fever.

pumpkin fever.  it’s deadly.  a single can of pumpkin can throw even the most cautious baker into the brisk, spicy sickness that is fall baking.  once i carefully cranked open that first can and the smell of pumpkin biscotti soon filled the kitchen, i knew i was a goner.  do you think it’s the actual flavor of pumpkin that the masses love, or do you think it’s the bright orange novelty of it?  i’ll admit it’s both for me.  i do love the flavor of pumpkin and i think it adds a certain level of richness to foods, particularly my morning oatmeal, but there’s something about the color orange or just the word “pumpkin” that shoots me straight into soup eating, sweater wearing fall.

here in arizona it’s a little twisted though.  while i’m drinking pumpkin lattes and throwing cinnamon on everything i can get my hands on, it’s been nearly 100 degrees outside.  a high of 94 today, actually.  in an effort to make my coworkers feel a little better about living in such an non-autumn kind of place, i made them pumpkin biscotti to dunk in their insane amounts of coffee.  (they’re for real coffee crazy there, it’s wonderful)

pumpkin biscotti with dark chocolate drizzle

recipe from daniela found on tasty kitchen

2  3/4  c.  flour

3/4  c.  sugar

1/2  c.  brown sugar

1  t.  baking powder

2  t.  pumpkin pie spice (i mixed my own a while back based on angry chicken’s)

1/2  t.  salt

2 eggs

1/2  c.  pumpkin puree

2  t.  vanilla

1  c.  dark chocolate baking chips (if you’re chocolate’s in bar form, roughly chop it)

-preheat oven to 350

-stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt

-in separate bowl (or more conveniently, a liquid measuring cup) mix pumpkin, eggs and vanilla

-add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients and stir together (it’s a thick batter but i promise it will come together)

-divide dough in half and form two logs (honestly, the size of them is up to you.  i wanted long, dunkable biscotti so i made short, wide logs about 5″x9″).  bake 28-30 minutes.

-remove from oven and cool for about 15 minutes.  one loaf at a time, slice into 3/4″ slices at a slight diagonal.  return slices to baking sheet (you might need to pull out another pan), sliced side up and bake 18-20 minutes, flipping pieces over halfway through.

-remove from pan and transfer to cooling racks.

for chocolate drizzle:

-option 1:  set up double boiler (heatproof bowl set over pan of about 1″ of barely simmering water) to melt chocolate

-option 2:  microwave chocolate in 20 second increments until melted

-allow chocolate to cool slightly then transfer to a little samich baggie.  snip off a tiny bit of the corner and drizzle away.  i had to put these in the refrigerator to set as i live in an 80 degree house but for most of you the kitchen counter is probably perfectly acceptable.

they kind of look like magic, floating biscotti here, don’t they?

there might be some melted chocolate left over, in which case you can drizzle whatever else your little heart desires or you can just remake it into chocolate chips…like this:

will someone please make these for halloween festivities and drizzle the chocolate to look like a spider web?  i had this thought too late in the game…sorry, people.

cornbread scones

if any of you out there knew me as a child you might remember my weird obsession with pioneers.  as many of you didn’t know me as a child, let me tell you, i was quite the pioneer aficionado.  think sod houses, covered wagons and laura ingalls wilder’s little house on the prairie.  it was actually more of a strong interest than an obsession, though.  i wasn’t walking around in calico dresses and bonnets and pretending i was a part of the oregon trail or anything.  however, this is one of many reasons i take the cool points where i can get them these days…

but that’s what these scones remind me of, something little pioneer ashlie might have eaten while riding in the back of the prairie schooner.
cornbread scones

recipe from BHG

1 1/2  c.  flour

1/2  c.  cornmeal

1  t.  sugar

3/4  t.  baking powder

1/4  t.  salt

3  T  butter, cold and cut into small pieces

1/2  c.  buttermilk (i used 1% milk with a splash of vinegar)

-preheat 425.  line baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper

-whisk/stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  add butter and cut in with pastry blender until mixture looks like course crumbs

