• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

Browned Butter Toffee Chip Cookies

So I had every intention of writing this post last night. But then I burned the living shit out of my hand trying to get a skillet out of the oven, so that’s my excuse for writing it tonight. With my mummy-bandaged hand, just in time for halloween. I now have a note to self to invest in real legitimate oven mitts and stop using dinky dishtowels from Target to take things in and out of the oven, because I have now branded my right palm with my cast iron skillet. But damn, those brussel sprouts still tasted good even if I had to eat them with my left hand. So anyways, that’s my excuse for not writing this last night.

Alright, where to begin. So much has happened in the past week. And I’ve been wearing leggings or sweatpants for 90% of it. So, to recap: I quit my job (hooray) and my last day was last Tuesday. My new job doesn’t start until next Monday so I am happily funemployed until then (hip hip hoorah). But because I am incapable of sitting still for more than 3 minutes at a time, I have been packing quite a bit into my days, so the rest of the week might need to have more Netflix and couch time and less running around doing a bazillion things. I’ll include lots of photos of my NYC weekend and a recap of my last day at work and all that fun stuff at the end of the post.

So Sunday rolls around and I’m waiting for the Sunday scaries to hit and then I realize … they won’t. Because I don’t have to go to work Monday. But does that mean I don’t make cookies? I struggled with this for about 4 minutes until I decided if necessary, I could take one for the team and eat three dozen mini cookies so I’d get to baking. After rummaging through my baking drawer of magical goodness, I found a bag of mini chocolate chips and Heath toffee bits. So I decided to adapt my browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipe to have these delish toffee bits. I also like making these mini because you can eat as many as you want and they never add up to a whole cookie, as long as you wash it down with Diet Coke. Science.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over the stove and set aside to cool to room temperature. (If you’re impatient like me, stick it in the fridge for about 10 minutes)

Step 2: Cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg, yolk, vanilla extract, and mix well until creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula before incorporating the dry ingredients.

Step 3: Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to the wet mixture and beat on a low speed until it is well mixed together.

Step 4: Mix in the chocolate chips and toffee bits until evenly distributed through the batter. Chill the dough for about half an hour in the fridge (or 10 minutes in the freezer for those of us who can’t wait). IMG_1903

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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment lined baking sheet, use the medium cookie scoop and place a small scoop of dough on the sheet. Usually for regular size cookies I will use this same scoop and place a heaping scoop of dough. For these, I scrape it along the side of the bowl to make sure it is even. I fit 20 cookies per baking sheet with 4 up and 5 across. IMG_1906

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-13 minutes. The cookies will look slightly undercooked when you take them out of the oven, so leave them on the tray for about 5 minutes to set before transferring to a cooling rack. IMG_1907

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I mean, you can’t go wrong with the salty, browned butter, chocolate and toffee combo. You just can’t. It’s basically a SKOR bar melted into a cookie perfectly. And the mini size cookies are great for these because you want to keep shoving them in your mouth, but there is a lot less guilt when they are in mini form. So you’re welcome for that. IMG_1913

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Now I know what you’re wondering … Did I eat all of these cookies myself? Close, but no. Three lucky recipients will be opening their mailboxes tomorrow to their share of Sunday’s batch of cookies. I don’t like anyone enough to pay the ridiculous cost for the 2-day shipping, but I packaged those cookies tightly enough that they should still taste fresh out of the oven tomorrow as long as the drug sniffing bomb dogs at the post office didn’t rip these packages open, but who could blame them, these are the bomb. (har har har). My Grandpa was giving me a hard time on the phone yesterday about “Where’s my cookies?” which I found funny because of course he was one of the three recipients of the cookies, so I am looking forward to my daily phone call with that guy tomorrow.

Okay, so lot’s of pictures. I don’t really want to talk a lot about my last day of work because I have a reputation to keep up about not being a sappy emotional person who likes hugs. In fact, in my goodbye email, I put in a personal NO HUG request. Which everyone ignored of course. And then I had a few drinks and even initiated a few hugs myself. One day I’ll write a non-cookie blog post on how quitting your job is like a breakup and I’ll go through some of my favorite Sapient moments, the highlight reel was included in my goodbye email. And not that I am the world’s most competitive person or anything, but I got a LOT of email replies that said “best goodbye email ever” – I mean duh, what did you guys expect? I am pretty sure all of my former coworkers were wearing black in mourning of no cookie Monday this week. I’m securing a number of black market drug (cookie) runners to continue some cookie deliveries for my favorite coworkers. Mostly because I expect a lot of Monday mornings for me at the airport coming up and I’m not sure the TSA agents like cookies. I know they don’t like sarcasm, I can tell you that from personal experience. Maybe I’ll write another blog post one day about my absolute disgust for human behavior on airplanes. I should probably get some kind of non-cookie section to this blog. Maybe I’ll call it “fly home Thursday” and document all of my work travel stories. If I had done that 5 years ago when I used to travel every week I would be rich and not sitting here writing a cookie blog in sweatpants right now, because that shit was pure gold. Anyways, I digress. So here are a few shots from the last day:

Meghan was my mini-me for about two years, and left the nest back in February. But she’s still stuck with me for life. We could tell you every item in the CVS circular for a 6-week period with our eyes closed. Disregard the 3 creepy men in the background.IMG_7635

Josh and Molly were my very first friends at Sapient. I met them at orientation in Atlanta. They are also stuck with me forever. IMG_7627

Wednesday and Thursday was raining like a mo’fo. Which meant I worked out one day, and spent the rest of my time catching up on my DVR in sweatpants. Not bad at all. This giant tree fell down two houses up from me. I posted it to facebook saying “This tree fell down, it’s yelling timber. The cops say it better move, it better dance.” and my Mom commented on it saying “The bigger they are the harder they fall.” and there is proof, that I am truly my mother’s daughter. I was also REALLY glad I moved my car earlier in the day when I was lazy and didn’t want to walk 4 blocks to get my hair did. The Southie popo decided to leave the tree all night and chainsaw it at 6am, which was a real treat.IMG_7655

Friday morning I flew down to NYC. Flying to NYC is much faster than taking the train. And I got a flight for $1 on JetBlue because I am the best couponer in the world. The only issue was because you only climb to 22,000 feet for the flight, we flew through a bumpy as a mother cloud of death the entire 45 minute flight. So needless to say I was REALLY pumped when my friend Jackie picked me up at the airport and she put a glass of wine in my hand before 11am. A true friend. Jackie also quit her job and we coordinated our timing of funemployment so we could day drink in the city. First, she took me to Eataly. And I was like a kid in a candy store. I can’t even imagine my Uncle Jimmy there. We also went on Food day which meant there were samples galore. So so so so so good. And then we ate upstairs on the rooftop restaurant and had peach bellinis and it was all amazing.

