Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Spirit

This is our first Christmas in the condo in Florida and I feel so blessed.  We have had a wonderful year,in spite of medical setbacks, we are two lucky people.  The only thing missing is our family.  We didn't realize being so far away was going to be so difficult. There were so many times I wish I could have jumped in a car to hold my sister or sit and laugh with my brother.  That's the reason we have put the condo up for sale.  The market here is so very slow, we probably won't get any bites until the Spring-and then we will be on the road. Such is life.
I've been trying to get in the Christmas mode, but it's been challenging.  I don't want to buy a tree because it's just another thing to haul back across the country when we do make the move.  So I have 2 little Santas and a couple of other little Christmas decorations.
Today, I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and I needed to get in the Christmas spirit. So I do what I always do -bake.

This was my preliminary list of recipes:
Coconut macaroons
Baileys Thumbprint Cookies
My go to spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Decorated sugar cookies
Raspberry pie shortbread cookies
World Peace Cookies

I'm proud (or crazy) to say I baked most of them !  Ha, I skipped the World Peace Cookies (so if something goes awry in the world it's not my fault ) and I didn't get around to the raspberry shortbread either.  Baking does bring back so many wonderful memories.  I had the Steeler game on and the TV screened turned towards the kitchen so I could watch and cheer my team while mixing-and I didn't get any ingredients wrong !

My wish is that my family would show up on my doorstep to share these cookies-but that's a wish that needs a genie in a bottle. So instead, I'll share the cookies with our adopted family of neighbors, the police and fire department.  These are friends who stepped in when I was rushed to the hospital with a concussion and took Hailey under their wing.  They didn't have to-they hadn't even met us yet.  But they co-ordinated among themselves, and it relieved so much stress for Jim and myself not having to worry about Hailey.  And of course Hailey was spoiled to death.  These are good folks here and we will definitely miss them when we do move.

Now I'm into my second day of baking-remember that Christmas on the Oregon coast when I took cookies with me to decorate while the winter storms kept us inside.

These were some of the ones I created on the Oregon Coast that year !

 I look back at those cookies and think I must have had a temporary lapse of sanity.  Even though I did a lot this year, honestly I kept it kind of simple. Those of you who know me, know I'm an all or nothing kind of gal. Tried to change that about me,but decided I liked it -I like to throw myself into anything and everything I do with all the passion and love I can muster. And when it's time for the nothing at all side of me-well I can relax with the best of them !

Clockwise from about 9 o'clock-Coconut Macaroons-Baileys Thumbprints-Russian Tea Cookies aka Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Coconut Macaroons
Thank you David Lebovitz for this fabulous recipe

4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2½ cups unsweetened coconut (see note)
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

In a large skillet, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour.Heat over low-to-moderate heat on the stove top, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir.
When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
(At this point, the mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)
When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch mounds with your fingers evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes,(watch your oven carefully-my electric baked these quickly-12 minutes) until deep golden brown. Cool completely.
To dip the macaroons in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave.) Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the baking sheet. Refrigerate 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate is set.Note: Unsweetened coconut is available in most natural-food shops or you can purchase it online.It goes under various names, such as coconut powder, medium shredded coconut, and coconut flakes. All will work well in this recipe.

Baileys Irish Cream Thumbprints
Recipe from Tutti-Dolce
2 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, then reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets and press a well into the center of each with the handle of a wooden spoon. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove from oven and press centers again. Bake until firm, 5 minutes more. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the ganache, pour cream into a saucepan and bring just to a boil over high heat. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl; pour cream over chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool 5 minutes; whisk in Baileys. Working quickly, use a spoon to fill each thumbprint with warm ganache. Let set before serving.
Yield – 54 cookies (more or less depending on what size you start with )

Russian Tea Cookies (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies)
Thanks to Crazy for Crust for this delicious recipe
Mom’s Russian Teacakes
Yield: 48 cookies(I doubled this recipe and it performed beautifully)

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
Powdered sugar for rolling
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and
salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. If dough is too soft, chill it until you
can work it easily with your hands.
3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
4. Bake cookies for 7to 8 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool
for just a minute, until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each
cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack to cool. (Once cookies are cooled, you may
want to re roll them in more powdered sugar to give them a beautiful powdery dusting.)

Love the edible gold glitter stars

You can find my sugar cookie recipe here:

And my gingerbread recipe here:

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bomb's Away with Dirt Bombs

I get the Bon Appetit newsletter emailed to me.  I usually just peruse the summary ,unless something really catches my eye.  And these little babies did.  Anything with a dipping of cinnamon sugar will always catch my eye.  I started to wonder why I had this addiction to cinnamon-where did it come from ?  When I go through my recipes on file there are more cinnamon roll recipes than I could every try in a month; there are cinnamon scones; cinnamon cupcakes; cinnamon bread; you get the picture.

 While pondering this addiction, I remembered where it came from.  Growing up,  one of the favorite things my mom made us in the morning was cinnamon toast.  Nothing fancy, just a couple slices of Wonder Bread,toasted,buttered then sprinkled with a ton of cinnamon and sugar .  Then we would take our knives and spread the cinnamony sugar goodness all over the bread until it was well blended.  I'm sure none of this was healthy-I mean really white Wonder Bread ?  I'm surprised we all didn't balloon up like the Michelin Man. I would love to say that this was a treat after eating some very healthy breakfast-but no it wasn't it was a normal occurrence ! So in honor of my childhood memories I give you Bon Appetit Dirt Bombs (they are really like a donut muffin), but Dirt Bombs sounds like so much more fun ! Enjoy.

