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 too. Not just to try to perfect it (because it was perfect the first time), but because I’ve added this to my arsenal of quick-but-mind-blowingly-delicious desserts. I came across the idea for this recipe when I was searching for a quick recipe to make for our Thursday night tennis match. Anytime we have a home match, the home team needs to provide all of the snacks, and I am always auto-signed up for sweets. The tricky part is that finding time to bake mid-week for a Thursday night match (hence, why my baking 99% of the time occurs on Sundays or vacation days). The other tricky part is that after I serve up a can of whoop-ass on my opponents (literally) they often don’t want to stick around to drown their  sorrows in snacks, so I hate wasting time and energy making recipes that take a while and most of the time go to waste … or only get eaten by our 24-year old coach.

So I was feeling particularly stressed before this one match (about a month ago, right before that big work project launched) and decided I was just going to make some rice krispie treats. Fast, easy, always a crowd pleaser. But when I went to melt the butter in the pan on the stove, I had a eureka moment that I should brown that butter, add some salt to the marshmallows and boom, these bad boys were born. I would have patented this immediately (if that was even a thing with baked goods?) but with a quick google search after there are other food bloggers that have also discovered the taste bud winning combination of  browned butter + rice krispies + salt. Great minds think (and bake) alike.

These treats, along with Funfetti Cookies, White Trash, Browned Butter Cinnamon Buns, and my Browned Butter Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, are now in my top 5 list of things that I will make anytime I need a quick, crowd pleasing baked good – morning, day or night.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 10 ounces marshmallows (big or mini)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Step 1: Grease a 13×9 inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Put the marshmallows in a large microwave safe bowl and set aside.

Step 2: In a medium saucepan, brown the butter, being careful not to burn it. Pour the browned butter on top of the marshmallows and stir. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stopping to stir. Once the marshmallow is nicely melted and stirs easily, stir in the coarse salt.

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Step 3: Add the rice krispie cereal one cup at a time, continuing to stir until it is evenly incorporated. Evenly spread the marshmallow mix into the greased baking dish. Wet your hands to help press it down evenly without getting too sticky. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight  before cutting into individual squares.

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For Fourth of July I topped these with red, white and blue sprinkles. The first time I made these, I melted some chocolate chips in coconut oil and drizzled them on top. Last week I experimented by putting a graham cracker and Hershey bar crust for a s’mores spin on these. For last week’s match (which we lost in an ugly match) I mixed in mini teddy graham crackers and chocolate chips. I drowned my sorrows in those after the match instead of my opponents this time. I’m going to continue to experiment with different variations until I get one blog-worthy.

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But let me tell you, if you’re planning to go on a hot pink + leopard print “funk bus” with 15 girls to the Beachcomber, these browned butter rice krispie treats are the perfect bus snack in the summer heat! They were perfect at soaking up some of the mudslides in our stomaches on the bus ride back to the house. My friends Justine + Elyse organized a girl’s weekend this past weekend down the Cape, and Saturday’s adventure was taking this funk bus to a bar in Provinetown and then down to the Beachcomber where we indulged in amazing banana flavored mudslides and ah-mazing lobstah rolls. Nothing says Cape Cod like screaming “LOBSTAH ROLLS AT THE COMBAH” on a neon pink funk bus.

Banana mudslides perfection.photo 3

Lobster Roll + Cape Cod potato chips by the dunes.
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Pre-funk bus pic. #keepcalmandgetfunky10491252_947705678099_6340883373292826246_n

It was nice to get back to the Cape this weekend, because my transition back to the real world post-vacation last week was painful. Coworkers kept coming to my desk Monday looking for their weekly sugar fix which was missing when I was on vacay … and I did not supply last week because I was not thrilled about my return to corporate America. Hopefully they all can forgive me when I blow their minds tomorrow with these. Tuesday was exciting (exciting in my homeowner opinion) because the couch for my office/guest room arrived after a 3-month wait. I’m sitting on it right now with my new Dash + Albert striped ottoman which I am loving. For someone who is not patient at all, I am really trying to be patient and go slow with decorating this room so that I can finish it just how I want. I’m currently in the market for a side table, a nautical-ish lamp, and a big tray to put on top of the pouf so that it functions as an ottoman. I’m also returning that coral print gray rug and waiting for the more neutral one from Pottery Barn to come in later this week. I’m not a hundred percent sure on those pillows, but I think once I hang up the oars above the couch it will all tie together since there is some red and white in both of those. I’m uber conservative and neutral when it comes to decorating (and dressing myself, for that matter) so I am trying to embrace a little color in my life.

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I’m also in the market for some nice picture frames, but rather than buying someone else’s prints, I think my mom has mastered the perfect sunset photo — so if I can select some of her best work and get them printed at Shutterfly, with the right frames I think that will finish this room off really nicely. Here’s last night’s sunset. I mean come on, if this is not heaven then I don’t know what is.

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Heaven is not a 5:30am run and back to work tomorrow, but that’s what my Monday looks like. Gotta burn off those mudslides and get back to saving lives. At least it’s always just a few week days to get through before I’m looking forward to another sunset. Time for my nightly dose of Olivia Pope to beat these Sunday Scaries.

Browned Butter Glazed Cinnamon Donuts

It’s Sunday night. Day 10 of my 10 day vacation, which means back to dreaded reality tomorrow. I think I might coat myself in sunscreen tomorrow morning and swap out my desk chair for a beach chair, just to help ease the transition. I’ve been laptop free for over a week. I turned my emails off of my phone, and didn’t even  bother to check my emails. Because let’s be real. The only people who really needed to talk to me last week, were either down the Cape with me, or I get text messages from every day.

If you follow me on instagram (@thesaltedcookie) you probably already know everything that I did, and baked, and ate the past two weeks. I baked a lot. My mom took me to this cookware store in Brewster – The Cook’s Shop – where I basically acted like a 4-year-old in a candy store hyperventilating over all of the choices. Usually I smile like a normal person, but I was really freaking out in the pic below trying to play it cool in public.

PSo I settled on some mini pie tins, an apron, some new placemats, a new mini cupcake pan, and this baked donut pan. I’m not really a big donut person. Thank god. Because I know what my butt looks like without donuts, so I can’t imagine it would be a pretty sight if I was donut obsessed. But apparently donuts are the new cupcakes, so I need to get onboard with this baking trend and at least try it once. Don’t knock it till you bake it, right? The only real memory I have of liking donuts is as a kid we would get donuts after church when people used to stick around and socialize after church. Plain glazed donuts were my thing. I’m not into the whole chocolate donut or jelly filled, and me and powdered sugar is just not a good combo.

So I started perusing the interweb for donut recipes. Since this was my first foray into the donut making world, I figured I should follow a recipe this first time around and then once I have a good base down, I can start experimenting in the future. So I came across one of my favorite bloggers – Buns in my Oven – and her Browned Butter Glazed Cinnamon Donut recipe.

Now my one word to the wise before trying these — take your time. They actually don’t take long at all to make, under 30 minutes start to finish, UNLESS you are a total spastic headcase and impatient (like myself) and it takes you 3 times to make these donuts correctly because you keep leaving out key ingredients. The first time, I left out baking powder. The second time, I left out sugar. The third time, I triple checked everything and got it right. I blame vacation brain. Being so task + schedule oriented at work, I apparently just turned that entire portion of my brain off for the week. But I can say that the third time they came out looking, tasting, and smelling just the way donuts should.

Donut Batter:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or regular milk with a teaspoon of white vinegar added)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

For the Browned Butter glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease the donut pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.

Step 2: In a small bowl, stir the wet ingredients togethers – buttermilk, egg, and butter. Mix the wet and dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.

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Step 3: Full the donut pan and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

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Step 4: To make the glaze, brown the butter over the stove and pour into a separate bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth.

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Step 5: Dip the donut tops into the glaze. I double dipped mine (because it’s vacation, and I could.)

