Currently viewing the tag: "sweets"

Blueberry Apple Bars

A kind reader pointed out to me that there  is a slight mistake this Blueberry Apple Crumb Bar recipe in The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, so I’m putting the recipe here (with corrections). The ingredient list is correct in the book, but the directions mention ‘baking soda’ instead of ‘baking powder’, and list cinnamon in the filling when there is none. Sorry about that!

If any of you happen to live in Winona, Minnesota, or are visiting there this weekend, I’ll be doing a book signing at The Blue Heron Coffeehouse from 2-4 this Saturday, January 14th. The Blue Heron is the coffeehouse I talk about throughout my book, and where I learned to bake, and it’s wonderful to be going back for this event.

I am also teaching a class in St. Paul at Cooks of Crocus Hill Sunday, February 5th, from 1-2:30. I’ll be doing some demonstrations, sharing treats, and signing books. You can register here if interested!

You can find a few of my recipes from the book around the web. So many beautiful posts, I’m totally overwhelmed! Julie from Always with Butter made my chocolate chip cookies. Molly from My Name is Yeh made my yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Michelle from Hummingbird High made my cheesecake, and Cynthia from Two Red Bowls made my cheesecake with a hazelnut twist. Alex and Sonja from A Couple Cooks made my shortbread with chocolate. Food 52 made my oatmeal white chocolate cookies. Sara from Sprouted Kitchen made my whole wheat banana chocolate muffins. Cindy from Hungry Girl Por Vida made my honey cake and added grapefruit. Elizabeth from Brooklyn Supper made my orange cranberry bundt cake. Alana from Fix Feast Flair made my brown butter buttercream. Alanna from Bojon Gourmet made my peanut butter granola. There are a few more that I will post later!

Thank you again for all your support. It’s been so fun to see what everyone is making from the book on Instagram, and I appreciate all your kind words and reviews. If you make something from the book, please tag it #vanillabeanbakingbook so I can find it!

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pumpkin bread

Happy Merry. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Holiday season, however it looked and was celebrated. We do Christmas here, and had a loud and lovely Christmas Eve with family, then ended up being rained in (which is very weird for Minnesota – freezing rain and howling winds, but no snow) Christmas Day. So we watched movies, ordered Chinese food (my father-in-law was nice enough to venture out), read books, and put together elaborate Lego sets.  Both days were perfect, and I felt completely content as I fell asleep.

The tree was thrown out the day after Christmas, sadly. We picked a bad one this year (I blame it on 2016) and it needed to be out of our house. I usually hang on to those green pine needles as long as I can, not willingly to let the jingle bells and the silent nights go. But it felt nice, actually, to pack everything up just a little early and start thinking about the New Year. I’m not really one for resolutions and crash dieting come January, but I do like to spend some time reflecting on what I hope for in the next year. I also like the feeling of a fresh start. After a whole month of too many cookies and too much peppermint bark, focusing on health and wholeness is a necessity.  I enjoyed adding Pulses to my diet this year (although I will admit December didn’t see as much of them), and want to carry out my Pulse pledge in 2017 as well.

pumpkin bread

pumpkin bread

This bread is another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

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I spent ten Christmas Eves in a row working various retail jobs, everything from barista to Barnes and Noble. The holiday season started the day after Thanksgiving, with mile long lines continuing to Christmas Eve at 4pm, when the store gates finally clanged shut and stayed that way for one whole day. Work shifts in December were spent answering the constantly ringing phone, running around the store trying to find would-be presents, standing at the cash register hour upon hour swiping credit cards, dreading every 30 minutes when Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime would come on again, and cleaning up gigantic messes left by frantic customers. Then, at last, the night before Christmas, when the store gate was shut (although often people were begging outside it: please, can I buy just 1 pound of coffee? I just need one more book for my sister-in-law, will you let me in?) all the employees would feel that smack of exhaustion, the same one that comes at the end of finals week, when you are finally driving home for spring break. It would take hours to clean the store, and almost everyone could feel a serious cold coming on. Someone would order a pizza, and we’d munch in silence before taking off to our various celebrations, usually arriving sneezing and crazy-eyed, just wanting to crash into a bed.

I’ve now had ten years off on Christmas Eve. It is spent at home, quietly listening to holiday music, baking a batch of cookies, snuggling with my little ones watching White Christmas, and heading to my parent’s house early for festivities. I have a no-shopping on Christmas Eve rule for myself, but I must admit I feel something lacking each year without the craziness. The month of December doesn’t feel as sparkly and exciting to me without all the noise, the crowds of people, Mariah Carey singing Christmas songs through loud speakers all day long, racing up and down stairs trying to find books for exasperated customers. The thing I didn’t want to make the holiday about has now ended up defining the holiday to me. Those formative years of my teens and twenties, working hard all December long now shape how I need Christmas to feel to me as an adult. I can’t escape that, somehow.

