Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cookie Week: Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

What a week, as of today we are officially in mid-December. There is still much to be done this holiday season, but in light of recent events, even more to be thankful for. I don't have to words to describe how awful it must be to lose a child in a tragedy like that in Connecticut, or how Lily's family must feel losing their daughter to a hard fought battle with cancer. This morning I'm thankful for those who fight to keep young lives safe, who fight to eradicate all cancers, and it seems like "thank you" just begins to cover it all.

This week I was honored to blog with a group of women who are constantly using their blogging platforms to shine light on the issues most important to them. During Cookie Week, Kristen at Comfortably Domestic is working with Glad to Give and tallying up the number of cookies we've all swapped this week. Glad to Give will in turn donate a dollar to Cookies for Kids Cancer for every cookie exchanged this week (you can participate too, send your totals to comfortablydomestic <at> gmail <dot> com by today).

On Thursday, my co-workers and I swapped cookies during shift change at my fun market job. This was my first in-person cookie swap which was exciting, as I've only ever participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (also exciting). I'm lucky to work with lots of foodies, so there was no shortage of great cookies to be had.

For my contribution I made Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from Food 52. There is cookie that a Detroit bakery (and I'm sure thousands of others) makes - Sea Salt Chocolate Chip - I'm obsessed. I happily sprinkled flakey, crunchy Maldon Sea Salt all over these cookies. In all, I contributed fourteen cookies to the market-swap, and gave the rest to co-workers at my non-profit job (the beauty of multiple jobs - more distribution outlets for baked goods). 

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
cup sugar
large eggs
teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups creamy peanut butter (not all natural)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
coarse sea salt for sprinkling cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in peanut butter until just combined. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips.
  4. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of cookie dough two inches apart. Top each cookie with a few sea salt crystals.
  5. Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are firm.

Be sure to check out all of the Cookie Week posts via Comfortably Domestic!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

To say I've been looking forward to the 2nd annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap since August would not be an exaggeration.  Last year's swap kept my friends and I fueled during finals week. This year's swap was just what I needed to launch myself into the holiday season amidst work, life, etc! The sweet addition to this year's swap was that each participating blogger represented $4 going to Cookies for Cancer.

As I haven't spent much time baking in past few months I sought out infallible recipes for this year's swap. When I found Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Chocolate Chunkers, I knew it was "the one." Four types of chocolate eliminated all room for error, not even my finicky oven could mess up this one.

I did worry the final product, which was amazing, may have been a little delicate for shipping. The "crunchies" as Dorie called them, semisweet and white chocolate chips, peanuts and raisins, outweigh the cookie dough here and so the dough loosely holds these cookies together. Hopefully my cookie recipients forgave any presentation problems at first bite!

Get the Dorie's Recipe for Chocolate Chunkers here.

Off to New York, Tennesee and Florida
In exchange, I received three dozen great cookies.
These ladies know how to bake! I've been stowing away the cookies they sent in my freezer and I'm looking forward to enjoying them all winter long. If you're interested in signing up for next year's swap - sign up here.

Later this week I'm joining my favorite bloggers of all time who are baking for Cookie Week.  Kristen at Comfortably Domestic is organizing this baking extravaganza alongside Cookies for Kids Cancer (much like the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap). For each cookie exchanged, Glad to Give is donating $1 to Cookies for Kids Cancer. Be sure to follow all the action of Cookie Week via Kristen's blog or use #cookieweek on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Beer Bread

beer week [beer week]
  1. a twelve-blogger effort to ring in Oktoberfest stateside
  2. six days of brewery spotlights and tasty beer-centric recipes
It's the fourth day of fall. I've wasted no time embracing apples, apple cider, squash, pumpkin, pumpkin spice, decorative corn stalks, etc. This year I'm adding pumpkin beer to the list. I grabbed a bottle Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale a few weeks ago and was intrigued to try more. I was happy to see that my hometown brewery, Arcadia Ales, just released their pumpkin beer for the season - Jaw-Jacker. Not too pale, not too dark, not too hoppy, just right.

Arcadia has been brewing in downtown Battle Creek since 1996. Given that I was under-age for most of their 16 years, my sentiments with Arcadia lie in a few random, non-beer things (beer is totally on the list now). First, their wood-fired pizzas. Concurrent with my developing foodie-ness over the years my pizza allegiances at Arcadia have gone from the Peanut Butter and Jelly pizza, to Barbeque Chicken, to my current favorite, the Green Goddess Pizza. Their barbeque is also worth the trip. Second, as an eternal optimist for the future of downtown Battle Creek I love that Arcadia has stayed put in the area for so many years. They were one of few attractions to that part of town for many years, and now there is lots of exciting growth happening all around them. And they are expanding too!