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This is great and a fast and easy (but super impressive) option for a fresh baked breakfast. You can get these donut pans almost anywhere. I think my next purchase will be the mini donut pan where you can make 12 mini donuts instead of these 6 donuts. I’m excited to try a bunch of different donut variations too.

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Unfortunately for my poor, sugar deprived coworkers, there will be no donuts or baked goods tomorrow morning. I just really was not feeling baking today – probably since it was 90 degrees outside, and even though my house is very nicely air conditioned right now, the whole standing in front of the oven thing wasn’t super appealing. I also baked 8 times more in the past week than I normally do, so I was all baked out. I did attempt a fresh cherry baked good recipe today that just came out looking like gray cat turds, so I decided to chuck that in the trash, and now it’s too late and I’m tired and suffering from some Sunday scaries, so I will do some mid-week donut baking to make it up to them.

So rather than write paragraphs upon paragraphs to explain the past two weeks, I’m going to just post a whole bunch of photo highlights from the past two weeks and give you quick commentary on them. Mentally I’m just not yet prepared for tomorrow. And if we’re being honest, I’ve been binge watching Scandal with my mom, and I really need my nightly dose of Olivia Pope tonight.

My best friend Katie came down to the Cape from Connecticut for the long weekend. We probably have 15 other pictures of us over the years in this exact spot. We do the same things every year per tradition: eat fried seafood at Cooke’s, sit in a beach chair on the seashore (with delicious sandwiches), daytrip to Provincetown, eat dessert Sundae School (every night), binge watch a new TV show, and bike and do outdoorsy things.

DSC_0043One summer Katie biked from Providence to San Francsisco. I am usually winded by the time we hit mile 2. So this year I went Tanya Harding style and tried to slash Katie’s tires so that we would be forced to skip the bike ride and just go to the beach. But of course, Katie found the nearest bike shop and we completed our casual 17-mile morning bike ride.

pPhoto 1We had a hurricane on Fourth of July, which was stupid. Because Mother Nature should know that is the one day of the summer to grace us with her sunshiney presence and keep the winds and rains out of it. Nevertheless, we made the most of the cruddy non-beach day with some baking.

Patriotic browned butter cinnamon rolls in the morning.
photo 1Homemade browned butter chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches when the hurricane hit at night

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The whole fam-bamily was down for the long weekend, which is nice because it’s my mom’s birthday and she loves nothing more than having us all down at the same time .. and smiling nicely for a picture together.

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And then once everyone else left, I got to spend the entire week with this lovely mama. We did lots of things. Some productive, like running errands and cleaning the house. And some less than productive, like binge watching almost 2 full seasons of Scandal. In our defense, some idiot waitress in Hyannis glutened my mom on Wednesday during our girl’s lunch, so I think sitting on the couch for 6 hours after watching Scandal definitely helped her feel better. DSC_0046

On Friday I day-tripped to Nantucket with my favorite Cape friend Jess. Jess and I met almost 10 years ago when we were interning for the Cape Cod Baseball League together, and to this day she is one of my favorite friends. Although our adventures now are much more tame than back in our younger days when we required a lot less sleep. So we took the fast ferry over to Nantucket, did some shopping, had a nice lunch, and then went to Cisco Brewery, which was SO much fun, I highly recommend it for a day trip. We sat outside, did a wine tasting, drank some fresh cold beers and listened to live acoustic music. Not bad for a Friday.

photo 4My friend Stacie came down for the night yesterday, so we tried to soak in as much sun as possible and went out to the Squire at night to people watch. One of my favorite activities. And by people watch, I mean “husband hunt” for me, which still is not going so well. Patience.

I took about 800 sunset pictures the past two weeks. You might find it annoying, you might not. My family finds it annoying when I sing the opening “Circle of Life” song from the Lion King every time the sunset is really red. My mom got this pic a few nights ago, which I think is the winner for sunset pics this summer.

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And finally. I drove back to the city to avoid traffic and run a bazillion errands since I hadn’t been home in a while. Not much has changed around here. Crazy Eddie is still being crazy – and currently set up a trampoline in his backyard next to the fire pit right under the electrical wires. I’m starting to think he’s setting up one of those tough mudder race courses in his backyard. I was already getting some anxiety and Sunday Scaries this morning, so I went to Pottery Barn in Chestnut Hill to sit on the couches. That store is my idea of heaven. I have been looking for a new desk chair for my office and finally settled on this nice upholstered dining room chair from PB. Apparently they were not supposed to sell me the display, but I really was impatient (shocking) and didn’t want to have to order it and wait for it to be shipped, so I convinced them that they really should just let me take it home today and let me use my rewards so that it only cost me $17. I can attest that after sitting it in it for the past hour writing the blog, this was a good purchase. And Tuesday my long-awaited guest room sleeper sofa arrives! So for all of my friends who want to eat some baked goods, I suggest you start putting in your reservation requests as soon as possible.

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Happy Sunday. Fingers crossed I will survive my return to reality tomorrow.

 

 

 

Mini Patriotic Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

You know how things go together like peas and carrots? Peanut Butter + Jelly? Bill Cosby and Pudding Pops? Most of my friends who have known me since middle school will easily use the comparison of “Becca + Funfetti Cookies.” These cookies started it all for me. I was taught never to show up somewhere empty handed, and once I discovered how easy (and fast!) it was to make Funfetti Cookies back in my wee young’n baking days, I became known around the land (of southern Connecticut) as the girl with the Funfetti cookies. At least to my friends, who used to hang out in my basement in high school and eat these.

So in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, I decided to combine two of my favorite things: Funfetti Cookies + America. My friend (coworker + baking assistant) Allie was down the Cape with me this weekend, so I put her to work to help make these this morning, and we were done in under 40 minutes. Granted, we are both professional project managers, so this was the best organized and most optimized Sunday morning baking you could imagine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Funfetti cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Red, white + blue sprinkles
  • 1 can vanilla frosting
  • Red + Blue food coloring

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, vegetable oil and eggs. If you weren’t able to find the Patriotic red, white + blue Funfetti cake mix, then just add in about a 1/3 cup of red, white and blue sprinkles.

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Step 2: On parchment-lined baking sheets, place even-size balls of cake mix at least an inch apart. I made these mini, so about the size of a mini-cookie scoop, or about half a teaspoon. Mini means you can eat more, remember that. Press the dough down lightly with your fingertips. (You can dip your fingertips in flour if they are too sticky.)

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Step 3: Bake at 375 degrees for about 6-8 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Let them cool while you mix the frosting.

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Step 4: Put the frosting in 3 separate bowls, and mix one with red food dye and the other with blue. This way you will end up with 1/3 of a can of red, white and blue frosting. Put into a piping bag (aka spoon into a zip-log bag, twist it, and cut the tip off). Try to match the cookies in pairs even in size, and turn one of the each of the cookie halves upside down. (OCD Project management at its best). Teamwork makes the dream work.

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Step 5: Cover each cookie evenly with the frosting. Alternating, red, white and blue across the different cookies. Then take the other half of each cookie and lightly press on top. If you have leftover patriotic sprinkles, you can sprinkle them over the sides to coat the frosted sides.

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I was singing the theme song to America’s funniest home videos while frosting these. “Red white and blue, the Funfetti things you do, America, America this is you (ba ba da boo).

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IMG_1531The last photo is my favorite. I really envy some of the other food bloggers I follow on Instagram that take these amazing pictures of what they bake. Taking great photos requires camera skills which I do not have and patience, which I most definitely do not have. So if you ever wonder how I come up with my semi-okay final cookie staged photos, it’s a pretty ghetto operation that usually involves my mom telling me not to jump on the counter.

Allie caught a few of these special ghetto photography moments this morning.