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I remind myself each year that just because something feels a certain way, it doesn’t mean that’s how it actually is. This is usually easier said than done. As a parent, I now determine how the holiday will look for my children. I start traditions and routine both for enjoyment and for recognition. I see my kids feeling so many things, and getting swept up in what makes Christmas so exciting. But my mission as a caretaker is more than that. It’s to teach what the reason behind this month long, money-spending, jingle-belling really is. At the very core, it’s to look to others, to give with no expectation of getting anything in return, and to remember that we all belong to each other, all of us, across this spinning round snow globe that’s so easily shaken. No matter how the actual days of December end up shaping my two little ones, I want them to still always be able reach past how they feel, and know, deep down, the joy and hope of Christmas, and their capacity to bring it everywhere they go. “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” —Lucy Larcom

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pumpkin scones

My littles are on Brightly today, making Pumpkin scones from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. If you haven’t been to the Brightly site yet please check it out! The space is a resource for parents to help create lifelong readers, something I’m passionate about. Launched in partnership with Penguin Random House, Brightly features book recommendations from all publishers for every age and stage, reading tips and insights, seasonal inspirations, author essays, contests, gift guides, and more. There are so many great book lists and ideas here.

pumpkin scones

pumpkin scones

pumpkin scones

pumpkin scones

pumpkin-scones

You can get the recipe for the Pumpkin Scones here. These scones are a family favorite, and might be what we wake up to this Christmas morning. “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” —Lucy Larcom

 

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‘The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended…

and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.’
-Mary Oliver, excerpted from American Primitive

**********************************************************************
Many of you know that I contribute over at Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – I’ve been working  for Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François about four years. While I write some blog posts for them and spend a good deal of time pinning to their Pinterest boards, one of the highlights of my job is helping them work on cookbooks. A little over a year ago we spent another week together, along with photographer Stephen Scott Gross, mixing buckets of dough and baking piles of bread for their book.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I was a fan of the Bread in Five series before I met Jeff and Zoë, and now after spending time with the two of them, I can’t rave about them, and their books, enough. I’ve made boules, baguettes, bagels, doughnuts, beignets, coffee cake, sandwich bread, dinner rolls, bostok, and cinnamon rolls with their dough. They recently put out a new edition of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which is revised and updated with new recipes. I’m a huge fan of the whole wheat brioche dough, and use it often in my baking. It works great made into whole grain doughnuts, Christmas Stollen, Caramel or Cinnamon Rolls, and this Pistachio Chocolate Twist, which is a new family favorite.
pistachio wreath

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If you haven’t tried out any Bread in 5 recipes yet, I highly encourage you to! If you’re new to bread baking, their recipes are a great place to start, and if you’ve been baking bread for awhile, there is so much room for experimentation. It’s an easy and delicious way to make bread a part of your daily life.

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saint lucia buns

Each December, I find myself searching for the perfect holiday traditions. Not that there are any perfect ones, of course, but with two little ones in our family, I crave some routine and consistency each year. Dream scenarios would be opening presents every Christmas morning as a family in our home, snuggling up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate Christmas Eve to watch Rudolph (and then later White Christmas), searching through holiday magazines and cookbooks for the best cookie recipes and then making them together over Christmas break, and sweet yeasted bread every day. Cinnamon rolls, fruit-filled Danish, braided pumpkin-spice knots, just anything along those lines, all Christmas-time long.

st. lucia buns

King Arthur Flour asked me to bring a Christmas classic to their Holiday Table, and I immediately thought of St. Lucia Buns. St. Lucia Day is before Christmas Day, taking place on the longest night of the year (according to the ancient Julian calendar), December 13th. While these buns are not dripping in icing and swirled with cinnamon, they are sweet and delicious nonetheless. They could be made in the middle of December, and then again on the 25th, served for breakfast, or an afternoon coffee break after opening piles of presents and shaking every last piece of candy out of stockings by the fire. Whenever you decide to make them is just fine; just make sure to add them to your baking list.

Browse some of my other picks for Classic Christmas recipes and favorite tips for the season at King Arthur Flour’s Holiday Table.

st. lucia buns

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sugar cookies
Happy Tuesday! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday, and survived the shopping madness that followed. After working retail for 10 holiday seasons in a row (with Black Friday and Christmas Eve always days I had to work), I can’t bring myself to venture out anywhere over the after-Thanksgiving weekend, so I enjoyed time inside my house, baking and reading. I have five books going right now; I am currently rereading two books: The Hobbit, which I am reading outloud to my kids for the first time (and they are loving it!), and Pride and Prejudice, which seemed like the perfect snowy weekend read. I’m also still working through this collection of letters. What are you currently reading? I’m always adding to my book list; I’d love suggestions.

“What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”
“It ought to be good,” he replied, “it has been the work of many generations.”
“And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books.”
“I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these.”
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
sugar cookies

sugar cookies
These cookies are another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

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cranberry white chocolate cookies
I’m very happy with how these cookies turned out – they are a riff on an oatmeal cookie found in my book, and the rosemary adds so much flavor. They are a perfect addition to your holiday table – stacked up next to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or piled high on a plate next to the tree, waiting for Santa.

