Recipe: Shortbread Cookies

I confess, it’s been too cold for outfit photos these past few days, and my outfits weren’t that interesting anyway. I have these pictures left over from the Lunar New Year, so I thought I might as well post them. This year we added a new desert – shortbread cookies – to our usual Lunar New Year fare of candied fruits and preserves, because my sister bought an oven for her new apartment. We had a lot of fun making them, they’re so versatile and the recipe is really simple, so here goes:

What You Need:
2 C butter, softened
1 C white sugar
4 C all-purpose flour
2 ts vanilla extract
Optional: dry fruits (we used cranberries and dried plums, random, I know, but we needed to clean out the pantry), jam, coconut flakes, sliced almonds, chocolate, etc.

Instruction:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla; add flour and mix well.

shortbread cookie dough by 14 shades of grey

3. Here the recipe calls for putting the dough through cookie press and forming cookies onto baking sheets, but after one sheet of that, my sister and I got so sick of the clunky cookie press that we just put the dough into piping bags, since our dough was pretty soft. We also made a few free-form ones (mostly my niece did). If your dough is dry enough, you can also chill it, then roll it out and use a cookie cutter. Decorate them with the dry fruits or nuts of your choice, or with a dollop of jam.

shortbread cookie piping by 14 shades of grey

shortbread cookie decorating by 14 shades of greyshortbread cookie decorating by 14 shades of grey

shortbread cookies by 14 shades of grey

4. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool. If you want to dip them into chocolate, now would be a good time before they’re all gone. Enjoy!

shortbread cookies by 14 shades of greyshortbread cookies finished by 14 shades of grey

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Recipe: Coconut Banana Bread

I haven’t done a recipe post since the New Year because of all the back-to-back style challenges, so here’s the first recipe of the year, which combines two of my favorite things: banana bread and coconut. Recipe adapted from here.

What You Need:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes (or shredded coconut)

Instruction:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside (I used a 9×9 pan, which worked out fine.)

2. Stir together the mashed bananas, coconut milk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

3. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients with the wet until just combined. Stir in the coconut flakes.

4. Pour batter into pan (I like a lot of coconut, so I sprinkled some of top as well.) Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely before slicing.


Recipe: Christmas Stollen

Because everybody in my family (except for me) studied in Germany, when we do celebrate Christmas it is with German traditions. And one of those traditions is the Stollen, the German Christmas bread. I haven’t been able to find the exact kind here in the US, so I’ve been making it myself for a couple of years now. It doesn’t taste quite the same, but it’s fun to make, and it helps me feel closer to home.

ETA: Recipe adapted from here.

What You Need:
1 tablespoon yeast
2/3 C warm milk
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 C bread flour
1/3 C each currants, raisins and candied cherries (quartered)
2/3 C candied citrus peel (I got a tub of mixed dried fruits for fruitcake and used 1 C of it in place of the cherries and peel)
1 ts each ground ginger and allspice
6 oz. marzipan (found in the baking isle)
About 2 tablespoons melted butter and powdered sugar, for dusting

Instruction:
1. Dissolve yeast in the milk (I also added 1/2 tablespoon sugar to help the yeast along), let stand until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the sugar, butter, egg, salt and 2 C flour. Mix well. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead in the dried fruits, ginger and allspice, until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, make sure it’s coated with oil. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

4. After the dough has doubled, punch it down and roll it out. Shape the marzipan into a log and place in the middle. Fold the dough over, pinch the seams together to seal. Place the loaf, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce to 300 degrees F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more. Let cool completely. Pour the melted butter over the loaf and dust it with powdered sugar (the traditional loaf is rolled in powdered sugar, but I find that a little too sweet.) Enjoy!


Sorry I didn’t have a picture of a slice yet. I’m saving this for Christmas dinner, I’ll make sure to have a picture then.


Let’s Get Food-Drunk

Warning: heavily pictured post ahead. Most of them are of food. But it’s Thanksgiving, so you understand.

In the morning, after arriving at Debbi’s, our host, we all decided to go to our favorite diner for a light brunch/lunch.


These are my other two friends Julie and Dan. Aren’t they adorable?

Then we went home and the cooking began. Debbi had to leave for another Thanksgiving (poor girl was twice as stuffed by the end of the night!), so we cooked slowly to wait for her to get back. And remember how I said I missed Lunar New Year at home? Well, I got that homey feeling again – it was overcast outside, and we were all chilling and cooking in the warm kitchen.