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A little hunchback of Notre Dame action going on here, but meh. Whatever it takes to get that good photo. cphoto 2And then Allie got this candid while I was giving her + her fiancee a boat tour around the lake, and I think I should probably hire her to start taking candid photos of me all over the place.

cphoto 3I’m thinking we have a new online dating headshot here, right? Speaking of online dating, I think I have pretty much given up any hope that means to finding a suitable bachelor will ever work for me. However. I had a random thought last week. And decided to create an online dating profile, EXCEPT, instead of writing my profile all normal like I usually do with career aspirations, being a master cookie baker, ninja consultant, and lover of sunsets, beaches, and diet coke (lame, yawn) I wrote my entire profile, only using quotes from Ja Rule songs. I honestly don’t know why I did not think of it sooner. His lyrics, especially when he teams up with Ashanti or J-Lo, are deep. So here it is, for your entertainment (and for those of you new to online dating, these are the standard questions the dating site makes you fill out):

What I’m doing with my life: Hard lovin’ an’ straight thuggin’

I’m really good at: Living it up’

The first things people usually notice about me: The rocks and gifts that you cop me baby / And that house on the hill when you drop like 80/ On a down payment thinking damn ain’t life gravy/ And ever since for my honey I been twice the lady
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food: The poetic lyrics of Ja Rule

The six things I could never do without: 
  1. The way you walk
  2. The way you move
  3. The way you talk
  4. The way you stare
  5. The way you look
  6. Your style

(Cause I’m real)

I spend a lot of time thinking about: why every thug needs a lady.

On a typical Friday night I am: not always there when you call, but I’m always on time.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit: you not just my love, you my homie.
You should message me if: You can tell me where would I be without my baby … because the thought alone might break me.

So, maybe not surprising, but it hasn’t quite attracted the right kind of men … yet. But until my 28-35, financially stable, handsome, Cape-lovin’ future husband finally comes out of hiding, I will be entertaining the messages I get from my dating Ja-Rule inspired profile.

I am still recovering a bit from the project launch a week ago, so I’ve been trying to catch up on 9 months of missed sleep and the past two months of pure insanity at work. I have an intern for the summer who I am supposed to be a business consulting sherpa to. So in between giving her business consulting work, I figured she needed a good research project for the summer. So she’s been assigned a research project that we titled Eat All The Boston Cookies, where Abby needs to find all of the Boston bakeries where we will go and eat all of their cookies. No easy task. Of course she will need to create a project plan with key milestones, scope prioritization, analytics for ratings + reviews, and a final presentation with lessons learned + recommendations. Best intern supervisor ever? We’ll let Abby decide that at the end of the summer. But our first stop last week, was Abby’s FIRST TIME to Flour Bakery in Back Bay. Since it was her first time, we went with the homemade Oreo, Chunky Lola cookie (my favorite), and raspberry seltzers. This got a 1o out of 10 rating, because I mean come on … does it get much better than this? Follow @thesaltedcookie on Instagram to stay on top of this research project.

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Speaking of instagram, I feel like I’m a total crazy person now that I have @thesaltedcookie officially on Instagram. Because it’s my public instagram, I feel like I can post multiple times a day and it’s not just my personal network that thinks I am crazy with my weird captions. I just post whatever the first thing that comes to my head. Today we had some good food instas in Chatham. I felt like I had to let this Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel ice cream cone from Emack and Bolios melt a little to get that perfect shot. And then I had to eat it … because there are starving children and I didn’t want to be wasteful.photo 1I had to take a picture of this card at the Mayflower Store, because I literally was just standing in the aisle cracking up like a looney tune.

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I didn’t even realize it looked like Batman was in my coffee cup yesterday morning. Probably because I had not yet had my coffee. photo 4

And finally, after a nice weekend, we caught this awesome sunset on the dock last night. My happy place. photo 3

I think I have almost forgiven Mother Nature for that insanely awful winter she put us through, because the weather the past few weeks has been unbelievable. I’m talking 82 degrees with a light breeze and no humidity down the Cape. Let’s keep that going for the next few weeks while I am enjoying some vacation days down there for America’s (and my mom’s) birthday. So enjoy the short week everyone! I know I am already ready for a week of beach chairs + sunshine. Happy Birthday America!

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. That’s right S-U-M-M-E-R. The season we never thought would grace us with its presence. The season furthest away from the dreaded four letter fluffy white cold word that I will not dare even type. Thank you summer. Everyone in Boston is happy you are here … please stay as long as you would like. Can I suggest forever??

I think we’ve covered in past posts my love for cinnamon buns as a kid. My mom used to pick me up from school (sometimes in the middle of the day for a “doctor’s appointment”) and we would go to the Trumbull Mall and split a cinnabon with extra frosting and a large diet coke (to balance out the calories, of course).

So when I saw this recipe pop up in my instagram the other day on one of my favorite food blogger’s sites – Gimme Some Oven, I obviously had to immediately look up the recipe. She says these take under an hour, which is what caught my eye because I always thought cinnamon buns were a multi-day process, and we all know patience is not a virtue I possess. These do take under an hour … if you make sure you have all your ingredients in advance and don’t have to run to the store midway through for cinnamon. I had a good group of taste testers today down the Cape for a girl’s weekend so I figured I would give them a shot.

These came out ah-mahze-ing. Totally worth trying to be a little patient. I didn’t adapt the recipe from Gimme Some Oven at all this time since it was my first time making them, and the brown butter is unreal … but I will definitely be making these again this summer, probably with some nuts, or coconut, or peanut butter. The possibilities are endless. But my ULTIMATE goal, is to make these gluten-free one day. So that I can relive the glory days with my mom of enjoying a nice hot, fresh-baked cinnabon together.

Dough Ingredients:
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup brown butter
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast (approx. 2 1/4 tsp)
    • 1 egg
Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup (melted) brown butter
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons brown butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (if needed)

Step 1: To brown the butter, place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it boils. Continue whisking the entire time. The butter will bubble and then it will foam, continue to whisk, and after it foams you will see it turn an amber color. Transfer to a separate bowl to cool.

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Step 2: Pour the milk in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds in the microwave. Remove and stir in the melted brown butter. Get a temperature read on the mixture with your finger, you want it to be lukewarm but not hot. If it’s cool, microwave in intervals of 20 seconds until it is lukewarm.

In a separate bowl, sift together 3 cups of flour, sugar, and salt.

Step 3: In a mixer using the dough hook, add the lukewarm milk mixture and yeast and stir with a spatula to combine. Add in the flour mixture and egg, and mix on a low speed until combined. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, you can add in a little extra flour up to a half cup until it pulls away from the side. Beat on medium-low for 5 minutes. Remove the bowl and cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside for 10 minutes. (If you don’t have a dough hook on your mixer, you can mix this by hand in a large bowl.)

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Step 4: In a separate bowl, whisk together granulated + brown sugars and cinnamon in a bowl until combined. Set aside.

Step 5: When the dough is ready, roll it out on a floured surface to be about 14×10 inches in size. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted brown butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly on top of the melted butter.

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Step 6: Tightly roll up the dough, starting at the 14-inch edge. Give the final seams a pinch so that it seals. Using dental floss (not the minty kind) cut the two ends off the roll and discard those two pieces. Use the floss to cut 12 even pieces of rolls. If you don’t have floss, you can use a sharp knife as well.

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Step 6: Place the rolls into a greased 13×9 baking dish and cover again with a damp towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

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Step 7: While the dough is rising, you can make the cream cheese icing. In a mixer, combine the melted brown butter and cream cheese and beat on high. Add in powdered sugar and beat until combined. If it is too thick, you can add a tablespoon or two of milk to thin it out.

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Step 8: When the rolls have risen, uncover the dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let them cool on a wire rack for a few minutes and then drizzle the frosting on top. We had a hard time letting these cool before icing them and digging in, so I totally understand if you can’t wait either.

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I mean honestly. The smell, the taste, the look, the texture – everything about these is absolutely amazing.

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So I was trying to multi-task while writing this and watching Orange is the New Black at the same time … which means now it’s late so I need to do a quick weekend wrap up … even though I have lots of fun things to talk about. So expect more pictures than commentary.

