Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

I first learned about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap from my friend Abi just after their first one wrapped up.  We promptly signed up to receive more information come the end of 2012.

Here's how it works: you sign up, make a small donation to Cookies for Kid's Cancer, OXO matches your donation and sends you a super cool cookie spatula.  Then you get the names and address of 3 food bloggers to send your cookies.

I was set on sending out Turtle Cookies, but after I made them I was underwhelmed.  I decided to try a recipe I saw in Everyday Food - Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies.  Much better!


2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar
1/4-1/2 t peppermint extract
1 large egg
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
1 c confectioners' sugar
3-5 T heavy cream (I used whole milk)
4-5 candy canes, crushed for decorating


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4t peppermint extract on medium-high until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes.  Beat in egg, then flour mixture on low.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely.

Stir together confectioners' sugar and enough milk/cream to make a spreadable glaze (add more extract if desired).  Spread a thin layer of glaze on top of each cookie and sprinkle with candies.  Let dry completely on racks.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies, but I got 3 dozen + 3 decent-sized cookies.

The hardest part was finding the perfect container/shipping box combination.  I tried to fit them into the small flat rate box but it wasn't happening.  So I used regular shipping boxes from Target.

I got lots of questions at the Post Office since I had the Cookie Swap Logo all over them.  The Post Office lady was very impressed and wished she was in on all the fun.

I received my first batch from Jenna at Little Kitchen, Big Flavors.  I believe they are called "Snickers Surprise"? It doesn't really matter what they were called - they were good.  I think they lasted a day and a half (since I live with the cookie monster).

Then I got a package from Abbey at Munchin' Mel.  They were a minty chocolate chip cookie, not too sweet.  These were good as well!

And lastly, some lemony glazed cookies from Jackie at La Casa de Sweets - YUM!

This was a great experience and I'll be looking forward to it again next next! Thank you Love and Olive Oil!

Friday, November 30, 2012

{FPP} - Guest Post from Mary

My FPP for this month asked to write a guest post since she doesn't have a blog.  Here's Mary's take on the goodies I sent her!

I love receiving Foodie Pen Pal treasures in the mail, and Lauren's package far exceeded my expectations.  Each item was thoughtfully selected, and everything has been consumed except for the Pepper Jam, which I am saving to make an appetizer for Christmas Eve.  The apple butter was devoured at a meal of chili and homemade biscuits.  The honey, pumpkin bark, and tea mints were confiscated by my grandchildren (and only the honey lasted long enough to make it to their house).  While all those items were amazing, my absolute favorite was the home canned tomatoes.

The day the package arrived I had tried my hand at making Tasso Ham.  I have a Big Green Egg, and have been experimenting with all things smoked.   I was also responsible for the main dish at a pot luck on the following day, and was preparing a cassoulet using the Tasso and smoked sausage.  I put my 28 oz. can of tomatoes back into the cupboard, and used the jar of canned tomatoes.  YUMMY!!

Sausage Cassoulet

2 T. olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 lbs assorted fully cooked smoked sausages (kielbasa, andouille, smoked sausage, ham)
3 to 5 toes garlic, pressed
2 cup red wine
2 Knorr Beef Homestyle Stock Concentrate
3 T. Tomato Paste
2-15 ounce cans Pinto Beans
2-14 ounce cans great northern beans
2-14 ounce cans butter beans
1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons dry rubbed sage
1 T. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Saute onions in olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add sausage/ham/etc. and saute for another 3 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic, wine, stock concentrate, and tomato paste, stirring until stock is dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1/2 hour.

I made it the day before, let the flavors develop, and then reheated in a crock pot.  It can also be warmed in a 350 degree oven, in a casserole dish, for 1 hour.

The original recipe suggested using 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 cups diced country style bread, 1 lb tomatoes seeded and diced, and 1/2 cup chopped parsley.  Saute the bread cubes in the olive oil until golden brown, stirring often, about 25 minutes.  Combine fresh tomatoes and parsley in a large bowl; and mix in the bread.  Spoon over the warm cassoulet,and bake uncovered 15 minutes longer.  I just opted to have it served with crusty bread....easier for me.

This was my second time of participating in Foodie Pen Pals.  I was surprised at the amount of foods, the great quality of the items, and the fun I had with the consumption of the awesome food items that were sent.  Thanks Lauren, for the wonderful treats, and for allowing me to write a guest entry for your blog.

You're very welcome, Mary.  I'm so glad you thoroughly enjoyed everything.  And if anyone wants to get in on the FPP fun, check out Lindsay's blog The Lean Green Bean

{FPP} - October Foodie Penpal Reveal

For my second Foodie Penpal I was matched up with Alek from Run Serve Cook, an adorable 15-year old from Ohio.

