Tag Archives: baked goods

Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwich Cookies

I feel like there are definitely those that fall under the LOVE graham cracker category.  I’m in the other camp, the “meh” camp.  I can recall old roommates getting their sugar craving quenched by putting frosting on graham crackers.  If there are graham crackers in our home, Ben will spread peanut butter on them.  As for me, I would rather have nothing.  The boxed graham crackers tend to have that mass produced taste and lacking in the honey factor (even though the box says ‘Honey Graham’).

So if you’re in the “LOVE” category, you need to make these and your admiration will increase exponentially, making you wonder what you were doing having a love affair with such second rate calories.  If you’re in the “Meh” category, then this might be the start to a “beautiful friendship.”  When you bite into these gems, you taste honey, then cinnamon, then a bit of nuttiness from the whole wheat, the richness of the butter with the bit of salt tying it altogether.  That’s the graham without the frosting, so by adding the frosting it sends you over the top.  Wow your family or guests with these nostalgic childhood snacks and I guarantee that in this instance–simplicity wins out.

Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwich Cookies

(printable recipe)

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook, The Grand Central Baking Book, which is a bakery located in Seattle, WA & Portland, OR. The recipe calls to bake 15-20 minutes, but I found that a 15 minute baking time produces a softer graham (not as golden, but still wonderful).  So start at 15 and add more time if you want them more crispy.

Graham Cracker Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (8 ounces, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tb heavy cream, 1/2 & 1/2, or whole milk

Directions

  1. Combine the dry ingredients: Measure the flours, baking soda, salt & cinnamon into a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and honey: Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, both sugars & honey on medium speed for 3 – 5 minutes until light in color and fluffy.  Stop the mixer and scrap the sides and bottom of bowl.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and chill the dough: With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or up to 3 days.
  4. Shape the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Lightly dust a work surface with flour and coat a rolling pin with additional flour.  Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness, then use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough into rectangles (however large or small you of rectangles you would like, I varied mine between 3×5 and 2×3).  Prick the dough with a fork.  Place the rectangles about 1 inch apart on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake: Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  The cookies should be dry, firm to the touch, and deep golden brown.  Let them cool completely on the baking sheets.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until well blended, then increase to medium speed and beat for 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and 2 Tb cream, and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
  7. Fill & assemble the sandwich cookies: Find matching size graham crackers and using an offset spatula (or butter knife) to spread a layer of frosting on the inverted graham cracker.  Put enough frosting to fill the middle and place the other graham cracker on top squeezing slightly until the frosting spreads to the edges.

New Beginnings & Chockful Blondies

Thursday morning is playgroup morning in our house.  It typically goes like this,

  1. 7:00: Have Sweetpea go to the bathroom, change Tayers diaper, and try to allow Sweetpea the freedom a three year old needs in their independence of “I wanna do it.”
  2. 7:30: (takes that long because of the independence & finally asking for help) Go downstairs get milk for both girls, pick up Tayers because she needs her morning snuggles, start on breakfast.
  3. 7:45: Girls are at the table eating and I’m trying to make a cup of coffee.
  4. 8:15-8:30: We’re finally done with breakfast and clean up ensues.
  5. 8:45: change Tayers again and debate whether she will only have one nap that day, if two, hurry and put her to bed
  6. 9:00-9:15: clean up dishes, tell Sweetpea that I need a shower while she stays on the main floor dancing around imagining her life if she lived in Strawberryland.
  7. 9:45: I’m ready, but trying to get the girls ready (once again dependent upon Tayers nap).  Get snacks together
  8. 10:15: somehow between 9:30 and 10:15 I have no idea where 45 minutes went, so I give into any expectation of getting to playgroup at 10:00.
  9. 10:20ish: We finally make it to playgroup

That’s typical Thursday morning; however, Tayers slept much longer and I was very casual & laid back letting go of any expectation I had on myself or my girls.  And although we were an hour late upon arrival, I find that I am a better mama for it.  So as we were pulling out onto the main road around 11:00 I was reflecting upon my day yesterday.  If you were to have called me or unexpectedly dropped by for a visit around 1:00 yesterday, I would have met you in tears.  It was one of those afternoons where I was finding myself to be short with my girls, missing connection times with my oldest, and feeling altogether crummy.  The feeling which crept up was “these girls would be better off without me.”  Of course, I know that’s not true, but we have these days.