So last week was the big day at work we’ve been working towards for the past 9 months – Go Live. Which meant staying up until 3am on Wednesday morning to officially launch the website to customers and do a bunch of testing. The launch went well, and I am finally starting to play catch up on several months of missing sleep.

So Wednesday night all I wanted was to sit on my new patio with a bottle of wine, and a good friend and not look at my laptop. So my friend Sarah and I decided to do some experimenting on the grill  and made these delicious grilled s’mores bananas. Recipe to come one day, because I am sure I’ll be making them again.

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We did a girl’s weekend down the Cape this weekend. Most of my friends who hadn’t met eachother before all came down, and we just spent a lot of time in the sun and drank a lot of wine. It’s always fun to bring friends together for weekends like this.

We started the weekend off running a 5k in Harwichport (proactively burning off those cinnamon buns!). Matching tank tops help in any race to make you appear to be running faster since people are distracted by the neon and wittiness. This is a quote from Pitch Perfect (hilarious, one of my favorite movies). Most people who saw our shirt just thought we were a little crazy, but we cracked ourselves up.

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Having my mom as my personal race photographer is always nice. Even better when she’s able to get a picture where it actually looks like I am both 1) breathing and 2) running. Nice work mom.

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So what else did we do girl’s weekend? A whole lot of this:

photo 2Because who needs the beach when you can walk 5 feet out the back door and be lakeside.

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Colleen’s recipe for white peach sangria … best enjoyed on a boat, on a boat.
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Skip always says he has a connection with the big man upstairs to arrange stellar sunsets. This one was one of his best. And a perfect backdrop to sing the Lion King’s Circle of Life, while holding up Harry + Frankie like Simba.

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And today was basically just a repeat of yesterday.

Meanwhile, the furry ones did a whole lot of this: IMG_1465

Ruff life for Miss Frankie.

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Harry trying to use those puppy dog eyes to get himself a treat. It worked … several times.

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And that’s a wrap … hello Summer, thanks for joining us. We thought you’d never come. Please never leave.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Banana Muffins

I know, it’s almost midnight and I’m waiting to write this blog post. But that’s what happens when you absolutely crush a weekend. From when it was quitting time on Friday afternoon up until 10 minutes ago, I’ve been nonstop go-go-go. Very productive, very fun weekend all around. And I am tired. But Sunday blog posts are my thing right? So I have exactly 26 minutes to finish this bad boy before I turn into a pumpkin. (Also I wrote most of this before I left for a concert tonight, so don’t think my blog posts are written in less than half an hour … this is a full hour of wit coming at you).

I was looking for baking inspiration this morning. I was just standing in my kitchen, staring at 3 mushy bananas waiting for inspiration to strike. Just staring at those mushy bananas. In my pajamas. And all I could think of was that song “Bananas in Pajamas, are coming down the stairs, Bananas in pajamas are chasing teddy bears.” Nope. Can’t put those jammies in a muffin. And then it hit me. Jamz. Jelly Jamz. (the nickname Colleen and I use interchangeably for eachother). Peanut Butter Jelly Time. And then I couldn’t get that song out of my head. Peanut buttah jelly time. Perfect for a breakfast muffin.

So I decided to make a banana muffin and add in peanut butter, blueberries and then make a peanut butter brown sugar crumb topping. Boom. So I mixed up the batter, crossed my fingers, and when these bad boys came out of the oven, oh baby. We have ourselves a winner.

Ingredients:

Muffin:

  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper and spray with nonstick spray.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together mashed bananas, sugars, egg, oil, vanilla and peanut butter. Add in the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

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Step 3: Fold in the blueberries until evenly incorporated, but be careful not to smush them. Using a large cookie scoop, place even scoops of dough in the greased muffin tins.

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Step 4: To make the crumb topping, mix together brown sugar, flour, and peanut butter. Cut in butter until the topping is crumbly. The easiest way to do this with a pastry cutter, but a fork works as a convenient alternative. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of topping on each muffin.

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Step 5: Bake at 375 degrees for about 18-22 minutes. No need to even let these cool before you enjoy!

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Seriously bursting with banana and peanut butter flavor, with tons of fresh blueberries. So delicious!

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So where to begin with this week and weekend of epic productivity. Last week work was cray cray again, because we were in the final week before launching this website that has been in the works for over 9 months. Someone had the bright idea to plan the launch for Friday the 13th at midnight. But despite that, we launched the site successfully and did a bunch of testing Saturday morning. So this Tuesday night we flip the big switch and customers can see it and order their prescriptions, which is pretty cool.

My aunt and cousin who were down the Cape last weekend, finished out their New England adventure in Boston on Thursday and Friday. So we met up for dinner in the North End Friday night, and then I had to take them to Mike’s Pastry for the real deal Boston dessert — Cannoli. I mean just look at that. And after a week of eating zero carbs, that was like heaven on earth.

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Colleen and I started watching Orange is the New Black on Saturday afternoon, which was fun. We only made it through 2 episodes so far. I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon and evening putting up painters tape and then starting to paint the room formerly known as Colleen’s bedroom and now known as the office slash guest room. I got up early this morning and put on the final coat, and if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty decent job.

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But the real homeowner victory of the weekend, is the new patio in my backyard. It’s been a few months in the works planning this and being educated on the fact that since we have a very narrow alley way as our only access point to the backyard, that things are crazy expensive because of the fact that it takes so long to get the material in the backyard – not like in the burbs where they back a truck into your backyard, dump the materials and can get started right away. So we worked with our contractor and came up with this awesome awesome deck as the final product. Could not be happier. We just have to do a little bit of landscaping around the edges, but I see a LOT of grilled pizza + vino Friday nights happening this summer.

This is the view from the top:

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And from the back side. The step spans the whole width of the patio which is fantastic.

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Hopefully my contractor accepts this batch of vanilla bean brown butter blondies as a form of payment. I mean, these are money. So I’ll leave these in his mailbox tomorrow and hopefully we can call it even.

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I met a friend on Newbury Street today for manicures + pedicures (aka, I needed to pay someone to get all of the blue paint off of my arms, legs, hands and feet). And then my friend Bridget, who is my favorite concert buddy, and I went to Cambridge tonight to see one of our favorite musicians Matt Wertz at this super small concert. It was so so awesome. I was waiting for the bathroom, and he came out and was waiting next to me, and I was totally not cool about it at all. I did offer to let him to go in front of me, but I wish I had thought of something cooler to say on the spot than just “wanna pee first since you have to play a show?” Smooth Becca, real smooth.

And last but not least, I owe a big shoutout to this big guy today for Father’s Day. I probably give Skip a harder time than anyone, because that’s my job as the favorite oldest daughter. I followed in his footsteps to become a business consultant. Which means at the holidays we can speak in our consultant code language that no one else can understand. “Hey dad, can you leverage me those potatoes before I go open kimono on the turkey and float up a trial balloon on that cranberry sauce.” “No problem favorite child, get your ducks in a row to maximize your green bean synergy.” See, you common people probably did not understand all of that. He taught me that all vacations should be planned in color-coded excel itineraries and that you get the best reservations at Disney restaurants if you call exactly 180 days in advance. And of course I called my Grandpa today, because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here either. And all he had to say was, where are my cookies?

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Brown Butter S’mores Cookies

So let me preface this post with reminding you, looks aren’t everything. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. And whatever other Pinterest quotes in front of sunsets that I can find to say that these cookies taste delicious, but might not look quite as nice as I wanted them to. So the whole reason I picked Colleen over the other applicants for the room two years ago, is because of our mutual love for all things s’mores. We think the S’mores flavored iced coffee at Sidewalk Cafe was legitimately laced with cocaine because it was so insanely good you would wait 35 minutes in the blazing sun on a Saturday morning just to get some. I couldn’t bring myself to text Colleen a pic of these cookies tonight though because now that she’s not my live-in taste tester that would just be cruel and unusual. Because while on the outside these look a little meh, they still pack a mean punch of S’mores flavor.