-add butter milk or milk/vinegar mixture and stir until just moistened

-dump out dough and gather into a rough circle about 3/4″ thick.  cut into 8 wedge and arrange on lined baking sheet.  brush with milk and if you’d like, sprinkle some sugar on top

-bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  cool on wire rack.  keep in airtight container at room temp for 4-5 days

as you can see i ate these with cherry preserves but i also had a couple with chili and it was a wining combination.  i didn’t add much sugar so they were equally delicious for a savory meal.  you could even omit the sugar altogether and add cheese, garlic or  chopped jalapeno .

the last lemon

do you realize that in exactly one week it will be october, the best month in the world.  (because other worlds probably have a different calendar…)  there are so many great things that happen in october like halloween, orange leaves, my birthday, mystery weather-sometimes it snows, sometimes it’s hot, and pumpkins.  pumpkin is a big thing this time of year, especially in the world of food and beverage.  and in no way am i going to complain about this.  i love pumpkin.  it makes my oatmeal creamy.

but i’m not giving in to pumpkin fever just yet.  i still have a couple of citrus fruits in the fridge that need to be used up. so todays theme….lemons!  i had a single lemon and not a clue what to do with it.  and then i remembered this recipe from sophistimom that i pinned on pinterest a while back.  chewy lemon snowdrops.  i cannot tell you how delicious these turned out.  just go make them now and see for yourself.

the only thing that differs from the original recipe is the number of lemons used.  i only had one so that’s all i used.  it was enough lemon juice but there was a little less zest.  if this bothers you could add lemon extract….or buy another lemon.

chewy lemon snowdrops

1 3/4  c.   flour
1/2  t.  salt
8  T  butter
zest of 1 lemons
1/2  c.   sugar
1/4  c.  honey
1  t.  baking soda
2  T  lemon juice
powdered sugar, for coating

-preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheet pith parchment or silpat

-cream together butter, sugar, zest and honey.  mix until smooth.  then add baking soda and pour the lemon juice on top of it. (this part is exciting)  stir to combine.

-add flour and salt and stir until just combined

-roll into 1″ balls or use tablespoon to drop onto lined baking sheet (i used the tablespoon, some rounded, some leveled…i liked the smaller ones better)

-bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned

-cool slightly then toss in powdered sugar to coat

depending on size you should get 18-24 cookies

you can see the ones on the left were rounded tablespoons of dough and the ones on the right are much smaller, leveled tablespoons…

now, i had some leftover lemon juice.  but luckily i also have a bottle of bourbon.  so if you’re lucky like i am you can make yourself a delicious beverage while you’re waiting for those cookies to get out of the oven.

bourbon lemonade

2  T  fresh lemon juice

1-3  T  sweetener, i used honey but maple syrup was my second choice

2-3  T  bourbon

ice

water

-fill tall glass with ice

-stir together lemon juice and sweetener.  pour into glass.

-add bourbon

-add enough water to fill glass.  i wouldn’t add more than 1/3 – 1/2 c.  water

so there you have it.  your last summer hurrah! with your last summer lemon.

now, bring on the pumpkin.

5 minute dinner

i work a lot of closing shifts at my job so i feel like i have a lot more time in the mornings to make breakfast for myself.  dinner, on the other hand is usually just a combination of what’s in the fridge, thrown together, sometimes cooked, sometimes not.  this leads to a few disappointing dinners, let’s be real.  but sometimes it’s so awesome i take note so i can throw it together again, later on down the road.  then it becomes a recipe.  that’s where this came from:

tortilla pizza

makes 1 serving

2 corn tortillas

1 roma tomato

1/2  of an avocado

3-4 T cheese, in this case crumbled cotija and herbed goat cheese

cholula or other hot sauce, to taste

salt and pepper

-turn on the broiler and position the oven rack in the top of the oven.  line your pan with tin foil (any size pan, as long as it will hold two tortillas)

-dice tomato and avocado.  crumble the cheeses.

