The Rainbow Cake That Will Launch My Small Business

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I’m not usually a bake-from-a-mix kind of sconemaster.  Mixes actually doesn’t save you that much time or hassle.  If you have a kitchenaide, you can make almost anything in little time and very little effort.  Homemade icing, a simple but magical blend of softened butter and confectioners sugar (with a splash if milk and maybe vanilla) is a miracle compared to shelf stable, crazy chemical fortified grocery store frosting from a tub.

However, I make an exception to the “from scratch wherever, whenever” rule when we receive a generous box of treats from Josh’s friend Fred, who is gleefully employed by the Smuckers corporation (at least I imagine it to be gleeful employment :) ).  The parent company of Pillsbury, Martha White, Folgers, Jif, and many others, Smuckers seems to be very generous with its employees, allowing them large quantities of samples of their new products.  And in turn Fred is very generous with us, periodically shipping us boxes of limited edition Jif PB flavors, crazy K cup flavors, and a variety of their boxed Pillsbury mixes.

Last week, the arrival of a Fred box coincided with Ellie and Tim’s engagement AND an atrocious Tuesday at work, leading to a perfect storm of hours and hours of baking Pillsbury mixes :) Since Tim & Ellie are the king and queen of gummy bears, I wanted to make a cake that would commemorate bears, and the spectrum of colors and happiness that gummies represent.

This cake definitely had excellent presentation from the exterior, but the real celebration came when we cut into it.  It was clearly a hit with our friends and with the happy couple, but as an extra perk, it was a huge hit with the restaurant staff.  We left the extra cake slices with our waitress and asked her to share with the kitchen, and she was thrilled.  Apparently everyone at Gates and Brovi was, because by the end of the night the manager had expressed his interest in ordering 4 gummy rainbow cakes for their Christmas party this year, since everyone in his restaurant got so much joy out of the cake :)

This is how small bakeries and catering companies start.  And how a lifetime of Ellie and Tim happiness starts.

Congrats E&T! Love you both.

 

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Newton who? Steph’s Oatmeal Fig Bars

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A few weeks ago my 2nd home (aka the Madison Whole Foods) was sampling their 365 Brand organic and lower sugar version of the classic snack cookie: the Fig Newton.  Without specifically ripping Nabisco, they did a pretty good job of shaming the original “Fig Newton” by calling out all the atrocious ingredients that their organic product didn’t contain (i.e. corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, sulfites, resistant corn maltodextrin, etc).  Nice work, Whole Foods brand, I thought, but I bet I could do it even better.  So I set out to make a Sconemaster version with stellar nutrition and the addition of love.  My recipe includes zero sugar, only local honey, oat flour instead of any white or wheat flour, and a wonderfully textured whole-fruit figgy filling.  Though it takes longer than I would like to reduce the figs, it’s worth the time; I will definitely make these again.   Served on my Crate and Barrel Holiday 2014 plate “What’s the Fig Idea?” (thanks Ellie and Tim!), these treats were a blog post waiting to happen :)

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Ingredients

2 cups oat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

Fig Filling

2 cups dried figs

3/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 clementine

1/2 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut off the stems of the dried figs and place them into a saucepan with the cold water. Allow the figs to soak for 15 minutes and then add the honey, salt, and orange zest. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add clementine if it looks like more moisture is needed.  Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a food processor to puree into a paste.
  2. Next preheat the oven to 350°F and then line a 9 x 9” square baking dish with parchment paper. Combine the dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, walnuts, salt, baking soda, cinnamon).
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (honey, vanilla extract, apple sauce and coconut oil) and stir together. Add the dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.
  4. Spoon half of the batter into the lined baking dish and press it firmly to form a base layer. The dough will be sticky- using another layer of parchment paper to press down with will help to keep it from sticking to your hands. Next, scoop out the fig paste from the processor and press it into a thin layer using your hands. Lay it on top of the base layer in the baking dish and press until it forms a smooth middle layer. Lastly spoon the rest of the oatmeal batter on top and smooth down as evenly as possible.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the edges are light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several hours. This will assure they hold together properly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Recipe adapted from Making Thyme for Health.

Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Blog Gone…

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It’s been quite a while since this little website has seen any action.  Why, you ask?  Believe me, I ask myself the same question.  And I always conjure the same combination of excuses: a lack of time in the evenings to compose posts, a general frustration with WordPress that wears on my patience which is already thin by the end of each weekday, a needed and costly website space upgrade which I’ve just been putting off (just call me Steph- Thrifty- Nienaber),  a number of new competing priorities.   If there’s one excuse that never makes the list, it’s a lack of cooking or baking or sharing the joys of good foods with good friends.  And I’d prefer it that way.  In other words, I’d rather still be living in my kitchen and spending weeknights and weekends cooking for friends but then not have the time to blog, rather than have the time to blog but not have any content to feature.  So as frustrating as it’s been for all of you readers to continually visit this site and not see any new posts, know in your heart that there has not been a lack of new foods or new friends or new culinary fun.  That’s gotta be worth something, right?  It is to me, and since I continue to be the sole writer, editor and publisher of Sconemasters, that’s all that really matters ;)

Catch up on 4 months of noteworthy adventures in the picturesque vignettes below-

1) The Schaefer Dinner Club.  Each month, a couple in this exclusive group creates a menu, tasks the other couples with a dish to bring, prepares the main dish, and hosts.  We kicked off the rotation with our “Keely’s Farm” themed menu, featuring beef tenderloin as the main entree.  Josh can be seen below seasoning this gem the morning of the event, shortly after I had returned from purchasing it at Whole Foods, and still recovering from the shock of the price.  Let’s just say, the comments in the Saveur recipe included the following, “this recipe is awesome! super easy and delicious. easily the hardest part is finding a job that affords you the ability to buy beef tenderloin”.  A part of me wished I had read that comment before volunteering to make this for 14 :) but the other part was too thrilled with the results to remember.

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Kristi’s bourbon based cocktail-

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Outtake

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Matt and Ashley’s Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Tart.  Incredible.

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All those years as a child where setting the table was my nightly job are coming to fruition.

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The final tenderloin.  Wish it was as captivating in photos as it is in your mouth.

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Ellie and Tim’s Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad.

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Kate and Wyatt’s Roasted Root Vegetables.

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Perfect.

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Ellie and Tim also brought Caramel Apple Pie!  Points for 2 awesome dishes.IMG_0077

2) November 2014 European Getaway.  This adventure has already been highlighted in many other forms of social media but just to highlight a couple of photos which Josh may not have posted, I’m including a few here.

After getting lost in Harrods one afternoon, we clearly needed a sugary boost.  I think French macarons would be a nice change of pace for me, right? ;)

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This magical, whimsical cupcake cake was available pre made at nearly every corner store in Cambridge.

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Long day onsite, let’s get drunk on the train into London… and refuel with… you guessed it.

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This was a grand city center in Brussels where I had asked a stranger to take our photo, and while we were definitely not trying to make these faces or this pose, I think it’s a pretty comical capture.

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Couldn’t write a blog post without paying homage to the waffle haven of the world.IMG_0416

A surprise from my most wonderful family upon returning from a long day or touring.  Josh can verify that this expression is not exaggerated for the photo.  Thanks again, Gwen and Glenn!!

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Bruges at dusk.  The most lovely medieval city I have ever had the pleasure of touring (and by touring I mean getting a sugar high off chocolate testing and a buzz off of brews).

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He’s all about his Cath Kidston tote and Burberry messenger bag ;)

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Zurich! Just lovely.

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Swiss chocolate, because comparison (of belgian chocolate and swiss chocolate) is what makes the world go round.

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Lucerne.  We may have taken a few photos in this setting, trying to get the foreground/ background ratio juuuusssstttt right.

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A $50 cheeseburger at our Woodrow Wilson Grand Hotel in Geneva.

Was it delicious?  Yes.

Was it $50 worth of delicious?  No, especially when I think that I could’ve bought 1/4 of a beef tenderloin instead.

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3) Holidays.  With Simba.  and with other family members, but mostly with Simba.IMG_0694

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So many goldens, so little time.IMG_0763

4) A Madison Rendezvous with my favorite humans.  Just a Saturday lounging in the den.  Probably looks like nothing to most, actually everything to me.

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Birthday cake pancakes for the birthday Coco Bean.IMG_0919

5) Quick trip to Chicago where we used a limo for casual transportation.  Why not?IMG_1113_2

And where we indulged in one of my favorite donut-eries, Glazed and Infused.  If you turn this 90 degrees counterclockwise, it’s most definitely representative of a smile.IMG_1127_2

6) a Very Nienaber Christmas.  20 year Pappy.

