Tag Archives: holidays

baked cornbread

Martha Substitutions: Cornbread

Yesterday it was raining all day, which was lucky because I needed to stay in and get some commissioned paintings done. While I had the Christmas music playing and was waiting for the first coat of paint to dry, I popped an easy cornbread recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook into the oven.

Martha Stewart's cornbread
Martha Stewart’s cornbread

Here’s the scoop:

This cornbread is of the sweet variety (which is my preference) and is extra fun given the lightly charred kernels of corn mixed throughout.

Here’s what I subbed:

  1. Butter in lieu of vegetable shortening (1:1). I didn’t really feel like purchasing a thing of Crisco just for this recipe…and anyway, isn’t that stuff supposed to be bad for you? Not that butter is a health food, but at least it was the organic kind.
  2. Coconut milk in lieu of regular milk (1:1). I was nervous it would give the bread a coconut-y flavor which I don’t think it did.
saute corn until golden brown
saute corn until golden brown
mix cornmeal with dry ingredients
mix cornmeal with dry ingredients

Here’s how it turned out:

Really well in fact! Fortunately or unfortunately Martha says this bread is best served day of baking or maybe the day after is well-wrapped….Sooooo you can guess what I had for lunch yesterday.

Day of baking the cornbread was moist and slightly sweet and slightly salty and I really enjoyed the pop of the corn bits. Day after baking, slightly drier but still delicious covered in more butter 😉

golden crusted cornbread
golden crusted cornbread

Now not ever having made this recipe with the suggested ingredients, I can’t say for sure how these substitutions might detract or improve the original recipe. But I can tell you that the recipe definitely still works and the ease of the mix-batter and bake means I will be bringing this out again next time I’m called on for a pot-luck.

slice of cornbread
slice of cornbread

I’m off to have a lunch of cornbread and roasted acorn squash. A perfectly cozy fall meal!

Holiday gift guide

Holiday Gift Guide Feature

 

I’m honored to have my art selected for a #shopsmall holiday gift guide this year! Heart Centered Biz Bosses is a group of women from all over the country who are entrepreneurs that lift one another up through networking and education. Each member owns her own business and also works to better the world through those businesses.

I was so shocked and humbled that out of a handful of vendors, my art was chosen to be featured in “Gifts for Mom.”

To get your copy of the guide, be entered in a giveaway worth $500, and to support small and women-owned businesses this holiday season, visithttps://reinaandco.leadpages.co/heart-centered-biz-bosses-holiday-guide/

Can you spot my work on the first page?!?! So cool 😀

heart-centered-biz-bosses
Holiday gift guide Get the Guide!
jam-filled Linzer Heart Cookies

Martha Stewart Valentine’s Day Cookies

As it’s Monday, it’s time for another recipe recap from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook from which I’ve been recreating recipes. This time I tackled some sweet heart shaped cookies just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Martha Stewart's Linzer Heart Cookies
Martha Stewart’s Linzer Heart Cookies – my final outcome

As you may or may not recall, I’ve been drawing and painting pretty much my entire life, however I’ve just recently gotten the kick in the pants I needed to buckle down and paint regularly, in the form of an opportunity to exhibit some paintings in an art show in Brooklyn.

Since the art exhibit was put on by a collaborative collective of women artists and entrepreneurs, self-funded, and all of that good stuff, I figured I would also contribute some snacks to the event. Any why not some Valentine’s Day Linzer Heart cookies from Martha Stewart?

The cookies are essentially hazelnut shortbread cookies filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. While the original recipe calls for raspberry jam, I substituted strawberry jam, and to be frank, by the end of the whole process I kind of gave up and made a few sandwich cookies with Nutella and left some cookies plain instead of working with the jam.

I knew the dough needed to be chilled overnight, so I started on Thursday with the intention of finishing up the cookies on Friday.

I have to tell you, these were probably the hardest, most time-consuming cookies I’ve ever made, including French macarons, which should tell you something.

First, there was the matter of the hazelnut flour. I really should have thought ahead and purchased pre-made hazelnut flour, but I didn’t. Instead, I wanted to stay true to the recipe, which calls for grinding blanched hazelnuts in a food processor to create the flour.

All well and good, except I didn’t really account for the incredible annoyance that is blanching hazelnuts (in other words, removing the skins).

You see, I ordered regular, whole hazelnuts from Amazon. No problem, right? Wrong.

While these were fine and dandy as far as hazelnuts go, they weren’t blanched. Honestly I glazed right over the “blanched” direction in the cookbook the first time I read it. Like, “What’s that? Who cares?”

When I sat down to actually make the dough, I reread “blanched” and thought, ehhh whatever. So I Googled “Do I really have to blanch hazelnuts?”

Turns out the answer is Yes. Damn it. If you don’t blanch the nuts the skins can cause a seriously bitter taste. So I Googled “How to blanch hazelnuts.”

In theory, it’s a fairly straightforward process: boil water and baking soda, add nuts, boil for a few minutes, drop nuts in cold water and gently rub the skins off. Voila! Blanched hazelnuts.