This is my friend Jackie. We love booze and desserts and hot deals. IMG_7663

And then, we went to Milk Bar. Holy. Mother. Of. Baby. Jesus. I want to remake everything that they had on their menu. I am actually in the process tonight of trying to make the crack pie, in mini form. I mean, it’s called crack pie for a reason. Because I imagine you’d find me at 2am in a kitchen with beady raccoon eyes eating this straight with my hands. So because Jackie and I have a long-standing history of ordering dessert samplers (aka ordering multiple full size desserts) we got a confetti cookie and a slice of crack pie to go, and then ate this swirled soft-serve with corn flake crunch in the middle of the street like homeless lovers. The swirled flavors of ice cream were: crack pie and cereal milk. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. And try to imagine that flavor combo. AND TOPPED WITH BUTTERY SUGARY CORN FLAKE MAGIC CRUNCH. GAHHH. Take me back. I will definitely be finding a way to incorporate that corn flake goodness into some future recipes.

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And then we ate the crack pie on top of her roofdeck with a view of the Manhattan skyline. I mean, not a bad Funemployment Friday at all. I tried to remake this recipe tonight but mine looked like a crackhead tried to bake it. IMG_7670

And then after a sushi dinner, we of course needed dessert. So we went to Bar Bacon (um, yumm) and had bacon dusted tater tots (because that’s a normal dessert, right?) and warm chocolate chip cookies with ice cream. I am glad I invested in some fancy durable extra-suck-it-in stretch pants from Jcrew the day before, because I need them.

And I needed them even more on Saturday, because I headed over to Brooklyn to spend the day with my favorite brother and sister-in-law. We went on a NoLita food tour in the city, and it was SO MUCH FUN. It started in SOHO and we went to 6 different stops over about a 2-hour period. Then went home to unbutton our pants and sit on the couch until we could sit up again, and go to a bar to cheer on the Alabama football team (roll tide!). If anyone wants to come visit and do a food tour in Boston, I am game. I’ve already researched a North End and South End food tour. The Chowder food tour looks stupid because it stops at a place where I like to drink vodka and dance my face off, so I don’t want to think about eating chowdah from Lucky’s. Here a few food tour highlights, check out my instagram for more pics:

The Bahn Mi sandwich. This bread tasted like angels hugging me over a giant pit of candy corn. It was so good. Just fresh and flakey and unreal. IMG_7683

Of course there was a NYC pizza stop on the food tour. And it was hot, and cheesy and delicious. A lovely cheese pizza, just for me. (name that movie!)
IMG_7699This is my sister-in-law. She loves food just as much as I do. But she is more photogenic, clearly.

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So that’s it. I took the train back Sunday morning and got a bunch of yard work done in the afternoon. Monday I went to Boston College in the morning to work on a small side project I’m doing with the business school. Today I went to the Wrentham outlets which were more miss than hit, but had a delish dinner with my brother who was in town for work tonight. We always love to get lobster rolls when he’s in town, and usually our go to is Atlantic Fish Company on Boylston Street. He was working closer to South Station today so we went to Row 34 in the seaport, which I have been dying to try for a while now, and had WARM BUTTERED LOBSTAH ROLLS. You can check my instagram for the photo tonight @thesaltedcookie

And now it’s time for bed. My friend Sara is coming over with her little girl Avery for some morning baking which should be fun! I’m thinking of doing Apple Cider Donuts since it’s still that time of year. Oh, and I saw a rainbow yesterday walking Castle Island at sunset. So here you go. IMG_7708

 

 

Cinnamon Spice Rice Krispie Treats

So last week, I really set the bar high with the peanut butter apple crumb bars. I had coworkers swooning and stuffing their faces with multiple bars. So I originally had plans to try to top that this week, but the pressure got to me, and I couldn’t think of a recipe that would top that without having a good chunk of time to dedicate to baking. I saw these CInnamon Spice Rice Krispie S’mores on Food52 and was going to make those, until I realized I didn’t have the right size pan to make them thin enough to turn into s’mores. And I didn’t get home until 7:30 tonight, and last night I landed at 11pm from Texas. So as you can see the excuses are just piling up. But fear not, I did still bake tonight, and my coworkers will be happily sugared up tomorrow morning. I decided to make an easier version of the cinnamon spice rice krispie treats, and then I also threw together some pumpkin chocolate chip bread as a back-up in case my coworkers didn’t love the treats. (but I mean, how could they not, right??)

Why do I care so much about making sure my coworkers are happy tomorrow? Well, they have been spoiled with weekly cookie deliveries for over the past two and a half years since I started The Salted Cookie. And tomorrow, will be the last weekly cookie delivery because it’s my last day at work. Yep, the end of an era. After over three and a half years at SapientNitro as a business analyst, project manager, business consultant, hand model, etc, etc., tomorrow is my last day before I move on to bigger and better things. I’m not going to get all sappy in this post. Maybe another day I’ll write a post about how I think quitting your job is very comparable to a breakup, and people should treat it that way because it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I’m bummed to leave Sapient but really excited to start my new job in a few weeks. And excited for the week and a half in between to chill out and see friends and definitely do some baking. So tomorrow is my last day at work. And I’d like my coworkers to feel happily sugared up, which I think they will with these treats.

I love rice krispie treats. They are quick and simple to pull together, and always a crowd pleaser. The cinnamon spice and browned butter combo in these is perfect for the fall, and the semi sweet chocolate ups the ante on making these a little more decadent. Maybe another time I’ll try the roasted marshmallow version of these to make them s’mores, but if you’re looking for a quick fall recipe I definitely recommend these.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Step 1: Generously grease a 13×9 glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Step 2: In a pot over medium heat, brown the butter, making sure to constantly whisk so it does not burn. Lower the heat to medium, and add in the mini marshmallows, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring with a heat-proof spatula until the mixture is melted.

Step 3: Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rice krispie cereal two cups at a time, folding in slowly until it is evenly coated. IMG_1893

Step 4: Evenly spread out the marshmallowy mixture in the glass baking dish and put into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and cut into even squares. Return to the freezer while you melt the chocolate.IMG_1896

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Step 5: In a microwave safe bowl (because it is physically impossible for me to not burn chocolate over the stove) melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can add a little vegetable oil at the end to thin out the chocolate. Once the chocolate it melted, dip one end of each rice krispie treats about a quarter way into the chocolate and set aside on parchment to set. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating. IMG_1897

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The one thing I fear with not working at my current job is not having a large group of taste testers to provide their feedback on a weekly basis. Good thing I have some trusty neighbors. I brought one of these along with the chocolate chip pumpkin bread upstairs to Francesca for some taste testing tonight, so she might have to take over some responsibilities going forward. I’m sure crazy Eddie will help too. Maybe even mama the cat, since he was standing outside my bedroom window at 6am on Friday morning having a conversation with Mama the cat. Hopefully my new coworkers like cookies, and if they don’t I’ll just start shipping them out every Monday to anyone I know. Or eat them all myself, and start applying for the next episode of “my 800-pound life.” 

