Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I must admit, even though I’m a “food blogger” and a self-proclaimed foodie, I don’t think I really have a signature go-to dish. I feel like every blogger, mom, homemaker, Pinterest-obsessed lady, or even BBQ-loving man out there has a signature thing that they make well.

Unless throwing a bunch of veggies in a saute pan with various spices and serving it over rice/quinoa counts as a “signature dish”….I am a little bit all over the place, and I prefer to try my hand at as many different kind of dishes as possible rather than specialize in just one.

However, there is one flavor profile that I may have a borderline obsession with…

Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins (one of the most popular recipes of all time on my blog, probably because I put the word “skinny” in front of them)… Basil-Lemon Breakfast HashBraided Lemon BreadLemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies…. Seeing a trend here?

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Which brings me to this cookie. I have made these cookies (in Lemon Shortbread Square form) every year for the past 4 years. I thought, nay, KNEW they could not be improved upon…and then I made them into cookies.

GAME CHANGER!

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Not only do you get more cookies out of a batch than you would if you put the dough into a square pan and cut out squares (bonus: it makes them fewer calories!!)… The cookies are just straight up BETTER. Slightly browned and crumbly on the edges, covered in the same heavenly lemon glaze (it’s really what seals the deal here), you need these on your cookie tray!

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Seriously. Nothing is better than lemon juice and powdered sugar. Even people who aren’t huge fans of lemon have told me they liked these cookies. Plus, I tend to prefer a cookie dough that doesn’t have raw egg in it. No danger in eating it off the spatula as you bake 😉

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If you’ve found yourself behind on your Christmas baking, or if you’re like me and you have eaten too many of the cookies you baked that were supposed to be gifts…look no further for your next cookie recipe!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies
makes 24 cookies

For Cookies:
2 sticks softened butter
1 tsp lemon zest (about 1 small lemon)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Lemon Icing:
2 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
juice & zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 300˚. Beat together butter, lemon zest, and sugar. Whisk the flour and salt separately, then add slowly to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until well combined. The dough will be scraggly; this is okay!

Lay down a piece of plastic wrap and turn over dough onto plastic wrap. Form the dough into a log with a diameter about the same size you want your cookies to be (about 1.5 inches). It will be pretty long, about 12 inches. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

Remove shortbread from fridge and slice into cookies that are about 1/2 inch thick. Score the shortbread with a fork, place on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until edges are starting to brown.

While shortbread is baking, combine sugar and lemon juice/zest. I usually start with the juice of half a lemon and add powdered sugar as needed. You’ll want it to be semi thick because it’ll get thinner when it touches the hot cookies.

Remove cookies from oven and immediately drizzle with as much icing as desired (ALL OF IT). Let cookies cool and icing harden before storing.

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The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 – Walnut Bars

Today is Cookie Swap reveal day!

Leave it to me, the typically Millennial internet-obsessed 20-something, to participate in a virtual/Internet-based cookie swap before ever participating in a real life one! I chose a good one, however: this year, the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap raised over $13,000 (via entry fees, donations, and matching donations from sponsors) to be donated to Cookies for Kids Cancer. That is one seriously awesome cookie swap.

Those bloggers who participated had to bake 3 dozen cookies – each dozen going to one of 3 different food bloggers around the country. I was SERIOUSLY impressed by every batch of cookies I received! Each one was better than the last. But more on that later 🙂

My “cookies” went to Maria at Maria of the Best, Lauren at Have Fork, Will Eat, and Samantha at Haute Pepper Bites. I hope they enjoyed their goodies… take a look at my contribution to the cookie swap!

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My cookies weren’t cookies, per se, but rather bars! Walnut Bars, to be exact. These bars can be found in my family’s home every winter without fail. My parents have a walnut tree that produces pounds upon pounds of walnuts in the fall, and this recipe is one of our favorites for using them all up!

The pecan pie-like filling is a perfect complement to the buttery shortbread crust…I was happy to be sending these to Maria, Lauren & Samantha, because whenever they’re around me I end up eating them up super fast 😉 Walnut Bars for breakfast, anyone?!

Walnut Bars
makes 24-36 bars, depending on size

Shortbread Cookie Crust:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) butter or margarine, softened

Walnut Filling:
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Karo syrup (corn syrup)…light is OK!
2 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cookie crust: Spray or grease 10x15x1in baking dish. Beat together the sugar, flour, salt and butter until mix becomes crumbly. Press into pan. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until starting to brown.

