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big, easy bites

for twelfth night: king cake with bacon-pecan praline filling

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By foodorleans · January 4, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

For most folks the holidays are over, but in New Orleans, they're JUST BEGINNING.  Yep.

Friday night, January 6, is Twelfth Night! That means it's the start of carnival season, and officially the coolest day of the year to eat king cake. But you should strive to eat a piece of king cake at least once a week every week leading up to Mardi Gras. Pick up a cake at your favorite place, take it to school/work/home, and slice it all up at once so you can see who gets the baby. If you get the baby, you bring the next cake.

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fancy pants white chocolate cherry shortbread

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By foodorleans · December 16, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Happy Friday, cookie monsters!  It's the final day of my bake-a-thon, and I am beat (ha).

This last little cookie is a real show-stopper that I found online at bhg.com. They're called White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbreads, but they also have a slight amaretto quality to them due to a shot of almond extract. They're super-rich and taste a bit like cherry cheesecake. In short, my, my, they're outstanding.   I was looking for something really different in flavor and appearance from the other items going in my gift boxes, which are mostly shades of brown.  This hot little pink number really fit the bill, and they taste professional-bakery-fancy.

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the best sugar cookies: no icing required

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By foodorleans · December 15, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Day 5 of the cookie bake-a-thon, and it's time for classic sugar cookies! (Only 1 day left!)

I'm usually not into decorating cookies with icing or sprinkles--at all.  My sister is the queen of this; her sugar cookies are always perfectly glazed, smooth as little skating rinks, with patiently drawn borders, dots, and squiggles.  I'd rather put more effort into the cookie's appearance before it's baked. I'll roll them in sprinkles, or shape them into crescents, I'll even sandwich two doughs together, roll them up and make a pinwheel, though that's pushing it.  The point is, once the cookie's out of the oven, I JUST WANT TO EAT IT.

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ginger crinkles for kris kringle

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By foodorleans · December 14, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

It's day 4 of my cookie bake-a-thon...my glycemic index runneth over.

How long has it been since you opened a jar of molasses and took a big whiff?  Well, that's too long.  I find it very easy to forget what molasses smells like, even if it's only been a few days since I've smelled it.  I just had to go get the jar again and take a big pull so I could remind you: it smells like a blend of dark-roast coffee and soy sauce.  That doesn't sound like a good idea for cookies.  But molasses in ginger cookies?  It's necessary, in a big way.

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pepper jelly rugelach: a change of spice

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By foodorleans · December 13, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Welcome to the third installment of my Christmas Hannukah bake-a-thon!

Have you ever had rugelach?  Ever heard of them?  They're these awesome, petite crescents of cream cheese and butter dough wrapped around a filling such as cinnamon, nuts, or preserves.  The fact that the dough is almost nothing but cream cheese and butter pretty much had me hooked.  But I also saw an opportunity to inject a little deep-south peppery twist on this classic cookie.

Pepper jelly. You know, the jalapeno-spiked stuff that gets poured over blocks of cream cheese?  Turns out it's a remedy for someone who bakes and eats lots of cookies and, quite frankly, needs a little help preventing palate fatigue (that's Melissa Clark's term, not mine, but it's well-put).  I was afraid these might be too spicy in the end, but they're just spicy enough, and a welcome change of spice from the typical holiday range of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.  I think you'll like them.  And let's forge ahead and put pepper jelly in all kinds of sweet things!  It'll be a revolution.

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orange-pecan biscotti, and bakers as sharers

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By foodorleans · December 12, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Welcome to Part 2 of my Christmas cookie bake-a-thon! (Part 1: Butterscotch Bars)

The thing about baking is that unless you're a pasty chef, or exceptionally gifted in the kitchen, or happen to have memorized countless ratios of fat to sugar, you can't really bake without a recipe.  It's different for savory dishes, like a stew or salad, whose recipes afford lots of room to add, subtract, or substitute ingredients according to your taste.  That's why baking recipes are still so important to me, why 90% of the recipe hunting I do in my life is geared toward cookies, pies, and cakes.  It's also why it's so important to share the good recipes when we find them.  Bakers must be a society of sharers.

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butterscotch bars, or saving the world one cookie at a time

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By foodorleans · December 11, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Welcome to my cookie bake-a-thon.

Aside from a few years in grad school, when mountains of papers that demanded grading trumped my heart's desire to bake cookies in the weeks before Christmas, I've been making cookie boxes for friends and neighbors for over a decade.  I love doing it.  The tradition started out simply enough, with just one kind of cookie, when I was new to the whole thing; over the years it's grown into a multi-batch affair, an assortment of 5 or 6 varieties of the very best recipes that I could find that weren't too daunting to make, but were still beautiful and a bit different.  Collecting these recipes has taken a lot of (admittedly enjoyable) research.  Every year I plan to make a little recipe booklet to include with the boxes so other people can make them too. That would be very Martha of me, wouldn't it?  But it never happens.  Thankfully, a few blog posts will do the trick.

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pumpkin squares, squared

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By foodorleans · October 6, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I come from a long line of German women who feel compelled to produce baked goods pretty much nonstop from October to January.  I'm not even fudging this fact a bit. I refer to the phenomenon as "extreme baking," or the condition during which our collective kitchens are completely dusted with flour and sugar, all of our tupperware containers have been filled with sweets and handed over to neighbors, and our feet ache from standing over too many mixing bowls, yet we continue to bake without ceasing.  I suffer from the condition, and I don't even have a sweet tooth.

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blueberry lemon cake of great happiness

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By foodorleans · August 21, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Meet my favorite blueberry cake.  It's got a great texture thanks to chopped almonds scattered throughout, it's not overly sweet, and it's really easy to make--you don't even need a mixer.  If you like blueberry muffins in the morning, this cake makes a great substitution, but it can also be tonight's dessert thanks to its pretty sugar-sprinkled top.  And I'll go ahead and tell you that it works beautifully with vanilla ice cream, although you probably already guessed that.

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what to do with so much goodness: peaches & herb fruit crisp

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By foodorleans · August 3, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

This week was our first visit to Hollygrove Market and Farm, right in the city.  Hollygrove offers a CSA (community supported agriculture) box filled with freshly picked goods from farms within a hundred-mile radius of New Orleans, and I'm sure many of you are taking advantage of these types of boxes in your own areas.  They really are a great way to support local food growers and to learn how to cook with what's in season.  Two things I love about Hollygrove's operation are that they offer two boxes each week, on Tuesday and Saturday (sometimes slightly different), and you don't have to subscribe--just come get it when you want it (or order home delivery).  Also, you can pick up other vegetables and fruits a la carte at the market, as well as organic meats, coffee, dairy products, and some interesting pantry items.

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