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The annual Ella-Steph-only-Nienaber-born-girls-in-the-family photo.

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7) Post holiday culinary adventures with Matt and Kev.  My introduction to raclette.IMG_1273

What a kitchen island should look like.

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8) The most incredible red wine chocolate cake.  Whoops, and some spilled in my glass while I was making the glaze.IMG_1312

Steph is speechless upon tasting.IMG_1316

9) A quick visit to my favorite host of munchkins in the south.  They’re presenting a scene to their version of Frozen for me.

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My Molls, showcasing our attempt to recreate Matt and Ash’s tart from above.

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10) Obsession with my new spiralizer.  Why make pasta pasta, when you can make zuchinni pasta?  There are zero valid reasons.IMG_1447

11) The Schaefer Dinner Club, Edition 2.  This time themed “Asian Fanfare”. Ellie hits the appetizer out of the park with her pork potstickers.  And her rabbit vest.IMG_1457

Matt and Ash compose a very detailed and elaborate Bibimbap.

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According to Josh “no utensils for this meal, only Porkchops!” (another way of saying ‘chopsticks’? )IMG_1462

My Cookie Dough Egg Rolls.  An unexpected and glorious success.IMG_1466

12) Which brings us to this week, last night in fact, where I wanted to make a ho ho cake for Josh’s birthday week and a small get together we hosted with a few friends, but this cake was so moist and soft it wouldn’t dismount onto my cake plate in any semblance of a complete round.  This is the “before buttercream” photo, where you can appreciate the size of the gauge in one side.IMG_1480

After, covered in melted chocolate glaze and funfetti sprinkles, I can’t even see with my critical eye where the issue was.  A birthday miracle, I call this.IMG_1484

 

And with that, I close this hiatus-ending post, promising, in the words of Bubba Cutler, to “come again soon and stay longer”.

Compromise Banana Pumpkin Cupcakes

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There are few experiences in life that teach you more about another human than living with them.  Human nature is bizarre to say the least.  The magic of prospective is that somehow your own tendencies, behaviors, and faults are more reasonable than everyone else’s.  :)   What a humbling experience it is to learn that this perception is ultimately just in your own mind.   And to learn how to cohabitate with another human that you adore.

I want to be clear in saying that I’m sure I’m not easy to live with.  I maintain disorganized drawers of kitchen utensils.   I’m obsessed with putting things away. I don’t recycle.  I have a physical aversion to extra stuff, and if there’s even a question of usability, I’ll throw away pretty much anything without a second thought.  The opposite of hoarding, I’d rather pitch now and (if needed later), buy again.  What an annoying feature for anyone other than me to have to put up with. I apologize to anyone who has ever shared a dorm room or apartment or home with me.  I probably owe you some things you haven’t yet realized are missing :)

Josh likes to keep lots of ‘things’ around in the event that one day, they may be necessary.  He likes the bathroom light off when no one is in the bathroom.  He has a higher threshold for what constitutes a “full” trash can or a dirty kitchen.   Most importantly, he is accommodating to all of my own imperfections listed above (among others not included on this blog).

Despite all sorts of differences, there’s something so wonderful about living with someone you love.  About coming home to a huge embrace, to another human who’s excited to see you, to a best friend in perpetual entertainment and a companion in whatever mindless errands you want/ need to run.  Cohabitation comes with burdens, certainly many more burdens than come from living by yourself or with a non-romantic roommate.  But I like to think of those burdens as compromise in clever disguise.   They’re supported by all of the strengths of love, and with the right prospective, those burdens are delightful.

These fall treats are a combination of Josh wanting ‘some kind of cupcake with cream cheese frosting’ and me wanting to bake something semi healthy and celebratory of the season.  I baked, he took the photos, we both ate.  Delightful.

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Compromise Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup pumpkin

1 large banana, mashed (about 2/3 cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.

In a stand mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and blend. Add pumpkin and banana. Stir in flour, baking soda and powder, and spices. Add milk and mix until batter is smooth. Fill baking cups 3/4 full. Bake mini cupcakes for 11-13 minutes and regular cupcakes for 20-25.
Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

2-3 cups powdered sugar, depending on desired consistency

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add vanilla and pumpkin spice. Gradually add in sugar and mix until desired consistency is reached. If mixture is too thick or dry, add some milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Wolverine Stew, (Ann Arbor is a) Horchata, and Roasted Michigan Cherries

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It’s no surprise that I treasure the ND-Michigan football rivalry.  (Last year’s post on my memories of Michigan games is one of my favorites).

