Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cream Cheese and Lemon Curd Filling

Ginger sandwich cookies with cream cheese and lemon curdAll my soft-and-chewy cookie people, raise your hands.

Wow, there are SO MANY OF YOU!
Just kidding, I can’t see you from this side of the computer.  Yet I feel confident that there really would be many hands waving if I asked this question of a large group in real life.  And for all those folks, this cookie’s for you.

I actually love this cookie for many good reasons.  In addition to the chewiness, there’s the deliciously spicy ginger and molasses flavor.  There’s the fact that it’s a SANDWICH COOKIE, which is always fun, and which means you get to eat cookies in multiples of two without any judgment.  And then there’s the filling.  The original recipe pairs the ginger molasses cookies with a sweet cream cheese filling, which is delightful on its own.  Cream cheese is an excellent friend to spiced baked goods.  And heaven knows I’ll smear it on anything.

But then I got another idea.  It’s just slightly crazy, I know….but it’s crazy enough to work.  

Ginger sandwich cookies with cream cheese and lemon curd (more…)

Homemade Stock

Homemade stockThe week after Thanksgiving seems like an appropriate time to share a recipe for stock.  If you’re like me, your turkey meat went faster than expected (I mean, c’mon, I was planning to avoid cooking again for AT LEAST a week), but you’ve hung onto some leftover turkey bones, just waiting for the opportunity to make your kitchen smell like joy and happiness.  This recipe will work equally well with either a turkey or chicken carcass, and I suspect it would be pretty delicious with any other variety of bones as well.

The first time I made stock from scratch, I was living in a tiny apartment in New York City.

I’ll digress for a moment to emphasize just how small this apartment was.  Because unless you’ve lived in Manhattan, you may not understand what “tiny apartment” means.  

It was 180 square feet.  

Technically, it didn’t even have a kitchen.  It was called a “kitchenette.”  I had a mini-fridge, a mini-oven, a couple burners, and maybe two feet of counter space.  Literally.  (Archer voice: “Wait.  Yeah, literally.”)  But it was in my student budget, and it’s amazing what you can tolerate when you just tell yourself, hey, it’s basically a dorm, and that’s fine.  

In spite of its size, I cooked regularly.  It was cheaper than eating out, and it gave me a nice break from the law school books.  I quickly learned that normal-sized cookie sheets didn’t fit in the oven.  Luckily K-Mart carried some mini sheets that got the job done.  I also rolled out what I still consider my best pie crust ever on those two feet of counter space.  Let me tell you, it’s difficult to overwork the dough when you’ve got a sink crowding your right, a microwave bumping your left, and using the rolling pin is almost impossible so you just make a couple passes and say, ehhhh, good enough.  That crust was so incredibly flaky that I haven’t been able to replicate it since.

This apartment was also the first place I made chicken stock from scratch.  Turns out, it was one of my greatest ideas ever.  Before I gave it a shot, I assumed chicken stock was one of those things that’s too time-consuming to be worthwhile when you can just buy a can at the grocery store.  I mean, was it really that much better homemade?

It is.  Oh trust me.  It is.  Not to mention, “time-consuming” is a gross overstatement.  Active time is negligible, and while it will simmer for hours, it’s not only hands-off, but it’s also a wonderful wonderful thing to have going on in the background on any given day.  This is why…

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Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all

Happy Thanksgiving

No recipe today, just the genuine wish that all of you out there, on the other side of the computer screen, find some moments of joy on this holiday.  Whether your table bears turkey, tofurkey, or turkey sandwiches, whether your group is large, small, or a party of one, whether you’re enjoying a football game or fighting with your relatives, take a minute to remember your blessings.

The Yumble household is full of family today, but we were thisclose to missing a key member. On Tuesday, Ross was informed that he would have to catch a flight at 7 AM on Thursday morning for work.  Thursday meaning Thanksgiving.  (He works for a French company – apparently they don’t “get” Thanksgiving.)  The one year we thought we didn’t have to travel, yet here we were…I would still be hosting six  people, and somehow we were still planning to drive to the airport Thanksgiving morning.  Life sure is full of twists.  We were a teensy bit bummed.

