Posts made in December, 2018

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

Posted by on Dec 26, 2018 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, chocolate | Comments Off on Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

Let’s end 2018 on a sweet note with these White Chocolate Spiced Blondies!

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

These things are fantastic. Their spiciness is mild and refreshing. These would be great for a between Christmas-and-New-Year party, or any time of year.

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

I’m a firm believer that good food shouldn’t be confined to just one season. If you like it, eat it when you want.

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

 

This recipe is fairly fast to mix up. Chopping up the crystallized ginger is the most tedious thing; rather than use a knife, I like to use kitchen shears. The blades can still get goopy after a few pieces, but I have more control over the cuts.

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

Since I’ve been asked before, you can often find crystallized ginger in the spice area at the grocery store–look in the glass jarred section. Also, if you have a natural food store like Sprouts, check their bins.

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

I love to keep candied ginger around for recipes like this. If I can catch a good sale around the holidays, I stock up!

If you want to stock up on these blondies, do note that they freeze well. Pack some in the freezer for later enjoyment!

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

Bready or Not: White Chocolate Spiced Blondies

These blondies are refreshingly spicy. The sweetness of the white chocolate goes so very well with the little kick of the crystallized ginger mixed throughout. These are great for the holidays and year-round!

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks), room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces (about half a bag) white chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.

In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt.

In a big mixing bowl, beat the butter until its smooth. Add the brown sugar and mix, pausing to scrape the sides of the bowl, until the two are fluffy in texture. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined, then sprinkle in the white chocolate and candied ginger pieces. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the middle passes the toothpick test. Cool to room temperature. Use the foil to lift the contents onto a cutting board to slice.

Store blondies in a sealed container between parchment or waxed paper layers. Blondies can be frozen for later enjoyment.

OM NOM NOM!

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Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Posted by on Dec 19, 2018 in Blog, Bready or Not, brownies, cheese galore, chocolate | Comments Off on Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies. These things are sweet, savory, rich, and absolutely perfect for holiday fixin’s.

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

These are brownies that taste fancy, because they are. Goat cheese ain’t cheap, people, though I acquired mine for a good price at Costco.

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Costco’s chevre comes in two logs of 10 1/2 ounces. I bought it for use in a recipe that’ll be coming up in a few weeks (goat cheese rounds for a salad, YUM) but then had to figure out what to do with the other log.

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

The answer, of course: DESSERT! I ended up melding several recipes to suit my Costco-sized cheese, and ta-da! This recipe is the result.

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

I’ve made brownies like this using cream cheese before. This version takes that up several notches. Chevre is a strong, somewhat gamey cheese. The end result is a brownie that is rich and sweet with a distinct savory note.

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Treat yourself with these amazing brownies this holiday season–and be sure to check out last week’s Holiday Cherry Brownies, too!

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Bready or Not Original: Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies

Goat cheese makes these swirled brownies taste delicious and fancy! This recipe is made to accommodate the size of goat cheese available at Costco. Serve these up at a holiday gathering and folks are sure to rave.

  • Goat Cheese Swirl
  • 10.5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • Brownie Base
  • 2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line an 8×8 or 9x9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.

Mix goat cheese swirl ingredients. Set aside.

Make the brownie base by whisking together the cocoa, sugars, salt, flour, and chips in a big mixing bowl. Add the eggs, oil, and water and vanilla extract until everything is just combined.

Spoon half the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Dollop the cheese mixture atop it, then add the remaining brownie batter into the open spots. Use a knife to swirl the two layers together while still keeping them a bit distinct.

Bake the brownies for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the pan size. Use the toothpick test to check for doneness. The center should be set with the consistency still moist and fudgy. Cool to room temperature, then place in fridge to chill an hour or two prior to cutting.

Use foil to lift brownies onto cutting board for easy slicing. Store in a sealed container in fridge, with parchment or waxed paper between the layers.

OM NOM NOM!

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#Giftmas2018: Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank & Read Holiday Stories!

Posted by on Dec 18, 2018 in Blog, giftmas | Comments Off on #Giftmas2018: Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank & Read Holiday Stories!

Giftmas 2018

Happy Giftmas! This year I continue the tradition of participating in Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas Fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. As before, there’s a Rafflecopter below where you can enter for a chance to win some wonderful gifts for yourself (scroll down to find that!). For the first time ever, I’m giving away a Tuckerization within my WIP novel. What’s a Tuckerization? It means someone supplies me a name–their own or their own character’s–and it’s in the book. You could die in fiction! Or have a brief appearance in one scene! Maybe a few lines! I don’t know. I’ll need to see the name first and judge how best to fit it in. As author, I AM the grand arbiter of these kinds of things.

So, why donate to this particular cause? Honestly, one thing I love about this particular fundraiser is that I can donate anonymously, so I’m not nagged for donations via email or snail mail throughout the year! However, the money is also put to good use:

  1. Each dollar raised equals three meals 
  2. Canadian donors can receive a tax receipt for their donation
  3. All donations are in Canadian dollars, so American donors can get amazing value for their donation.

Here’s my story for Giftmas, my flash fic “Rootless,” originally published at Every Day Fiction. Read through then enter the giveaway!


Rootless

Day 1

I am ancient yet not immortal, and I wonder if this is how my death begins.