Decas Cranberry Products, Inc. just-released premium quality Cooking & Baking Cranberries as part of its Paradise Meadow line. The Cooking & Baking Cranberries come in julienne-style, pre-sliced for ease-of-use. They are also available in whole for a bolder taste and can be found in the baking aisle right alongside your other baking needs. Decas also has a variety of other cranberry products including Whole Jumbo and OmegaCrans which are Omega-3 fortified. I found them great to work with, both for baking and cooking, and snacking on.
cranberry white chocolate cookies

cranberry white chocolate cookies

cranberry white chocolate cookies

cranberry
(One river gives
Its journey to the next.
)

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

-Alberto Rios, When Giving Is All We Have

***************************************************************************
This post is sponsored by Decas cranberries. Decas is a family-owned business, and environmental stewardship has been at the core of their agricultural philosophy since the founding of the company. As always, all opinions are my own. To learn more about their history and sustainability, you can go here.

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blackberry buns
I’m in my cozy home, sipping hot coffee, listening to the rain fall gently on my roof top. A Thanksgiving Day to-do list is started before me, as well as a mile-long work list that naturally I’m avoiding. I move to my web browser, and read two news articles that project fear and anxiety; my stomach is in permanent knots lately. I gaze out the window, lost in thought. I imagine I’m on a rollar coaster of sorts, and while it’s driving me up and down gigantic hills and looping me upside down, I’m not sure if it stops all nice and neat where I got on, or if it flies off the rails into some great abyss where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I laugh at how dramatic I can be. I move to facebook, and find my inbox filled with notes from hurting friends and family. I drink my coffee, even with the tears falling into each sip. Suddenly it’s 1987 and there is a sleepy little me on a Sunday morning, slouching on a cold, metal fold-up chair. I am scheming how I can get my mom to let me go to the bathroom one more time during this never-ending sermon, where I will then read my Nancy Drew mystery (secretly tucked away in my pastel purple purse), if only for 10 more minutes. Verses fall all around me as I plot my escape. I shake my head, slightly annoyed, as the words whisper to both the 10-year old and the 39-year old, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ That old, over-used line seems to have lost all meaning, and the sentence doesn’t make sense to me in this moment. I find myself saying it out loud, chanting it slowly again and again while I write on my list: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, corn. Apple pie! Chocolate cake, too! I imagine my table piled high with so much food, and it seems to multiply in my mind; loaves and fishes with a 20-pound turkey besides, nestled between outstretched hands that overflow with excitement and hope, love and joy.

Here is enough food to feed us, and all our neighbors besides.
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blackberry buns
I’m teaming up with Julia Turshen and a few other bloggers to help to raise money for No Kid Hungry’s Friendsgiving program. Julia is the author of  Small Victories, a lovely cookbook filled with “simple, achievable recipes” that emphasizes bold-flavored, honest food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Julia writes, “This cookbook, like most cookbooks, assumes that whoever is reading it has access to food and not only the desire, but also the time, energy, and means to cook. How great would it be if that were the case for everyone? I firmly believe that if you have the privilege of eating however much you want whenever you want, you should spend some time ensuring that others have the same opportunity.” To learn more and/or give to the campaign, please click here! Let’s not forget to love our neighbors, each and every day.

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apple pear cranberry crisp
I have a great giveaway today in celebration of the release of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: this fantastic Le Creuset braiser pan! I received this braiser about a year ago, and it instantly became my favorite kitchen item. I use it for everything – both dinner and dessert, sweet and savory. It browns chicken and other meats like a dream, the deep sides are roomy and prevent spillage, and the round shape makes for a pretty presentation.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
1 winner will receive a Le Creuset 1 ½ Quart Braiser. **Participants who complete this form will be entered for a chance to win.** Contest is open through 11/22 to residents of the U.S. only. The winner will be randomly selected through random.org and notified via e-mail no later than 11/28. The winner’s name and address will be shared with Le Creuset for the sole purpose of mailing out the prize. Thank you!
crisp
I also have a new recipe for you today, Apple Pear Crisp with White Wine. It’s based on a recipe from my new book, a crisp with cherries and rhubarb, but I’ve replaced the summer fruits with winter-y ones instead.

Also, some friends have been posting recipes from my book!
Check out:

Orange Cranberry Poundcake on Apt. 2B Baking Co.

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Eat This Poem

Mint Chocolate Cake on Appeasing a Food Geek

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake with Meringue on Turntable Kitchen

Orange Pie on Lemon Fire Brigade

Sweet Potato Scones on A Thought For Food

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread on Simple Bites

Also, there is still time to enter my #bakeamericacakeagain tattoo giveaway! Enter here.

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Purchase my cookbook!

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / BAM / IndieBound

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