I got some great treats from Alek.  I especially loved the coffee and the packet of Justin's Peanut Butter - I had been wanting to try it for awhile.  And his note, which he wrote in study hall :), explained all the items in the box.  Thank you Alek for your thoughtful foodie box!!  Keep up the great work running, being healthy, cooking and blogging.  Don't forget to stay young :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday with Dorie: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins + FAKESGIVING

I decided to sneak these muffins into our Supper Club menu.  They were really easy to whip up and could easily pass for breakfast or dessert.  And even among some really superb desserts, one friend deemed this the best one.

Abi and Phil hosted this month's Supper Club, and I'd say it was the best yet.  Our theme this time was Fakesgiving - a practice round for the upcoming big day.  It was also nice to share such an important meal with friends, both old and new.
Phil cutting the turkey
Finally got a picture of Abi (the photographer) and I

Brie Bites - Sticks of puff pastry, stuffed with brie
cheese and fig blackberry jam, these were named
"the grown-up Pop Tarts". 
Cranberry Salad
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Veggies - I added brussel sprouts

Abi's beautiful table setting complete with terra cotta bread  dishes and flower pots stuffed with treats. 

With our RSVPs, we each gave Abi something for which we are thankful.  She transcribed these little notes onto parchment paper and rolled them up inside the dinner rolls.  Then we read them out loud to each other. 

Mike and I
Mike and Bayly
Empty plates all around

Arpita shared her recipe for her family's Cha (chai) recipe - and gave us the ingredients all tucked away inside these adorable little containers. 

Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cake
Buttermilk Crumb Muffins
Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow - Subbed in Biscoff Spread instead of peanut butter

Dessert Table

And then because we didn't have enough to eat, the boys decided to roast chestnuts - Mike's speciality he learned to make in the field while in the Marines, go figure. 

The recipe for the Buttermilk Crumb Muffins can be found on Lisa's blog Easier than Pie, who also happens to participate in the Foodie Pen Pals.  Next up? Best Ever Brownies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

{FPP} - September Foodie Penpal Reveal

Last month I happened upon a post (maybe it was from someone in the TWD gang), about a foodie penpal program. What?  Sign.Me.Up.  The program is run by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean, and you can head over to her blog if you want to participate next month. 

Here's a quick run-down of the program (from Lindsay):

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions. -You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penpals is open to US & Canadian residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

So, my first foodie penpal was blog reader Brenda from California.  I promptly received my package around the 15th.  I really hit the jackpot with Brenda!  She put so much thought into the package which contained some local and homemade goodies and even a book!

Inside was coffee (I love Peets!), mixed nuts, California raisins, teas, chocolate covered almonds, a chocolate espresso bar (divine!), some fruit leathers, a book on dessert (can never have too many) and some healthy homemade cookies.  My favorite part of the box was that Brenda put little notes on each item explaining why she chose it.  She also explained some of the health benefits of the teas and I've been making a conscience effort to drink them more often.  And her box couldn't have come at a better time.  I was leaving for a business trip and took a lot of the goodies with me for healthier snacks while traveling.  Everything was delicious, but if I had to chose, I'd say the chocolate almonds were my favorite.  Thank you, Brenda!!


Now the person you receive from is not the same person you send to.  Head on over to 111 Pounds blog to see what I sent to Leslie. 
How fun this was!  I've already signed up for next month.  Wanna join?  Click here!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind: Whole Wheat Loaves

I wasn't going to make anything for the rewind, but waking up post-storm in a chilly house I was itching to crank up the oven (and the power was back on!).  I decided to make the whole wheat bread since I have tons of soup left over that I think it'll pair great with.

I was really happy with this bread.  I didn't have the malt extract, and didn't sub in anything but it didn't seem to matter.  The BF, who is not a bread person, liked it as well, but asked that next time the crust be a little softer :) 

You can find the recipe on the blog The Family That Bakes Together...

Our next recipe is Buttermilk Crumb Muffins...stay tuned!

Monday, October 22, 2012

September End-of-Summer Supper Club

Late in September we finally had a legit Supper Club.  It's been awhile so I decided to make it a good one.  We also invited a new couple in, Mike and Bayly and I had a college friend, Kacie, visiting from Las Vegas.  Inspired by my new riverfront digs, we did a nautical theme.  I collected driftwood, grasses and cattails via a kayak paddle trip and added life (saver) preservers to the printed menus.

On the menu was:

  • Sailor Know Dinner Rolls
  • Sparkling Apple Drink and Wine

So we forgot to take pictures of the food, because we were too busy eating it.  Everything was delicious.

But we got pictures of the cake.  Here's what it was supposed to look like:

And here's our version:

I assure you it tasted the same.  But what we think happened is that the layers weren't completely level and with the weight of all 6 layers the cake just kinda collapsed on itself.  And that's how it become a Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Trifle. 

The theme for the next Supper Club will be Fakesgiving :)