You probably don’t remember, but I have attempted S’mores cookies before, about two years ago. The blog post was called “S’mores cookie experiment fail” because that’s exactly what it was. Such a fail that I ended up just chucking all of the dough into the trash. The issue is with the friggin marshmallows. I don’t like the dehydrated ones. But if you use regular mini marshmallows, if they are exposed on the outside of the cookie, they end up melting and getting chewy and the cookie kind of falls apart.

So I had given up on these for a while, until I saw a brown butter s’mores chocolate chunk cookie from one of my favorite food bloggers A Picky Palate. Her pictures came out amazing. So either she has mastered the marshmallow, or she did what I did and just took the best looking few cookies and only took pictures of them. Either way, I would still recommend trying this, because it was by no means an epic fail. It was just not perfect, which of course drives me nuts with my Type-A personality.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground graham crackers, about 8 full crackers
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Step 2: Add brown + granulated sugars to the mixing bowl with the cooled brown butter. Beat on a medium speed until well incorporated. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Step 3: Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and salt. If you don’t have a food processor or didn’t buy graham cracker crumbs, put the graham crackers in a ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.

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Step 4: Add in marshmallows and chocolate chips, and mix on a low speed just until evenly incorporated.

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Step 5: Using a larger cookie scoop, place dough on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

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Step 6: The marshmallows will inevitably ooze out, so as soon as you take them out of the oven, use a small spatula or a butter knife to push the oozing marshmallows back around the cookies. (Or just eat the hot crunchy marshmallowness, because yolo right?). Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet to set for at least 10 minutes before moving them over to a wire rack to finish cooling.

This is what about half of them came out looking like at first:

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But with a little cleanup of the marshmallow ooze, they are looking much more photogenic! IMG_1394

I was happy when I read the Picky Palate’s recipe in more detail, because it sounded like she had some of the same marshmallow issue that I did. Which means nobody’s perfect when it comes to baking with marshmallows.

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IMG_1396So all in all, I would say this is definitely a recipe worth trying as long as you don’t freak out at the marshmallow ooze; just try to fix it up right when they come out of the oven.

I have a lot of pictures on my phone from the past week so I am going to have to pick and choose what to include in the highlights of this week. Mostly because it’s 10:30 and I am getting tired. and I have a bengay patch on my right shoulder so I smell like an old lady while wrapped in a snuggie watching the Tony’s. (still single, shocker I know right?) So, if you want to keep up with the Salted Cookie in photos all day every day, make sure to follow on instagram: @thesaltedcookie. Tell your friends.

This is the first Sunday night in a while where I don’t have a wicked case of the Sunday Scaries. I took Friday off because I needed a day to get a bunch of things done, because the next 3 weeks at work are going to be brutal. And I didn’t leave the Cape until almost 4 today, so I feel like I got 3 full sunshine-filled days down there, which is probably why I am a little more relaxed tonight than normal. Let’s hope I can channel this tomorrow morning when I get into work.

Firstly, I could totally be a stay-at-home Mom. Or an 80 year old. Whichever comes first. Friday morning after bootcamp I drove down to the Cape early morning and got my car serviced at Toyota in Hyannis because it’s cheaper than getting it done at the Lexus dealership. And I was pleasantly surprised the formerly ghetto Toyota service center had been totally redone. They had like 20 lazy-boy recliners and I got to watch Good Morning America + Kelly and Michael with a bunch of senior citizens. Which I probably haven’t done in over 3 years. And it was great. When the service guy came over to ask if I wanted some $50 filters in my car, I was like yeah yeah do what you need, but shhh Kelly Ripa is talking.

So we had some family visiting from Connecticut + Florida this weekend. One good thing to note, is both of my aunts tell me they read my blog every week along with my 14-year old boy cousin, so at least now I have 5 loyal readers including my parents. (oh, and my Cape friend Caroline’s mom!). So 6, loyal fans. So before everyone arrived on Friday, I enjoyed my day off with my mom and had a nice lunch by the water in Harwichport at Brax Landing, my old waitress stomping grounds. The lobster roll there is unreal. I like it over a garden salad because it’s so huge in the sandwich form that you can’t eat it like a lady. And I’m working on being more ladylike.

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Speaking of being un-lady like, I may have taught my 14-year old cousin Ryan a new word this weekend that I use all the time. Basically, the Southie version of the eff word. Like how we say Lobstah and Pahk and Wicked? Today I asked Ryan (my taste tester for the day) what he thought of the cookies, to which he replied “pretty fahkin good.” Woops.

For the record, I have been teaching him ghetto habits since he was a wee little nugget. This is the last time we hung out at Disney World in 2008. 171_527021377787_4569_n

And now he’s 14. And I kicked his butt in mini-golf. And by kicked his butt, I mean, somehow our parents beat us but I beat him, so that’s all that matters.

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I honestly can’t tell you how friggin great the weather was this weekend. Last night we had an awesome sunset. Skip drove us all out to the middle of the lake, he turns the boat engine off so we just sit and float quietly while watching this sunset. And by quietly, I mean that I find obnoxious songs to play on my phone because I can’t sit still or just enjoy a peaceful moment. So after playing “We’re on a boat” (one of my personal faves) I played “Circle of Life” from the Lion King, because that’s what the final moments of the sunset look like. And then I played “Hakuna Matata” because why not?

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So on the topic of Hakuna Matata, this morning I made a Hakuna Frittata. (ba da boom, cha) Now I’m making jokes like Skip! But I emailed my personal chef the other day (my uncle jimmy) for some frittata recipes, because if you need to see a man about a recipe, you go see Uncle Jimmy. (if you need to see a man about getting an ex boyfriend to sleep with the fishes, he’s also the man to see about that.) So with some coaching from Uncle Jimmy, I made my first frittata this morning after a nice 3.5 mile run. And let me just say, HAKUNA FRITTATA, what a wonderful breakfast, HAKUNTA FRITTATA it means no worries for the rest of your days, it’s our carbohydrate-free breakfast for me, hakuna frittata.

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One day I will put things other than cookies on this blog. And I will start with this frittata. This one had a bunch of leftover food in it, which is why frittatas are awesome. This one had roasted potatoes, red pepper, onion, spinach, cheese and some bacon. Nom nom friggin nom. It’s even good reheated for dinner.

Okay, I realize you guys are starting to play the music like my Tony acceptance speech is too long, so I will wrap this post up with some nice inspirational thoughts. When mom and I installed these shelves in the kitchen, I figured I would collect some Cape Cod swagger to really pull the room together. So I had picked up a few things over the past month. But then I found this sign in Chatham Friday afternoon and it just felt right. Probably because I really like french fries, so I can relate to seagulls with french fries making their day.

So take that inspiration into the week, will ya? Happy Sunday.

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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 distracted for a solid 3 hours tonight sitting on the porch with my friend and a bottle of wine, totally mesmerized by the 5 foot high flames eddie had gotten blazin in his backyard. So now it’s 10:45 when I am starting this post, which means it will likely be a little punchy and I might forget some key ingredients, but eh, yolo.

So about these muffins. First, let me just say, these are probably the best baking photographs I have ever taken. And 95% of that is likely attributed to the amazing lighting in my parent’s kitchen this morning. And the other 5% is the fact that these are the best muffins I have ever created in my entire life. If you remember my post a few weeks back about orange chocolate covered cranberry oatmeal cookies, you’ll remember my original goal that week was to bake with fresh cranberries. And we could not find them anywhere. Not in the produce aisles, not in the freezer section. And we’re in the cranberry capital of the world, right in the middle of Cape Cod. We even have a cranbery festival in Harwich in the fall becuase that is how much we love cranberries in my town. And while a normal person would just say, oh well, I will wait until cranberry season this fall and just bake with strawberries because the grocery stores are overflowing with them … I think we all know that 1) I am far from normal and 2) once I get an idea in my head, I will not stop until I find those cranberries.

