Biscuit Cinnamon Sweet Rolls

Now y’all know I’m a fairly adventurous, confident baker but there are two things that scare the bejeezus out of me… 1. yeast and 2. kneading dough.

I have literally avoided every recipe that I can that includes yeast.  I always end up killing it and the recipe falls flat (literally).  Kneading dough worries me because what if I overwork the dough and it becomes dry or tough?  What if I don’t have enough flour on the surface to keep the dough from sticking?  What if my rolling pin doesn’t have enough flour on it and the entire ball of dough refuses to let go of the pin?  These are the terrors that haunt me when I bake (that was very dramatic and only slightly true).

Needless to say, although Paul has always tried to get me to make cinnamon rolls I never have because they require yeast.  However my friend, Laura, sent me this recipe and I was all in because it looked crazy delicious and only involved one of my fears… kneading.

So I dove into this recipe with great enthusiasm and used plenty of flour on both the counter top to fold the dough and on the rolling pin to roll the dough.  Gotta say, turned out pretty well.

Ya know ya have a fun recipe when you’re trying to roll out the dough and you need your sioux chef husband to stand behind you, arms on either side, holding the wax paper in place while you roll out the dough.  It can be a very sensual experience if you want it to be (imagine the scene from Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze).  For us, it was more goofy, involving a lot of laughing.

Ya also know ya have a delicious recipe when both your cheek and phone have remnants of icing on them.  This is seriously one of the best recipes I’ve made.  Simply delicious.  I’ve never made anything like this before so don’t be intimidated by the steps.  If I can do it, anyone can.  Enjoy!!!

Biscuit Cinnamon Sweet Rolls (recipe care of Southern Living)

INGREDIENTS:  1/4 cup frozen shortening (cut into small pieces), 1/4 cup cold butter (cut into small cubes), 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour, 1 cup buttermilk, wax paper, 6 tablespoons butter (softened), 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, vegetable cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 450°. Cut shortening and butter into flour with a pastry blender or fork in a medium bowl until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Freeze 10 minutes.  Make a well in center of flour mixture; add buttermilk, and stir with a fork just until dough comes together.  Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface, and knead 8 to 10 times. Transfer dough to a heavily floured piece of wax paper about 18 inches long. Roll dough into a 14- x 10-inch rectangle.  Spread dough with softened butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border. (Make sure butter is very soft, and spread it gently.) Stir together sugars and cinnamon; sprinkle over butter. Lift and tilt wax paper, and roll up dough, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side and using wax paper as a guide. Cut dough into 14 to 16 (1-inch-thick) slices. Place rolls in a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 9-inch round pan.  Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare Creamy Glaze, and drizzle over rolls.

Creamy Glaze

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 tablespoons heavy cream

DIRECTIONS: Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, and 3 Tbsp. heavy cream. Whisk in up to 1 Tbsp. cream, 1 tsp. at a time, until smooth and creamy. Use immediately.

Herb-Grilled Chicken Tacos

I don’t know about y’all but in the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve probably gained half of the 19 pounds.  Oh wait, is the “19” not referring to the amount of weight gained during quarantining?  My bad!

Dear Lord, Paul and I have eaten our way through the last 6 or so months.  So now that school is starting up again (well, sort of – at least I’m hoping to have a normal schedule), I’m determined to once again cook healthy, yet delicious meals.  Hence the grilled chicken tacos.

These are fresh, flavorful, and visually beautiful tacos.  Oh and as I require, they’re super easy!  I would suggest making these during the height of summer because of the fresh ingredients.  In-season herbs, fruits, and vegetables make all the difference in this kind of recipe.

I did have a few changes (mainly because I’m lazy).

  • I would double to the wet rub for the chicken.  We only had one pound of chicken and made the rub as called for, but could’ve easily used more.
  • We didn’t grill the avocado.  Simply because it just seemed like a lot of trouble.  Plus avocado on its own is a little piece of heaven here on earth.  But if you’re into grilled avocado, have at it!
  • We used queso fresco instead of cotija cheese.  I like the flavor and texture better.
  • We used flour tortillas because that’s all I could find while shopping and there’s no way I was gonna go to a second store.  Again, I’m lazy.
  • I heated the tortillas in a skillet then moved them to open flame so that they had that wonderful, charred flavor.