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So it’s late, and I’m tired and still have a few things to finish up before the final day tomorrow, so I’m going to do more of a photo recap of the past few days than lots of witty commentary. One of my favorite friends from college – Denise – lives down in Houston so about a month and a half ago, we made plans for a visit down to the Lonestar state. Denise and I became friends freshman year at Boston College on a retreat, and then became close when we were part of a notorious copy editor trio with our friend Kasia on the campus newspaper The Heights. Back in 2008 when I was traveling a lot for work, I visited Denise in Houston and arranged for Kasia to surprise Denise at the airport – and we drank cheap Andre champagne like the good ol’ days. This year I half expected Kasia to surprise us at the airport, but she was just with us in spirit this time, as Denise and I ate our way through Houston and our mini roadtrip to Austin.

This was the view arriving into Houston on Friday morning. I don’t think anyone on my plane minded me screaming CLEAR EYES, FULL HEART, CAN’T LOSE  and TEXAS FOREVER for the 15 minutes we were close to landing, as I tried to find Tim Riggins from above.

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You know Denise is a true friend, when the first thing she brings me right to in Houston is this delicious chocolate chip cookie at Tiny Boxwoods. I need to replicate this, because oh man. Just perfection.IMG_7561

My friend Jackie from work who moved to Houston last year just had a beautiful baby girl – Miss Nora – two months ago. So I was so excited to be able to spend Friday afternoon in the park with Jackie, Nora and Mr. Rocky – who loves puddles more than anyone I’ve ever met. IMG_7564Saturday morning Denise and I got up early, fueled up with Dunkin Donuts (which now they have in Texas, yeehaw) and then after a DELICIOUS BBQ lunch at Salt Lick, we ventured to Mount Bonnell to get some sweet views of Austin from high up.

This BBQ. Finger Lickin Good.
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On top of Mount Bonnell.IMG_7576

Not a bad view at all. Now I know why Tim Riggins wanted to just buy a big plot of land and live here forever and make hot little Panthers babies. 
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After an afternoon relaxing in the hotel watching some classic movies like Save the Last Dance and Double Jeopardy, we ventured down to South Congress street to get the real downtown Austin experience.IMG_7583

And while you might think that would involve TexMex … we Northern girls really like our NYC style pizza, so we went to Home Slice to grab a few slices of this delish pizza pie. Denise already perfected the instagram hand model holding food pose. IMG_7585After some live music, margaritas, and Amy’s ice cream, we were happily full and headed back to the hotel. Only to get up early the next morning to finish our food tour of Austin with a DELISH brunch at Kerby Lane right on the University of Texas campus – obviously to celebrate the Longhorn’s win. But mostly to have deep morning conversations over Steve Guttenburg and his acting career. Because that’s the kind of deep thoughts we discuss with our Boston College educations. IMG_7596And then we road tripped back to Houston so I could fly back to Boston, and we listened to lots of good music and had lots of laughs, and I just loved every bit of the entire weekend. It’s just so nice to have such good friends even though we live miles and miles apart.

Speaking of good friends, I’m going to spend my 12 days of funemployment packing in some time with friends, including a trip to NYC this Friday/Saturday to hang with my friend Jackie and then spend Saturday with my favorite brother and sister-in-law.

So now it’s really late, and I am signed up for a 6am spin class, so I need to wrap this up. Tomorrow is a big day. Saying goodbye to a lot of good peeps and ending the era of being “the cookie lady” at SapientNitro. The good thing at least, is I’ll be half a block away in the Hancock Tower at my new job, so maybe I’ll coordinate some kind of black market for Monday morning cookie dropoffs. Actually, that’s not a bad idea.

And now I’ll go back to playing Les Miserables “One day more” on repeat – because for some reason, that’s just how we roll in my family. Quoting Jean Val Jean like the badass he is. 2-4-6-0-1.

 

Peanut Butter Apple Crumble Bars

TGICD. Honestly, sometimes I think I am so caught up in my regular work routine that I think if I had a weekday off I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Usually when we have these floating holidays at work like President’s Day and MLK Day and Columbus Day, I like to go into work on those days because there are usually a lot less meetings so you actually have time to get things done. But I decided to celebrate Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria today by observing Columbus Day on it’s actual day. And you know what, being off the regular weekday schedule is fantastic. First, I woke up at 7:30am (that’s called sleeping in as a grown-up). I actually took the time to eat a well-balanced home-cooked breakfast FROM the kitchen table (not the normal curling iron in one hand, smoothie in another). Went to Crossfit at 11am, ran errands, got my nails did, caught up on Homeland, AND found a good use for the giant bowl of apples that was staring me down from the counter.It’s 7pm and I still haven’t put real pants on at all today. Honestly, if some sugar daddy feels so inclined to wife me up tomorrow and let me be a stay-at-home whatever, sign me up.

So, given that I had some actual time to relax today, I decided it was time for some good ol’ fashion baking experiments. Since it’s apple season, I’ve been stocking up on gala apples which are my favorite kind, but then I keep forgetting that I bring them to work for a snack and now I have this giant bowl of uneaten apples. As a kid, apples and peanut butter was my favorite snack. Not in a healthy way, mind you. But with a side of brown sugar for dipping. Oh yes. It’s delicious. I had this awesome babysitter growing up, Tina. Tina lived across the street, taught me how to color inside the lines (important life skill) and make birds nests out of grass clippings (a less important life skill, but still, valuable) and used to make apples, peanut butter and brown sugar as our snack. (This is my I love sugar so much face circa 1988). 542578_10100427432124407_499313792_n I also had this best friend in the neighborhood, Ashley, who I hung out with a lot and also had been babysat by Tina. So Ashley and I obviously became bffers because of our love for riding bikes and dipping fruit into sugar. Once in third grade her mom tried to convince me to wear her brothers boots when it was snowing and I was obviously too cool for that and I went outside in my sneakers, slipped and broke my arm. One thing I will always remember aside from knowing never to defy Ashley’s mom’s recommendation ever again, is that she was a great baker. Not in a “let me whip you up a meringue” kind of way. But she always had these simple recipes that were huge crowd pleasers – like the white trash, which is one of my favorite go-to party recipes. Anyway, I digress down memory lane. The point of time traveling back to Connecticut in the 90s is to just drop some knowledge that if you add a tablespoon (or maybe more, if no one is looking) next to your peanut butter, then dip the apple in the peanut butter, and brown sugar, and take a bite – it will blow ya friggin mind. Guaranteed. Unfortunately, kids these days are probably eating organic raw kale hummus with carrots, so they won’t be allowed this life pleasure. But the nice part of being a grown ass lady, is I can still eat this as a snack like it ain’t no thang.

