Posts Tagged ‘great food blogger cookie swap’

Pecan & Almond Shortbread Cookies — 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Creative Crops Almond Pecan Shortbread, Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

It is officially that time of year – time for the great food blogger cookie swap! Our house looks forward to this time of year like nothing else. We stalk our mailbox for our 3 delicious boxes of cookies, homemade by a genius food blogger. I will detail the cookies we were fortunate enough to receive as well as the bloggers they came from in another post but know that they were super delicious! For our batch of cookies we decided to make Pecan and Almond Shortbread cookies. Shortbread cookies are some of our favorite and we thought we would go a little nutty and throw in both pecans and almonds to see how the combo went, and it was a winner! These were great cookies, year-round, and were quite a hit with our visitors, and hopefully our cookies swap partners liked them too!

Want to learn more about the swap? Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/qCABj for updates!!

This recipe is based off of http://m.foodnetwork.com/recipes/122690 .

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Directions: 

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. I started by roasting my pecans and then chopped them up instead of purchasing them pre-chopped or roasted. Pecans were roasted at 350 F for 5- 6 minutes.

Mix the butter and sugar until they are combined and then add the vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and salt,and add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Add the pecans and mix (on low speed if you are using a mixer) until the dough starts to come together. Move dough to a floured surface and roll into a long cylinder or log about 2″ thick. Wrap in saran-wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into hockey-puck or small discs. The thicker the discs the thinker your cookie. We found that they did not rise much. Bake the cookies on a parchment paper lined sheet and pop them into the oven!

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Once they have cooled off feel free to devour them!

Creative Crops Almond Pecan Shortbread, Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies – Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Cookie Swap 2012What an awesome event – again! We loved participating in this during its inaugural run in 2011 and 2012 proved to be just as much fun. I always like trying a new recipe for this particular swap and my high standards tell me that it has to be a universally appealing recipe, which led me to mint chocolate chip – who doesn’t love that ice cream flavor?! I modified my recipe off of one available from Betty Crocker found here.  I decided that using a pouch of sugar cookies for the base would be cheating so the recipe below includes instructions for homemade sugar cookies and the mint chocolate chip piece all rolled into one!

One thing I’ve neglected to mention is that not only are these extremely tasty – they got rave reviews from my in-person cookie swap (and husband!), but they are also ridiculously easy!! This is a win-win cookie: Delicious for those eating them and easy for those cooking them!

Ingredients

Awesome dough - smelled just like the ice cream1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter softened1/4 tsp mint extract
6 – 8 drops green food coloring
1 egg
1 cup white chocolate baking chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

These guys are ready to cook!

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, mint extract, egg and food coloring until a soft dough forms. Add your chocolate chunks and white baking chips.

Drop cookies about 2 inches apart on either an un-greased cookie sheet, or one lined with parchment paper (which is what I do!) for easy cleanup. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, let them cool on a wire rack and gobble them up!

Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

Delicious Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

A Season of Thanks, Giving, & Baking!

With Thanksgiving just a day behind us and the winter holidays rapidly approaching I always like to pause for a moment to not only give my thanks but to think of ways to give back. I do my best to give my time, money and tangible items to organizations when I am able to, year-round, but the crisp air and merry season just lends itself to even more giving! I apologize for the lack of food in this posting but will be back with more food next week!

What am I thankful for? Plenty!

I’m still a newlywed by technical standards and I’m still thankful everyday for my wonderful husband. Our dog is also such a joy! I love his pint-sized personality and spunk!! He keeps us on our toes and is the best foot-warmer in the world! Additionally, my parents, siblings and other extended family make it such a great group to be a part of! I don’t get to see them all very often since we live in different states but the time we have is usually filled with laughter, smiles, some eye-rolling, and lots of fun. They are a great bunch!

In these troubling economic times I’m glad to be able to have a place to work Monday – Friday that is stable, and I’m glad I have been able to help a few friends also find a good full-time gig. Having employment can be exasperating at times but I’m glad I have a job and a good group of coworkers.

If you have time this afternoon or evening and didn’t do this yesterday just pause for a quick second, think of one thing that you are thankful for and smile. When I do this I can feel myself becoming less stressed, in moments of monumental stress thinking of something I love, something that makes me smile, or something that makes others smile quickly helps me relax.

Item Donations:
Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Volunteers of America, Brides Against Breast Cancer etc..

I also love that I am able to give both in time and money. There are so many great ways to give and they don’t all involve monetary donations. I enjoy giving my time to worthy causes as well as donating items that are still in tip-top shape! Each season I clean out my closet and normally I find many clothes that are still looking sharp but are very under-worn by me, so these make for a fabulous donation. Shortly after getting married we had taken all of our still useable kitchen items (including knives and a knife block, pots and pans, etc) to a local interim housing shelter that provides families with interim apartments while they get back on their feet. They were so thankful for the donations of these common household items and I was happy to help! Donating gently used and still use-able items to shelters and churches is also an excellent way to recycle. The more we can re-use and prevent from going in a landfill the better! Need another reason to donate items – it is an easy tax deduction. Each time you donate items you will receive a donation slip that you can use when you file taxes. This isn’t the best reason to give but if it means you are giving useful items to a good cause then any reason is a good one!

