Tahini Cookies

I love bonus days.  Today was mine.  It is a day that you were not expecting because you thought you were doing something else – and at the last minute everything changes.  Sometimes those last minute changes work out for the better, and you get your bonus day.

So what did I do with mine?  I mostly spent some quality time in the kitchen.  Catching up on some cooking that should have been done earlier in the week.  And making these little treats.  Now these are what I would call an acquired taste.  My girls were so excited that I was baking in the kitchen – but after one bite, my little one was not sold.  Sesame paste is definitely a taste that grows on you, and it hasn’t grown on her just yet…but I thought they were delicious – and certainly different.  I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and it hardly sat in my pantry for a week.  Thank goodness for bonus days.  If only I could figure out how to get more of them…

Ingredients

Makes about 24

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

Preparation

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in tahini, then add dry ingredients in 2 batches, beating after each addition until fully combined. Dough will be slightly sticky.

Place sesame seeds in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough (about 1 oz.) and roll into balls. Dip tops of balls in sesame seeds, pressing to adhere, and place, sesame side up, on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2″ apart. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 13–15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets (cookies will firm as they cool).

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tahini Cookies

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Dilly Martini

It has been a while since I posted a cocktail recipe, and I realized it was time.  Last summer I carved out a little time to make my favorite Dilly Beans.  I remember it clearly – I bought a bunch of green beans with all hopes of serving them for dinner – but the dill and vinegar in the pantry were telling me to do something else.  So I caved, and was quickly able to bang out a few jars.

I gave away a few at the holidays, but last weekend I noticed I still had a jar left in the pantry.  I had been experimenting with Salers aperitif liqueur for a while now – it is particularly good when I mix it with this Dill Aquavit that I found at Old Ballard Liquor Co.  But then I really perfected the martini – added a little Dolin Dry and some celery bitters, and it is a “garden in a glass” – just the perfect savory cocktail to enjoy before dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Dill Aquavit
  • 1/2 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Salers
  • celery bitters
  • Dilly Bean for garnish

Preparation

Place the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Stir for about 30-60 seconds or until nicely chilled.  Strain into a martini glass, and add a Dilly Bean for garnish.

Makes 1 cocktail

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Dilly Martini

Grapefruit-Poppy Seed Loaf Cake with Yogurt Glaze

There is a lot of talk these days about diversity – as there should be – it is critical for so many reasons.  Fortunately, there is even more talk these days about inclusion and belonging.  Without it, you will never be able to sustain a diverse population.  Now I am not just talking about the color of your skin, or the gender that you identify with – I am also talking about the diversity of thought.  If you do not feel like you belong, and you can’t be your real self – there is no point.

I have two daughters – one teenager, and one pre-teen, and the focus on females and how they look is very disturbing to me.  I want my daughters to grow up feeling good about the way they look – however that is.  Of course I want them to be healthy, but to treat themselves when they want and not have to worry.  Fortunately exercise and eating healthy foods is part of our lifestyle, but another part of our lifestyle is enjoying really delicious food – even when they may not be the best for us.  And that is ok!  Particularly when they are homemade…so you know exactly what is going into those delectable goodies.

Two brands that really focus on making sure you can be yourself are PrAna and Stonyfield Farms – and they both inspired me to get into my kitchen today and bake.  After all – that is the real me.  I made this grapefruit-poppy seed loaf cake with a yogurt glaze that I found in Bon Appetit– made with Stonyfield Farm’s whole milk greek yogurt…and boy was it amazing.  Maybe it is because I haven’t been able to bake much lately, or maybe because I made it with lots of love – this cake was moist and flavorful.  And I can’t wait for the sun to shine a little brighter so I can start wearing my new PrAna dress sitting next to the bread.  And what’s more exciting, is you too can get yourself some beautiful clothing at 15% discount!  Just use this code when checking out in May:  WHOLES17FLC

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (Stonyfield Farm’s Whole Milk Greek Yogurt)
  • 8 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8½x4½” loaf pan, preferably metal, with parchment paper, leaving overhang on the long sides, and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, work grapefruit zest into granulated sugar in a large bowl until sugar starts to clump and mixture is very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix in half of dry ingredients, then mix in ¾ cup yogurt. Mix in remaining dry ingredients followed by 5 Tbsp. grapefruit juice and 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Poke holes in top of cake and brush remaining 3 Tbsp. grapefruit juice over top. Let sit 15 minutes, then run a knife around sides to loosen and use parchment paper to lift cake out of pan and onto rack. Remove parchment and let cool completely.

Whisk powdered sugar, remaining 1 Tbsp. yogurt, 1 tsp. water, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until smooth and drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and let sit until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Do Ahead: Loaf can be baked and glazed 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:Grapefruit-Poppy Seed Loaf Cake with Yogurt Glaze

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm and PrAna’s products are always my own.