As Santa Barbara locals say at this time of year, “Viva la Fiesta!”

Herb-Grilled Chicken Tacos (recipe care of Lorena Garcia)

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INGREDIENTS:  1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil (divided), 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme, 1 tsp. lime zest, 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt (divided), 3/4 tsp. black pepper (divided), 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 avocado (seeded and cut into 8 slices), 1 tomato (finely diced), 1/2 cup finely diced white onion, 1 small poblano chili (finely diced), 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro, 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 8 soft or hard corn tortillas, 2 oz. cotija cheese (crumbled)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat grill pan over high; brush with 1 tablespoon oil.  Stir together thyme, zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Sprinkle evenly with herb mixture.  Cook in hot pan until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from pan; remove pan from heat.  Place avocado slices in pan, and let stand until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes.  Let chicken stand 1 to 2 more minutes; cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Stir diced tomato, onion, poblano, cilantro, lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.  Heat tortillas according to package directions.  Fill with grilled chicken, pico de Gallo, grilled avocado and cheese.

Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables

Booths lined with baskets of bright raspberries, indigo blueberries, and dark blackberries. In a sign of individually and creativity, the farmers display various berry basket patterns that are both attractive and enticing.

The above is my favorite part about visiting local farmers’ market (regardless of where said market is in the world).  The colors, the shapes, the aromas, the energy.  With every farmers’ market I’ve visited between Santa Barbara, Missoula, Granada, and Cusco… I learn something about the culture.  Something special, something unique, something that is probably a gift from the heavens of that is good with food.

Okay, one quick story.  When I visited Granada, Spain (twelve million years ago), I stumbled (literally and figuratively) down a cobbled stone street, into a small courtyard lined with tables covered by baskets filled with the most stunningly, brilliant, beautiful, fragrant spices I’ver ever seen.  Granada is a wonderful mixture of the Spanish and Muslim cultures.  I was enchanted.

Man, I can ramble on when I remember fabulous food related experiences.  Back to the point!  I am lucky enough to live in a town where the farmers’ markets (we have something like 12 each week) offer crazy gorgeous produce any day of the week.  When I saw this recipe, I immediately thought of Santa Barbara’s plethora of summer squash, peppers, garlic, olive oil… the list goes on and on.

Enjoy this fresh, healthy, summer delight!

Notes:  I used one pint of tomatoes and added in one red pepper, orange pepper, and a bag of fresh baby spinach.  With these additions you might need to adjust your seasoning.

Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables (recipe care of… onceuponachef.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  1-1/4 lbs (2 pints) cherry or grape tomatoes (halved),  4 shallots (thinly sliced), 5 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed),  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving), 2 teaspoons salt, 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 medium zucchini (cut into 1/4-inch chunks), 1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears corn), 12 oz fusilli (or similar shape) pasta, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for serving), 1/2 cup tightly packed basil leaves (roughly chopped), 1/3 cup pine nuts (toasted)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Combine the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt, and sugar on the prepared baking sheet. Toss with your hands or a rubber spatula until the vegetables are evenly coated. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are just starting to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and add the zucchini and corn. Toss with a rubber spatula (the tomatoes will collapse; that’s okay) and spread into an even layer. Roast for 5 minutes more, until the zucchini and corn are tender-crisp. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, then add the pasta back to the pan. Add the roasted vegetables and all their juices to the pasta, along with the butter, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, Pecorino Romano, basil, and pine nuts. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon into pasta bowls and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Serve with more grated cheese.

Nana’s Teriyaki Sauce

Paul and the “Goletians” (the crew of Goleta locals who all hung out and graduated within a few years of each other), have had a long standing 4th of July tradition of setting up a ridiculously awesome BBQ/picnic on Goleta Beach.