-place tortillas on foil lined pan.  arrange tomato, avocado and cheese over tortilla.  grind salt and pepper over top.

-broil until edges are crispy and cheese begins to brown

-remove from oven and add hot sauce.  cut into quarters and eat.

so easy, surprisingly delicious.

 

breakfast 101

some people aren’t breakfast people.  this is a difficult concept for me to grasp.  i could eat breakfast for every meal of the day, as i am sure i have mentioned before.  cereal, toast, hashbrowns, oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, donuts, eggs and bacon, WAFFLES, omelets, quiche, strata, english muffins, bagels, french toast…every meal.  and it seems the people who don’t eat breakfast are the same ones that don’t like dessert either.  and quite frankly, i don’t really care to know these sorts of people.  just kidding.  but only because i want to make the “you don’t like dessert??” face at them.  that face needs regular exercise.

i do believe, though, that some breakfasts are appropriate for certain occasions.  take sunday morning, for instance.  it’s perfect for an indulgent breakfast, one that’s either dipped in sugar or drenched in fat.  pancakes or waffles swimming in maple syrup or eggs and hashbrowns cooked in leftover bacon grease.  these are happy breakfasts.  your last weekend hoorah before the work/school week starts up again.  then there’s that donut and coffee you might sneak in there on wednesday morning because you’re running late and you just need that quick boost of sugar and caffein to get you through the day.

but the days in between require substance and nutrition.  enough to get you to lunch but not so much that you want a nap at 10.  thick oatmeal with cinnamon and apples, yogurt with honey and grapes, granola with dried fruit and toasted nuts.  these muffins fit right into this category.  they’re hearty and dense but a little sweet and fruity.  perfect for monday or thursday, maybe even friday.  they’re small but mighty.  i did the math and they come in at just 115 calories each so you could definitely eat two guilt free, but one was enough for me.  they’re quite filling.  if you’re unsure, eat one for breakfast and pack the other as a mid-morning snack.  problem solved.  turns out they’re also delicious with a little smudge of peanut butter.

hearty banana muffins

2 medium bananas (roughly 1 – 1 1/2 c.)

1/2  c.  applesauce (any kind will do – i used berry)

1/4  c.  brown sugar

1  c.  all purpose flour

1  c.  whole wheat flour

3/4  t.  baking soda

1  T  cinnamon

1/4  t.  nutmeg

1/2  t.  salt

1/4  c.  flax seeds

1/4  c.  rolled oats

-preheat oven to 350.  line 12 cup muffin tin

-mash bananas with fork or potato masher.  mix in brown sugar and applesauce

-in separate bowl whisk together both flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  add wet ingredients and stir until just combined(i sifted these together but that’s not necessary).  fold in flax seeds and rolled oats.

-divide batter equally into muffin cups (use an ice cream scoop…definitely the easiest way to do it)

-bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

this recipe was adapted from the banana bread recipe from the dainty squid.  added bonus, it’s vegan!  i’m not exactly sure why that’s a bonus…but hey, let’s go with it.

these were left at the end of the sifting.  i saved them to decorate the muffin tops:

these don’t brown much, if at all, while baking so it’s a little difficult to tell when they’re done.  test them with a toothpick when the outside is set and no longer shiny like dough, about 15 minutes, and add time from there.

 

 

happy hour

i’m sure most of you out there are experiencing a mean case of the mondays.  sad that the weekend is over and that there are a whole 5 days of work or school until the next one can begin.  you’re probably sitting in traffic, thinking about all of the things that you need to get done this week.  stressed out or tired from working all day.  i feel ya.  but actually, i’m feeling pretty excited.  my days off are tuesday and wednesday, so your monday is my friday.  i’m thinking about how i don’t have to go to work for two whole days.  heck, i don’t have to leave the house for two whole days.  i’ll probably be reading, watching television and baking while your sad souls are reading memos or sitting through lectures.  but fear not, because i have a special treat for both of us.  a treat to help you unwind and me to celebrate.  it’s a popsicle.  a booze popsicle.  a dark and stormy popsicle…

my favorite drink is probably a dark and stormy.  i like the spicy ginger with the warm rum and pretty much anything with lime is a winner in my book.  and as it turns out, they’re made even more awesome when they’re frozen on a stick.  plus, they’re stupid easy.