Back to beer. . .I'm happy to count Arcadia's Angler Ale, IPA, and now Jaw-Jacker among some of my favorite Michigan beers these days.

In looking for ale friendly recipes,  beer bread popped on my radar. Of course with pumpkin on the brain, I quickly shifted gears to begin searching for pumpkin beer bread. Given the level of pumpk-session this time of year, I need not look too far. I made two versions of this pumpkin beer bread, using first about a 3:1 ratio of whole wheat flour to all purpose flour and then, using solely whole wheat flour. The 100% whole wheat loaf was a bit denser but just as tasty.

Pumpkin Beer Bread

  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin ale

Preheat oven to 350º and grease a 9-inch loaf pan. 
Combine all dry ingredients, flour - allspice. 
Melt the butter over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin puree and brown sugar, first. Then, add in eggs and ale. 
Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry, until just combined. 
Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the loaf. 

Four-year olds think it's cute to photo bomb? Well, ok, it is kind of cute.

Still hungry? There's more! Check out these other bloggers celebrating Beer Week.






- Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama: Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blueberry Ginger Crepes à la mode

From the lovely ladies who brought you Cocktail Week comes Crepe Week! Fourteen amazing crepe recipes are coming your way this week. This time there are more guests to the party including a few more amazing bloggers and America's Test Kitchen. More on that in a minute. . .

Since first mention of crepe week I've been doing my due diligence in terms of crepe research. In late July I visited my friend Emily in Detroit where we ate lunch at Le Petit Zinc. Le Petit Zinc stands out as a little French oasis near Detroit's industrial riverfront. Pickle and sausage (salami) crepe? Genius.

The universe brought me more crepes days later at Selma Cafe where the Flint Crepe Company served up breakfast a few weeks ago. The Flint Crepe guys brought along two industrial crepe makers. I stood nearby, mouth gaping wide open and watched them effortlessly spin crepe after crepe. The choice between a savory caprese crepe with bacon or a sweet berry crepe with farm cheese was tough, sweet ultimately winning. 

Still the thought of making my own crepes made me nervous. Was I really going to be able to pull off such a delicate, French staple in my own kitchen? Turns out its much easier than you (or maybe just, I) would think. Seriously. This America's Test Kitchen video will put you at ease. ATK's crepe recipe served as the foundation of crepe week, where twelve bloggers have taken their own creative spins on crepes. I nearly followed ATK's recipe to a "T" but opted to blend my batter instead of mixing by hand. 

Like pancakes and first children (or is that just in my family?), the first crepe is a little weird. Past that, the possibilities are endless. If I've learned anything in my crepe research, its that crepes are the perfect vehicle for tons of sweet and savory combinations. 

For my blueberry ginger crepes I boiled down one pint of blueberries, one and a half tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of grated ginger (with this warm blueberry sauce recipe as a guide). It was simple, sweet and spicy crepe accompaniment. Crepes were served to my packing roommates à la mode with Talenti Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip gelato. 

Enough about me. Let's talk more crepes and America's Test Kitchen. ATK offered four Crepe Week bloggers the chance to give away cookbooks on their blogs this week, those blogs are bold below. Moreover, you all have thirteen more delicious crepe recipes available to you this week so eat up!

Kirsten - Tuscan Crepes
Kat from Tenaciously Yours – Southwest Crepes with Cilantro Pesto
Jeanne from Inside Nana Bread’s Heat – Lemon Cream Crepe Cake for Two
Lauren from Climbing Grier Mountain – Herbed Goat Cheese Crepes
Me – Blueberry Ginger Crepes à la mode
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama – Vermonter Crepes with Ham and Cheese
Katie from Hill Country Cook – Sweet Crepes
Monica from The Grommom – Prosciutto and Asparagus Crepes
Mads from Le Petite Pancake – Strawberry Crepes Au Lait
Allison from Decadent Philistines – Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Crepes
Anne from My Sweet Heart – Red Velvet Crepes with Mascarpone
P.S. Chocolate, peanut butter and homemade coffee ice cream rocks on crepes. It happens. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Michigan Blueberry Smash Cocktail

It's Cocktail Week! A special thanks to Allison (that was hard to type, I really want to say Mrs. Powell) at Decadent Philistines Save the World for letting me join in the "week" games. Mrs. P was the young, hip teacher at my high school a few years back. I loved hanging out in her classroom talking shoes and gawking at her mad cake decorating skills. 

Now for some libations. . .