Meanwhile, prepare walnut filling. Beat eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla until blended. Stir in walnuts. Once the shortbread cookie crust is finished, evenly pour the mixture over tje hot crust. Bake an additional 25 minutes, or until the filling is firm around the edges and set in the middle.

Let cool and cut into bars/squares/whatever shapes your heart desires!

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Now, for the delicious goodies I received… I’m going to use photos from the recipes’ creators, because my iPhone pictures seriously don’t do justice to how amazing these cookies were. Be sure to click through and get the recipes on their blogs! I am DEFINITELY making all 3 this month!

Cherry Almond Thumbprint Cookies from Sarah at Strawberry Plum

These had a great almond flavor and PERFECT texture. Plus, I need to find out where to get that sour cherry jam!

Peppermint Biscotti from Lynn at Turnips 2 Tangerines

Peppermint biscotti?! GENIUS! I can never say no to the peppermint+chocolate combo!

Triple-Ginger Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Deb at Cooking on the Front Burner

I can’t decide what I liked more about these…the zingy ginger flavor, or the huge chocolate chunks?!

Thank you ladies for some delicious cookies! I can’t wait to give them to my friends and family this month over the holidays.

Have you ever participated in a cookie swap?

What is your go-to cookie to make during the holidays?

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies – Happy Blogiversary Becky!

Today, I bring you a recipe…but it isn’t mine.

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It belongs to a blogger who reminds us to always TREAT YO SELF!

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Who has run two half marathons…. one without even training! (I like how in the first half marathon recap it says that it was “likely” her last!!! YEA RIGHT!!!)

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Who always seems to end up being my hangover buddy 😉 (of course, this picture wasn’t hungover but rather during our split bottle of wine….after a day of wine tasting….and cocktails….)

It comes from the brain of Becky at Olives n’ Wine!

A couple of months ago, Erica contacted me and asked if I’d be down to help plan a virtual surprise party celebrating Becky’s 1 year blogiversary. One year ago today, Becky wrote her first blog post! I was absolutely 100% down, and couldn’t believe how sweet of an idea it was…especially considering Erica ended up not being able to make it to Blend Retreat (poor thing just had to go to MEXICO! 😛 ) so we have actually never all met! 😦 Hope that changes next month when you find yourself in my neck of the woods, Erica!

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Anyway, though my inclination was to pick one of her many amazing peanut butter-chocolatey concoctions to display, I had to go with an option that’s not only seasonal (even my “mehhhh pumpkin” self loved them), but totally typically blogger-esque! In her original post, Becky talks about how this recipe has the two most typical blogger ingredients: pumpkin and coconut oil.

Go figure the night I brought pumpkin, flour, and all the other ingredients to my parents house to do some baking, I totally FORGOT all of my coconut oil. (we kiiiiind of got a lot at Blend). Oh well! Bought some more and made these cookies. They were DEEEE-LICIOUS. Though I’m usually a chewy cookie fan, these were quite cakey- but oh so flavorful. They might have made me like pumpkin…just a little! 😉

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Oh, and I was sure to enjoy some Olives n’ Wine while I baked!

If you don’t follow Becky’s blog, you should. Becky, you have achieved so much this year and have so much to be proud of! I’m proud to call you a Blend AND a friend, and I can’t wait for our next adventure together!

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Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies (c/o Olives n’ Wine, Adapted from Inside BruCrew Life)

Makes 36 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed but not 100% melted
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate minis)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar and coconut oil with an electric mixer until blended. Add in pumpkin, egg and vanilla and blend until creamy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly stir dry mixture into pumpkin mixture just until combined. Mix in chocolate chips by hand. Roll cookies into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet (FYI – if you just “plop” the cookie dough on the sheet, it won’t spread nicely like typical cookies which is why my photos aren’t of pretty cookies. If you would like your cookies to have a nice appearance, roll the dough into balls prior to cooking!). Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes and then allow cookies to cool slightly on sheet for 3 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Katie’s Notes: I rolled my dough into balls and flattened them with the bottom of a small glass. I also used 1/2 white whole wheat flour, which worked out fine! My cookies were ginormous, so I barely got 24 and I had to cook ’em a little longer 😉 I also used chopped chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips. All still ended up excellent!