Here’s what really happened: Boiled water and baking soda – no sweat. Added nuts. Water turned pink-black (as forewarned) and boiled over. Turned off heat. Mopped up puddles of water everywhere.

pot of water and baking soda boiling over pink water from hazelnuts
pot of water and baking soda boiling over with hazelnuts

Turned heat back on medium. Pot immediately boiled over.

how to blanch hazelnuts
boiling hazelnuts to blanch them – removing the skins

And so on and so forth until I couldn’t take it anymore and I scooped out the nuts to dunk them in a cold bowl of water. (PS. My white pot will never be white again. After many washes, it is still stained yellowy-pink.)

cold water turned black from hazelnuts
hazelnuts in bowl of cold water

Then came the tedious process of rubbing the skins off of the hazelnuts in the bowl of water. Fine. But what to do with the sticky skins? I could barely get two nuts clean before having to shake my hand violently over the trash can to get the skins to break loose.

I moved on to rinsing the nuts under running water, which worked okay, but not having a garbage disposal, the sink quickly filled with water and the drain was clogged with particles of skins that fell apart when I tried to grab them.

Ugh. All in all, I would NOT do this again. Take the shortcut, Hannah. Buy the hazelnut flour.

hazelnut flour
hazelnut flour

Okay, fine, got the hazelnuts where I need them in the form of powder. Now onto the dough….in Part II.

Candy Cane Sugar Cookies!!!

I hope you had a delicious holiday weekend! No matter what holiday(s) you may or may not celebrate, it was a good three day weekend to get together with friends and family.

I was lucky enough to get warm and cozy at my parents’ house, and while most of my friends from growing up have moved away, at least a little away, so many were home for the weekend and I loved seeing all of them and sharing some cookies, coffee, donuts, sandwiches, etc. 🙂

My mom and I baked German spice cookies on Saturday, but that recipe will have to wait another week, because this week I’m sharing this yummy and festive candy cane sugar cookie recipe that I made last week.

This is perfect for: a. people who don’t like chocolate (aka crazies but they exist), b. doing something with left-over candy canes.

I adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com for chewy sugar cookies, but with some added twists. In my version, I cut their recipe in half, producing 15 large-ish cookies.

Ingredients:
1 cup + 6 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (you know I’m not too exact with my salt though)
10 tablespoons butter (I let all the butter come to room temperature and then I half melted 5 of the 10 tablespoons to achieve a slightly flatter, chewier cookie center)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 candy canes (depending on how minty you like your cookies)

To Make:
1. Set oven to 350 degrees
2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
3. Smash up your candy canes in a Ziploc bag using the back of a frying pan or meat hammer or whatever other heavy object you have lying around. Definitely don’t grind it into a powder – think little chunks, like marbles or slightly smaller (and for those of you who are too young to know what marbles are, think of small pebbles). Keeping the candy cane chunky will add a good sticky crunch to your cookies.
4. In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda and salt
5. In a different (larger) bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream (aka beat on low-med speed) the butter and sugar until uniform
6. Beat in the egg to the butter/sugar combo on low-med speed
7. Beat in the vanilla to the butter/sugar/egg combo on low-med speed
8. With a large spoon or with the stand mixer, carefully blend the dry ingredients into the wet until fully incorporated but not overly stirred

IMG_0288

NOW!! HERE’S WHERE YOU CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!!
You can EITHER stir your smashed candy canes into the batter so that the pieces are spread throughout the cookie OR you can save them for last and place them on top of the cookies before they’re baked (see pic below for second version).

FullSizeRender_1
Personally, I think the cookies taste the same either way but they look prettier with candy cane on top, so that’s how I’m going to continue this recipe, but if you’ve already stirred your candy canes in at this point, then you should’ve kept reading until the end of this paragraph to realize that’s not where I was going. 😉 Just kidding – they will still be delicious.

9. So! Moving on!
10. Pour some extra sugar into a small bowl
11. Use your tablespoon to scoop out balls of dough and roll them into balls using your fingers.
12. Roll them in the sugar.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset
13. Place them on the baking sheets
14. Slightly tamp them down to spread them out a bit
15. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and press the candy gently into the dough to get them to really sink in. (I found this method was actually kind of a pain in the a** but again, I think they looked more festive in the end.)
16. Bake one sheet at a time. Start checking the cookies at about 10 minutes. Mine ended up going for 13 and were super chewy in the center and nice and crispy around the edges with sticky candy cane bits!
17. Let the cookies cool on the pan until they’re set up a bit and then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack. (Tip: use a metal spatula to remove cookies from sheets – way sturdier and thinner to really get up under them than a plastic/silicone one.)
18. Enjoy and share! (Perfect to pair with milked coffee, Candy Cane tea from Celestial Seasonings or gingerbread ale.)

FullSizeRender

 

Big News!

You probably already know…WE’VE MOVED!

Next Stop: NYC!

We’re currently in the throes of moving from Ann Arbor to NYC. Talk about a 180 degree difference. We’re going from small town America, seeking out the [one] best bar, Chinese food, nail place and dry cleaner to frequent…And coming to a massive city where there’s a million of everything at your doorstep. Exciting! [Overwhelming]

Look at that haze!

