spiced apple butter bars

Back a few months ago when I made these Strawberry-Lime Crumble Bars, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to make a fall-inspired version! The strawberry and lime ones were amazing, but when the weather turns cool, you just want something with cinnamon, vanilla and warm spices, preferably with some apples included, to ring in the season.

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a lesson learned: nut-free coconut + pineapple macarons

I have what you’d call a little obsession with the little French cookie known as the macaron. There’s just something so alluring about these cookies to perfectionist bakers because it’s so technical a cookie to produce. Anyone can make a macaron, but to make a good one, the technique has to be perfected and you have to be present in the moment with these guys. This is no time to go into the kitchen and do a half-assed job. Use your whole ass!


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firecracker macarons!

Happy birthday, America! I made you some macarons. I hope you like them!

IMG_1121Is there any dessert more trying to a baker’s patience than the elusive French macaron? I’ve made them about 8 times in the past 3 years to varying degrees of success. This recipe comes from the always lovely Tartelette, a recipe that I’ve used a few times and decided to come back to for this 4th of July treat. I’ve tried other recipes, and while some of them have worked beautifully, others have been a sad disappointment. I find myself glued to the glass door of my oven while these little beauties are baking, holding my breath until I see the first signs of feet forming (“pieds“, if you want to be fancy, the little ruffly/bubbly edges at the bottom). The first time I made these and got feet to form, I literally jumped up and down in my kitchen,  no joke.

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mom’s oatmeal raisin cookies

When I was growing up, my mom had several go-to recipes for meals and snacks. Her homemade spaghetti sauce with ground beef was a common sight at dinnertime, as was her braised pot roast with carrots, onions and potatoes for Sunday dinner. For weekend snacks, I fondly remember eating “pigs in a blanket”, halved hot dogs wrapped in pop-open biscuit dough, dipped into obscene amounts of yellow mustard from that little bottle that looked like a barrel.

My favorite treat that my mom would make, one I remember eating for as long as I have memories of eating, was her top-notch oatmeal raisin cookies. She has the Little Yellow Cookbook, our official name for her cookbook filled with sheets of hand written recipe cards, ideas clipped out of yellowed magazines and newspapers, and recipes given to her from her sisters. This cookbook seemed to be ever-present in the kitchen, though recalling it now, I don’t remember her cooking many recipes from it. It’s one item I hope to one day call my own, as I have lots of good memories of flipping through the book’s plastic pages and marveling at all the time-worn recipes.

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grapefruit brûlée bars

I have many fond memories of spending time at my grandma’s house as a kid. She lived right next door to us, so it wasn’t unusual to go over and spend the night at her house on the occasional weekend. When it came to meals, breakfast was one that my grandma always wanted immediately after she woke up, even it that meant sitting down at the table around 5:30 a.m. My grandma was never one for hearty breakfasts of fried eggs, bacon, pancakes and the like. She’d make little muffins that she called “breakfast cakes”, usually with healthy things like raisins and bran cereal flakes, or chunks of pineapple. My sisters and I would each get a microwave-warmed “breakfast cake” which she’d pulled from her ever-present stash the freezer, accompanied by a tiny glass of orange juice and a steaming, scald-your-lips hot mug of hot cocoa, always made with water and not milk.

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My grandma’s breakfast of choice, the one that she always came back to after countless batches of tiny muffins, was a simple grapefruit half and a cup of hot tea. I never knew anyone who ate as much grapefruit as my grandma! I don’t recall if she ever put sugar on her grapefruit before she dug in with one of her little sharp-edged grapefruit spoons, but whenever she’d serve me a half for breakfast, I was sure to load it up with lots of crunchy white sugar. My favorite part? Drinking the super sweet grapefruit juice left in the rind once all the fruit had been eaten.

Fancy was not necessarily my grandma’s style when it came to breakfast, so there’s no wonder that she never sprinkled sugar on her half of grapefruit and then shoved it into the broiler to create a thin layer of caramelized goodness on top of the fruit. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve always been intrigued by the idea. Grapefruit? Good. Sugar? Good. Grapefruit and sugar? Gooooooood.

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strawberry-lime crumble bars

Growing up, my mom had a Land O Lakes cookbook that was given to her as a Christmas gift by one of our neighbors. Of any cookbook my mom had (aside from her ragged and worn 1970s edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook), we seemed to make things from this book more than most. One such item was a raspberry crumble bar. It was the simplest thing in the world, instructing you to mix up a quick crumbly dough, press half in the pan, spread that half with raspberry jam and crumble the reserved dough on top. Once baked, the bars had a soft and buttery base, topped with tart-sweet jam and tasty little crumbly crunchy bits. My sister and I loved them, and they were basically irresistible cause I never remember any pan of them lasting very long.

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knock-off samoas!

Hooray, it’s Girl Scout cookie season! Is there no better time of year? The ushering in of springtime, adorable little girls in their Girl Scout uniforms, harassing you asking you to buy some cookies as you walk into the grocery store. It’s wonderful. There seems to be quite a dividing line between people and their love of the top two Girl Scout cookie flavors, Samoas and Thin Mints — people always seem to prefer one over the other. I’ll generally devour anything containing coconut, and toasty coconut with caramel and chocolate is just a bonus.

Flour Scoop   Butter Creamed1 Butter Bowl1small  Flour Bowl

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gf peanut butter cookies + pb jammies

This weekend was beautiful — it was cold and rainy. Some of you may think I’m crazy for calling a cold, rainy day beautiful, but living in Phoenix, those days are few and far between. We look forward to rainy, cool days the way Seattle residents look forward to sunny days. What better activity to partake in on a rare rainy winter day (other than snuggling up in bed!) than making cookies?

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