All I could see were my failures, my areas of weakness and everything I lacked.  It’s hard to get over these moments, because even though I know I’m forgiven when I ask for it–it still doesn’t erase guilt right away.  But this morning pulling out onto the main road I was thinking about what I had read about a particular mother.  She would normally overreact to her three and a half year old’s behavior or shenanigans, but she was implementing different behavior patterns for herself, choosing to act and not react and to live with the end in mind.  This made me realize that there are many times when I have overreacted as a mama and I can recall many instances I’m not proud of, but it doesn’t relegate me to being that person forever.  As it says in the Bible, “his mercies are new every morning.”  That’s relieving for me to not just know, but realize it and apply it.

Mothering is not for the faint of heart and it is probably the most self-realization journeys I will ever walk on.  If you’re in this parenting boat, your past doesn’t dictate your future, even if you feel like the mess is too huge.  If you’re marriage is weathering hard storms, your past doesn’t dictate your future, even if you feel like the mess is too huge.  If you’re old & gray and you don’t know if it’s even worth it, your past doesn’t dictate your future, even if you feel like the mess is too huge.  No matter where you are on life’s journey, your past doesn’t dictate your future, because there is always time for a new beginning.

If you’re new beginning is getting your health life back on track, then maybe stop reading right now and go to a different site.  Because this chock full blondie is a different beginning, but one that will remind you that life is sane (in that small window of devouring them).

Chock Full Blondies (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. You can add different nuts.  The original recipe said to bake it for 30-35 minutes, but it took a lot longer than 35 minutes.  It was more like 45 on my oven and I have an oven thermometer.  When using a toothpick, insert it in the middle and pull it out.  If there are a couple crumbs left–that’s perfect.  You basically don’t want to pull out a toothpick with wet batter on it.

Ingredients

3 cups dark brown sugar

1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter

4 eggs, room temperature

1 Tb vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 baking soda

1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted & coarsely chopped

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

4 Heath or Skor bars, broken into bite-sized pieces OR a 14-oz bag of mini-heath bars

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray.  Melt butter with brown sugar over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan.  Stirring occasionally until butter is melted.  Once it’s melted, let it gently bubble for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla & salt whisking them altogether and set aside.  In small bowl, combine flour & baking soda together.
  3. Once the sugar & butter mixture is cooled, add it to the egg mixture and combine.  Add the flour mixture to the wet and combine till all the flour has been thoroughly mixed in.  Add all the nuts & bolts (white chocolate chips, chocolate chips, almonds, broken toffee bars, & coconut).  Stir till combined.
  4. Pour into greased pan and cook for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.  Cool on a wire rack and cut into however big slices you would like.

Beyond the Reflection

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Do you ever feel like you’re at a loss for words?  You feel like you’re not really in existence, but just an observer in your world?  As a little girl I had this shirt of Ernie from Seasame Street where he was looking at himself in a mirror and there happened to be a mirror behind him, so it was series of reflections of him that bounced back and forth.  I would stare at a hand mirror, while standing with my back to the bathroom mirror.  Then, I would focus on the reflection beyond the reflection.  I would always wonder how far it could go, but I could never see that far and it gave me a glimpse of what infinity meant.

It’s like that in my life right now.  I keep looking at all the reflections beyond the reflections searching for some semblance, but feel like I won’t find it anytime soon.  Whether it’s the endless pile of laundry, constant trail of toys scattered about, never ceasing broom employment, and then I go beyond the household stuff and look at my girls feeling like I have nothing left to give.  My creative juices run short come 7:00 p.m. at night, which means I hardly have anytime to do anything of consequence.

I have all these thoughts and ideas stirring in my head, but as a result of being a mom of two younger children, I have little time to really convey them or turn them into reality.  Does this sound familiar for some of you?  Some of it could be due to the heat, or the fact that as I write this at 10:40 at night my oldest has woken up crying for me.  It would seem as though there is never a spare moment for myself.  The idea of having alone time sounds superb, but the reality is when I do have it, it is spent cleaning, prepping dinner, or some other domestic activity to keep a rein on.