While I usually lean towards the sentimental angle when recapping weekends at my favorite place on the planet, this blog post on the final meeting between my Irish and the Michigan Wolverines for the foreseeable future is much more… (what’s a synonym for vicious?) …RUTHLESS … than previous years.

Maybe I’m more jaded than I was as a lovestruck college kid.

Or maybe I just hate Michigan more than I ever have.

Whatever the cause of my callous attitude, our long-standing rivalry is over, my school won HUGE in the final game this past weekend, and tonight I cooked appropriate dishes to celebrate.

Wolverine Stew because Everett Golson basically ate the Michigan defense for lunch, with impeccable accuracy and incredible command.  And, I wanted to make something tonight that I would have leftover for lunch tomorrow :)

Horchata, a cinnamon rice milk beverage, because Ann Arbor actually is a whore, and this beverage commemorates that truth.

Roasted Michigan cherries in a version of my favorite baked oatmeal, because on nearly every play on Saturday we roasted our classless opponent.

At the conclusion of 60 minutes of history, with a score of 31-0, Notre Dame stadium was still almost full (with the exception of the Michigan fans who had trickled out throughout the 4th quarter, hanging their heads in shame.  HA).  Nearly 80,000 Irish bid farewell to our rivals from the north with a chorus of “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye.”   And as my dad and I sang loudly, I couldn’t help but feel tears welling up in my eyes.

Not sentimental tears.  But brutal, fierce, proud-to-be-Irish-tears.

What a magical night.  What a wonderfully heartless way to end the series.

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Alumni brother and sister pre game mimosas

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Jake oversees the parking that’s happening outside the condo

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Pat’s forces of Wolverine are lessened when surrounded by Irish twins

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see? vicious.

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Baby Scully and I discuss the ND offensive line. (he smiles)

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Then we talk about the Michigan starters. (he’s angry)

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They CLAIM they didn’t plan this…

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game time.

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a view of JACC tailgating. Makes me so proud.

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parachutes > > flyover

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some people have a happy place of a peaceful beach, or a quiet lake. other people have one that features 10 thousand screaming, drunk college kids in a large concrete structure in the middle of South Bend, Indiana.

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Halftime snack, by Kyle and Becca.

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Such a great night.

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Roasted Michigan cherries. See them bleeding?

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Chopping up components of Wolverine Stew.

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Defenseless Michigan (cherries)

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Thanks to David for an awesome champagne. Thanks to my alma mater for an slaughtering of the Michigan Wolverines.

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When Life Gives You A Candy Thermometer, Make Mallows

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I have lived 26 full years without ever possessing a candy thermometer.  (I’ll give you a minute to catch your breath…)

This gem of a kitchen tool is required for so many treats: caramels, brittles, marshmallows.  Toffees, butterscotches, steaks  ;)  I don’t know how I’ve lived without it for so long… but luckily, I got one for my birthday this year.  Since it came from my techy boyfriend, it’s a fancy version of the classic tool, my device that attaches a probe to your iPhone and informs you of the temperatures through an app.  You can also set the app to a temperature you’re aiming for and when the probe reads that temp, it alarms.  No more watching pots to see when they boil.   

Last week, iPhone and Range thermometer attachment in hand, I set off on my first mallow making adventure, starting with classic vanilla (and sprinks, of course).   I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun in the kitchen.  The ingredients are very simple, just billing corn syrup and sugar and water until they reach 247 degrees, and then mixing that lava like concoction into gelatin that’s dissolved in water.   The volume of these was about 1/4 of the KitchenAide bowl when i first removed the candy from the stove and mixed with the gelatin, but after 12-15 minutes of high intensity whipping, the bowl of my standup mixer was almost completely full, producing the most magical and cloud-life fluff of happiness that you’ve ever seen (or felt, as I may have covered my hands in it.)  The first batch tasted fantastic, like a Jiffy Puff from your childhood but 22 times more wonderful and light. However I was too excited about this first batch, and didn’t give the sheet of freshly whipped mallow mixture appropriate time to cool, so cutting into mallow size cubes was quite a challenge (/ not well done.)

