Cowboy Cookies

These cookies have a little bit of everything… kind of like a chocolate chip cookie on steroids.

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Their name is a mystery, but they are certainly chock full of everything you want… all packed into one amazing cookie! They have crunch from the corn flakes, chewiness from the oats, sweetness from the dried fruit, and obviously plenty of chocolate.

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My dad originally saw this recipe on our local PBS station cooking show with Chris Fennimore.  His methodology for these cookies was to use ingredients based on what you have on hand that day.  So we added in our favorites and the results were delicious! Feel free to substitute any other dried fruit or cereals you have laying around the kitchen. You can’t go wrong with these cowboy cookies.

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Cowboy Cookies

2 sticks of butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons brandy
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups oats
3 cups corn flakes
4 oz (1/2 cup) dates, chopped
1 cup raisins
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Cream butter with both sugars until smooth and creamy.

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Add eggs, vanilla, and brandy and mix till smooth.

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Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda and mix. It is going to get thick, so you will want to stir in the oatmeal, corn flakes, dates, raisins and chocolate chips.

Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 350F.

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Strawberry Jam

Spring is in the air, and I’m more than ready for warm weather produce. Say hello to these beautiful, juicy strawberries:)

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After eating my fill of a BIG box from Costco, I needed to transform these lovlies into something delicious before they went bad. JAM was the answer!

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I decided to make two versions –  a small batch with less sugar and lemon zest and the other regularly sweetened plus lemon juice.  The one with the zest had a slight lemony kick, and the second is your classic strawberry jam.

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Here are some of the tools and equipment you’ll need if you plan on canning the jam:

  • 8 – 10, 8oz canning jars and lids
  • 2 big pots
  • ladle
  • funnel
  • candy thermometer
  • canning tongs

Strawberry Jam Version 1: Lemon Zest + reduced sugar

2 cups sugar
1 lemon – zest and juice (about 1/4 cup)
3 cups strawberries -halved

Strawberry Jam Version 2: Classic

7 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups strawberries

Cook the lemon and sugar for about 10 minutes.

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Then, add the strawberries and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring every 30 to 60 seconds.

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Place a candy thermometer into the mixture, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the pan. The one I use has an adjustable clip on the side so it can attach to the side of the pot and stay in the mixture as it cooks.

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Stir the mixture every 30 to 60 seconds and cook until the temperate reaches 230 degrees F and jam is thick when placed on a cold plate. (FYI: The temperature will sit at about 210F for a long time and then slowly increase, so don’t get discouraged! Make sure you keep your eye on the thermometer because the temperature will rise faster as it approaches the final temperature.)

While the berries are cooking, prepare your canning pot by filling a second large pot with water, leaving enough room for the jars so the water does not overflow when they are added. This pot should be large enough to hold 8 to 10 canning jars with about 1 inch of water above the tops of the jars. Place a small rack or even a piece of cloth at the bottom of the pot so the jars don’t come into direct contact with the bottom of the pot while canning. To sterilize the jars, place the clean, open jars (no lids) into the water along with a ladle and funnel that you’ll be using to fill the jars. Boil the jars for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lids. Let them sit until you’re ready to can.

About 15 minutes or so before the jam is done cooking, use your canning tongs to remove the jars and lids from the canning pot and place them upside down on a clean dish towel. Turn the heat back on the canning pot so that the water is boiling when the jam is ready.

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Once the jam reaches 230F, remove the pot from the heat. Fill each of the canning jars with the jam to about 1/4″ from the top. Wipe the top edge of the jar with a damp paper towel to remove any jam that may have dripped. Place the lid on the jar (gasket side down) and screw on the band – medium tight.

With your canning tongs, place the jars standing up onto the grate or towel in the boiling water in the canning pot. Make sure the jars have about 1″ of water covering the lids. Boil for 10 minutes. Then, remove each jar and place back on your counter to cool. In about 5 to 20 minutes, each of the lids will snap inwards, indicating that the jars are sealed and the vacuum has formed.  Write the date on top and enjoy!

Almond Butter Trail Mix Cookies (Gluten free)

After a few adaptations and some serious taste testing with friends, I’m pretty sure this is the perfect healthy, gluten free cookie.

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Oat flour is such a wonderful substitute for wheat flour, so you won’t miss it at all. These guys have received the seal of approval from gluten and non-gluten eaters alike.

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I’ve made them 3 times in the past two weeks for one of my dearest friends who happens to be gluten intolerant. As soon as we’ve demolished every single cookie, it’s only right that I go back to the kitchen and whip up another batch. They’re really that good.Sarahs almond butter trail 0006

Wonderful at any time of the day, you can crumble some onto yogurt or into almond milk for breakfast or enjoy as a little snack or dessert.

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They are busting open with hearty oats, healthy fats from nuts, and a little bit of chocolate to keep us all happy. I hope you enjoy:)

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Almond butter trail mix cookies
recipe inspired by OhLadycakes

1/2 cup almond butter
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
6 Tablespoons honey (agave or maple syrup would also work)
1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats
2 Tablespoons cacao nibs
1/2 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
1/4 cup dried cranberries/cherries
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond butter, coconut oil, honey, and almond milk. Once combined, add the oat flour, baking soda, and salt until a thick dough forms. Now, add in your extras – oats, cocoa nibs, nuts, dried fruit, and chopped dark chocolate – and mix until evenly distributed. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate your dough for at least an hour.