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Check out all the amazing recipes of Becky’s that we are showcasing today! Also check out our hashtag on Twitter & Instagram – #ONWturns1 🙂

Chocolate-Dipped Quinoa Coconut Bars from Erica @ Coffee & Quinoa
Banana Bread Oatmeal from Jan @ Sprouts n’ Squats
Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole from Jackie @ Nacho Average Runner
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie in a Mug from Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate
White Chocolate-Walnut-Coconut-Butternut Squash Dessert from Holly @ Eat Great, Be Great
Easy Breakfast Cookie in a Mug from Amanda @ Running With Spoons
Pumpkin-Nutella Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze from Dana @ The Daily Moderation
Banana Bread Nutella Cookies from Katie @ Running 4 Cupcakes
Homemade Taco Seasoning  from Carly @ Snack Therapy
Skinny Chubby Monkey from Amy @ The Little Honey Bee
Jalapeno-Spiced Black Bean Burgers from Hannah @ Clean Eating Veggie Girl
Spinach and Cheese Lasagna Roll-Ups from Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
Biscoff Chip Cookies from Davida @ The Healthy Maven
French Onion Soup from Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
Beef and Broccoli from Alisha @ Alisha’s Appetite
Creamy Butternut Risotto from Emily @ Have Your Cake And…
Antioxidant Froyo Bars from Brittany @ Protein and Pumps
Chocolate Chip Birthday Cookies from Heather @ Fit ‘n’ Cookies
Greek Spaghetti Squash from Chelsea @ Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen
BBQ Tofu Pizza from Ashlee @ His-n-Hers Happy-n-Healthy
Mini Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting from Erin @ The Almond Eater
Paleo Pad Thai from Melanie @ Beautifully Nutty
Arugula & Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza from Elise @ 9 to Fit
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Smoothie from Jennifer @ Brunette Anthem
Double Chocolate Chip Muffins from Sara @ Fitcupcaker
Andes Mint Cookies from Taryn @ Peace and Pizza
S’mores Cookie Dough Bars from Caroline @ The Trendy Trainer
Biscoff Chip Cookies from Natalie @ Free Range Human

Wednesday Around the Web

Hello all! I was contemplating jumping on the What I Ate Wednesday bandwagon for the first time ever today, because I actually took pictures of every.single.thing I ate yesterday…but then I realized that my food was actually pretty ugly (I had oatmeal for breakfast and a bowl of black beans, peas, corn, chard, and quinoa for lunch…yeah, that doesn’t even sound appetizing). And no one wants to see ugly food…amirite?

The exception, though, was dinner!

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I got a special treat last night – T-Man cooked me dinner! This feat has only happened a handful of times (if you don’t include his amazing cheesy eggs in the morning, or his other specialty: Chicken Caesar wraps). This is mostly because, on nights that our schedules meet up at dinner time, either I insist on cooking or T-Man insists on going to Burgers & Brew 🙂

Last night, we had baked chicken (on which we both slathered BBQ sauce), steamed white rice, mixed greens, and his mom’s famous garlic bread. I think even a simple meal like this trumps eating out – on both the wallet and the waistline!

Anyhow, since none of my other meals yesterday were quite as share-worthy as this special one, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite finds from around the web lately. I’ve had a lot of spare time at work, so you can bet your butt I’ve been spending a lot of time on BuzzFeed 😉

1) Lip Sync-Off with John Krasinski on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Please tell me you have all seen this. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH NOW. If you have, I’m confident you loved it so much you’ll watch it again. I’ve watched it like 4 times already. J-Kras is freakin’ dreamy, talented, and makes me laugh like no other. We’ve been re-watching last season of The Office trying to catch up to the series finale tomorrow, but it ain’t gonna happen. I’ve been avoiding reading any articles about the final season so far, what’s another week or two? I don’t even care that it has gone “downhill” in the past couple of years. Definitely one of my top 10 all-time favorite shows. PB + J FO LYFE!

2) 43 Things That Will Make You Feel Really Old


I may only be in my mid-20’s, but most of these made me feel pretty old. Maybe it’s not so much that they made me feel old, as much as they made my childhood feel really, really far away.