My next batch was a cocoa variety, and this one I let set for the recommended 10 hours of time (ok, I may have eaten some off of the edges).  When I finally went to cut into strips and then cubes using a pizza cutter, the process went much more smoothly than it had with the first batch.  Live and learn… and then cover in a perfect film of dark chocolate just to prove to yourself that you’re now a mallow master.

Watch out scones, I’m suddenly all about the marshmallow.  

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Cashew Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seeds

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I love cashews.  I mean, I do have a soul. I love caramel nougat cashew bars, I love yellow cashew curry, I love cashews covered in dark chocolate happiness.  So imagine my sheer glee when I spotted this new cashew butter at Trader Joe’s last weekend.  I’ve seen JIF cashew butter before, but its ingredient list is unimpressive, JIF opted to mix in a bunch of garbage additives and therefore I was never even tempted.  Cashews are too good on their own for me to be interested in anyone messing with them.  Being a loyal fan of the Trader Joe’s nut butters, I had a good feeling that the TJ cashew butter variety would have no such crap mixed in, and I was right. Just pure cashews with a splash of salt and a sweet handful of goodness, making it impossible for me to pass up (…both in the aisle at the store, and every time I see it in the fridge at home.)  These cookies are a modified version of my favorite PB cookie recipe (which also works well with almond butter, and sunflower seed butter), and I mixed in some dark chocolate covered seeds just for some genuine crunch.  They turned out beautiful, picturesque enough for josh to photograph, and golden-brown-perfect for me to share with friends later that night.  We served them with a heaping scoop of dark chocolate gelato.  Everyone loved them, a few went back for seconds, only I went back for fourths.  Thanks Trader Joe’s Cashew Butter, for my Sunday night sugar coma :)IMG_0008 IMG_0007 IMG_0010 IMG_1056 IMG_1060This post was in no way sponsored by Trader Joe’s.  I’m just that loyal of a fan :)

 

Cashew Butter Cookies

1 cup cashew butter

1 egg

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cashew flour (made by grinding cashews in the food processor, but you could also use almond flour, white flour, wheat flour, or oats)

1 cup chocolate from any source (I opted for dark chocolate covered sunflower seeds)

Mix all together, bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with dark chocolate gelato!!

 

How to Win a Guy in 10 Corn Fritters

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So this title may be a slight exaggeration.  I didn’t  win a guy with just corn fritters.  However, my recent and numerous varieties of corn fritters have definitely won over a guy who I may have already had (can’t remember).  Josh is complementary and usually (says he) enjoys what I make, but these fritters I know he truly loves. I’ve made them in many varieties, mixing in a few different herbs, a few types of corn, tried a few types of frying, few different mechanisms of blending or processing or binding the corn itself.  Any combination, pan-fried or grilled in any form, he’s a fan… going so far as to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next morning, and making mini fritter sandwiches of pepperoni and cheese.

I basically eye-ball (special chef unit of measure) the following:

-about a cup and a half of corn, chop in the food processor for a few seconds until it’s slightly thinned but not creamed

-about a cup of binding agent (corn meal, or oats, or flour)

-a handful of a fresh herb (basil and cilantro have been our favs)

– 1/2 a chopped onion

-handful of cheese (feta or mozz work great)

-a few chopped jalapeños if you’re feeling spicy

-1 or 2 eggs

Mixture should be similar to the texture of burgers.  Form into pattys, place in a skillet with about 1/2 inch of hot oil for frying or on a well-greased grill pan.  Serve with… well… anything.

Make these, serve them to a guy, dazzle him, fall in love.  Corny lessons in life from the sconemaster.

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have some basil mint on hand? sure, mix that in!

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summer goodness

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corn + beet = friendship

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beet burgers, quickly overshadowed by corn fritters

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another instance, getting’ fancy with the toppings

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Coco’s Charms Chex Creation

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And other joyful gems of July

FoJ2014: Charleston

FoJ2014: Charleston

I have the most patriotic best friends.

I have the most patriotic best friends.

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(and most patriotic josh)

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together for a weekend complete with all typical reunion activities including, but not limited to, nail painting

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with this trip’s added bonus of Pat getting in on the action!

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Hurricane Arthur, really cramping our vac a style (or not at all)

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complementary couple

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complementary foods

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one of my happiest places.