When I attended my first Goletian 4th, I was crazy nervous.  This was my Goleta boyfriend’s extremely close friends’ tradition.  Here I am, the local Santa Barbara girlfriend (local SB people will understand this) invading the celebration. I had to earn the trust of his friends and prove that I could prep a killer picnic.

Needless to say (since Paul and I are 8 years strong), the Goletians accepted me.  It might be because I prepared a fabulous beach meal and participated in an illegal pier dive at the end of the day.

The key to my success was Paul’s mom’s teriyaki sauce recipe.  It’s simple, easy, and awesome!

Notes:  I used way more garlic than the recipe calls for (as Nana suggests).  So far, Paul and I have used this recipe repeatedly with flank steak (making skewers).  But it would be delicious as a marinade for any kind of steak or chicken.

Teriyaki Sauce (recipe care of Karen Darga a.k.a. Nana)

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INGEDIENTS:  1/2  cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar), 1/4 cup water, 1 piece fresh ginger root (peeled and diced), 1 clove garlic (diced), Nana’s note: “I use more garlic.” Oh Nana, we all do!

DIRECTIONS:  Chop, pour, combine, shake… in other words place all prepared ingredients in a shakeable container (that’s my technical word for Tupperware).  Give it a rigorous shake, pour it into a large ziplock plastic bag, and let marinate for 24 hours- 2 hours (the longer the better)

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Cream Cheese & Green Onion Biscuits

I’ve finally realized an interesting trait to my personality (only took me 47 years to figure this out).  I tend to like weird combinations of ingredients.  Now, I know I’m not alone in this however it just dawned on me.  Sometimes I can be a bit slow.

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to bake today, and I know I wanted something savory.  If you’re like me, you like both sweet and savory.  Well I feel like I’ve had an overkill of sweets in the last few weeks (shocking that I would say an “overkill of sweets” because y’all know I love me my sweets), so today’s baking experiment was savory for sure.

Anyway, I digress.  There’s a fabulous diner/restaurant here in Santa Barbara called Cajun Kitchen.  One of the locals’ favorites.  They have a breakfast dish that serves scrambled eggs with green onions and cream cheese.  I used to order it all the time.  This was the inspiration for today’s bake day.

Now my homely, oddly shaped biscuits are not nearly as pretty as the ones on the blog in which I found this recipe.  But gotta say, what they lack in looks they make up in flavor.  Moist, fluffy, subtle, delicious!

Cream Cheese and Green Onion Biscuits (recipe care of kitchenconfidante.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for working the dough and cutting, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cold and cut into cubes, 5 oz cream cheese cold and cut into cubes, 4 tablespoons sliced green onions, 1 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda until blended. Add the butter, and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the cream cheese and green onions, and pulse a few more times until it is mixed into the crumbs. Add the buttermilk and mix until it just combined, making sure not to overwork the dough. The dough should be rather wet and sticky. On a floured working surface, dump out the dough and gently pat it until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough over 5 times, then gently press the dough until it is 1 inch thick. There is no need to use a rolling pin, but try to make sure the dough is a uniform height. Flour a 2 inch cutter and cut the biscuits out and transfer to the baking sheet, placing them about 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Take any scraps of dough and gently form and cut the biscuits again. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and fluffy. Enjoy as soon as possible out of the oven.

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Annie’s Chocolate Cake

While I was stirring the butter, Crisco, water and cocoa over a low flame letting all of its fattening goodness combine, I started to think about who I could double dog dare to take a sip.  I knew Paul would never take my dare, but my nephew, Flynn, would.  He’ll do anything!  Bummer that I wasn’t baking this cake with him!

This is one of my favorite cakes of all time.  It’s a simple, homemade chocolate cake that is a total crowd pleaser.  It is neither fancy nor pretty.  But how many things made with love from scratch are?  The beauty of this cake is that it tastes like an apron wearing grandmother with flour smeared on her cheek baked it in her warm, lovely kitchen.