So I got to thinking. How do I bake this into something that is just as delicious as my favorite childhood snack. There are plenty of apple with brown sugar and oat recipes, but the peanut butter is the key. So I just decided to wing it. And holy bananas, this is even better than the real thing. I made a peanut butter oat crumble, which half was used for the crust, then I chopped up some apples and let them get all happy in some brown sugar and cinnamon, and then topped it with the rest of that PB crumble goodness. It makes me want to put on some rollerblades and get Caitlin, Christina and Ashley (my old neighborhood posse) back together for snack time.

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Ingredients:

Crumble

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Apple Filling

  • 8 apples, sliced and evenly chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in the peanut butter until it is melted, and set aside to cool.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, flour, oats, baking soda and salt with a large wooden spoon. Slowly mix in the melted peanut butter and stir until the flour is all dissolved and ingredients are mixed well. Line a 13×9 glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Spread half of the crumble evenly in the bottom of the dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes while you are making the filling.IMG_1872

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Step 3: Chop the apples into about 1/2 inch cubes. In a separate bowl, coat the apples with sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Fold with a spatula until the flour is all dissolved and the apples are evenly coated. IMG_1871

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Step 4: Spread the apple mixture evenly over the partially cooked crust.

Step 5: Take the remaining crumble and evenly sprinkle it over the apple layer. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Halfway through baking, I rotate the dish in the oven to make sure everything is evenly hit with the heat. When these are done, let them cool for a few hours at room temperature, OR just dig in hot. I mean really, why not right? They smell UNREAL. I put mine in the fridge to chill for a few hours after they came out of the oven so that I could slice them tonight.IMG_1881

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Honestly. I know that I just watched Fed Up and I’m supposed to think sugar is the devil, but you HAVE to make these this fall. The apple, peanut butter and brown sugar combination is just so so so delicious and perfect. And its like angels singing, and Shaquille O’Neill in a genie costume and the Fresh Prince rapping in West Philadelphia and all of the beautiful combinations in life. That is the best way I can describe this dessert. So just trust me on this. I have come a long way since the third-grader who chose fashion over function and broke my arm (and a year later faked not being able to see because I wanted glasses that the doctors knew I was lying.) I’m not lying. Make these.

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Okay, so let’s see what’s new from this past week. Wednesday was my 7-year consulting anniversary, which is an accomplishment to have survived this many years of leveraging synergestic buzzwords and not boiling the ocean (also, 7 years in consulting is like 49 years of working in a regular industry job.) My brother sent me the new Thug Kitchen cookbook which I was really excited to get in the mail on Friday. My only disappointment when reading it, is that I didn’t think to start this blog myself and write the ghettoest and most hilarious recipes ever. Given my upbringing in southern Connecticut – aka “da hood” – straight thuggin comes naturally to me. photo 1

My bestie from home Katie came up Friday night and we did some shopping around the city on the rainy Saturday. And in true best-friend fashion, we pretended during the day that we’d be interested/have energy to go out at night, and ordered takeout at 8pm and rented a Zac Efron movie. (because really, without saying words outloud, we had agreed upon this plan well in advance.) photo 2

Sunday morning I got up early and did what all normal 29-year olds do on Sunday — I went to the casino. Because you know who loves the casino? Grandpa. And I love to continue to secure my favorite grandchild spot by surprising him every now and then, so I sat next to him at a slot machine and started talking in my most obnoxious “bahhston” accent until he realized it was me. And then we had a nice lunch together at the Italian restaurant and I show him all the pics on my iphone of what I’m doing with my life, and it’s cool that even though he lives in Connecticut, he is still very up-to-date with all my life happenings up in Boston. photo 3

And I really never thought I’d be one of “those people” who got all addicted to Crossfit … and I’m not there yet, but I will say, don’t knock it till you try it. I’m still the slowest in most of the classes I take, but I’m definitely getting a good butt-kicking workout, I’ve met some fun new friends, and I’m being physically and mentally challenged on a regular basis, which is a good thing. Though today I was pretty sure I was gonna vom that beautiful handmade breakfast all over myself mid-burpee, but I powered through. photo 4

Heading to Texas this weekend to be reunited with one of my favorite college friends Denise! I used my extreme couponing skillz and got myself a free flight to meet Denise in Houston and then we are road tripping to Austin for the weekend. Expect lots of BBQ and other eating for the insta action on Instagram this weekend, y’all! In the words of Tim Riggins, Texas Forever.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Last night I watched the documentary “Fed Up” which basically talks for an hour and a half about how sugar is the devil and the food conglomerates are the cause of the obesity crisis in America and how sugar kills and we’re all going to die from sugar because we eat like 10x as much a day as we should. It resonated with me. And I was all like yeah, screw food companies, I’m going to spend $100 on all organic shit at the grocery store today because sugar is the devil. Until I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I was like forgive me sugar for I have sinned, you are not the devil. It’s TV. TV is feeding me lies about you. I love you. They said natural sugar was okay, so I’m just going to pour it all over these FRESH organic apples and then we’ll call it a day. But really, can you blame me? I mean take one look at the photos in this recipe, and even if you make nothing else this fall, make this salted caramel sauce. Because once that is in your veins, you’re a goner. Cocaine for sweet tooth. I also watched Fed Up while eating takeout chicken teriyaki and frozen yogurt, so yolo.

I was afraid if I went pumpkin for a third week in a row some of you pumpkin haters would get annoyed with me, and since they were selling apples by the bag full this morning I decided I’d take the good ol’ apple a day approach with baking today. Last year I made some Salted Caramel Apple Crumb bars which were duh-licious and since I don’t like to repeat recipes, I found a similar yet different one while browsing the world wide interweb this morning. This recipe is nice because it makes a smaller portion in an 8×8 dish so you arent sitting there peeling 44 apples until your hands are pruney and bleeding. Sally’s recipe calls for 2 large apples, but I used 4 small/medium size Gala apples and got them all nice and sliced up with my mandolin. It looks like a lot of ingredients below, but many of them are repeated in each step, this just nicely breaks out how much you need at each step in the process.

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Apple Filling

  • 2 large apples (or 4 small apples), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Step 2: To make the crust, mix together the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract an salt together in a bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Step 3: To make the apple pie filling, combine the apple slices, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. I used my mandolin to get even-sliced apples, but you can just use a regular knife if you’re more precise than I am. Set this aside.