 

 

 

Sheet Pan S’mores

pan-sheet-smores

What a week!  Thank goodness it ended on a high note – it was truly a day that will imprint on my memory forever, and a highlight of my career.  I won’t go into details, but it is days that these that keep you going, particularly when you wonder why you work so hard.  It is nice to see that light bulb go on in people’s heads – and that’s exactly what happened.

It was also a big week for a couple of other organizations that are near and dear to me. Stonyfield Farms announced last week that they now part of the B Corps Community.  This certification ensures that these companies are not just serving their shareholders, but also our communities and our planet.  In reading about this certification, it makes me even more proud to represent their products.  Some of my other favorite brands are also part of this community: King Arthur FlourPurely Elizabeth, Method, Pukka, Pete and Gerry’s, and Preserve.  These are products that I trust, and I seek out – and in times like these, there is nothing more important than to support companies that are looking out for our future.

certified-b-corp

And now we get to S’mores…it is Girl Scout Cookie time once again!!  This year the Girl Scouts really out did themselves with the new S’mores cookies.  I was fortunate enough to attend this amazing event last Thursday evening to celebrate the launch of cookie season.  This event was hosted by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, and it was a Cookies & Cocktails party – with Girl Scout cookie themed bites and cocktails made by Seattle’s famous woman chefs and mixologists.

The Girl Scouts are an amazing organization.  Their mission is building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place, by helping them discover their inner strength, passions, and talents. Working at a company that is predominantly male has really taught me how important it is for women to be heard – and without that confidence and courage, it can be difficult.  Fortunately this organization is teaching girls at a young age how important it is, so when they grow up and are in the workplace, they won’t even have to think about it.  They will hold their head high, proud of what they are able to accomplish.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light – and I must say, it was a HUGE hit with our friends.  But don’t fret – the Girl Scouts have got your back – no need to make these from scratch for the next month – just find your nearest Girl Scout and buy a box of their delicious cookies!

Ingredients

  • 1 (14.4-oz.) box graham crackers, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/8 tsp. salt, divided
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Process crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs form; transfer to a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons sugar, butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 egg white, and whole egg, stirring to combine.

Press crumb mixture into bottom of a 13- x 18-inch jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until crust is set. Remove from oven; sprinkle chocolate in an even layer over hot crust, spreading evenly as the chocolate melts. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Preheat broiler to high.

Place remaining 4 egg whites in a large bowl. Add vanilla, cream of tartar, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Combine remaining 1 cup sugar and ? cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 250°. Gradually pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at medium-low speed, then at high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over cooled chocolate-graham crust. Place pan on middle rack of oven; broil 1½ minutes or until meringue topping is toasted and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 30 squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  pan-sheet-smores

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products are always my own.

Almond Butter Banana Bread

almond-butter-banana-bread

My mother’s banana bread is pretty perfect just the way it is.  It is just about the only recipe that I never mess with – I have tried other banana bread recipes, but none compare.  The only experimenting I have done over the years is to create a non-dairy version that my husband can enjoy.  Coconut milk makes a wonderful substitution from the buttermilk that normally I use.

This month I received some delicious products from Woodstock Foods to try – and for some reason when I dipped my spoon into the delicious almond butter – it was the banana bread that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  What if I added almond butter to the mix…would magic happen?  Well, I think it was the combination of Stonyfield Farm’s Grass Fed Yogurt with the Almond Butter that really sparked something.  This was one of the best batches I have ever made.  But seriously, with this recipe, have I ever made a bad batch?  These loaves came out a little more tender, and the almond butter just gave it a little richer flavor.  Success all around – particularly for my kids who now have a special treat for breakfast all week.

Ingredients

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mash bananas with a fork and set aside.  Mix oil, sugar, yogurt, vanilla, almond butter and eggs well.  Add mashed bananas.  Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl, and add to banana mixture until just combined well.  Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 x 5″ loaf pans.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from pans while still warm and wrap with plastic.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: almond-butter-banana-bread

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Woodstock Foods are always my own.

Onion and Chive Dilled Egg Salad

onion-and-chive-dilled-egg-salad

My first post of the new year…I seem to be looking forward a lot more than normal.  I hate wishing the time away, but 4 years cannot go by fast enough.  I hate that in 4 years my oldest daughter will be in college.  I hate that these are such important years for her to grow as a woman.  But I dread more the role model that our electoral college chose to lead our country.  It wasn’t until Saturday that I actually believed there is a path forward, and that people are not going to sit back and watch.  I was almost in tears to see that our global friends were right there with us…standing up for what is right – Paris, London, Sydney, and on and on – it is not America First – it is Humanity First.