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And even though I’ve never actually lived in New York City before, it seems incredibly familiar – like a home away from home. My grandmother lived here, and so we were up here almost every month visiting. My aunt, uncle, cousins, college friends, childhood friends and work friends from prior jobs all live here too.

So many people hustling in Rockefeller Center while I was just trying to walk. Instead I took this blurry photo of the tree:

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When we moved to Ann Arbor, we didn’t know anyone. We made friends and settled into our routine and it was lovely. But now there’s something to being close to family and friends you’ve known forever.

So we’re here! New apartment, new life! Next up: new job [TBD]

Cozy apartment (emphasis on cozy):

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I’m ready to explore it all! So send your restaurant, museum, shopping, site-seeing, JOB suggestions along because I know you have them 🙂

IMG_0247LOVE the holiday-festooned buildings!

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Holiday Ginger Snap Cookies

I love baking seasonally-inspired cookies around the winter holidays. Recently, I’ve made gingerbread men and speculoos cookies (a Belgian and Dutch ginger-graham cookie, like the kind they serve on Delta).

The warm flavors of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg play well together and the quantities can be tweaked to really make one pop. One of my favorite cookies to buy and eat (all year round) are crunchy ginger snaps. More crispy and gingery than gingerbread, ginger snaps are a relatively low cal cookie (relatively, they’re still cookies). And my mom says that if you are craving chocolate, eating ginger can satiate the craving instead!

Also, I am obsessed with molasses. I think it is delicious, so I added a bit more than the original recipe called for. I know they say baking is a science and each ingredient must be properly measured. And that’s probably true for the main ingredients that make the base of the cookie – flour, egg, butter and sugar. But I like to play around with the measurements of the other ingredients, like ginger, salt and molasses, to see what textures and flavors different quantities will bring out. I’m really not precious in measuring the spices uber precisely. It doesn’t always make for the prettiest, most perfect cookies, but 9 times out of 10 they are still extremely yummy!

I found a base recipe on finecooking.com. Below find my adjusted recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand and my experience in recreating a seasonally-appropriate ginger snap. Cozy up with some tea and start dunking!

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

1 & 2/3 cup flour

1 & ½ tsp ginger (I love ginger so I used 2 tsp…also easier to measure because you only have to use a 1 tsp spoon!)

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp salt (I used sea salt to get a little bit bigger grain because I enjoy biting into a cookie and getting a little salt crunch from time to time. You can also use finer salt if you don’t like that experience.)

¼ tsp black pepper

1 & ¼ tsp baking powder (The original recipe called for ½ tsp baking soda, which I didn’t have, so I subbed 1 tsp baking powder; baking soda is about 3-4x more potent than baking powder so you need more baking powder if you’re going to substitute, but if you use the full 3-4x your baked goods may come out a little bitter.)

In the stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, mix on medium:

½ cup butter (Unsalted because you’re already adding chunky salt. Remember, the butter should be at room temperature for easier mixing.)

¾ cup light brown sugar (The original recipe called for dark brown sugar, which I didn’t have, so I subbed light brown and added a smidge more molasses.)

Mix this for about 3 minutes until the batter is smooth and light-colored.

Then add: 1 egg yolk (also at room temperature) and 3+ tablespoons of molasses. Mix for one minute more.

With the mixer going at medium-slow, add the dry ingredients in 3-4 pours. Mix until rough pebbles form.

Dump/scrape out the dough onto an UNfloured work surface:

Knead and shape (the dough isn’t moist enough to really roll so just form it with your hands, gently pressing it together) into two 7-8 inch long logs about 1.5-2 inches in wide. They may turn about a bit square from sitting on a flat surface as you work the dough into the sticks. Then wrap them in plastic or plastic baggies. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

When you’re ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 large cookie trays with parchment paper.

Use a long, sharp, NON-serrated knife to slice the log into ¼ inch rounds or even thinner if you can manage. (The original recipe called for 3/16 thick rounds and my mind couldn’t wrap itself around how I was going to measure that, so I just sliced as thin as possible for crisp cookies.)

Place the rounds on the sheets. They don’t spread much and if you’ve cut them thinly, they won’t rise much either.

At this point, I would sprinkle some sugar on the tops of the cookies and gently press it into the dough. I didn’t do that this time around, but that would be a lovely addition.

As you can see, this recipe can make about 100 silver dollar-sized cookies.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes until edges are slightly darker brown than the middles. I would start with 9 minutes and give them a check depending on how thinly you’ve sliced them and how large they are. Add additional minutes for crisper cookies, but be sure not to burn them!

Let the cookies cool about 15 minutes on the sheets to set up and then gently twist and pull each one by hand to remove them from the pan. Allow them to fully cool on a wire rack (or let’s, be honest, on a plate if you don’t have a rack). Normally, I would scarf down some piping hot cookies, however these are actually one cookie that is better fully cooled to get the true ginger flavor and a bit more crunch. Pour that Earl Grey or coffee with cinnamon and enjoy!

tea and cookies