.

Recipe
Double Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Trisha Yearwood
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
6 ounces chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, or dark are all good choices)
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fully combined, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix to combine. Add the vanilla and mix. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix. Add the white and chocolate chips; mix until just combined. Fold in the nuts, if using.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets once halfway through, until the cookies are set, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.