Julie was in charge of the turkey (we named him Rupert) and these delicious chipotle bacon deviled eggs; Dan made green bean casserole; I made mashed sweet potatoes (also with chipotle), spring rolls and pumpkin cream cheese bread, and Debbi made pumpkin chocolate chip bread with frosting.


ETA: I totally forgot pictures of the deviled eggs, so here they are


Rupert was beautiful


You can never have too much pumpkin on Thanksgiving


There’s a vegetable in there… somewhere…

We barely made a dent before we all had to retreat to the couch and watched “Punkin Chunkin” and slowly fell into a food coma. There were four of us at Thanksgiving dinner and we made enough food for 10 people, so guess what? We’re coming back tonight to eat the leftovers.


Recipe: PB & Chocolate Banana Bread

I’m a banana bread convert. I know there are people who won’t eat bananas unless they’re in baked goods, but I was the opposite: to me the idea of bananas in muffins and things just seemed… wrong. Well, no more. I usually buy more bananas than I can eat, and I hate throwing anything away, so banana breads they become.

I don’t remember where I get this recipe from. The chocolate was my idea, though, it’s a natural addition to peanut butter.

What You Need:
1 9″ loaf pan
3 ripe bananas, mashed (if your bananas are not ripe enough, peel and freeze them. When you thaw them out, they’ll be nice and mushy)
1/2 C creamy peanut butter (you can substitute the same amount of oil)
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 ts baking soda
1/2 ts salt (I omit this and don’t see any difference in taste, since peanut butter has enough salt in them)
1 ts baking soda
Optional: 2 TBs up to 1/4 C cocoa powder, 1/2 C walnuts, 1/2 C chocolate chips (or, you know, all of the above :P)

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Beat the mashed bananas, peanut butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, mix until smooth.

2. Shift all the dry ingredients together, along with the cocoa powder (if used). Combine with the wet ingredients until just incorporated.

3. Mix in walnuts and/or chocolate chips, if used.

4. Butter or spray your loaf pan with cooking spray, and pour batter into pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Recipe: Upside-down Cake

For my first recipe post, I decided it would be best if I make it a baking recipe. I like cooking as much as baking, but I cook because I have to eat, whereas I bake because I enjoy it.

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.

What You Need:
A 9-inch cake pan, or a cast iron skillet
Fruit Layer:

3 Ts butter
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
Sliced fruits enough to cover the bottom of your pan in a thick layer  – anything you like, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, apples, or, the traditional, pineapple (I used 4 small nectarines)
Berries (optional. I added blueberries before, but they’re not on sale now)
Cake Layer:

1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
1 ts vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
1/2 C whole milk, room temperature

Instruction:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in your pan (I do it on the stove. If you’re using cake pan, just stick it in the oven.) Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is melted and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once cool, arrange the fruit in a pinwheel design, added berries if used.

3. Beat the 1/2 C of butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, then one egg at a time, until smooth.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix.

5. Spread the batter over the fruit, then bake for 45 minutes to one hour.

6. Remove from oven, let cool, then place a cake plate on top, and flip the cake out on to the plate. Ta-da!



AA Thursday: Party, PDA, Pinterest (and Getting Pantsed – Not Me!)

Awkward:
– Being the only one at a party who doesn’t drive and who lives the farthest away. Yeah, it’s kinda awkward to ask “So, who’s going to give me a ride home?”

– This couple on the bus in front of me was really going at it, and since they were right there, there was nowhere for me to look (even if I turned my head, I could still see them out of the corner of my eyes.) Look, I have nothing against PDA, but there’s PDA, and then there’s “Please get a room.”

– Um, just realizing as I was writing this that I left a chunk of white background in my “Awkward & Awesome” header as well as my “Weekend Round-Up” header. And I’ve been using them for a month now. How did my OCD miss that?!


Random picture of the strawberry cake I made last weekend.

Awesome:
– Pinterest. It’s like a virtual pin board where you can add photos of things you like to a collection. It’s great and easy to use. A lot of bloggers swear by it, so I finally signed up. I’m not addicted (yet), but I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. Check out my boards here.

– Debbi’s birthday at the Edison. That place is so cool. Yeah, the price is exorbitant, but I think they’re selling ambiance more than anything.

– This incident… I’m not sure if it belongs in “awesome” or “awkward”, but here it is: Last Saturday at the book sale, an old man was browsing next to me when his pants suddenly decided to drop to his ankles. All by themselves. Apparently his belt wasn’t tight enough. Nobody else noticed (or they pretended not to) while I was like “Heh heh heh.” Inwardly, of course. Laughing out loud would be rude 😀