So… I wanted to make my Brown Butter Cookies and Cream Blondies for The Boy to take to work, but I didn’t have Oreos or Cookies ‘n Cream chocolate bars. You know, the two main ingredients? Someone did not plan ahead. It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit. It’s also the main reason I always urge you to gather and prep all of your ingredients before you start making anything in the kitchen (mise en place, en français 🇫🇷). But sometimes we forget to remember. Sometimes we don’t want to put on outside pants and go to the Mega market. And sometimes we just don’t want to goanywhere. Whatever the reason, we are caught unprepared. And what do you do when you’re caught unprepared? That’s right, you improvise! (Read more…)
Happy Holidays, everyone! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Winter Solstice, or just another successful (?) trip around the Sun, you have to admit that this has been a year that challenged everyone’s concept of time. Some days seem to crawl by, and others feel like a time warp (including a jump to the left. And then a step to the right 🕺💃). One day we were trying to figure out how to exist on Zoom, and the next thing you knew it was Merry Hallowthanksmas! (Scene: Turkeys, wearing big-buckled shoes, sitting on pumpkins, while sporting Santa hats.)
No matter what day I think it is or isn’t, it’s apparently that time of the year where I spend four entire days baking, packing, and shipping holiday treats to family and friends. And since the Holidays crept up on us all (rude) I’m pulling out all my quick and easy recipes that are a cinch to pack and ship safely. Such as:
Making their debut on the list this year are my Brown Butter Cookies and Cream Blondies. Honestly, anything I don’t have to scoop and bake every 10-12 minutes is a winner in my book, but these new treats are a dream! Filled with chunks of cookies ‘n cream chocolate bars and oh-so-many Oreo cookies, they mix, bake, cool, and slice in no time, ready for shipping to all of your sweet-starved loved ones! (Read more…)
Before I get to the delicious reason for today’s post, I’d like to take just a moment of your time to tell you how this year’s celebration will look a little different in our house. I know that we all want to be with our friends and family during the holidays, but that just isn’t a good idea for those of us living in the ol’ U.S. of A. at the moment. I have family members that I want to see (and hug) as well, so I know how you feel, but we’re all keeping this Thanksgiving small, in the hopes that I can spend many more Holidays with my extended family in the future, and I hope you will do the same. It’s not a lot to ask, and it’s nothing that hasn’t been asked of essential healthcare workers and military families most every Holiday. That being said, since I am apparently incapable of cooking for less than a crowd, I will be offering curbside takeout to those loved ones outside of my immediate bubble!
Anyway, if you are anything like me, Thanksgiving has kind of snuck up behind you and yelled “BOO!” I mean, I understand that 2020 has bent any and all rules of time, but I just didn’t expect to suddenly find myself facing both a turkey and a Christmas tree quite yet. (BTW, my tree is up. Is yours?) Well, my last-minute planning friends, I have a quick and easy Thanksgiving dessert recipe for you! Rarely straying far from my Southern roots, I’m bringing you yet another pecan treat. My Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars are absolutely out of this world! Chocolate shortbread, topped with a rich caramel pecan layer, and finished with chocolate ganache and pecans, they’re unbelievably easy to make, feed a crowd, and pack beautifully for takeout or shipping! Just because our Thanksgivings have to be smaller, doesn’t mean they have to be any less delicious! (Read more…)
At the time of this writing, it’s a few days after Halloween 2020. It’s also the day after Election Day 2020. The true All Hallows Eve. Oh, and I almost forgot, it’s also the Year of the Pandemic 2020. You know, THAT year. Yeah. Lots going on here. It’s all a bit overwhelming, so let’s escape for a moment. Let’s pretend that none of this is happening. It’s a peaceful November day. In this version of the world, Election Day was just the regular amount of stressful. In this version of the world, old people freely mouth-breathe on your neck in line at the Mega Mart. And in this version of the world, the interweb did a “which candy is your favorite?” contest and the loser was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The world said, “peanut butter and chocolate? I’ll pass.” In this world, all you find at the bottom of your kid’s orange plastic pumpkin, two days after Halloween, is a bunch of unwanted Peanut Butter Cups. In fact, there are so many Peanut Butter Cups that you are now looking for things to do with all your Peanut Butter Cups. In that unlikely scenario, I’ve got you covered. (Read more…)
Hi friends! It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you, and for that I apologize. I don’t know about you, but it has been pretty darn stressful around here. There are some days that I just want to hole up with my family and then there are some days that I hate absolutely everyone and I just want to lay in bed and binge an entire season of The Real Housewives of Anywhere Else. That being said, I’m still cooking most days and you can usually find my current creations on my Instagram Story, but actually writing up a recipe and posting it can be more than my brain can handle. I’m sure you all understand. I will try to do better.