Drop the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 325F for 15-18 minutes. I usually yield about 12 cookies. Once they are lightly browned but still a little soft on the inside, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in an airtight container. They keep even longer in the fridge!

Candied Pecan Biscotti

Baking is for experimenting and expressing, for sharing and enjoying. Baking generates delight and satisfaction, happiness and connection. That’s why I love to bake.

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I’m usually inspired by a recipe, a craving, or an occasion. Sometimes I wish to cheer up a friend, show appreciation to a colleague, or attempt to combat my own stress. In this instance, I hoped to create a delicious gift for my boyfriend’s mom.

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There were a few stipulations though, as this baked good needed to survive the journey across Pennsylvania and then pass TSA inspection on its way to California. It also needed to include pecans. But with a little inspiration from one of my favorite food blogs, and my dad’s tried and true biscotti recipe base, these scrumptious cookies were born.

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I’m pleased to report that the biscotti survived the trip unscathed… but didn’t last very long after arriving on the west coast. They were enjoyed with espresso and lattes, savored in the morning and munched on in the afternoon. I even made a second batch to replace the dwindling supply.

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Baking really is all about cherishing and making memories.

 

Candied Pecans

inspiration from Joy the Baker

Warning: The candied pecans are perfect on their own and truly sing as the lead player in these biscotti. You actually might want to make more nuts.. once these little guys come out of the oven, they are insanely irresistible. Plus, you have to perform some quality control tests before you add them to the biscotti dough, right?

  • 2 cups pecans, halves and pieces
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 300F. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add the sugars, spices, salt. Whisk everything together until it becomes thick and opaque. Add the pecans and toss to thoroughly coat. Spoon pecans onto prepared baking sheet, spreading them out as much as possible.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant. After removing from the oven and allowing them to cool slightly, break the nuts apart.

Candied Pecan Biscotti
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups candied pecans

Preheat your oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one at a time until you have a nice yellow batter. Add the vanilla extract. Add in one cup of flour, along with the baking powder and salt and mix thoroughly. Then, add in the remaining flour. The mixture will be fairly thick. Add in your candied pecans or stir by hand.

Place two equal globs of the dough on your baking sheets lined with parchment paper. With wet hands (to prevent the sticky dough from sticking to your hands!), form each of the blobs into a flat log about 14″ long, 4″ wide, and 3/4″ thick.  Bake in a 350F oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until the logs are a nice golden brown.

Let the logs cool on the tray for about 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks to cool for another 20 to 30 minutes.  Once the logs are almost completely cooled, use a sharp serrated knife to saw the logs into slices.  I like to cut them at an angle. Use a back and forth sawing motion so you don’t rip the whole almonds out of the soft loaf. Once sliced, place the biscotti back on the cookie sheet.

For the second bake, transfer back to the parchment covered baking sheet with bottom side down and bake for about 7-10 minutes. Bake for more time if you like them crispy or less time if you prefer them softer.

Finally, place your biscotti on a cooling rack for 30 to 60 minutes.  They will keep in an airtight container for 1 – 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

New Year’s Pretzel

Growing up, we would make New Year’s Pretzels and give them to friends and neighbors to celebrate the new year. The dough is straight forward and easy to make. The fun comes when rolling the dough and making a pretzel. We had one of our nephews helping to make them this year. Its a great activity for the family as everyone can make their pretzel a little different.

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New Years Pretzel Dough

1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 deg F)
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup melter butter
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
7 to 7/12 cups flour

Icing

1 cup confection sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

To start, zap the water for about a minute in the microwave so that it is warm to the touch, about 110 degrees F.  Add in the yeast and whisk slightly to dissolve the yeast.  Add the water/yeast mixture to your mixing bowl and add the next 5 ingredients mixing as you go. Using mashed potatoes helps to make the dough firm and moist. Then, add in about 5 cups of flour. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining flour and knead with the dough hook or by hand for about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.

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When you are ready to make the pretzels, cut the dough into 4 to 6 pieces depending on how big you want each pretzel. I did 6 for this one and was able to make each about 12″ in diameter. You will need a wide space to start rolling out the dough. You need only a little flour as too much flour will cause the dough to slide on your work surface and it will be hard to roll.

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Roll one piece until it is 36″ to 48″ long and abut 3/4 to 1″ in diameter.

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I’ve discovered you always have to make it longer than you think and don’t forget the dough will increase in diameter by 2 to 3 times, so if it looks thin, that’s OK.

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Place the center portion on a greased tray

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and then flip the two ends once twice and then attach the ends on the sides of the big loop.

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Next we have to let the pretzel rise in a warm space with lots of humidity.  I like to warm the oven slightly (around 100 deg F) and place a jelly roll pan in the bottom with a cup or two of boiling water to keep the humidity nice and high in the oven. Perfect! Let the pretzels rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  You can see in the photo above how much the diameter increased.  Then bake at 400 degrees (375 convection) for 9 to 11 minutes, just until the crust is a golden brown.

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Cool on wire racks.

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Mix up the icing so that it is firm and not too runny. I like to use a pastry bag or zip lock bag with a corner cut off,  to decorate the pretzel with the year and what ever else you want to write – this is your pretzel! The ones you get in the stores typically coat the entire top with icing, if you like icing, that’s a good way to go.  Me- I like to eat them with a little butter. Ymmm…

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There is nothing like some tasty New Year Pretzel to start the new year.

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Beats the cold outside every time.