3) Zach Braff’s Kickstarter movie’s 1st Casting Announcement

A few weeks ago, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and pledge money to Zach Braff’s Kickstarter project to fund his new movie. I know he’s gotten some critics for the move (yeahhh, it’s always a little ballsy for a millionaire to ask other people for money), but I think the idea behind this is solid. For $20, I have been enjoying production updates and will later be getting sneak peeks at the soundtrack. The Garden State soundtrack was pretty much this emo high schooler’s favorite album ever, so I’m excited to see how this one turns out.

ANYWAY, my decision to back this project was 100% justified when Zach announced this week that MANDY PATINKIN is going to play his father! You may know him as Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride, or Saul from Homeland. Rock on.

4) How To Create Your Own Original Cookie Recipe and Cookie Science

I’ve always steered clear of trying to create my own cookie recipe. This guide may change that. It breaks down each ingredient in a cookie (flour, leavening agent, fat, mix-ins): why they’re there, what you can use, and how to substitute in other options. Very informative, and her cookie recipes don’t sound half bad either!

5) A Guide to Living in Lyon for Parisians

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At the risk of alienating any non-Francophones who read my blog (AKA most of you), a few of my Facebook friends posted this article yesterday. It’s basically told from the perspective of a girl from Paris now living in Lyon, where I studied abroad in college. Lyon is the 2nd largest city in France (unless you ask someone from Marseille, who will tell you it’s Marseille ;-)) but it is still known to be quite “provincial” compared to the City of Lights.

The author describes Lyon’s slower way of life, plethora of amazing and cheap restaurants, questionable fashion sense, and slang. I was surprised to learn that some phrases I thought were normal colloquial French are actually regional “Lyonnais” language quirks!

6) This Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad from Bev Cooks

I was catching up on my Google Reader’s 100+ unread posts and found this gem. My dad gave me some beets from his garden and I just happen to have parsley and too many lemons on hand. Aaand there’s roasted garlic in the vinaigrette?! I’m thinking this needs to be dinner tonight + lunch tomorrow!

Which website can you lose hours browsing?

Any fun internet finds this week?

Christmas Cookie Brainstorming Sesh

Something my family (and probably yours too, I imagine) has always done every holiday season is gift giving in the form of baked goods. In addition to a seemingly never ending supply of cookies in our Christmas cookie tins, my mom always made loaves of cranberry bread for our teachers, and cookies for our neighbors. Always perfectly wrapped in cellophane, with perfect ribbon curls.

6 inch ribbon curls? That’s impossible.

So it makes sense that I’ve followed in my mom’s footsteps: I would rather give baked goods to lots of different friends, than personalized gifts to only a few. Okay, okay, lest you think I am a cheapskate, I still give gifts to my family and some close friends.

I’m also part of a group of 10 friends that does a Secret Santa drawing every year, so I get one gift for whichever name I draw, and bring cookies to our gift exchange to serve as a gift for the rest of the group, haha. And the group is mostly guys, so it all gets eaten up REAL quickly. This year, I am actually probably going to host the gift exchange (it is on Christmas Eve morning, so I’ve got all kinds of holiday brunch ideas floating in my head already), but more on that later.

Today I’d like to share some of my favorite goodies to include on my cookie tray, and open it up to you the readers to weigh in and share your favorites as well! Call it a virtual cookie swap, a brainstorming sesh, or what have you. Without further ado…

joanna peppermint bark

Peppermint Bark

A true holiday classic. And it’s best made by my best friend Joanna (see photo above, taken by her lucky roommate, my dear friend Alex). The best part is, it’s super easy. All you have to know how to do is temper chocolate!

Pomegranate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod

I made these cookies last weekend and O-M-G. I knew immediately that I would be making them again as Christmas goodies. I made 2 dozen…the first dozen was almost immediately gobbled down by us and the two couples we were with. The other dozen, which I brought back to T-Man’s house, quickly disappeared. About a day later, his roommate came up to me and was like, “So, uh, Katie… Are you going to make those cookies again?” I wasn’t even offended by the notion that he expected me (the female) to make him (the male) cookies. Because the answer was a resounding, “HELL YEAH!”

I’m also thinking about making this dough with different mix-ins. I bought some peppermint white chocolate M&Ms at Target this weekend and am definitely going to incorporate them into a recipe!