However, there is one way for me to unwind.  Bake!  It allows me to relieve tension, be creative, and I get to bless someone with the end result.  It reminds me of my friends asking how I made raspberry sorbet.  Of course, I begin with, “Oh it’s not that hard…”( then realize it is a little more complicated for someone who doesn’t spend as much time in the kitchen).  I was telling them how to make a raspberry puree, which requires to constantly push the blended up raspberries through a sieve, and told them it’s actually quite therapeutic (especially after the umpteenth tantrum, whiny voice & all together sour puss attitude).  You should try it!  With that said, here are some great nummies that never fail me.

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Peanut Butter Scotcharoos (printable recipe)

I was making all the desserts for my friend Jessica’s Bachelorette party a couple years back, my oven completely shut down.  This was my back up peanut butter chocolate concoction made all by stovetop.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups rice krispies
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9×13 pan. Combine sugar & corn syrup in pot over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved remove from heat. Add peanut butter and mix into sugar syrup until smooth. Add your rice krispies and stir till completely coated. Pour into your greased 9×13 pan and smooth out.

In a small pan combine butterscotch & semi-sweet chips over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour over the rice krispies in pan. You can either let them cool at room temperature or in the fridge. The chocolate will set at room temperature. Cut & serve.


Daydreamer

In first grade I remember having to stay in from recess to finish my spelling words.  The funny thing is I have always been really good at spelling, but what got in my way as a six year old was my ‘head in the clouds’ syndrome.  I’ve always been that kid who daydreamed and it was (and still is) very easy to play through scenerios in my head, or relive a moment, or dream of what could be.  This dreaming defines me as an idealist.

It can be a wonderful gift, but it can also be debilitating at times when a dream you have isn’t played out the way you envisioned and you feel let down.  As I look at my oldest daughter I see this gift in her as well.  She has quite the imagination, dreaming of what could be with her head in the clouds.  I wonder, how can I encourage this, fan this flame inside of her?

At small group last night we were talking about our dreams, or for some of us, lack thereof.  There were some who asked, “what if you don’t really have any dreams?” While others were asking, “What if you have too many dreams?”  It was a good conversation that didn’t fit nicely into a package with a three point synopsis, a bit of irresolution is nice (more time to dream).

One of my reoccurring dreams is to see how we can open our home to people, either through spending the night or making them a home cooked meal.  And as I expand upon this dream it hit me.  Well, an easy way to accomplish this is through my baking (I love to bake more than cook).  Two doors down are a group of young adults who at times can be a bit loud in the wee hours of the night, but they need Jesus’ love just as much as my children do, so I think some cupcakes or cookies are in order.  Plus, what young person refuses fresh baked goods?  Here’s our family’s favorite ginger cookies (and I’ve been known to bake them if asked).

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Giant Ginger Cookies (printable recipe)

I had these cookies at a B&B and was thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy them, because I remember not liking Ginger cookies.  I fell in love.  So much so that I called them up 7 months later to get the recipe if they wouldn’t mind.  I also told them I was pregnant and had been craving them for 7 months (I was willing to play any card for my advantage).  I think you’ll agree with me that they are terrific.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shortening (I know I’m not a big fan of using shortening–but these cookies are worth the sacrifice–use butter flavored)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup coarse sugar or granulated (I’ve tried both and I personally prefer the granulated, b/c there’s less crunch from the sugar. If you like that crunch that comes from raw sugar or turbinado sugar–use it instead of the granulated)

1. In a medium mixing bowl stir together dry ingredients (flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt) and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to soften. Gradually add the 2 cups granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and molasses. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour mixture.

3. Shape dough into 2-in balls using 1/4 cup dough (you can use a small ice cream scoop designated for cookies). Roll balls in the 3/4 cup sugar. Place about 2 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet (invest in parchment paper).

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes (if frozen 14 minutes is fine–just check for doneness) or until cookies are light brown and puffed. (Do not overbake or cookies will not be chewy.) Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Makes 25- 4-in cookies.