So guess how excited my mom was last weekend when she went to Ferretti’s market in Brewster to get steaks for dinner, and my very determined mom was checking out the freezer section in hopes of proving my “no cranberries till September” theory wrong, and she did. She found this bag of frozen cranberries and I knew I was going to put them to good use. So there are two cranberry combos that I know go well together – chocolate + cranberries and orange+cranberries. I don’t love chocolate in muffins as much as cookies, so I decided to go the orange zest + cranberry muffin route this morning. I perused the interweb for some different muffin base recipes last night, but this morning I just decided to totally wing it and make up one of my own. And with Skip as my taste tester (and God as my witness), Skip gave these all the thumbs up he had. And said these should be a regular weekend staple in the house.

So to the best of my recollection, since I am not always the best with measuring, writing things down, remembering or paying attention, I am fairly certain this is the best way to reproduce this muffin recipe.

Yield: Makes 16 muffins

Ingredients:

Muffin Batter

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh cranberries

Topping

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
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Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To make the topping, mix together the brown sugar, oats, chopped walnuts, flour, cinnamon and softened butter and set aside. It’s important that the butter is not chilled here, so sometimes I find it’s helpful to just work it with your hands, or if you have a pastry blender that tool is super helpful in this step.

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Step 2: To make the muffin batter, mix the cooled melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, oats, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients with the wet batter. (For the record, I am notoriously really bad at not mixing things in a separate bowl. I often just throw ingredients in at totally random points and my muffins turn out just fine, so if you go a little out of order, don’t freak out.)

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Step 3: Zest 1 large orange and add that in. Squeeze about a tablespoon of fresh orange juice and mix into the batter as well. If at any point you feel your batter is too dry, you can moisten it a bit with some fresh orange juice.

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Step 4: Slowly fold in the fresh cranberries, and stir gently until they are evenly distributed.

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Step 5: Line 16 regular size muffin tins with paper liners and spray each of them generously with non-stick spray. Fill each of the muffin tins about halfway with batter. Take a spoonful of the topping and sprinkle it over each muffin. Then use the remaining batter to top off the muffin tins. For the final step, cover with the remaining topping.

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Step 6: Bake at 400 degrees for about 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the muffin is firm to touch. Carefully remove from the muffin tins, and set aside on a wire rack to cool.

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I wish there was a smell-o-vision on this blog or some kind of scratch and sniff so you could experience this insanity. They came out of the oven, and it was literally like “And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing.” Hashtag joy to the world. Once I was done standing on top of the island taking as many pictures as possible, Skip and I split one of these and there was literal steam rushing out of them. I don’t think my gluten-allergic mom was thrilled when we maybe went a bit overboard with our reactions after tasting them, with our eyes rolling back in our head, and me fist pumping like Snooki that I had basically solved world hunger with the world’s best tasting muffin ever.

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I think it will be an interesting Monday morning at work tomorrow, Hunger Games style for people to get their hands on the 14-remaining muffins. Skip and I shared one as the taste tester, and then I gave one to my friend Ania tonight for her doctor breakfast tomorrow because she saves lives every day and these are good life-saving muffins. So I just imagine my coworkers fighting each other to the death, volunteering as tribute in order to get a chance at one of these. Or it might be like every Monday when they start to take these for granted and at 3pm there are a few straggler cookies hanging around, to which I take personal offense.

So a few important pieces of news for the Salted Cookie. If you have continued to read on to this point, congratulations. And thanks Mom.

My friend Lauren who is basically just crushing life right now, left our company last summer to go start her own company in downtown Boston called Idea Space. It is boutique shared office space overlooking Boylston Street right in the heart of the city. Perfect for entrepreneurs and small businesses who want a professional space to work in. Or say if you’re in the booming cookie biz and need some office space to start your cookie world domination strategy. Anyways, Lauren had a coffee tasting event at Idea Space last Wednesday and asked if I was interested in bringing some cookies. Which I was pretty excited to do. So I made my mini browned butter salted chocolate chip cookies, and packaged them up with some nice polka dot tissue paper in a baker’s box and everything. And she texted me after the event saying they were a huge hit, and people were asking how long I have been in the business of baking cookies.

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Which got me thinking, with all my consulting skills, I think I need to legitimize this salted cookie thing. One small step at a time. First step, I’ve already secured a lot of the social media properties for The Salted Cookie, but I’ve been using my personal instagram account to post most of my baked good photos. And I’d like to keep that account limited to people I know, so I finally got TheSaltedCookie on Instagram, so make sure you follow it!

Also, to the giant population of financially stable, single, good-looking men between the ages of 28-35 in the Boston area, who loves cookies, and are really looking to settle down into a stable relationship, who I am sure are all avid readers of this blog … let me give you a head start here…. I highly recommend you get on this Salted Cookie train and start woo’ing me in hopes of wifing me up as soon as possible, because it’s going to be much harder to do so when I am rich and famous and the new Rachael Ray of baking, and have all these public appearances and bazillion dollar houses all over the place and cookbooks, and tv shows and all that jazz. It’s definitely going to be a better story when everyone knows we started dating when I was just a normal ninja consultant who baked cookies for her coworkers every week. So I’m just giving you that heads up now.

And finally to round out the weekend, I spent a little time down the Cape this weekend, which is always nice and relaxing. My live-in taste tester moved into her own bachelorette pad this weekend – about a half mile down the road – which is very exciting for both of us. I went to Home Depot today (my mecca) and picked out a few paint samples, because I’m turning the room formerly known as Colleen’s bedroom into a nice guest room  slash office. So I figured I should give it a fresh coat of paint before the sleeper sofa and desk I’ve ordered arrive in a few weeks. But because the weather was so nice, and I need a little more relaxation in my life, my very good friend Ania came over tonight for her first grilled pizza + vino experience in Southie. We made a nice prosciutto, mozarella + eggplant grilled pizza and shared a bottle of vino on the back porch while watching crazy eddie’s pyrotechnic show (and the continued zipline daredevil adventures).

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And now it’s way past my bedtime, so here’s to hoping for survival of another crazy work week this week, and to my coworkers looking for muffins tomorrow morning, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Watermelon Sugar Cookies

Memorial Day, the official kickoff of summer. The summer that we never thought would get here after the death winter we all barely survived. And while Mother Nature is still going a bit schitzo on whether it’s going to be 50 degrees today or 84 degrees, she at least graced us with a touch of sunshine and some hot humidity this afternoon. So I gladly rocked my white jeans and white shorts around this weekend, goosebumps and all. I knew that this weekend deserved a special summertime cookie. And because I was down the Cape, I could do something a little more complicated with my baking assistant (Mom).

My brother made these Watermelon Sugar cookies last summer for a BBQ and sent me the recipe and gave me his bottle of watermelon extract, which is the key ingredient and very hard to come across. My live-in taste tester came to the rescue and brought my watermelon extract and red food coloring from Southie to the Cape when she came down on Friday night, so that I could make these this weekend. (Colleen, for the win!) I’ve never used watermelon extract before. I don’t even like regular watermelon. But I think the easiest comparison is that these sugar cookies taste exactly like eating a watermelon-flavored jolly rancher.

If you’re going to make these, it’s a bit of a time commitment. Nothing crazy, but not my usual start-to-finish in 45 minutes. I would say you need to give yourself a full 3 hours to make these start to finish. Also, read the ingredient list before you start, or you’ll end up like me running to Stop + Shop mid-cookie baking to get white chocolate chips.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon slices
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon watermelon extract
  • Red food gel
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • Green sugar
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add in eggs, vanilla extract + watermelon extract. Then add in the red food coloring. I have red food gel, which you don’t need much of, but if you only have food coloring drops, use about 6 or 7.

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Step 2: Sift together salt, baking powder + flour. Add to the wet batter and mix on a low speed until incorporated.

Step 3: Separate the dough into two batches. Place each in between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with the other batch. I made mine a little bit thicker. Stack the rolled out dough on a cookie sheet and put it in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.

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Step 4: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove one batch of rolled cookie dough from the fridge. Using a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (whatever you have on hand) cut our circles. Then with a large sharp knife, cut each circle in half.