dark and stormy pops

1 1/2  c.  ginger beer

1/4  c.  spiced rum

juice from 1 lime

popsicle molds or shot/small glasses and popsicle sticks

-measure first ginger beer and rum into a pitcher or 2  c. liquid measuring cup (anything with a spout will do).  juice the lime directly into the pitcher or measuring cup, careful not to let any seeds jump in.  (i juiced my limes into a measuring cup to see how much i squeezed out – it was about 1/8 c.)

-divide mixture between the popsicle molds or glasses.  remember, it will expand when it freezes so don’t overfill these.  your mold should have a fill-to line.

-freeze pops overnight or make these in the morning and freeze while you’re at work.  these are happy hour pops, after all.

the gathering of ingredients and tools:

the lime juice i squeezed out.  that was one juicy lime:

the glorious mixture:

prepare your molds:

i had a tiny bit leftover, but it certainly didn’t go to waste…

the frosty end result:

hope you had a swell monday!  don’t worry, only four more days till the weekend…

 

 

 

a good book and sweater daydreaming

ok.  i just finished reading a homemade life by molly wizenberg.  she is the swell lady behind the blog, orangette.  if you’ve never been, hop over there now.  you’ll be glad you did.

the book is a strangely wonderful fusion of recipes and the stories attached to them.  the stories themselves are interesting and lovely but then you get a lovely token of a recipe at the end of each, which leaves you torn between darting to the kitchen to make a french style yogurt cake with lemon or continue reading to discover what the next chapter is about. i chose the latter but have since located and bookmarked all of the recipes i want to try from her blog to test later.  that yogurt cake might happen sooner than later though…

does anyone have a suggestion of what i should read next?  it doesn’t need to be about food, it just needs to be good.

also, entirely unrelated, i am quite eager for fall.  i can’t stop pinning pumpkin recipes and halloween inspiration on pinterest.  it’s a little out of hand, i must admit.  i have forgotten what it’s like to be cold.  i’m quite familiar with the stale, air conditioned-building cold that occurs when you’re wearing shorts and a tank top but standing around in a store set to 70 degrees.  but i’d like to step out of the house in the morning and experience brisk, cool air rather than the muggy morning heat.  yeah. nobody told me arizona was humid and muggy in july and august.  all i got were lies about it being extremely hot and extremely dry.  lies.  don’t get me wrong, i’m perfectly fine without a winter coat and snow boots.  all i’m saying is, i wouldn’t mind throwing on a jacket every once in a while.

here are a few things that i would like to keep me warm, if ever i experience cool weather again…

cocktails from hip hip gin gin, to warm from the inside:

and some fall/winter looks i’m swooning over from madewell (top 3) and j.crew (bottom 3), to warm from the outside:

i’m particular smitten over the simple striped dress and the camel/black/white ensemble.  just smitten, i tell you.

 

13 on the 13th

i’d like to make a shout out (do they still do shout-outs on the radio??)  to my small but mighty little sister.  today’s her birthday, she is now officially a teenager.  holy cow.  it’s a weird thing having witnessed the entire life thus far of an individual.  but weird in a cool way…

it’s been a really awesome 13 years and i know we’ll have an even more awesome time in the decades to come.  little seester, this post is for you, kid:

nail bomb!!!!

we should totally try this!!

 

non-chocolate desserts!!!!!

sandwich people!!!!