Step 4: To make the streusel topping, whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with either a pastry blender or two knives until it is coarsely blended. I am a big fan of the pasty blender for situations like this.IMG_1846

Step 5: Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the temperature up to 350 degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the war crust, making sure to press them down to fit tightly. Sprinkle the apple layer with the streusel and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. IMG_1848

IMG_1849Step 6: Remove from the oven and let the bars cool to room temperature (at least 20 minutes) and then put them in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours in order to cut the bars. IMG_1852

Step 7: To make the salted caramel sauce, heat the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, constantly stirring with a rubber spatula. Sugar clumps will start to form and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn at this step. Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter in, being careful not to get burned because the caramel will bubble rapidly when you start adding the butter in.

Step 8: At this point, switch to a whisk, and very slowly drizzle in the heavy cream while whisking constantly. Let the caramel mixture boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow it to cool before using (or taste testing). You can store this caramel in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Step 9: And for the grand finale, once you cut yourself a nice apple pie bar, drizzle it with some of this salted caramel sauce and dig in. IMG_1853

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These apple pie bars can be enjoyed hot or chilled, or straight from the oven with a fork in my opinion. The salted caramel sauce is seriously the nectar of the gods. I was dipping an apple in it and later just straight up with a spoon. Judge me if you will, but try it for yourself and then tell me if you wouldn’t stick an IV drip with this sweet sweet sugar right into your veins. And because my coworkers are messier than 2-year-olds, I nicely packaged these in muffin tins for easy single-serve grab-and-go style apple pie bars for Monday morning. IMG_1860

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I’m in a little bit of a sugar coma right now. And it’s almost 10pm on Sunday. Where does the weekend go? So let’s try to quickly get through some highlights from the past week. I’m still surviving crossfit. I made a crossfit friend, which is nice and makes it easier to have someone to near puke with me while doing infinity burpees. Thursday night after crossfit where I lifted heavy things and wanted to eat my arm, I was walking through Back Bay heading to my car when I walked past this girl who was sitting on the curb not looking super great. The lady in front of me kept looking back, and finally I turned around to go check on her because something just didn’t seem right. Well the abridged version of the story, is when I got close I could smell that she took Thirsty Thursday a bit too aggressively and was too drunk to stand up (at 8pm). I finally was able to get her to stand up and lean on me, while I flagged down a non-sketchy older looking man who helped me flag down a cab for her. And then I got all Southie with the cab driver who didn’t want to take her – but she gave him her address, and we had her pre-pay the flat rate to go outside the city so that she could get home safely. It felt like one of those episodes of Dateline’s “What would you do?” And when the other guy and I were walking through the train station heading home, he asked if I thought we did the right thing. He thought we did. Who knows. And while I suspect she woke up with a pretty brutal hangover and hefty cab bill Friday morning, thankfully she was lucky that some creep didn’t find her before we did. So that’s my good deed of the week.

My favorite time of year has started up again. TENNIS season. Where I get to take out my weekly work frustrations out on soccer moms across eastern Mass. I had my first doubles match of the season yesterday, which ended in a cat fight and a tie – but a few of those “once in a lifetime” points that made the drama of the match totally worth it. I’m talking, having some biatch hit a drop shot cross court while you’re behind the baseline because she knows her grandma knees wouldn’t be able to sprint to it. But that’s the benefit of being a “young gun.” If I see you hit a sassy shot like that, I will sprint like there’s no tomorrow and return that shot for the win. God, I love competition. And then at the end of the match, I offer up my homemade pumpkin cinnamon sugar donuts that has the competition saying “is there anything she can’t do?” Nope. There is not. I’ll overhead smash a ball to your face and then crush the competition on the snack table. (which some may say is NOT a competition …)

Anyways, I may have taken the match yesterday a little too aggressively, and there was no chance I was moving last night between tennis and the pouring rain. I made a really solid purchase last week that I’ve been eyeing for a while – the ice cream maker attachment for my kitchenaid mixer. So I put some coconut greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, devil sugar in the mixer and folded in some chopped dark chocolate chunks and oh baby baby, hit me one more time. SO good. I bought some fresh mint this morning to try out a mint chocolate fro-yo recipe later this week. And of course I guiltily ate my homemade fro-yo watching Fed Up last night. Because I’m a grown ass lady and I do what I want. Like going to bed at 9:30 on a Saturday. But that meant I was up and at ‘em early today. Hit up the grocery store early, went for a power walk with my friend Heather because the weather was friggin gorgeous, and made this maple butternut squash soup in the slow cooker. photo 3

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Speaking of sugar rush, Colleen and I went to Stephi’s in Southie for dinner Friday night. And just look at this hot chocolate cake that was just perfection.photo 1

And then I went to the Assembly Row movie theater which is my new favorite because there is ASSIGNED SEATING and huge comfy chairs, which means you don’t have to get there half an hour early to get a decent seat. My anxiety appreciates that. I met Colleen and Allie at the movies to see Gone Girl. First, the book is AMAZING. I read it last year on vacation and was so hooked I read it in less than two days. Second, the movie has two scenes that are bloody. Like BLOOODDY MURDER kind of bloody. Thankfully I anticipated this and covered my ears and closed my eyes until Colleen let me know I could look again. I did not want to start blacking out like the time I watched Twilight in the movie theater and Bella is giving birth to a vampire baby who is ripping her insides apart so Edward eats her stomach open and it’s like the most unnecessarily bloody scene and I spent the rest of that movie with my head between my knees and half my clothes stripped off in the theater.

So that’s it. Next week is a long weekend, so expect some good baking recipes because I’ll have no excuse not to try out a few things with the long weekend. Happy almost Monday. Make good choices.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donuts

I know, it’s Tuesday not Sunday. But let’s get one thing straight here before you guilt trip me on being late with this post. My coworkers got their sugar-fix on-time Monday morning with these fresh Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Donuts, EVEN though I landed at Logan airport at 9:15 pm Sunday night. Luckily, I have a post-vacation complex where I really need to unpack everything and do a load of laundry before I can go to bed, no matter how late I get in. So I used that time to whip up these super easy and OH MAHH GAWDD delicious pumpkin donuts. It’s like you took the month of October and just shoved it right into this delicious friggin donut that had my coworkers on Monday giving me a standing ovation. And the crowd goes wild <insert cheering sounds>. So maybe not that dramatic of a reaction, but these were a huge hit.

So if you don’t follow my super exciting life (of going on vacation with my parents) on instagram, let me drop some knowledge on you right now about how you can go to Disney World at any age and have an amazing time, if you’re with the right people. We’ve been taking family vacations to Disney World since I was two years old. And since today I am exactly 29 and a half years old (but who’se counting?) that’s a lot of Disney vacations under my belt. So for my parent’s 34th wedding anniversary which was on Sunday, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and parents all flew down from NYC and Boston and spent a really fun four-days in the happiest place on earth. If you haven’t been to Disney lately, it’s gone digital and it’s amazing. I’ll tell you more about this later in the post. But needless to say, I came back Sunday in a pretty good mood so thought I’d share some of that magic with my coworkers Monday morning.