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on to the chex mix. First, sierra separates the mallows from the cereal in a box of lucky charms… and she snags a few.  shocker.

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molly must oversee

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coco mixes, si continues to sample. so unlike her.

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mix it all up, patricio!

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unfortunate that the lighting is so poor, but this was made at 11:30pm.  just as it should be.

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energized from the late night carbs and on the beach again

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love

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(suspiciously) chopping tomatoes

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corn and black bean sals!

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stripes on stripes

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is this an image from my dreams? nono, this was real life.

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what boys do in crew

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eating ice cream from the container outside harris teeter. the truth hurts.

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family games, constantly

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of course ;)

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my favorite kind of laughter.

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my favorite kind of 4th.

Lucky Rainbow Chex Mix (from Tablespoon.com)

INGREDIENTS
1 box (11.5 oz) Lucky Charms® cereal
6 cups Rice Chex® or Corn Chex® cereal
2 bags (12 oz each) white vanilla baking chips (4 cups)
1/4 cup multicolored candy sprinkles
DIRECTIONS
Pour box of cereal out onto a large tray. Pick out all the marshmallows (about 2 cups); set aside to add to the mix later. Measure 2 cups of the remaining Lucky Charms cereal (without the marshmallows) into large bowl, add Chex cereal.
Line cookie sheet with foil or waxed paper. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chips can be stirred smooth. Pour over cereal mixture in large bowl; toss to evenly coat.
Spread mixture in single layer on cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle with candy sprinkles. Let stand until set, about 20 minutes. Gently break up mixture; toss in reserved marshmallows. Store in airtight container.

Patriotic Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

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One of the best parts of this blog has become it’s referencability.

Want to reminisce about the grilled cupcakes of 2013?  Oh yeah, I’ll pull those up on my phone with a few clicks.

You heard about the spring gingerbread house (farm) of 2011?  Yes, agree it was memorable, here are the pics.

Holidays offer some of the best chances to be nostalgic about about treats of holidays past, I’m pretty fond of some of my festive creations from the last few years ;). With the 4th of July on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to share the joys of 4oJ’s past, along with the patriotic creation of this past weekend that adds to the ongoing collection.  It’s still early in the 4th of July week of 2014, so there will undoubtedly be more to come, but for the next few days, some memorable recipes from years gone by and a new sandwich cookie gem to munch on.  Hopefully next July I’ll still be dreaming about how wonderful these cookies were.

Shrimp boil direction will be covered over on The Not Quite Adult.

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2011: When I was really into whoopie pies.

 

fourth of july cake

2012: All about the swirl bundt cakes.

 

2013: Infamous flag cake and festive biscotti. 

Now on to the present! Where Frittatas rule the world.

 

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unfortunately fuzzy photo, but still notable that I went so overboard with mix-ins that I had to use 2 skillets to cook it.

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with purple potatoes, what a beauty.

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and featuring my new specialty, banana ice cream.

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decided to add some bourbon :)

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love this photo. what a hit.

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just eat right out of the food processor, no need for a bowl.

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yep, more bourbon.

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next day recover baking: the chocolate sandwich cookies.

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these are so small it’s VERY hard to keep from just eating one… after another… after another.

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cream cheese filling. I imagine that in heaven, most things are covered in this frosting.

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Makin’ the color.

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Process, I’m all about it.

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Just such cute little bundles of patriotic joy.

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trying to mimic the packaging of real Oreos :)

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Sharing technique at Ellie and Tim’s shrimp boil

 

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so many cooks in Ellie’s kitchen

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“look at us working”

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Cookies: success.

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“how many more pictures are we going to take?”

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Happy (early) 4oJ!

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Ingredients for the dough:
1 1/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and salt in a large bowl.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, incorporating each ingredient before adding the next. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces; place one piece between 2 lightly floured sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Refrigerate both rectangles, covered with the parchment sheets, until firm, at least 1 hour or up to several days.

Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut the dough into 64 circles. (You can reroll the scraps once.) Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Bake the cookies until they are set and slightly darker around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling (this is my recipe so I didn’t measure amounts, just mixed according to my heart).

Using a mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.

Flip half of the cookies upside down and top each with 1 level tablespoon of filling. Press the remaining cookies on top to make sandwiches.

Cookie recipe from www.foodnetwork.com