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Step 5: Place the halves on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet.

IMG_1329Step 6: Gently press the mini chocolate chips upside down into each cookie. I did an experiment where I put some in before I baked the cookies, and some in right when they came out of the oven. I did not see a big difference. (And by experiment,I mean I baked the first batch when  I forgot to put the chocolate chips in).

Step 7: Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be puffed up but will not brown. Be very careful not to overbake these. Mine were ready right  between 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on a wire rack. I had a small apple corer, that I used to cut out a little “bite” from the top of each cookie. You can do this before or after you bake the cookies.IMG_1330

IMG_1332Step 8: Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds so that it does not burn.

Step 9: To make the rind, roll the round edge of the cookies in the melted chocolate. We scraped off the excess, and then roll the rind in the green sugar. Let these set on the cooling rack until the chocolate hardens. For the record, I almost did not include these pictures because of my unmanicured hands, but given the complexity of these cookies, I owed it to my loyal cookie fans. And don’t worry, I’ve got a fresh coat of Essie’s Tart Deco on my fingers today.

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These are summer in a cookie. Not only do they taste amazing, but how good do they look!

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Honestly, if you are ambitious in the kitchen, start planning these for whatever Fourth of July BBQ you are going to. You will be sure to have the best cookies there. Unless you’re coming to mine, then don’t try to upstage me. Many thanks to my big bro for hooking me up with the watermelon extract. I’ll see if I can find some other recipes to use the extract in. Although, I also had an idea today about making other fruit-inspired cookies that look like the actual fruit. I might revamp my lemon, lime, and orange sugar cookies this summer and kick it up a notch.

I went down to the Cape late Wednesday night after tennis practice and worked from home on Thursday and Friday. Work has just been a bit too cray cray lately and Grandpa had a trip to the ER late Wednesday night (he’s all good, still crazy as normal), so it was nice to get away from the office and just focus. And I hate traffic. So I will plan my drives down to the Cape to avoid traffic whenever possible. It also made it nice that when I shut my laptop down Friday night, I was already lakeside and not watching google maps (which was all bright red with skulls and crossbones from Boston all the way down to the Cape.)

We put the boats in the water this weekend, which is the official sign that summer has started. Hopefully at some point in June it will get warm enough for the beach and actually getting in the water.

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And Sunday morning, Mom and I got up early and ran the 5k roadrace in Hyannis, which I’ve done every year since 2008. The first year, I did the half marathon. And then could not move for the rest of the day. But the 5k is a really nice relatively flat run by the water in Hyannis, which is a nice way to start off a Sunday. Especially with my mom. This is the only good pic we got, since the first one the random guy took of us was just half my arm and my mom standing there.

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I came back early this morning to run a bunch of errands and avoid the Cape traffic, which was definitely a good thing. Fingers crossed, I think we finally came to an agreement for the patio that Francesca and I are trying to put in the backyard so that we have the whole summer to enjoy it this year. So we were measuring and marking that in the backyard this afternoon. And then I spent a good hour staring out my back window, because just when I thought my next-door-neighbor could not get any crazier, he has fully lived up to his name of Crazy Eddie, by rigging up his own backyard zip line. And his daughter spent most of the afternoon, wearing her homemade harness, climbing to a most-definitely unsafe height on a ladder, and careening down the backyard. This comes after last week I was working late at night, and around 11:30pm at the kitchen table I noticed Crazy Eddie in his pitch black backyard wearing a headlamp just walking around. Ah Southie. Now why don’t they include things like that in all of the TV shows they keep making about Southie? Maybe they would last more than one season.

Here’s to a short week at the office, which hopefully means Friday will be here before we know it. And maybe even Summer.

 

Orange Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Another Sunday night, another cookie recipe, another case of the Sunday scaries. Last week was another rough one with work. We’re still a few weeks away from the light at the end of the tunnel with this project and I was back in the Chicago burbs last week kicking butt, taking names and saving lives. Another set of less-than-bueno flights, but I was smart thinking ahead and parked my car at the airport when I flew out, because I knew when I landed after 10pm Friday night I wanted to get to my happy place down the Cape as fast as possible.

I nailed this sunset pic from 30,000 feet late Friday. Those clouds may look like puffy fluffy cotton, but don’t let them deceive you. Those clouds mean turbulence to the max as we flew through that giant green blob on the weather radar map.

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So Saturday afternoon I went out in search of some cookie inspiration with Mom. After having lunch at my old waitressing stomping grounds Brax Landing in Harwichport, mom and I ventured into downtown Chatham and found some cookie inspiration at an obvious spot – Chatham Candy Manor. The only cookie inspiration I’ll ever get from Brax would be cherry-inspired cookies, because of the time when I was trying to do too many things at once without asking for help (who, you Rebecca? that sound nothing like you at all!) and I smashed a 10-pound jar of cherries all over my light blue waitressing polo and khaki skirt, and got a bunch of glass shards cutting my legs. But I managed to still work my double shift, after my mom came to the rescue and brought me a new head-to-toe uniform. But I digress.

One day when I feel ambitious enough, I’ll try my hand at some fudge making, and if it’s even 1/5th as good as the fudge at the Candy Manor I’ll consider it a success. I’ve been on the hunt for cranberries lately. The guy at the grocery store told me last week I won’t be able to find fresh or frozen cranberries for a while since it’s not their season, which if you know me, only means I am more determined to find them. But while I did not get my hands on fresh cranberries, I did pay for this overpriced bag of dark chocolate covered cranberries from the Candy Manor and figured I could make a nice Cape-inspired cookie this weekend.

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And that’s just what I did. I winged it, and took an oatmeal cookie base, threw some fresh orange zest in, mixed in these chocolate covered cranberries and voila, you have the cookie of the week: Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Orange Cookies. (Rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it?)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 1 cup dark chocolate covered cranberries

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix well. Zest a large orange and add to the batter.

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Step 2: Add the oats, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and flour and beat on a low speed until incorporated.

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Step 3: On a low speed, mix in the chocolate covered cranberries until evenly incorporated.

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Step 4: On a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, place large scoops (I used a large cookie scoop) of dough at least an inch and a half apart. Press down lightly with your fingertips and bake at 375 degrees for 9-12 minutes.

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My sister was up with two of her friends this weekend, so they emphatically volunteered to be my taste testers when I came onto the back porch with fresh from the oven cookies. Four thumbs up. I’ll take it.

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You just can’t go wrong with the orange zest + cranberry combo. When I finally get my hands on some fresh cranberries, you better believe some orange cranberry muffins or coffee cake will be baked up right away. And if I can’t get them in the grocery store, I’ll just have to get myself some high-wasted waders and get my own from the cranberry bog off exit 10.

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So if you keep up with the blog (all 4 of you) then you know I’ve been traveling to lovely Illinois frequently the past few weeks. I had to fly out again early Wednesday morning this week and got home pretty late Friday night. But better than flying out Tuesday, when I guess there was a huge debacle because of a fire at the air traffic control tower at O’Hare, which resulted in such significant delays from the airport being shut down that apparently a lot of people decided to rent a car and drive to their destination instead. So that meant, that when I got to Avis to pick up my rental car Wednesday morning, they had already rented out a majority of their normal cars. Which meant I got upgraded to this bad boy. With 3 front windshield wipers.

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Cue Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty”. So I did what any normal person would have done. I rolled up the sleeves of my Burberry rain coat, and sang Iggy’s “Fancy” as loud as I could while riding through the Chicago suburbs. You know the lyrics “I’m so fancy, you already know, I’m in the fast lane from Southie to Northbrook, Illinois”. I’ve always had a SUV for a car, so I’m used to driving bigger vehicles, but holy bananas this thing was insane. I felt like I was either on a Safari or being cast as an extra in the next Jurrasic Park. I did feel like a bit of a badass when I pulled up to the Starbucks drive-thru window in this to pick up my calming hot tea.

So Friday night I made it to the Cape a little after midnight, and for once, Mother Nature cooperated and gave us some nice weather this weekend. I had to get bloodwork done Saturday morning and the nurse judged the fact I brought my bodyguard (mom) in the room with me. If you know me, you know that I don’t do blood or needles. I’m a guaranteed passer-outer when it comes to even the most basic bloodwork. So there were high-fives all around when I took this needle like a grown up and didn’t faint. Grown-up winning.

And then I did a whole lot of this on Saturday – sitting on the back porch watching the sunshine with Skipper.

Sitting on the dock of the bay…

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And because I am not annoying whatsoever and can totally be quiet and enjoy a peaceful moment, I certainly did not sing “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King the entire time the sun was sinking into the horizon. I can’t help it if the circle of life moves us all … through despair and hope… through faith and love. And if you think that’s annoying, you should see when I help Skip put the boats in the water. I usually circle the floating dock singing songs from Pocahontas. I know what you’re thinking. How is the salted cookie lady still single? Beats me.

So that’s all for this week. No airplanes in my commute this week, and I’ll be down the Cape near the end of the week to officially kick off the Summer we all thought would never get here for a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Coconut Lime Cookies

Or, as Colleen called them tonight, “you put the lime in the coconut cookies.” Pretty good on the fly cookie naming if I do say so myself.

So it’s Mother’s Day. Being one very lucky girl, I got to spend my ENTIRE weekend hanging out with my mom. And let’s just say, we got a whole lot of quality time in at Home Depot this weekend, completing a good chunk of the little house projects I have had on my list for a while. I am very thankful to have such a handy mom. If you read on through the rest of today’s post, I will show you some pics of all of our amazing house projects this weekend. I only mildly electrocuted myself while installing the world’s most complicated doorbell, repainted a metal railing with special railing paint, and learned how to use a toggle bolt to hang some shelves. And then baked some delicious cookies. Take that Martha Stewart.

This is what my face looked like today though when I tried to figure out how to install a toggle bolt.

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So after a hard weekend of manual labor together, I took my mom to Back Bay a few hours before her train back to Connecticut, and we went in search of cookie inspiration. We were debating between something cold or baked goods from Flour Bakery, and then when I suggested Pinkberry, my mom had never been there, so the decision was made. We both went for pretty plain frozen yogurts but both topped ours with coconut.

image_2So when I got home tonight, I decided a coconut cookie experiment was worth a try. I had two limes in the fridge that needed to be used (and you should not let limes go to waste now since Tuco Salamenca and the Mexican drug lords are driving the price of limes up), and so I came across the Chewy Lime + Coconut cookie from one of my favorite food blogs, Two Peas and Their Pod. These are so refreshing and perfect for the long overdue hot sunshiney day we had today.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one large lime
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar (for rolling cookies)

Step 1: Toast the coconut on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning every 6 minutes or so to avoid burning and get a nice even golden toast. Set the coconut aside to cool.

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Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in vanilla and an egg and mix well. I picked up this new vanilla at my favorite store Sur la Table today. So, so good!

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Step 3: Zest one large lime, and squeeze about 3 tbsp of fresh lime juice and add it to the batter. Also, how cute are these little glass bowls I got at Sur la Table today?

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Step 4: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder + salt. Add slowly to the wet mixture and beat on low until well incorporated. Add in the toasted coconut and mix on a low speed just until it is evenly distributed.

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Step 5: Scoop even teaspoon-size balls of dough and roll them lightly in the granulated sugar. Place them on a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, pretty down lightly with your fingers. and if you have any leftover coconut you can put a little sprinkle on top.

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Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, then let the cookies sit on the tray for a few minutes when they come out of the oven. Then you can transfer them over to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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After we danced around the living room a little bit singing “we put the lime in the coconut” we taste tested these, and oh man are they chewy, refreshing and delicious! The perfect treat for the end of an awesome weekend.

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So, on to the good stuff. My mom took the train up early on Friday, so I took a half day from work (which was much, much needed) and we started our weekend adventure off with a trip to Home Depot (or as my Grandpa calls it now “Becca’s Mecca”). Clever. As a project manager by trade, I project manage pretty much every aspect of my life. So I have a whole set of High, Medium + Low effort/priority house projects that I try to budget and plan out in different release schedules. (OCD much?).

Here’s all of the things we got done in 48 hours:

  • New mailbox and house number
  • New doorbell installed (only minor electrical shocks)
  • Signed a lease for a PARKING SPOT in Southie (praise Jesus!)
  • Planted tons of flowers in the front of the house planter, patio flower boxes, and the garden
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Painted the front metal railing with rustoleum paint
  • Installed shelving in the laundry alcove to get all the detergent off the floor
  • Got a hose reel and put washers on the garden hose to stop the leaking
  • WD-40′d every door hinge in the house
  • Installed some new Pottery Barn shelves on the kitchen wall
  • Selected tile for the kitchen backsplash (in the next release of house projects)

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Now these shelves were definitely the most complicated thing we had to install this weekend. But I think they came out pretty good looking. I  need to go down to Harwich this weekend to get some little Cape Cod flare to decorate these shelves with. But in the meantime, I have this giant wooden fork + spoon, which has a long story behind it.

The “long story short” version is that this giant wooden fork + spoon have been hanging on the kitchen wall of my Grandparent’s house since before I was born. When we were growing up we would often go to their house for dinner during the week, especially if my dad was traveling for work. Pickled Pigs Feet was my Grandpa’s code word for ice cream. Yum. Anyways, my Grandpa and I are pretty close and I talk to him every day. I used to always joke that when he’s not around anymore, all I want is the giant fork + spoon from his kitchen. So one day my mom went over there and saw him putting sticky notes on the back of the fork and spoon. Which he explained was in case he died, he wanted to make sure no one else tried to take these. So for Easter, he sent these back home with me to Boston and they have been sitting in my hall closet since then. Even if they are temporary, I think it will make him pretty happy to see they got a spot on the wall up in “Bahhhstonnn”.

 

Speak of the devil, while my mom was in Boston, my dad went over to Stop + Shop back at home today to take a picture of this guy selling poppy’s with the veterans. I mean, how could you not donate to a good cause with this face?

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We did have some scheduled in relaxation + fun time. We saw the movie “The Other Woman” yesterday afternoon after we had a nice lunch in Chestnut Hill and did some shopping at my all-time favorite store Pottery Barn. We grilled up some nice dinner last night outside since it is finally so warm out we are able to turn the AC on. And this morning we started our day by getting large iced-cofffe (for me) and iced-tea (for mom) at Sidewalk Cafe and taking a nice morning stroll around Castle Island.  We had a delicious brunch at Stephi’s in Southie afterward. It was fitting that we went to the food court at the mall for cookie inspiration though, because in middle + high school whenever I would have a rough day, my mom would write me a note for a “doctors appointment” and she would pick me up, we’d go to the mall and share a fresh out of the oven Cinnabon. (Even though Skip would always somehow use his Spidey Sense and call us JUST as we got into the mall parking lot and blow our cover. Ugh. Dads.) So while our days of cinnabon sharing are behind us (stupid gluten allergies) I think our Pinkberry coconut inspiration today turned into a pretty delicious cookie.

So anyways. It’s 10pm. My body is hurting from the manual labor this weekend and I am in serious need of some sleep, because it’s going to be another rough one at work this week. Only a few weeks left until this website launches and I can enjoy the sweet freedom of work weeks under 80 hours again. I’ll be traveling to lovely scenic Northbrook, Illinois again mid-week, so fingers crossed for some turbulent-free flights. I am flying JetBlue this time so at least when the plane is bouncing around I’ll be able to watch some trashy Bravo TV to distract me.

The one thing I will say though, is that whenever my mom would drop me back off at college, or even now when I leave for the holidays, I never understood why she would always start crying before I even left. Except today, I waited on the train tracks with my mom until she got on her train and I waved her goodbye. And then I cried in my car because I think that’s just what happens when you have the world’s best (and most-handy) Mom in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day Linda.