I asked my mom for a copy of the recipe and of course she hand wrote it out for me.  She know’s this is one of my favorite cakes so she called it, “Annie’s Chocolate Cake.”  I have no idea where the recipe actually came from or the name of the creator.  But it makes me super happy that my mom named it after me.

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Annie’s Chocolate Cake (recipe care of Day Day Chenoweth, not sure of original source)

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INGREDIENTS:

Cake:  2 cups sifted flour (I didn’t sift the flour, much to my mother’s disdain – if you stir your flour quite a bit before measuring, you will release a lot of the excess air and your measurements will be more precise, skipping the tedious step of sifting), 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco), 1/4 unsweetened cocoa, 1 cup water, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:  1/2 cup butter, 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Cake:  Butter 9 x 13″ pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift flour and sugar together.  Heat butter, shortening, cocoa, and water in a saucepan.  Place in large bowl, and beat in flour and sugar.  Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk, and add to the mixture.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Frosting:  Combine butter, cocoa, and cream in a saucepan.  Heat until butter melts.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and walnuts.  Beat until smooth.  Pour over hot cake and let cool on rack.

*  You know those people who hate frosting and will often choose a piece of cake that has a minuscule amount smoothed over it?  Yeah, that’s not me.  I say pile on the frosting!  So in making the frosting, both my mom and I add extra cream and powdered sugar until we get the consistency we like.  In my mind it’s about the frosting, not the cake.  If that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Once upon a time in the quaint coastal town of Santa Barbara, there lived a beautiful, kind, and very talented baker named Gwen.  This baker was known throughout the land to create scrumptious treats that would wow even the most doubtful taster.

I start this morning’s blog this way because my niece, Gwen, is truly a magical baker.  One day not long ago, she stopped me cold in my tracks when she made these cookies.

She had me at, “chocolate chip cookies.”  I was inspired!

Gwen’s cookies were quite literally the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had.  And trust me, I speak from a lot of experience in this matter.  I kinda love trying different chocolate chip cookies.  It’s devilishly and decadently fun!

Anyway, my cookies did not turn out as well as Gwen’s.  Her’s were elegant, refined yet warm and homey.  Mine were good, but just not as crazy good as Gwen’s.  And thus, this is why Gwen is known as the most beautiful, kind, and talented baker in all of Santa Barbara.

Notes:  I couldn’t find chocolate that I could chop up so I just used chips and ran my knife through them.  That way there would be shards of chocolate and chunks that would spread out throughout the batter.  I also used semisweet chocolate, but bittersweet would be better. Semisweet is just a touch too sweet with the batter.

Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe care of cooking.nytimes.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  2 cups or 256 grams all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ pound or 227 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks at room temperature), 1 ½ cups or 302 grams granulated sugar, ¼ cup or 55 grams packed light or dark brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 6 ounces or 170 grams bittersweet chocolate (chopped into coarse pieces, bits and shards)

DIRECTIONS:  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil, parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water, and mix on low to combine. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low until combined. Add the chocolate and mix on low into the batter. (At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for several hours or overnight.) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Form the dough into 3 1/2-ounce (100-gram) balls (a heaping 1/3 cup each). Place 4 balls an equal distance apart on a prepared pan, and transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. After you put the first baking sheet in the oven, put the second one in the freezer. Place the chilled baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes, until the cookies are puffed slightly in the center. Lift the baking sheet and let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the inside falls back down. (This will feel wrong, but trust me.) Bang it down, if necessary, to make the center fall. After the cookies puff up again, 2 to 3 minutes later, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few more times, every 3 minutes, to create ridges around the edge of the cookie. Bake 16 to 18 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out, and the edges are golden brown, but the centers are much lighter and not fully cooked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack; let cool before removing the cookies from the pan. Repeat with remaining cookies, using the first sheet pan for the third batch of cookies.

Bacon & Blue Cheese Biscuits

“Her’s look a lot prettier than mine.”  That was my slightly sarcastic, slightly realistic  response to looking at my biscuits and the magnificent, perfectly staged, professional photograph included in the People magazine from which I tore this recipe.