Then, on Wednesday, the plan changed again.  His project had a delay, and his company canceled his Thursday flight.  We’re still on pins and needles, and he could get a call anytime that he has to get on a flight asap.  But for now, we are counting our blessings that we will, in fact, get our very first Thanksgiving hosted together, in our home.  Not to get all sappy on ya, but the close call makes us appreciate it all the more.

I mention all this to point out that (1) holidays are never ever perfect, and (2) somehow we  can still appreciate and remember the good parts.  I’m very grateful to have family members celebrating with me today, and now I’m 10000% more grateful to have Ross with us as well.

And if you have a kitchen disaster today, I leave you with this to make you feel better:

Sad pecan pie

Remember how I talked about my pecan pie disaster last year?  Here’s a picture.  I used a pie plate with holes in the bottom, which theoretically help circulate air and make a crispy crust…but in my case, they allowed all the shortening, butter, corn syrup, etc., to leak onto the bottom of the oven.  There were fire alarms, there was copious amounts of smoke, and there was left in the pie plate a sad little patch of rock-hard crust and pecans.  I salvaged it and took a picture because, let’s be honest, as long as no one’s hurt, kitchen disasters make pretty funny stories.  And now I’m sharing it with you, so you can be comforted if you have a similar tale of woe.  Thanksgiving is not ruined.  Everyone will be just fine.

So pass the bourbon (and the pie), and let’s raise a glass to our own crazy, messed up, imperfect holidays, and everything we still find to enjoy in them.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Bread with Browned Butter Whiskey Glaze

Pumpkin bread with browned butter whiskey glazeIs there anything cozier than pumpkin bread in fall?

Perfect November day: football on TV, St. Arnold’s Pumpkinator beer in my glass, and pumpkin bread baking in the oven.

Pumpkin bread with browned butter whiskey glaze

Just look at these beauties.  If they don’t say curl up in a blanket and eat me with a side of apple cider, I don’t know what does.

Pumpkin bread with browned butter whiskey glaze

I mean, let’s be serious.  It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and Houston has only just gotten a tiny bit cool.  Thanksgiving day? Predicted to be 80.  And humid, obviously.  It’s sometimes hard to get in the fall spirit when it feels like summer (or at least, what summer feels like in other parts of the country).  But pumpkin bread still gets me there, especially this recipe.  Not only is the bread super moist, but the glaze takes it up to the next level.  Toasty browned butter and a dash of whiskey give you a topping that’s just as good as the bread itself.  If not better.  A fabulous fall breakfast, brunch, or anytime snack, no matter the weather.

Also, pretty.

Pumpkin bread with browned butter whiskey glaze

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Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Fact #1: I don’t like nuts in my desserts. They only take up space that could be occupied by chocolate and/or chocolate chips.  

Fact #2: I love pecan pie.  Contradictory?  Maybe.  When I was little, I didn’t like pecan pie, for the very reason that I objected to nuts in my dessert.  A dessert that ONLY HAD NUTS?  Foolishness.

But as I got older, and I actually tried a bite, I realized pecan pie is like semi-solid crack.  That gooey, buttery center!  The crisp, sugary nuts!  Okay, fine, nuts have their place.  At least in this pie, they’re not taking the place of anything else.  They are, in fact, the star.  

Come to think of it, I actually prefer my pecan pie…without chocolate.  Who am I?

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

This recipe comes to me via my mom and grandma.  It’s the recipe we’ve always used for pecan pie, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve come to understand why.  It really, truly can’t be beat.  Me, being me, tried to doctor it up on occasion.  I added some bourbon, I added some chocolate, I tried it with a whiskey sauce.  And you know what?  The plain pecan pie wins every time.  I mean, maybe I shouldn’t call it “plain” pecan pie.  Did I mention the filling is super smooth and rich? Did I mention the perfect layer of pecans on top?  But you know what I mean.  This is an old-fashioned pie.  It uses corn syrup!  The horror!  Yet I’ve found no other recipe to beat it.  

And that’s saying something.  We live in Texas.  The pecan is the state nut.  (Does any other state even have a state nut?)  There are plenty of well-known restaurants and bakeries churning out pecan pies that are very good — but I’ll take my grandma’s every time.

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