King Arthur Flour is one of my favorite sources for unique baking ingredients. Specifically, their Vietnamese Cinnamon is life changing. I’m thinking a trip up to their store in Vermont is probably in my future soon. So I was on the plane Sunday night as we were taxiing to the gate, and looked up pumpkin recipes on the King Arthur site and came across this recipe for Pumpkin Doughnuts. I actually am not a big donut person. But I do like the baked donut trays I got this summer, because the whole concept of a fluffy baked donut that doesn’t involve a fried mess is definitely something I’m all about right now. So I made these hot donuts. And then took the hot donuts and shook them up in a bag of cinnamon sugar, and then I took these hot cinnamony sugar pumpkin donuts and I brought them to work and I blew people’s minds. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Cinnamon combined in a zip-loc bag

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can make these either in a bowl with a wooden spoon or using your mixer. I used stirring this as my workout of the day.

Step 2: Mix the vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin puree together until mixed well. Sift together the pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and flour, and mix together using a wooden spoon or beat on a low speed in your mixer until well incorporated.

Step 3: Lightly grease the donut trays with non-stick spray. I have a regular-size tray and a mini-donut tray. Fill the tray up about 3/4 of the way, a little more for the mini donuts. Because I predicted making a giant mess, I ended up filling an icing bag with the batter and using that to evenly distribute in the donut trays without getting it all over the place. Winning. IMG_1821

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Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes. The mini donuts took closer to 12 minutes, and the regular-size donuts took closer to 14/15. When you press the donut with your hand, if it is firm and not sticky, then it’s done. Leave the donuts in the tray for about 2 minutes to set before removing them and putting them on the cooling rack. IMG_1825

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Step 5: Mix 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon (or a little more) of cinnamon in a zip-loc bag. When the donuts are still hot (important) toss them in the sugar and slam it to the left, shake it to the right, spice up your life. No? Anybody? Alright. Then let them sit on the cooling rack. IMG_1827

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Like if a pumpkin went to heaven and became a pumpkin angel and you could eat it, that’s what these hot donuts taste like. They were really good the next morning chilled, but I’m telling you – it would be perfectly acceptable and understandable to binge eat and entire dozen out of these fresh out of the oven.

Oh and you know what these go perfectly with? My new Emily McDowell hilarious “It’s too early for you to say things” mug. I bought 3 of her mugs the other day, and gave both my mom and friend Allie the “everything will be okay” mug which I also love. IMG_1842

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So yes. My coworkers were happy on Monday morning to say the least. So now it’s 10pm. I’m tired and I really just want to watch Scandal (YESSSSSSSSS)  and I can’t move post-crossfit tonight, so I will give you all the updates you need on my awesome Disney vacation in pictures with little hilarious captions that will make you feel like you were there for a super fun Shaw Family Vacation.

So first, I’ve been going to Disney World since 1987 when my dad won a trip from his job – United Technologies. Since then, we’ve been totally hooked as a Disney family. We always went at least once a year for our big trip. And if there’s one thing I’ve inherited from my dad, it’s the planning gene. Skip always makes a color-coded Excel itinerary of our Disney trip – with morning, breakfast, lunch, afternoon, evening, dinner, all planned out (180 days in advance), park hours, and any other special considerations like extended hours or firework shows. Only in the 90s, I rocked my printed out itinerary in my sweet ninja turtles fanny pack. But now everything is digital and you have apps on your phone and a magic wristband which is just awesome. Honestly, just go to Disney and check it out for yourself. So here’s some vacation highlights:

SO these crazy kids have been married for 34 years. Hooray! So to celebrate, we super loving children let them take us on vacation again. (I know, we’re too nice).

photo 4We hit up the Magic Kingdom (my favorite park) right when we landed Thursday afternoon and had time to go back on Sunday morning. Normally I’m not a big Splash Mountain fan, but when you hit that Florida heat and humidity, getting soaking wet sounds really refreshing. This is a post big-drop selfie with my brother (left) and sister (right). Happy kids reunited in Disney!

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Now, the Tower of Terror was a different story. Without going into too much detail (because I don’t want to relive it) I had to work on Saturday morning to launch a new release of the website I help manage for my client. Which meant being on the phone at 5:45 am which should have only been for 90 minutes, but it turned into a 4 hour phone call that then turned into txts, and emails, and phone calls lasting until 3:30 pm. So needless to say my reaction to Tower of Terror was a combination of being slightly terrified of the ride, and also as an excuse to scream out some work frustration. My siblings are big fans of planning what we’re going to do in the ride photos. Sometimes we point to people, or thumbs up, or do other wacky things (we’re super mature, still) but Danny, me, Kristen and Skip are all in the front row – with our true personalities showing nicely. photo 2

And a nice picture of the three Shaw sisters, Kristen, me and our lovely sister-in-law Ann Taylor. (Roll Tide)

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We also stayed in a super awesome hotel – the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary. We had this three-bedroom, four bathroom bi-level hotel room which was great because we all had our own space. BUT the best part was the VIEW of these Magic Kingdom fireworks. This picture is my favorite, even though it only took me about 80 photos to get one good one. I like the look of fireworks. but since age 3 I have required someone to cover my ears when fireworks are going off. but at almost 30, I have to cover my own ears which makes taking a picture at the same time kind of challenging.photo 3And finally, my favorite full-family photo from our day at EPCOT. Such an awesome, magical trip.DSC_0033So that’s it. I think I’m too hashtag tired to watch Scandal tonight, but at least I got this post done so I can fully focus on getting my Olivia Pope on tomorrow night. Oh, and good news (if you’re still reading) I got poked 92 times last week for allergy tests which came back as “you’re allergic to water” which I said was bananas, but it turns out my skin is too sensitive for allergy testing (you think they would test you for that with one prick first), SO I’m not fully converted to full-time gluten-free baking, although I am still going to be testing new GF recipes for my gluten-free mama. So there ya go. Prepare yourself for all things apple, because October is here and that my friends means apple everything.

Happy October! And happy half birthday to me (thank you, thank you). Hopefully in 6 months I’ll be able to accept 30 like a mature grown up. Not likely, but wishful thinking.