Okay, so if you’re at all like me, I don’t really try that hard to make an exact replica of the beautiful pictures that come with recipes.  It doesn’t matter if the recipes come from Martha Stewart, Sunset, Real Simple, etc., I just don’t put that pressure on myself.  As long as the flavors are on point, I’m happy.

Just an FYI… I didn’t use to be like that.  I was neurotic about perfection.  But age and maturity have softened my self expectations. Thank God!

These biscuits are crazy delicious!!! Paul liked that the strong flavors complimented each other well.  They are so yummy and easy to make.

I would serve these as a savory breakfast biscuit or alongside a homemade bowl of tomato soup or as a side to a packed salad.  They’re hearty, aromatic, and flavorful.  Enjoy!

Side notes:

  • My first batch baked for a bit too long; my oven must be hotter than hers.  With the second batch, I cut the second baking down to 10 minutes.
  • I froze the butter overnight, then cut it into small pieces.
  • I placed the bacon crumbles in the freezer for a few minutes before adding them to the batter. With biscuits, you want cold ingredients.
  • I found that this recipe made about 12-14 biscuits, so in between batches I kept the dough in the refrigerator.

Pauley Perrette’s Bacon & Blue Cheese Biscuits (recipe care of people.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. kosher salt, 4 tsp. granulated sugar, 1 stick cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces), 1 cup (6 oz.) crumbled crispy bacon, ½ cup crumbled dry blue cheese or Gorgonzola, ¼ cup finely chopped parsley, 1½ cups buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture, and roughly mix with a wooden spoon, making sure not to break up or soften the butter. Add the bacon, blue cheese and parsley, and toss until evenly mixed.  Pour 1 cup buttermilk into the flour mixture, and gently stir with the wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining ½ cup buttermilk until the dough comes together. Do not overmix. With a large ice-cream scoop, spoon 10 heaping mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, gently pressing down with the scoop while releasing the dough onto the baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 325°, and bake until the biscuitsare golden brown, about 18 additional minutes. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Thyme, Cheddar Cheese Cookies

In an effort to stay true to this blog, this was not an easy recipe!  Well, let me correct that.  The way I made it was easy.  The baker’s instructions led me in a direction that was way off base.

I knew I was in trouble when I began mixing the cheesy, butter mixture with the flour.  She said to mix, “…until the flour forms wet clumps (and there are no dry spots in the dough.”  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  

My dough had small clumps of buttery goodness wrapped up in very dry flour, and when I transferred it from the bowl to the cutting board there was a pile of dried mess.  Kneading the dough into a log shape was not gonna happen.

I have absolutely no clue how she had such a wet dough, and one that allowed her to roll it into a sausage shape wrapped in plastic wrap.

Usually when I go rogue from a recipe, I fail and I fail really well!  I knew there was absolutely no way to correct whatever I had done wrong, but I also knew that I had a really yummy shortbread dough.  So I grabbed a 8×8″ baking dish, poured the crumbly mess in, and patted it down to create a flat surface.  I poked it with a fork a few times to release the air, and popped it in the oven.  Came out like a champ!  These are seriously delicious!!!

My square cookies are not nearly as charming as her perfectly round ones, but their flavors are divine!  I would serve these by themselves or they would be beautiful on a charcuterie board.  Be careful though, they’re delicate.

One note:  Once I pulled all of the thyme leaves off of the stems, I ran a knife through them.  In chopping them up (jut a bit), the flavor of thyme becomes stronger.