Lemon shortbread squares

My famous Lemon Shortbread Squares

I found this recipe on FoodNetwork.com two years ago and have been making it ever since. Shortbread infused with lemon zest, covered in a lemon glaze….Seriously, nothing could be better. It’s one of my all-time favorite dessert recipes!

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Every year, I throw together a batch of sugar cookies and have fun destroying decorating them. But let’s be honest, the above is a stolen photo. My cookies usually look like this:

Sugar cookies

If I have time this year, I may actually make my own royal icing and use this tutorial from Brown Eyed Baker to do some fancy decorating. That’s a big IF though 🙂

And that’s all I have so far cookie-wise!

I’m also thinking of gifts that I can put in jars, such as spiced or candied nuts, or candied citrus peels (see here or here for my inspiration!)

And I am planning on making this drool-worthy coffee cake from Joy the Baker at least twice.

What cookies and goodies do you love to bake and gift at this time of year?

Farmer Fresh Fiesta Friday

There are so many wonderful things about summer. Sunshine, swimming, bright colors, barbecues, vacation, weddings…just to name a few. But since this is my first summer of living on my own out of college, I’m learning there’s another great thing about summer: all the best produce is fresh, cheap, and bountiful!

This is the weekly Certified Organic Farmer’s Market at Capitol Park next to the State Capitol (and my office). Every other week, I usually stop by and get a few things like fruit and veggies for myself, or almonds and pistachios to share at the office. Pretty much every day of the week, there is at least one Farmer’s Market going on somewhere in Downtown Sacramento!

Normally I only need to stop by every other week, though, because I have another farmer supplying me: my dad! Check out how his garden looked a few weeks ago:

Doesn’t it all look great? I’ve pretty much stopped buying zucchini at the grocery store or farmer’s market because every time I go to my parents’ house, I come back with a zucchini the size of my face. No, seriously:

I have a feeling tomatoes and corn are next!

Check out some of the ways I’ve been using up all my Farmer’s Market finds:

Grilled Veggie Tacos that I showed y’all on my Day of Eats

After my Mexican Pizza recipe, I think you all know that I’m a fan of piling things on a tortilla and calling it a pizza. In lieu of refried beans, I often mash some avocado instead! Above is roasted veggies, below is steamed/sauteed (with my favorite coasters!).

Charred corny goodness.

OK this is not at all Farmers Market fresh, but I just wanted to share this tip I recently tried: add a touch of french vanilla creamer in your plain oatmeal! What?! Amazing!

Fudgey ZUCCHINI cookies from Two Peas and their Pod! The zucchini is perfectly hidden by all the chocolate!

Inspired by Edible Perspective’s Curry Zucchini Roll ups, I tried my hand at Caprese Zucchini Roll ups (they have basil, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella & a bit of avocado stuffed inside!), but kind of majorly failed. They wouldn’t stay together, but at least they tasted good!

Last night’s dinner: a kale salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and homemade balsamic vin all over the bowl. Kale isn’t exactly in season right now, but for some reason I keep buying it at the market…

Now, I’ve covered Farmer Fresh… Why the Fiesta in the title?

This week is Fiesta in Santa Barbara! A week of parades, carnivals, parties…….and confetti eggs.

I will use a few photos of my friends and I in 2010 as a demonstration:

They seem unassuming enough, right?

We thought so too…

But then…

…the aftermath!! (p.s. not my hair! Don’t worry, I didn’t turn into a brunette in a matter of minutes ;P)

And even though I don’t live in Santa Barbara anymore, I’m still feelin’ the Fiesta — the law firm I work for has their California headquarters in Santa Barbara, and gives all California employees a half day on “Fiesta Friday”! Ole! Have a great weekend!

Also, I’ll just leave this here.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Today = First day of Summer! Summer time = Fruit time.

Whether it’s smoothies, popsicles, fruit tarts, or even a juicy apple or peach as a mid-day snack, fruit is clutch in the summer.

One way I love incorporating fruit into my baking is by mixing fresh fruit juice with powdered sugar and covering all baked goods in sight with it. OK, so that’s an exaggeration. But after incorporating Lemon Shortbread Squares (which include a lemon glaze) into my yearly Christmas cookie rotation 2 years ago, I started looking for more citrusy baked goods.

After finding a recipe for some orange icebox cookies that were filled with coconut and covered with chocolate, I made some tweaks and thus was born my Orange Creamsicle Cookies.

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