Girl Scout Cookie Season!

Quincy locations to buy Girl Scout Cookies
It’s been Girl Scout Cookie season for a while now. But I haven’t randomly encountered any cookies for sale. This is a problem.

One of the best things about this time of year is eating those delicious cookies! So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands and gotten intentional about finding some. Their website lets you search by location to find upcoming cooking sales.

This is the weekend! Have you had any Girl Scout Cookies yet this year?

+ + +
Screenshot: Girl Scout Cookie Search Results

Recipe: Brown Sugar-Almond Shortbread Cookies

There hasn’t been a lot of baking on this blog. Not like I used to. But I like to document when I try something new, so I can look back and remember, “Yeah! I baked that!”

I baked these shortbread cookies as a gift, because I wanted something simple, but special. A dessert, but not too sweet.

The recipe is from the cookbook, Baking, by Dorie Greenspan. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks ever. I’ve had the book for years and have a few tried and true recipes. I’ve decided to venture out a bit more and bake some of the other recipes in the book. There are so many to choose from!

For this recipe, I didn’t have pecans, so I used almonds. I cut the recipe in half, and used ground cardamom instead of cloves.

While my cookies aren’t as pretty as the ones in the book, I think they’re still pretty cute! And the taste is wonderful! I highly recommend trying them. They’re great as a gift. To bring to a brunch or an afternoon tea. Or just for yourself. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!

+ + +

Brown Sugar-Almond Shortbread Cookies (Makes about a dozen cookies)
(Adapted version of Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies, from Baking, by Dorie Greenspan)

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup flour
2 T cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
pinch of ground cardamom
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds

Optional for dusting
2 T powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed edible lavender

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place the butter in a medium sized bowl and microwave, just until it gets a little soft. Then add the rest of the ingredients (except the ones for dusting) and combine.

Use a rubber spatula to put the mixture in a gallon size resealable zipper storage plastic bag. Don’t seal it yet. Use your hands to shape the dough into a log, by pressing and rolling. When it seems to be the right shape, so it will slice into nice sized cookies, press the air out of the bag, seal it and put into freezer for about 45 minutes or so, until very firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper. Remove dough from the freezer and take out of the plastic bag. I wash plastic bags and reuse them until they break. It is Earth Day after all! Reuse and recycle!

Place the dough on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice into pieces. Put the pieces on the cookie sheets, then take a fork and prick each cookie twice.

Bake cookies for about 20 minutes. They should not brown.

In a small bowl, combine lavender and powdered sugar.  When you remove the cookies, sprinkle the powdered sugar lavender mixture on top while they are still hot. Let cool a bit and they’re ready to eat!

Holiday Baking Recipe: Swedish Spritz Cookies


It’s December, so holiday baking season is in full swing! This was the first Thanksgiving in decades that I didn’t cook or bake anything. And I was perfectly fine with it. But I had a few good reasons to bake these Swedish Spritz cookies today.

One of my brother’s housemates lost his mom a few years ago and she left him her cookbook. Out of the blue one day, he shared one of her recipes with me. I was so touched. A family recipe is a treasure.

He gave me the recipe this past summer, but I hadn’t had a chance to bake them.  Well, time just kept passing, as it’s known to do. He asked me a few times if I had tried them yet and I promised myself that I would make them soon. My family has Sunday dinners each week and I thought these would make a festive dessert. Plus, I was in a baking mood today!

As I was looking at the recipe and comparing it to other similar recipes, I realized that I didn’t have a cookie press. His family is Swedish, so his mom’s recipe didn’t have the part about needing the cookie press, because it was probably pretty obvious to her.

Luckily I have no problem improvising when I bake, so I used a cookie stamp to get a similar effect.

There were some cookies leftover from our family dinner, so I gave them to my brother’s house for everyone to share. His housemate had such a smile when I told him that I finally made the cookies and he gave me the biggest hug. Which he has never done before. Ever.

My mom said that baking these cookies was a way to keep memories of his mother alive. I have to agree. So much about food, especially around the holidays, is about family, memories and love.

These cookies are very good and I will definitely bake them again. Simple, tasty and not too sweet. They are practically as quick as using ready made cookie dough. Perfect for this time of year.

Here’s the adapted recipe below if you’d like to try it. I received permission to blog it.