May 2014 Bon Appetit-Makes 12
Muffins can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk

½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Working one at a time,
dip tops of muffins in melted butter, then cinnamon sugar.

Warning-these are extremely addictive.  Also, if you don't wrap them too tight and they start to get a little hard-pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds-hmmm warm and tasty like they just came out of the oven.  Bon Appetit.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Apple Blackberry and Thyme Hand Pies-Hello Stranger

I know, I know, I have so neglected this blog.  And to my friends-I am so sorry.  You know a lot has happened since last year.  We sold our house in Seattle; (remember in 2012 we bought Ruby the Roadtrek); we bought a condo in Florida; we camped our way from Seattle to Cape San Blas; remodeled the condo;  I fell off a ladder-ended up in intensive care for a few days; as a result of the fall discovered I needed a pacemaker; had to have the pacemaker surgery redone since the leads incorrectly wrapped around the device ;rented the condo out for the summer while we traveled to the Keys and finally have returned to settle in for a few months of Florida Winter on the coast.

Whew,definitely has not been a boring 2 years.  But I do feel badly that I have skipped out on this blog while I devoted all my attention to the previous mentioned events and to my Roadtrekgirl blog.  Well-I'mmmmmmmmm baaaaaaaaaaaack !   Even though I'm over 2500 miles from Seattle, I will always be Seattlepastrygirl! So I'm keeping the name while I bake and cook in hot and humid Florida.

With Fall upon us I've been missing that crispness in the air that we enjoyed on the West Coast.  Here in Florida we get a little chill in the evening but it's been in the 80's during the day.  But today it's raining and I thought I would warm up the house and bring back those Fall memories with some apple pie.  But no ordinary pie-I love making the little hand pies so that's what I decided upon.  Apple because I miss the apple trees that were in front of our house in West Seattle.  Every Fall I would gather the apples and make oven baked apple butter-the house smelled incredible and the apple butter was the best I've ever tasted

I felt experimental so I thougth I would add blackberries to the mix along with some seasonings and jam .  The following recipe is my own for the filling and a million zillion thanks to Smitten Kitchen and her wonderful All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough !  Hope you try the recipe, if you do let me know what you think of the flavors.

Apple Blackberry Thyme Hand Pies

1 recipe of Smitten Kitchen's pie crust
All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough-love her recipe for these -make sure you check out her blog it's incredible.

Makes enough dough for 16 3inch hand pies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon  sugar
1 teaspoon  table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, ) unsalted butter, very cold

Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender.

Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you’ll thank me later.

Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there (see how that big bowl comes in handy?). Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

4 medium Gala Apples-diced (not my preferred apple-use what you like)
4ounces fresh blackberries-chopped -I had large berries so I just quartered them
4 ounces blackberry jam ( I substituted Cassis Blackcurrant jam)
Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 Tablespoons fresh finely chopped Thyme
Pinch of ground ginger

Ingredients for Assembly:
1 Tablespoon water
1 large egg
1 egg white beaten lightly
Coarse sparkling sugar  for finishing (about 1/2 cup)

Filling prep:
Peel,core and dice apples. Add quartered blackberries to diced apples along with jam. (stir your jam to soften it out of the jar before mixing in with the apples and blackberries).  Whisk sugars,cornstarch,sea salt,Thyme and spices in separate bowl.  When evenly whisked together sprinkle over your fruit mix -add lemon zest and mix everything together into spices are incorporated with the fruit. Set aside.

Beat 1 large egg  with 1 Tablespoon water for "gluing your pie dough circles together"
1 beaten egg white for brushing on your hand pies before sprinkling on the coarse sugar
Remove one of the dough rounds from the refrigerator.Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. With a 3 inch  pastry cutter circle cut out as many circles as you can from the rolled dough-but cut an even number because 1/2 will be the base and 1/2 will be the cover.
Divide the filling among eight of the circles, using about a heaping tablespoon for each (it helps if you use a slotted spoon for those so some of the liquid can be drained before placing the filling on the circle). Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled circle.
Cut a vent into the each of the remaining eight circles, using a decorative cutter of your choice.(I did half with a star cutter and with the other half I just used a paring knife and put a few slits in the top of each hand pie-I liked the slits better)
Top each filled circle with either a vented circle,or a solid circle and use the paring knife to add a few vent slits.  Then press along the edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
Brush the top of each pie with the lightly beaten egg white, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the pies in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Repeat the process for the 2nd dough round. (It was quite the challenge to keep my dough from softening-I kept putting it back in the refrigerator-then I would pull it out-roll a little-then back in the refrigerator-fun!)

Preheat oven to 425F.  Bake pies at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and bake for an addition 15-20 minutes,until crust is deep golden brown. (this time may fluctuate depending on your oven). Rotate the pans about every 10 minutes. I baked mine on the center rack.
Remove from oven and carefully transfer pies to wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes (if you can ! ) before eating.

Bon Appetit !

PS.  These taste so much better the 2nd day- the Thyme really has a chance to develop a great flavor with the rest of the spices-see if you can hold off not eating them all the 1st day !