 

seeesters!!!

btw, i made chocolate pudding but i’ll wait to post that :D  we’ll keep this a chocolate free zone for a day…

 

 

 

cookie²

we’ve all heard of cookie butter, right?  the jar of gooey, sweet goodness that you can buy at trader joe’s, made from crushed biscuits and other magical ingredients.  i’ve read about it and it’s devilishly addictive qualities in several places and have just now given in and purchased a jar.  it is the consistency of peanut butter but tastes like ginger snaps.  so two of my favorite foods got together and made a miracle child.  true life: i’m addicted to cookie butter.

actually, though, armed with the cautionary tales of others, i worked out a plan so i didn’t end up sitting on the couch watching friends reruns shoveling spoonfuls of cookie butter into my mouth.  noting the subject of cookie butter brought up at work on several occasions i set out to find some way of incorporating cookie butter into a baked concoction that could easily be shared with coworkers.  and that’s where cookie butter cookie sandwiches came from.  mmmm…cookie sammiches.  wise choice, ashlie.  wise choice.

 

also, my lovely mother sent me some adorable sea creature cookie cutters!  i believe my little sister picked them out, which makes them all the more awesome.  i decided to make my cookie sammiches in the shape of little fishies.  i did not share my fish cookies.

i used this brownie roll out cookie recipe from smitten kitchen with few adjustments.

chocolate sandwich cookies

1 1/2  c.  flour

1/4  t.  salt

1/4  t.  baking powder

1/2  c.  butter

1/2  c.  sugar

1 egg

1  t.  vanilla

1/3  c.  cocoa powder

filling:

1/2  c.  t.j.’s cookie butter

-preheat oven to 350

-whisk together flour, salt and baking powder

-in separate bowl mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa.  gradually add flour mixture until smooth

-chill 1 hour.  roll dough out to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters (i used a 1 1/2 ” round and 1 1/2″x1″ fish).  bake 8 minutes.

-pair up cookies in preparation for sandwiching.  spread a generous amount of cookie butter on one round/fish, top with other cookie and squeeze together gently until filling reaches edge of cookies

a couple side notes:  a) because they’re already brown it’s difficult to see when they’re done but the key is to remove them from the oven when they are set and no longer soft and shiny.  you could also bake a little longer for a slightly crispier cookie. b) even after chilling, the dough was really soft which made it very difficult to transfer the cut cookies to the baking sheet.  now, this is likely due to the fact that because its 114 degrees outside we keep the house at 80.  to remedy this, i (gently) cut out the cookies on my silicone baking liner and popped it in the freezer for a few minutes before transferring the cookies to the pan. like this:

as you can see, the freezer is quite narrow…

and if you’re wondering what to do with the left over cookie butter i’ll tell you it’s a great way to slaughter the nutrition of many breakfasts.  for example, stir some into your hot oatmeal, spread some on toast, or blend some into your banana smoothie.  who doesn’t love dessert for breakfast?

 

two-fer

as in, 2 for 1.

two recipes with bourbon.  one to drink, one to eat.  you’re welcome.

first up, an old fashioned with father’s day maraschino cherries.  the ‘rents were in town last week so we cracked open dad’s cherries (remember, these here)  and had ourselves a little party.  not really, though because there were only three of us.  so it was just an extremely exclusive party, where only the three coolest people in phoenix were invited.  yeah, i’m puttin’ that on the ol’ resume: “one of three finest individuals in greater phoenix area”

i’m sorry, it’s been a very long week.  back to the drinks…

for an old fashioned, muddle: 1 cherry, 1 orange wedge, 1 t.  sugar, 2-3 dashes of bitters.  throw in some ice and top it off with 2 oz. bourbon. stir it up. drink it. have a party.

here’s an action shot of john:

and for a special treat before the parents’ departure i made salty bourbon squares.  whoa.  yeah, they were as awesome as they sound.  my only criticism, not enough bourbon.  next time i make these, i will add more bourbon and use fewer chocolate chunks.

the recipe is from the vanilla bean blog.  i’ll just link to her site because i didn’t change anything from the original recipe…but let’s be honest, i’m also too lazy to type it all out.

salty bourbon squares!