+ + +

Swedish Spritz Cookies (makes a dozen and a half cookies)

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick butter (softened)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup plus 2T flour
pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Set aside an ungreased cookie sheet or place parchment paper on sheet. Set oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together butter, sugar and egg yolk. Add extract, salt and flour. Stir until combined. Batter comes together nicely and will be a dough that is easy to handle. If you have a cookie press, use as instructed.

I rolled the dough into small balls, then baked for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven and use cookie stamp to press design onto the top of each ball. Bake for another 5 minutes for total baking time of 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cook, then serve or store in a container. Enjoy!

{You Pick Six} An Interview with News Anchor: Maria Stephanos

Interview with WCVB news anchor Maria Stephanos.

Early in 2016, Maria Stephanos joined WCVB as their evening news anchor.

My mom and I were talking about Maria and both mentioned that we love her laugh. It’s contagious and lights you up! We adore her!

Then a few months ago, my mom and I were talking about my interview series.

Out of the blue, she says, “You should ask Maria Stephanos. She really loves food.”

I thought it was a great idea! So I contacted Maria and she agreed. Plus, she said to “give her best” to my mom, which thrilled her to no end!

I’m truly honored that Maria is “here” and sharing a bit more about her love of food. So let’s resume this ongoing series with the 16th interview of You Pick Six.

* * *

What brings you peace every day?
The ocean. I have a very intense job where we are digesting some pretty tough news every day. I find myself driving to the ocean a lot and just walking on the beach or throwing myself into the cold new England waters no matter what time of year it is. It resets me, refuels me and brings me back to life.

What is a favorite childhood food memory?
When we would go out to my father’s garden that was bursting with tomatoes and we would spend hours picking them and eating them. We would bring a salt shaker with us and just sit on the grass and eat the fresh tomatoes we just picked. Nothing like it.

What is a favorite simple recipe to prepare at home?
A Greek cookie called Koulourakia. They are my favorite recipe because it ties me back to my Greek heritage and my family. My grandmother taught me how to make and braid them. They aren’t flashy, don’t have a ton of flavor, but every time I make them ( I make them weekly) I think of my roots and my grandmother and they fill me with love.Koulourakia, Greek cookies, cooling on a rack.

What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
Food is love. To cook it is to provide sustenance for the people you love and to eat is a magical experience that can trigger memories of people or experiences that revolved around food.

What is the best meal you ever had and where was it?
My Aunt Debbie’s house. It doesn’t matter if she’s making keftedes (Greek meatballs) or homemade phyllo. I have never left her table without thinking that is the best meal I’ve ever had.

Tell me about where you grew up.
I grew up in Groveland Massachusetts. At the time, we didn’t even have a traffic light! It was tiny, rural and very beautiful. I thought I would live there forever.

* * *

Thank you so much for participating Maria!

+ + +
Photos: Provided by Maria Stephanos.

Recipe: Double Berry Almond Breakfast Cookies

Double Berry Almond Breakfast Cookies cooling on a rack.

Back in 2008, I posed the question, “Cupcake or muffin?” Is the only real difference that one we eat for breakfast or a snack and the other is dessert? Muffins sometimes have glaze, which is basically frosting.

Calorically there is not much difference either. I agree with a recent Vox article stating that we need to get real about our American breakfasts. They are basically dessert.  Although an article found in Essence may help assuage our collective guilt.  Eating dessert for breakfast may help us lose weight. Let’s go with that one!

If you ever think that I will discourage dessert, then you are sadly happily mistaken. I have a healthy (cough, cough) breakfast cookie recipe for you. It’s been a while since I blogged a recipe, so the time is right.

The only reason that I found this recipe is because another one of my favorite magazines abruptly stopped publicationMore Magazine. It was a great magazine. Stylish, intelligent and thoughtful. Oh well. Seems that doesn’t sell. I still miss Whole Living. *sigh*

But I digress. For the remainder of my More subscription, I was given Shape Magazine. It’s not bad, but not a true replacement. Anyway, I did find this breakfast cookie recipe. It’s sweet, but uses maple syrup instead of sugar. I added honey and made a number of other changes based on the ingredients that I had at home, my particular tastes and knowing my oven.

As I always say, a recipe is just a starting point. Adapt away! Let me know if you try the recipe and what you think.

+ + +

Double Berry Almond Breakfast Cookies (Adapted from recipe on Shape Magazine)
(Makes a dozen)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1  1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup cranberries (halved)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium to large bowl combine ingredients. Mix well. Use an ice cream scoop to put batter on baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes. Remove cookies and let cool on a rack. Enjoy!

Save