Chunkin Punkins

I know what you’re thinking. Chunkin Punkins? Have you gone completely bananas? You never give cutesy names to your cookies. I know, I know. Trust me I know. I think I was going a little bit cray cray today (okay, maybe the past few weeks) and when I was baking today I had the canned pumpkin out next to a bag of chocolate chunks, and I made a “chunkin punkin” joke (to myself) and obviously cracked myself up, and no one was around to tell me I am bananas, so it stuck. Also it sounded better than “Non-Gluten-Free Browned Butter Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies.” Plus I’m a grown ass lady and I can do what I want. Actually, I just saw that on a greeting card.

So I’ve been looking for baking inspiration over the past week. But I’m so deep into this work project, that I’m surprised I manage to get up every day and put pants on. Luckily, I have some fab coworkers who are always there to give me baking inspiration … or try to jedi-mind-trick me into making something they want. Friday afternoon, my coworker Alex told me “I think it’s time to put the cookie back in Cookie Monday.” He makes a good point. I’ve been lazily bringing muffins, crumb cake, and bars on Mondays, but what’s cookie Monday without cookies? And for any of you who are new to this blog, Cookie Monday is when I bring cookies every single Monday morning (yes, every. single. Monday.) to my lovely coworkers so that they eat everything and I don’t end up starring in the episode of “My 800-lb life” where they have to cut me out of my bathroom and load me up on a tractor trailer. I have a highly coveted “cookie distribution list” which is basically just an email I send out alerting the VIPs that the cookies are on my desk with a recipe, but it is blind carbon copied (bcc’d) so that no one knows who is on the list. Some important frequently asked questions I must answer before we move on:

1. Q: How do I get on the cookie list?

A: One does not simply just “get” on the cookie list. If you’re staffed on one of my projects, you’re automatically on the list (for the duration of the project). Or if you are on my good side. Or if you hired me. Or the head of HR. Automatically on the list.

2. Q: Do you really take people off the cookie list?

A. Abso-freakin-lutely. Get on my bad side? See ya never Monday cookie email. Yell at me on a conference call? Buh-bye sugary Monday pick-me-up. Try to talk to me before 8am without free coffee in hand? Try that at your own risk.

So anyways, I think I’ve at least proven over the past few paragraphs that I have gone pretty bananas – but at least it’s entertaining. So back to the Chunkin Punkins. I know I’ve been getting all hipster gluten-free on you lately, so I went back to full-gluten bleached all-purpose flour for these cookies. With Browned Butter. Pulling out all the stops for a real cookie Monday. I browsed the interweb this morning looking at a whole bunch of different pumpkin cookies, but decided just to wing it and make my own recipe up. I’ve been missing the smell of browned butter in my kitchen lately so I needed to work that in as well. So I got out some oats, pumpkin, chocolate chunks and browned butter, closed my eyes and mixed it all up, put it in the oven, and 13 minutes later these bad boys were born.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Step 1: Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: In a mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, canned pumpkin and mix well.

Step 3: In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and oats. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet batter and mix on a low  to medium speed until incorporated. IMG_1801

Step 4: Add in the chocolate chunks and mix just until evenly-distributed. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. This is an important step for browned butter or melted butter recipes. It will help the cookies maintain a better cookie shape. (I just made that up). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.IMG_1803

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Step 5: On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough on the cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 11-13 minutes. Let the cookies set on the baking sheet for a few minutes when you take them out of the oven before transferring them to a cooling rack.IMG_1807

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Probably inappropriate, but a benefit of living alone is I could react like Chunk from The Goonies after trying these. You know, lifting my shirt up and slapping my gut. Again, I ask you — why will no one date me? But for real, these cookies turned out pretty legit. And since summer’s over, my pumpkin game is on. They are not crisp like my regular browned butter cookies, but a little softer and chewy which is a nice consistency with the crunchy oats and chocolate chunks. High five to myself.

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Okay, so now that I’ve got you all laughing and in a good mood, I’m going to break some less than pleasant news to some of you all-purpose flour lovers. I think this might be the last gluten-filled recipe you see from me for a while. Well, until I can figure out exactly what is going on with my stomach. But after being gluten (and booze) free for almost a month, eating some of that stuff this weekend – including one of these delicious cookies :( – resulted in some wicked headaches and less than stellar stomach feelings. So while the allergy doctor figures this shiznizzle out, I’m going to try my baking skillz at some gluten-free experimenting. But I think as I proved with last week’s pumpkin gluten-free cranberry muffins, I can make this shit taste good. Real good. So good you will take your flour-baby from home economics and drop that gluten-filled sack right in the trash.

Every time I call my Grandpa (meaning, every day) he always says the same thing on repeat: “So what else is new? What else is new?” So I’m trying to think … what is new this week. More work travel. I’ve regained my ability to pack like an absolute b-o-s-s in my carry-on. I’ve become addicted to Starbucks black iced-tea. I did not eat alone in my rental car this week, so that was good. I actually drove into Chicago Tuesday night (because I work out in the burbs) to meet one of my college friends for dinner, which was a nice reunion. And I am trying to find new interesting plane window instagram shots. This one, not the best quality because JetBlue had that light blinking at the end of the wing that was messing up my lighting (geeze, pilots. Can’t a girl get a good instagram up in the air?) But I was happy to say “see ya nevah” to this view of Chicago last Thursday. photo 1My next trip in an airplane is only a few days away though. But at least Thursday morning I’m flying to …. wait for it … wait for it … DISNEY WORLD. YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH. And that’s all I have to say about that.

After crazy work weeks, the only thing I want to do on the weekends is NOT be on a schedule. So I caught up on my trashy TV Friday night (The Mindy Project and Teen Mom 2, of course) and after spinning Saturday morning went to my favorite spa in Newton for a much needed facial to fix my skin from flying. And then the most perfect afternoon ended up being spent eating Georgetown Cupcakes on a park bench in Boston Common with my friend Ania, talking life and watching people get all of their wedding photos done. We also got 2 free red-velet Cupcakes for some new tv show giveaway or something. (All that registered were the words “free cupcake.”) If I can recreate the Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Fudge Cupcake that I had yesterday, I think my gluten-free mama will officially declare me favorite child forever. (not that we all don’t already know I am.)photo 3

And in the home improvement department, I took my extreme couponing skills to HomeGoods yesterday and scored this perfect mirror for my vanity for $20. Yeah buddy. And then in my very handy DIY moment, I converted the framed shell art into a necklace holder since my mom so nicely detangled all of my necklaces one morning a few weekends ago. The lamp is from target, and so is the ottoman and I just love it all. photo 4

photo 5And with that, it’s time for me to continue combatting my Sunday scaries (which are no bueno today) with a Sex and the City marathon. But I will leave you with this hilarious sign I found on Instagram this week, that made me literally laugh out loud (LLOL) walking down the street yesterday. Ah hipster jokes, they never get old. photo 2

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

I feel like I need one of those cheerleading horns where you scream things into them to get people really excited. I need one to tell all my gluten-free friends that I made these muffins and they taste amazing. Like so good, you actually want to lick the batter from the bowl and when you bite into one and the cranberry and pumpkin flavors are quite literally bursting with every bite, you don’t even miss the gluten. I mean it. It tastes like a normal muffin, but maybe even better.