Despite enjoying several new cocktails over the past year, this was my first adventure in cocktail making. I decided to make a cocktail featuring Michigan berries. I've been fortunate to enjoy several Michigan fruits this season already - black cherries, raspberries, and blueberries - despite the damage the fruit crop here has incurred.  I settled on a half pint of itty bitty blueberries at the Farmer's Market and was able to snag some locally grown mint as well for this Blueberry Smash cocktail from Bon  Appétit. 

I halved the original recipe and swapped Elderflower soda for the pricier Elderflower liqueur, using equal parts soda and vodka.

To make this unbelievably easy drink, you'll need lemon, lime, berries, mint, and the aforementioned, vodka and soda. 


As the name implies, you'll need to smash the fruit and mint together (best part, aside from drinking it) before adding vodka, soda and ice. Voilà!

My taste testers and I found this drink incredibly refreshing on a hot Michigan afternoon! I have plans for another batch this weekend. Perhaps I will switch up the berries? I may also add a pinch of sugar or drizzle of agave - the early season berries seemed a little tart.

Thirsty for more? Check out what the other lovely ladies of Cocktail Week have stirred up:
- Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver: Raging Aztec Frappe
- Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World: Peach Pie Prosecco "Palmer"& Radlermass
- Kat @ Tenaciously Yours: Amaretto Sours
- Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama: Raspberry Thyme Tom Collins
- Kristen (Fellow Michigander!) @ Comfortably Domestic: Traverse City Cherry Mojito
- Katie @ Hill Country Cook: Watermelon Mojo
- Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain: La Paloma

Be sure to visit La Petite Pancake to see what Mads has made today, and tomorrow visit Jeanne at Inside NanaBread's Head.  

Blueberry Smash Cocktail (serves three 20-something girls)
adapted from Bon Appétit
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 lime, sliced
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- 1/4 cup of loose packed mint leaves
- 3/4 cup of vodka
- 3/4 cup of elderflower soda 

Muddle lemon, lime, blueberries and mint in a large pitcher. Stir in vodka, soda and 1 cup of ice cubes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good Food Jobs Day: Ann Arbor

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there obsessed with Good Food Jobs. A clean site design, good interviews with food folk, an awesome Tuesday newsletter and tons of foodie dream jobs - what more could a girl ask for?

Recently the site's founders suggested hosting meetups worldwide on June 16th to celebrate three years since the site was thought up and launched. They made it really easy to organize a meetup in your own community via I decided to organize the Ann Arbor meetup and pushed the information out through a few local foodie groups (in hindsight, I should have pushed more!). The day had an ice cream theme as the site's founders conceived the idea of the site over ice cream three years ago.

On Saturday I headed over to Iorio's Gelateria near campus to celebrate Good Food Jobs Day with some tasty gelato and food system talk. I was expecting about six people, one person came (and Carrie - an Iorio's employee - jumped in for a bit). Iorio's is really the perfect place for an event like this one. The business started exclusively as a catering business in 2004 and last year they opened their Ann Arbor location (there is another in Lansing, MI). The young owners really seem value the opinions of both their customers and employees; new gelato flavors are concocted from customer and employee suggestions. In addition, Carrie and I discussed briefly how the employees have the opportunity to jump into projects that both interest them and benefit the business.

Salted carmel, chocolate and fig, and chocolate ginger gelato all snuggled together. 

I indulged in a vanilla hazelnut cappuccino and a little gelato while there and jumped into talking with Aaron about our interests in working in the food systems. Ironically, Aaron and I took a class together and he grabs lunch at my work from time to time but I never knew of our similar interests in food issues. We talked about things going on in our community that are creating a stronger local food system and discussed creating a food book club for recent grads, young professionals, etc.  Finally, we talked about easy things everyone can do to change the food system.

I'm tentatively planning on organizing a similar event in the near future. I know there were people out there who couldn't make it and I would love to talk to them more about this topic. Are you in the Ann Arbor area and interested in talking more about building a better food system? Reach out!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

We'll now return to our regularly scheduled programming. . .

There's just no good way to start a blog post after a six month hiatus (I guess this is a start). I'm just going to let that first sentence be satisfactory and provide short description of the past few months, in no particular order, so we can get back to munching on here.

  • I graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan! (I also happen to be on the lookout for a job with an environment-food-sustainability-people kind of focus. ;))
A cold, rainy Ann Arbor morning with lifelong bestie, Abby!
  • Visited my older sister in DC with my younger sister and our friend whose name is also Madeline. 

  • Met Jenna of Eat, Live, Run in Ann Arbor. . .twice. First at a meet-up she organized and then the following day when she wandered into my workplace. 
  • Speaking of workplace, I now know significantly more about cheese, wine and the like since the last time we talked.
  • I had cereal for dinner tonight, again. I promise breakfast and lunch have been better.