I find myself cooking and baking less and less these days – I am busier than ever, but unfortunately not in the kitchen.  When I am in the kitchen, I am focused on making things that are going to save us time during the week.  Tonight one of our dinner table conversations was about our public school system – and the huge budget deficit that we are facing.  My youngest daughter has decided that maybe if the government can fully fund education, that means that school lunches might actually be edible.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that school lunches were the least of their worries – although I did remind her that she was lucky to have healthy food at home to bring for lunch.  Particularly this week!

Egg salad has become somewhat of a delicacy in our house.  It is definitely something that both girls LOVE for their lunches.  When Stonyfield Farms asked us to try their new Double Cream yogurt, along with some spices and mixes from Simply Organic – I was over the moon.  It didn’t take me more than a minute to figure out what I was going to make.  Aside from using the wonderful dips as an afternoon snack with carrot sticks – I decided to use some in making egg salad.  What a delicious treat.  First of all, this yogurt is really incredible, it is like a mild form of sour cream, it is so rich and thick, but more like a crème fraiche – since the sour flavor really doesn’t come out.  I hear it will be on the market real soon, so go give it a try yourself.  And as my daughter would say – School Lunches First!!

Ingredients

Preparation

Mix 2 cups of the triple cream yogurt with the package of onion and chive dip.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Chop the hard boiled eggs and mix with the celery, fresh dill and salt.  Add 1/2 cup of onion and chive dip.  Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.  Sprinkle lightly with smoked paprika on top.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  onion-and-chive-dilled-egg-salad

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Simply Organic are always my own.

Black Current Scones

black-current-scones

It is the season of giving, so in that spirit, I decided to bring back my annual holiday gift post – plus a few added bonuses, thanks to my friends at Stonyfield Farms and Lavoons.  Please continue reading below for a fun holiday giveaway!

I have a very regimented super market routine which almost weekly involves Trader Joes and Whole Foods.  My favorite day to go to Trader Joes is on Sundays – and that is because of the violin player that is faithfully there every week.  I am not sure if he is homeless, but he plays the violin for money, and he is actually really good.  He wears the same clothes every week, and is super thankful when people put money in his open violin case.

This holiday season Stonyfield Farms wanted us to pay it forward, by giving us a $50 gift card to donate to a charity of our choice, or someone we know in need.  I took that gift card, and traded it in for a $50 Trader Joes card, and that’s what I left him on Sunday.  I thought he was going to cry.  I hope he has a wonderful holiday feast…

If you are wondering how you can pay it forward, how about with a holiday cooking gadget that to make life easier in the kitchen?  Every year it is so easy, and this year was no exception.  I created this list in about 5 minutes – and if it helps just one of you with holiday shopping this year, it was completely worth it.

  1. Chef’n GarlicZoom Garlic Chopper – a close friend sent this to me this year, and I swear I look for opportunities to use it because it is just that much fun!  Chopping garlic has never been so easy.
  2. Lavoons Measuring Spoons – ok, talk about fun – these are just amazing – no need to get a knife to level off your dry ingredients – this gadget has it all built in! 
  3. Large Cookie Spatula – this has been on my favorite holiday gifts list ever since I started this.  I use this for just about everything – cakes, roasts, anything that has to be moved, and requires a large surface area to do so. I have even got my husband to start using it…
  4. Silpat – I was a non-conformist for many years, and did not think I needed one of these – but this year I was sent one to try out, and I fell hard.  Cookies cook more evenly, and there is absolutely no sticking at all.
  5. Channel Knife – ever wonder how they make those pretty garnishes on cocktails?  This is the trick – and if you do it right, the lemon oils spray onto the cocktail and given the drink an extra depth of flavor.

Now for the really exciting part – Lavoons gave me an extra set to give away to one of my readers!  Please comment on your favorite cooking gadget, and you will be in the running for a set of these measuring spoons.  I will select a winner on Wednesday, December 21st at 5:00pm PST, so please don’t delay!

The last gift I have is this recipe for black current scones.  I made these a while ago, but just haven’t had a chance to post them yet.  Scones are just the perfect breakfast/brunch treat.  They are super easy to make, and come out of the oven ready to eat.  You can even prepare them ahead of time, and warm them up prior to serving.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 12 oz (about 2 and 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) raw sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, heavy cream or stonyfield farm’s whole milk yogurt, plus extra for glazing
  • 1 scant cup black currants, rinsed, picked through and stemmed

Preparation

Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda & powder, and salt. Add butter, and using your fingers, flatten out the butter pieces to large flakes. Mix in the buttermilk or cream just until the flour is moistened and begins to form large clumps; add the currants. Mix well and knead the dough in the bowl until it will hold together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board.

Sprinkle a little flour across the top of the dough and rub some flour along a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick .  Cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Place on a ungreased cookie sheet and brush with buttermilk or cream, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until brown on top.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  black-current-scones

Please note: As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions about Stonyfield Farm’s products and Lavoons are always my own.