Trust me, I am well aware that a lot of gluten-free substitutes taste like absolute poo. Sometimes when my mom orders something at a restaurant and it looks too good to be gluten-free she has me do a taste test before she eats it, and based on the fact my face looks like someone just farted in front it, that’s the universal sign for “you’re clear, this is gluten-free.” I have been doing a lot of reading up lately on different gluten-free recipes and I’m on a mission to find ways to make all of my favorite baked goods gluten-free BUT still taste really good. Also, hopefully without costing me $80 to make a batch of cookies. That second part I’m still working on. Gluten-free flour comes in tiny boxes and is expensive. And I finally caved and paid $12 for a bag of Xanthan gum yesterday because so many of the muffins/bread/cookie recipes that are GF call for about a half teaspoon of it. Luckily, you only need about 1/2 a teaspoon of Xanthan gum for every 1 cup of gluten-free flour in your recipe, so that bag will hopefully last me for a while.

Anyway, after eating gluten-free for the past few weeks, I decided to do some more GF experimenting in the kitchen this afternoon. And if you’re in Boston today, we went to sleep with summer weather and woke up in fall. It is one of those perfect fall weather days today like you see in the movies. So I donned my best hipster outfit and headed to the SOWA market with my friend Amanda for some outdoor market and food truck activities. Pictures from that are at the end of this post. But seeing all the fresh fruit and autumn veggies had me in the mood for something pumpkin. This weekend was also the Cranberry Harvest Festival down in Harwich which I didn’t go to, but used to love going every year as a kid. So I figured I’d try to make a pumpkin muffin with some cranberries and see what happened. Well it happened. And dayyyum. They are delicious. And honestly, not too hard (or crazy costly) to make.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xantan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or thawed

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners and spray them with non-stick spray. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, molasses, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree until combined, and set aside.IMG_1781

Step 2: In your mixer, beat the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and pumpkin pie spice lightly until mixed well. Add in the softened butter and mix on medium to low speed until it is crumbly.

Step 3: Add in the wet pumpkin mixture about a half cup at a time. Normally, I’m all about dumping it all in, but I do think with this baking it’s a better approach to add in a little wet mixture and beat on a low speed and continue to incorporate it that way. Once it is all incorporated beat on a medium to high speed for at least a minute. IMG_1782

Step 4: Fold in the cranberries until evenly incorporated. Using a large cookie-scoop, place even-size scoops of muffin batter into the greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. (My bottom tray took an extra 3 minutes). You can also fill the tins pretty full because unlike regular muffins which seem to rise a lot and spill over, these don’t rise up that much.

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Let these cool in the tins for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. I think these would be great topped with a nice light cream cheese glaze. I attempted a cinnamon sugar melted butter topping on two of them until I decided they actually tasted just great plain. Adding the topping would make it messy to bring to work tomorrow, so just leaving them as is. I’m not pulling your leg when I tell you these taste just as good as my regular gluten-filled pumpkin muffins. We’ll let my coworkers be the final judges tomorrow, since brutal honesty is their specialty.

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So I’m getting used to this view again. photo 2It’s not that bad, considering my first consulting job I got on a plane twice a week every single week. Right now my travel is more spread out, but in a 5 week period I have 4 roundtrip flights for work and vacation, so lots of time up in the air. Last week I had a debacle with JetBlue and my flight on September 11th, which I was already anxious about flying that day. They meant to cancel the Wednesday night 6:30pm flight when it was so delayed, but someone fat fingered it in the back-end and cancelled my Thursday night 6:30 flight. So I was up working at 10:30 at night and got an email that said “Your flight has been moved up 495 minutes.” Uh, jigga whaaa? So after a long convo with the travel agency on the phone, I let my clients know I had to be on a 10:15am flight out because they couldn’t get me on another flight Thursday. And then I woke up at 5am to check my email and another email “Your flight has been moved back 495 minutes.” So I spent an hour on the phone at 5am with the travel agency and then Jetblue. Just a mess. But I made it home in one piece, but needless to say I was in much need of my own bed and some serious relaxation this weekend.

Speaking of my bed, I was super excited to have the rest of my Pottery Barn furniture arrive on Saturday afternoon. After repainting the room last weekend, it was looking a bit empty but look how perfect the new furniture fits into the room. photo 3I’m in the market for a nice mirror to go over the vanity but haven’t found anything (reasonably priced) that I like yet. And I am really trying to work on this whole patience thing that apparently comes more naturally for other people. But this afternoon I did snag two really nice photos for the wall next to my bed from Fiber and Water at the SOWA market. I got these two prints framed for $65 and hung them up this afternoon, and they are just perfect. photo 5I also finally tried the BonMe food truck for lunch, which sometimes sits outside of my office at work. They have gluten-free options, so I tried this rice noodle bowl with chicken, which was spicy and delicious. It took some serious will-power to not stop at the Cookie Monster truck. Walking around the open market, there were lots of people selling their own baked goods. I’m thinking The Salted Cookie needs a tent there next year. Right?? photo 4Last night Colleen came over and it was cruddy weather so we decided to stay in and make dinner and watch the movie Ted (so funny). I learned everything I know about risotto making from my Uncle Jimmy, and decided to put a spin on my normal porcini mushroom risotto. So instead of mushrooms I boiled some buternut squash and fried up some bacon, and made butternut squash and bacon risotto and topped it with some fried sage leaves. Oh yes. So good.

Oh. And I joined Crossfit this weekend. I know, I see your raised eyebrow of judgement but don’t worry. I’m not a full-blown paleo weight lifting koolaid drinking crossfit junkie (….yet). But the trainers I met during my on-ramp program were so nice and I’m always looking for new ways to switch up my workouts, so yolo. Don’t worry though, I’m not giving up my processed sugar and jumping in the paleo train. Sugar fuels me. Well, sugar, Diet Coke and sarcasm.

So that’s it. I’m trying to fight off the Sunday scaries with a TV marathon this afternoon. I’m headed back to Chicago bright and early Tuesday morning for another round of website testing. Make sure you follow @thesaltedcookie on instagram, so you can keep a pulse on my daily exciting adventures — like spending my per diem on FroYo and eating chips + salsa at the airport Chili’s for dinner. If you only follow this blog, you wouldn’t even know what I had for dinner on Tuesday! (I had this for dinner on Tuesday, which actually was delicious). But get on instagram and follow my daily adventures with hashtags.photo 1

Happy Sunday.

 

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