One thing I haven’t slacked on is making some kind of treat for the Emergency Room staff who work with The Boy day in and day out. No matter what is going on with me, no matter how I’m feeling, whether I like The Boy that day or not, I still push myself to make them something every Saturday to say “THANK YOU” for everything they do. It doesn’t matter how you feel politically, if you are an intelligent human being existing in 2020, you know that we are facing a serious health crisis, and these people put themselves on the line every damn day. Some days are worse than others, for sure, but they never know what is going to walk through those doors from one minute to the next. So if I can make them the best damn Dark Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Rye Bars they’ll ever taste, by golly I will!!
You should go make some for someone you want to thank, even if that person is you. Especially if that person is you (Read more…)
And now, a very special episode of Cook Sleep Read:
A good friend recently told me that baking is one of the few things that really gives her some measure of stress relief lately. Following a recipe exactly and creating something delicious gives her days a little more structure; something a lot of us are missing now, what with the whole global pandemic thing. Then she told me that she was considering not baking anymore because there were just too many sweet treats and loaves of bread in her house for her and her husband to consume on their own. But studies have shown that exercising your creative side in some way can help people feel more relaxed and happy in times of stress, so, especially now, it’s important to find a way to keep doing the creative stuff you enjoy. I suggested she might share them with neighbors, pack them up and deliver them to a local hospital, or even freeze them for later, more-structured days, when she has less time to indulge in the baking arts. For me, I’m giving my family some reprieve from my ever-growing mountain of sweets by baking up something yummy and packing it for The Boy to take to work with him in the Emergency Room every weekend. I even package up any extras and leave them at our neighbor’s door for a surprise treat. Sharing home-baked goods is my solution to all the stress of life today. Being in control of something, when we have so little control of so much, is no small thing. So bake someone happy, especially if that someone is yourself! (Read more… )
Life can be… stressful, right? And while I normally wouldn’t advocate eating your feelings, now seems like a good time to break that rule. The world, in the words of The Fresh Prince, “got flipped-turned upside down” recently, and these Peanut Butter-Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats are here to fill a social-distancing sized hole in your diet. (Read more…)
My youngest daughter has always had a weakness for those brightly frosted, festively sprinkled sugar cookies that they sell at the mega market. You know the ones. There they are, right up at the front of the store, all puffy and fluffy, the frosting and sprinkles reflecting the theme of an upcoming holiday. I almost bought some for her recently and I stopped myself. I’m a baker. Surely I can recreate a sugar cookie! But I’m also inherently lazy. I mean, I’m always moving, but I don’t want to do more than necessary to get a job done (work smarter, not harder.) I didn’t want to make a dough that had to be chilled, rolled out, and cut out… ugh 😩 so much to do before cookie eating time. So, I took the idea of a frosted sugar cookie and turned it into Super Soft Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars! Less work, no need to chill or roll or cut, just press the dough into a pan and bake to deliciousness! (Read more…)
The Saga of ‘foods Cynthia was kinda “meh” about, but now likes’ continues. Today’s chapter is all about the lowly marshmallow. Even as a kid marshmallows never excited me. I was never really into S’mores, didn’t have a Rice Krispy treat until just recently, and as a child of the South, never ate a Moon Pie, with or without an RC Cola (😱 clutch my pearls!)
The one “food” that finally brought marshmallows a little closer to my mouth (and my heart), is Breyers Rocky Road Ice Cream, which may or may not disappear from my freezer at a rapid rate, on occasion. Dark chocolate ice cream, laced with ribbons of marshmallow, and big pieces of crunchy chocolate covered almonds?! Oh, heck yes!! I have tried to recreate the flavor and fun of that treat with these Rocky Road Chocolate Shortbread Bars. Soft bits of mini marshmallows and crunchy toasted nuts are mixed into rich chocolate and layered over a buttery chocolate shortbread crust for an unforgettable bite. Sometimes I’m all in with almonds and sometimes I’m nuts about walnuts, but I’m always over the moon about these Rocky Road Chocolate Shortbread Bars! (Read more…)
As a Southern girl born in Chattahoochee County, Georgia, I have pecan pie running through my veins. It’s one of the first desserts I can remember Olga Mae (my Grandma) ever serving me, and it might be my favorite overall flavor combination. The deep, caramel flavor with a little salt, a lot of sweet, and the crunch of the nuts… it covers all my craves right there! But, over time, I’ve gotten to where I don’t really want all the gooshy parts of the pie. You know what I mean. I don’t want too much of the sweet stuff that surrounds the pecans, I just want all the pecans! My Pecan Bar recipe has all the best parts of a pecan pie, without an overload of the sticky part of the filling. It’s got a salty and sweet pecan mixture on top of a tender and buttery shortbread crust, and it’s delicious! (Read more…)