Patriotic:
Wreaths Across America: Having lived two blocks from Arlington Cemetery and having both friends and family in the armed services, nothing is more touching than the wreaths and flags used to decorate the Cemetery tombstones around the holidays. It is a beautiful sight and a beautiful way to honor those that have fought for our many freedoms. If you are in the DC area, you can help place the wreaths on tombstones on December 15th. There is no registration, just show up at 9:30am and instructions will be provided.

Toys for Tots: I can’t imagine the stress of having children and not being able to see joy on faces from giving them even a small toy or gift. I love that this program, and other toy donation programs allow parents to make their children happy and stress free even for just a few minutes. Other alternatives to Toys for Tots is to donate toys to local women’s shelters or local free tutoring centers. Many shelters for women will collect toys and distribute them to the women to then give to the children. Similarly, we have some low-income free tutoring centers in the DC area that also allow you to donate toys off a child’s wish list to their parents to give to the children. It is a wonderful way to help both the children and parents. I love spending time picking out the absolute perfect gift for these children.

Baking a Difference:
In this season of happiness and good cheer we can truly ‘bake’ a difference. This is my 2nd year participating in the Food Blogger Cookie Exchange. This year, in addition to receiving delicious baked creations we also donated to OXO Cookies for Kid’s Cancer Creative Crops Bakingwhich is a wonderful cause! For participating with OXO we received the swanky spatula pictured. It is a pretty sweet spatula! There are so many ways you can get involved with OXO’s cause: hosting a bake sale, buying baked cookies or buying one of your own swanky cookie spatulas! If you’re a fellow food blogger you can also earn additional donations from OXO towards this cause by blogging recipes, and blogging about bake sales. These are all easy ways to help a great charity earn a little more.

Planning a bake sale?
Bake sales can be easy to organize and a quick, and tasty, way to drum up donations for a good cause! If you register your bake sale on the OXO site you can get double the donation as OXO will match your donated funds! They will only do this for registered sales so please do register ahead of time!

Organizations I like:

Honor Flight – Getting veterans to see the memorials in DC and other states
Boys & Girls Club – You could be the difference in an at-risk child’s life

Are there any special organizations you like to support?

The 2011 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Lime Cookies

This year I participated in a gigantic cookie swap! It was so much fun, and such a great experience! Many thanks to those ladies for setting up such a wonderful event! The basic gist of this swap was that each participant baked 1 dozen cookies for their ‘match’ and each person had 3 matches. My cookies went out to California, Massachusetts and Kentucky to these great food bloggers:
http://annagaz.wordpress.com/
http://kathycancook.com
http://mybflikeitsoimbg.blogspot.com

In return, I received three dozen cookies from three different parts of the country! I plan to do another post really featuring the pictures of the cookies I received but in the meantime, here are their blog links: www.the-baker-chick.com/ , www.lovelifeandpictures.blogspot.com and http://soufflebombay.blogspot.com/ . Thank you all!!

For my contribution to the swap, I went with a new recipe for lime cookies. I’m not as wonderful as a baker so this recipe was directly out of the BH&G ‘The Ultimate Cookie Book” . It was a great recipe and we even ended up making more batches for our friends and ourselves. The flavor of the lime was really very good in cookie form, definitely a nice cookie! The recipe also yielded about 48 cookies, which made it even better for a swap type of format since I needed at least 36. Another thing that really excited us about this recipe was that we could finally use the micro-plane we received at our wedding – that really made the recipe that much more appealing to us! Anyways, it was tasty, people seemed to really dig them so here is the scoop on how to make these! Disclaimer: I will add more photos to this post once my camera’s battery has been recharged!

Ingredients:
– 1 cup butter, softened
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 tbsp finely shredded lime peel
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– 2 cups flour (all-purpose)

The ingredients below this are specifically for the sugar topping, last paragraph of the instructions, please keep them separate from the ingredients above!
– 1/3 cup granulated sugar
– 2 tbsp green colored coarse sugar (we used green sprinkles)
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (keep separate from above)
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.  In a large mixing bowl beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Add sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and beat until combined. Beat in your lime peel and lime juice and continue to beat until combined. We actually juiced one entire lime here and we must have chosen the absolute perfectly sized lime because it was exactly the amount of lime juice we needed – that little guy gave us all the peel and juice we need: woo hoo! Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer and then begin to stir in remaining flour. We were able to beat in about a cup and a 1/4 of the flour with the mixer before giving way to stirring it in by hand. Put to the side. 

In a small bowl stir together the ingredients listed above for the sugar topping. Mix well and set aside.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls (approx.). Place balls 2 inches apart on your cookie sheet. I always prefer to line my cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up and that worked well. The recipe calls for an ungreased cookie sheet so pick your poison: ungreased sheet or parchment paper. Using the bottom of a glass (we used a juice cup) dipped into the sugar topping flatten the balls until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Bake them for about 10 – 12 minutes depending on how many are on there and how thick they end up being. You will want the edges to be golden. Transfer them to a wire rack and allow them to cool before you dig in!

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