Thyme, Cheddar Cheese Cookies (recipe care of theflavorblender.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  6 oz good quality white cheddar cheese from a block (not pre-shredded), 4 oz unsalted butter ½ cup (softened), 2 tsp cracked black pepper coarsely ground black pepper, 1 ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 heaped tsp of dried thyme, ½ tsp sea salt (cheddar cheese is salty too, so add more salt only if you’re using a different cheese), 5.3 oz AP flour about 1 ¼ cup AP flour (spooned and leveled)

DIRECTIONS:  Shred the cheddar cheese using a grater (large grater holes are ideal). Place the butter, shredded cheese, black pepper, salt and thyme in a bowl and mix with a hand-held beater on medium speed. Mix for a few minutes until the butter is creamy and the cheese gets mixed in with the butter. Add the flour, and mix on low speed until the flour forms wet clumps (and there are no dry spots in the dough). Bring the dough together to form a dough ball. Knead it a little if needed (to bring it together). But don’t knead too much. Form an evenly shaped dough log that’s about 6-7 inches long. Wrap it in plastic wrap. Knot the two ends to form a tightly wrapped dough “sausage”. Refrigerate until the dough has chilled – about 30 min to 1 hour. You can also let it chill for up to 5 days in the fridge, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake – remove the log from the fridge (or freezer). If the dough is too hard to cut through, let it thaw a little (so that it’s still chilled, but easier to cut). Unwrap the dough when you’re ready to slice it. With a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch thick discs from the dough log. Use your fingers to shape the cookies into nice round shapes, if they lose their shape a bit. Place the sliced cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and let the tray chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the chilled cheese cookies on the parchment paper-lined half sheet pan, with about an inch of space between each cookie. Bake in preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes for a soft cheese cookie – remove the cookies from the oven when the bottom edges of the cookie are starting to color. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes for a crispy cheese cookie – remove from the oven when the cookies start turning golden in color on top. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Repeat with the remaining sliced cookies (make sure the half sheet pan is at room temperature for this second batch of cookies – so either use a new half sheet pan, or cool down the previous one to room temp. first). Place the cooled cookies in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. OR wrap them in plastic wrap, and then in foil, and store in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Chocolate Nut Cookies

I was deeply skeptical of this recipe.  The main reason was because of the amounts of the dry ingredients.

The second reason for skepticism was the source of the recipe.  Ralph Lauren?!?!  Really?!?!  Ralph Lauren is a clothing line.  Why would I ever pay attention to a recipe advertised on his website???

With all that said, I was scrolling through Instragram and stumbled upon this delicious sounding recipe on a surprisingly uncharacteristic site.  Who would’ve thought that the Ralph Lauren would’ve advertised this recipe?  Turns out Ralph shared his wife’s lovely recipe.

Now.  In reading this recipe, I was arrogant and presumptuous of the result.  However, the dry ingredient ratio to the wet ingredient made me confused (which in truth is not that shocking).  Just seemed like a weird combination.

Have faith and make this crinkle cookie.  It’s delightful!  Trust in the recipe quantities.

Here are a few tips:  Roast the walnuts ahead of time, but pay attention (I forgot that I was roasting them and burnt a few).  The funny thing is in all of the nut roasting, I had preheated the oven and placed the broken walnuts in the tray then said, “Don’t let me forget the walnuts.”  If you know me at all, of course I was distracted and forgot the walnuts.   I burnt the perimeter of the pan, thus many nuts.  The smell of roasted walnuts was enticing but the taste was both pungent and questionable.  Don’t forget you’re roasting nuts when you’re roasting nuts!

I love walnuts.  If you’d prefer to incorporate other nuts, go for it!  Just be sure that the batter is cooled sufficiently and your audience are nut fans!

Chocolate Chocolate Nut Cookies (recipe care of ralphlauren.com)Cookies

 

INGREDIENTS:  1 pound semisweet chocolate (chopped), 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed), 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 cups walnuts or almonds (toasted and chopped)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt half of the chopped chocolate with the butter in the top of the double broiler over simmering water.  Let cool.  Mix in the sugar, eggs, vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in the dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture.  Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and nuts.  Cover the mixture and refrigerate for one hour.  Lightly butter two large baking sheets.  Drop the batter in 2-tablespoon measures per cookie to make two dozen.  Press down gently on each cookie. Bake until they start to crack, 12 to 13 minutes.  Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet.