Wow, I may have just broken a record. I have made bake sale week last nearly a full two weeks this year. I just ran out of days faster than I could bake cookies, apparently. Time has been going by so fast lately. In fact, my kids called me from school last Friday, reminding me to come get them because it was early out, and I was late. I never even realized it was Friday until they had called. Anyway, here I am, with one last recipe.
My favorite brownies showed up in 2008. They use an entire bag of chocolate chips, and are the easiest thing in the world to make.
But sometimes, you just don’t have a bag of chocolate chips in the pantry. You may have thought you did, but when you go to find it to make the brownies you have just set your heart on, you may discover it has been nibbled down to about a half a cup’s worth by your sugar-addicted-nine-year-old (not that I would have any personal experience with that).
That is what some would call a chocolate emergency.
I told you about these beer and bacon pecan bars by the Beeroness on facebook last week. Since I don’t drink beer for religious reasons, but since I couldn’t stop thinking about these amazing cookies, I decided the only thing I could do was make my own.
It was important to uphold the complexity of flavor that the stout in her recipe provided though, so I opted to make the entire recipe with pure maple syrup, and not use brown sugar or corn syrup.
Now, I’m not gonna lie to you—these things ain’t cheap. By the time I finished buying all the ingredients for these—Niman Ranch bacon, pure maple syrup, maple sugar, and pecan halves—I had spent at least $20. So, you might want to bring those marshmallows to your bake sale or even those s’mores bars, and keep the maple bacon bars for yourselves.
I asked my friend what I should include in bake sale week, and he suggested I do something healthy, with cranberries.
Now, the term healthy has come to have as many meanings as there are Birkenstocks in a natural foods store. For some people, whole wheat isn’t particularly healthy, while for others, anything without hydrogenated oil is hailed as a model of virtuous cuisine. The other day, I saw a bag of gummy bears with a sticker on it that said “Healthy!” Apparently, they didn’t didn’t have any high fructose corn syrup in them, which I guess . . . makes them healthy?
It’s two days after Labor Day, and about time I got up my first bake sale week post, wouldn’t you say? Before I go diving into the fall, I just want to say a few words about summer.
With two moves, a crazy diet, a month of running every day, and a sad attempt at online dating, I’m not gonna lie to you: I’m glad it’s over. I’d like to get back to a the semblance of a normal life. But I can’t say goodbye to this season without first acknowledging my deep appreciation to the gods of summer fashion who decided beach hair should be the “in” thing this year.
I have waited thirty-six years for my hair in its natural state to be the mode, and finally, this year, it was. And so was my daughter’s. We enjoyed several months of no blow-drying, and letting our hair do its thing.
Phew! I’m back! Again! Our life seems to be a series of moves, which means absolute and utter chaos. Thanks for being patient! We have nearly settled into our second place this summer, and I feel like I can finally breathe a little and write on the blog again.
Tomorrow, the kids go back to school, and that means we’ll all be getting ready for our Bake Sale Week on sophistimom, which starts the first week of September.
A few months ago, Kashi sent me some cereals to try out, and asked us to write about our favorite one.* This is what I had to say about it:
Writing a cookbook truly has been a family endeavor—whether it was posing for photos, coming up with recipes, testing, or tasting—everything involved required the help of each one of my kids.
Because my book focuses on family celebrations, most of the food we’ve been tasting and testing hasn’t been exactly healthy.
I love Kashi’s meals in the frozen food section, especially the Mayan Harvest Bake, so when they recently sent me a sampling of their breakfast cereals, I was excited to try something new that would be both nutritious and at the ready while I finished up the last bits of my cookbook.
Our favorite Kashi cereal is the 7 Grain Flakes & Granola with Black Currants & Walnuts. It’s slightly sweet and fruity, which my kids appreciate, and I love the fact that it has two grams of soluble fiber per serving.
We like to serve it on a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with a spoonful of homemade blueberry jam.
*Since I originally wrote this copy, my daughter has taken a strong liking to Kashi’s GoLean Crisp! Cinnamon Crumble. She eats it by the handfuls all day and says, “It’s just so good.”
With all this moving, I got a little overwhelmed and decided to tack some of the bake sale recipes onto this week. You don’t mind, do you?
On Sunday, my daughter asked me to make a cookie that was lemony, chewy, and had no eggs in it (so she could eat the dough, of course). I told her it was a tall order, and probably couldn’t be done. As I went back in my archives, I found a lemon cookie ice cream sandwich. All I did was adapt the recipe a squeak, and we had our cookie. We thought we’d coat them in powdered sugar to make them extra special.
I thought I’d do something for bake sale week that goes a little beyond the ordinary. Most of the time, we’re thinking brownies and cupcakes, but I remember one time, on an episode of The Barefoot Contessa, when Ina was asked to donate something to a local bake sale. She ended up making little cellophane bags filled homemade marshmallows with toasted coconut. And I’m sure they were sold out in about 14 seconds.
Today, I wanted to do something along the same lines. First I thought of making caramel popcorn drizzled with melted chocolate, which is always a good idea. But then, as the popcorn was in the oven, I spied my jar of peanuts on the shelf, and I fancied making homemade cracker jack instead. The peanuts were almost gone, and I almost dropped the idea, but then reasoned that peanuts are probably the main reason bake sales are hardly ever done anymore in this country.
All that said, this cracker jack is basically only caramel popcorn. But once you put it in cute bags with labels (you can download my PDF labels here), and throw in a cheap dime store toy, you’ll be the hit of the bake sale.
Okay, I gave these a different name, but I have to be honest: they’re practically the same dessert as the raspberry jam bars and the peach cobbler bars. I got the basic recipe from a friend a few years ago, who, when she makes it, dots the top of the batter with cherry pie filling, which is also great. It has become my ultimate go-to recipe whenever I am in a pinch and have to bring a dessert for a lot of people.
Since I was in a hurry doing family history research today, and didn’t have a lot of time, I fell back on this new standby. To change it up a bit, I just added a bunch of locally grown apricots, and I have to say, this may just be the best version yet.
I own a mini bundt pan. I think that puts me in the the Crazy Baker category or something. When I bought it a year ago, I thought for sure I was going to ride the mini bundt cake trend that was sure to replace the cupcake scene. Since then, I have made all of two recipes, and honestly, I don’t see that many other people have been may either. I suspect it’s owing to the fact that little cakes are a beast to pry out, let alone the sticky mess putting the batter into the pan.
So even though these cakes are pretty and cute, rest assured there’s no need to feel like an underachiever if you can’t make them with what you’ve already got. I say use your muffin tins. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful.
These are my new favorite pancakes. The sourdough creates little bubbles in the batter, resulting in spongy pancakes that soak up all the pure maple syrup and butter. The slight sour tang balances out the sweetness.
Some of you may know that I am in the process of moving (again!!!), and life is crazy, to say the least. So this post will just be a quickie. I can’t wait until we’re all settled in, and can get started on bake sale week! Any suggestions?