Happy birthday to me!

Today I'm celebrating a pretty momentous birthday so to celebrate I decided to do what makes me happiest - baking (and to be honest - eating the batter and dough:)

First up, Lemon Olive Oil cookies from Carrie at Fields of Cake. They happen to be vegan, but don't let that scare you away. They are so good, so easy and a nice shift from the sweet/salty kick I've been on lately.

Just a couple of tweaks to Carrie's original recipe. I didn't have the fancy Lemon Olive Oil she uses in the recipe, so instead used 2t. lemon oil, I prefer Boyajian (bottle is $$ but worth it, it will last forever and I think lemon extract from the grocery store makes the cookies taste like dish soap) plus 3/4 c. olive oil (extra virigin olive oil was too strong, I thought). Finally, I added a 1/2t. of the lemon oil to the sugar I used to coat the balls of dough. Adds a little more sweet lemony goodness.



I have two more recipes to post (Valrhona chocolate chip brownies and salted oatmeal cookies) but have to get ready for my birthday dinner here (and this place is right next door!) Lucky me! More soon.


Lucky me! (alternate title: Vermouth, it's not just for martinis anymore)

I've been lucky enough to get an advance copy of Debbie Koenig's new cookbook, PARENTS NEED TO EAT TOO: Nap Friendly Recipes, One-Handed Meals, and Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents, coming out next week from William Morrow.

I first "met" Debbie on Twitter, when we realized we both had a long history in working in book publishing, and we finally met in person this summer. I've always been a fan of her blog, Words to Eat By, and now I love her book, which is aimed at new parents (or soon-to-be again new parents like me), but really is for anyone who has tried to make meal with kids underfoot, just as much.

I'll be blogging soon about one of her many excellent and easy recipes in the next couple of days (I'm torn between Cheater's Chana Masala and Broccoli Cheddar Pinwheels - might have to make both!), but in the meantime, I've already flagged a lot of her tips for a well-rounded pantry, including my favorite discovery: dry vermouth!

Since I've been pregnant, I've kept mine wine consumption to a minimum but sometimes a recipe calls for a spash or two of white wine - what's the point in opening a whole bottle that eventually will go bad in the fridge? Dry vermouth is shelf stable - open it, use as necessary, and store in the cabinet - it will always stay as good as new.

More tips and receipes from Debbie's new book to come soon!

THIS JUST IN: Pre-order the book by Feb. 21 (that's next Tuesday, so hurry!) and get an excellent and awesome Digital Starter Kit - with bonus recipes, a baby food making how-to, a countdown to baby food guide to the third trimester (right up my alley) and lots of other handy stuff.  Visit Debbie's website for more details. Go now, what are you waiting for?


Happy accidents


So at the end of the last post I mentioned that the chocolate pretzel layer separated from the toffee on the last batch I made - making it a great "factory seconds" gift for close friends, and a evil snack for pregnant me, but not the delicious and nice looking teacher gift I'd imagined.

Before my teeth started to rot, I had to figure out another way to use the tasty but ungiftable toffee pieces. Why not in cookies?

First step - use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. THIS one, from Debbie at Parents Need to Eat Too is mine (and should be yours too, if you know what's good for you).

Next - chop up your favorite pretzel toffee recipe into small chunks (this should be your favorite, if it isn't already) and replace chocolate chips with these delicious little nibbles.

That's it! The toffee will melt a lot at the edges, making for some ugly misshapen cookies, but don't let that scare you.  Once cool, you'll have one of the best cookies you've ever eaten (that's just my opinion, but hey, it's my blog).






Pretzel toffee!

You asked for it (or at least a couple of you did on Facebook and Instagram)

Pretzel Toffee

(adapted from TheKitchn)

1 lb. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. water
2 cups sugar (400 g)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
12 oz finely chopped semi or bittersweet chocolate (can also substitue 1 12oz bag of your favorite chips, I use Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate Bar)
8 oz crushed mini pretzels (I use these) - you can also try crushed peppermints, flaky sea salt, toasted nuts, whatever suits your fancy.

In a large skillet, melt butter, water, sugar, and salt over medium high heat. Stir constantly and rapidly with wooden spoon. Boil, stirring rapidly, until mixture turns a deep golden tan. Quickly remove from heat so as not to burn the mixture. Stir in the vanilla (it will splatter and bubble up).

Pour mixture into rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan, lined with foil (my go-to pan for this is 10x15). Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle evently with chopped chocolate. When chocolate looks glossy, spread chocolate evenly with an offset spatula, and sprinkle with pretzels. Press pretzels into chocolate using the back of a large spatula.

Cool 8 to 12 hours at room temp, then break toffee into chunks.

Note: I've made a couple times recently and put the sheet in the fridge to cool down more quickly. Don't do this! The chocolate and toffee cool down at different times and then the layers separate from each other when you break it.

Step by step photos to come...


On hiatus...

I'm taking some time off from baking to focus on my next project, baby #3, due in May!!! (Insert various "bun in the oven" jokes here...) During this time off, I'm going to work harder to update the blog with photos of projects I haven't had time to post, and will also start posting recipes.


Happy baking!