I have lived in these mountains seasons beyond measure. I have bonded myself with dozens of trees and mourned their mortality as I moved on. However, this is the first time my home-tree has been severed at the base, its roots abandoned. The humans seem pleased with their efforts as they carry us down the mountain.

As a dryad, I can end my link with this pine. There are many other trees that would suffice for me, and yet… I cannot leave, even if it means my death. I have loved this home-tree like no other. It’s still young, scarcely beyond a sapling, but knows such joy as its roots sink deeper and its branches stretch toward the sun.

My tree is hurt and confused. I offer what balm I can through my magic.

Night has fallen. The humans tie the tree to a vehicle. We move, gliding like birds over the ground. Ever-bright lights loom ahead but grant us no warmth. A harsh wind scatters my tree’s needles like seeds as the trunk weeps amber.

Day 2

My tree’s base is nestled into a basin of water–strange water, bland, compared to our rooted home. My tree is appeased, excited. Its innocence both delights and frustrates me.

The sun has been stolen from us. Walls surround us at all sides. I can scarcely sense the earth. Ancient as I am, my wells of magic run deep, but not deep enough to extend the tree’s life beyond a few weeks.

Day 3

My tree, oblivious to our dire circumstances, only knows something has happened to its roots and hopes to resume growth soon.

There are other plants in the house. I can faintly taste their earth and chlorophyll. Without wind to help, it takes me hours to siphon their life essence and weave it into my home-tree.

The humans speak loudly from the next room.

“How can all five poinsettias be dead? I bought them this morning!”

“I don’t know what happened. An hour ago they were fine!”

“Where’s the receipt? I’ll take them back. I better get a refund.”

Day 4

The humans cover my tree’s branches with strange objects of all colors and weights. This includes strange lights that emit little warmth and no nutrition. My tree tastes electricity across its drying branches, and for the first time knows fear.

If fire comes, I can bolster my tree’s resistance for a time, but I cannot force away flames.

Day 10

My tree continues to despair, but now its grief focuses on me.

The tree was beautiful from the time it emerged from earth: straight of trunk, symmetrical, perfectly tapered. My magic made it all the more glorious.

Now, the tree wonders if it was chosen for this death because of me–that I made it too irresistible, its green incomparably vivid. It’s afraid. It regrets accepting my bond at all.

I confess its reaction wounds me even deeper than the loss of root and earth because I fear it may be true. I may have brought this upon the tree I love so very much.

Day 12

Colorful objects nest beneath my tree’s lower branches. The humans radiate excitement.

My tree no longer speaks with me. It resists our bond as much as it can.

As humans come and go from the house, I sometimes taste the outdoors. There are other trees and plants not far away, though I can’t connect long enough to draw on their essence.

I could still abandon my home-tree and drift to a new tree nearby, though it repulses me to think of existing surrounded by humans, their stench. The transition would be easy and I would live. And yet… I hesitate, even as my tree sulks and resists my devotion.

Day 13

Humans fill the house and open the objects at the base of the tree. Music shudders through the branches stronger than birdsong ever did. My tree would dance, if there was wind to play partner, but knows joy even in stillness. I absorb the emotion and grieve what will become of us.

Sound grows louder, sharper. The humans disperse, happiness evaporated. The smell of smoke is sudden and strong.

“The kitchen’s on fire! Get out! Call 911!”

My tree is calm as our bond opens again. It tells me to go. It knows it is drying out and the fire will be fast, and that I should live on and bless another tree.

The doors are open. Brisk winter air blows in and carries the heady essence of life. This is it. This is the opportunity I have awaited.

My tree’s enhanced majesty made it vulnerable; now I will make it all the more majestic, but stronger. Mightier.

I fling out my power, sinking magical tendrils into every nearby plant, and I yank. More people enter, and with them, water flows in a magnificent fountain. Smoke increases as the fire dies with a hiss; I call forth the water as I once lured in rain.

I reach into my ancient self. I take everything, I offer everything.

Life pours into my tree. I shove the energy downward, upward. I tell it to grow. To live. To take on such height and girth that it will never again be rendered rootless.

New roots shove through metal, through gray as dense as caliche, and find blessed dirt. They sink deeper, deeper. Branches snap through the walls and ceiling and discover the sun. Life burbles through my tree. I am overjoyed, even as I dwindle, spent.

My magic is no more. I am almost no more, a mere wisp of dryad, but our bond roars like a river in spring thaw. My tree cradles my spirit within its broad trunk. I am content. I am home.

originally published at Every Day Fiction


 

Click here to donate to the Edmonton Food Bank for Giftmas 2018

 

Yesterday’s Giftmas with Laura VanArendonk Baugh | Tomorrow’s Giftmas with Jennifer Lee Rossman

 

You don’t need to donate to Giftmas to enter the Rafflecopter, but we sure encourage it–and it gets you another entry in the giveaway!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

Posted by on Dec 12, 2018 in Blog, Bready or Not, brownies, chocolate | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

Those big jewel-like candied cherries aren’t just meant for fruitcake. Bake them into some Holiday Cherry Brownies!

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

As with my recent Fruitcake Cookies, this recipe is handy if you want to make a festive treat in December–or put those clearance tubs of fruitcake fixins to good use in the new year.

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

Plus, these are darn good brownies with a thin, crisp top and a chewy interior. The cherries add lovely flavor and juiciness, which is even better alongside the crunch of walnuts.

Oh yeah, and these brownies are PRETTY. That counts for something.

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

I modified the original recipe to melt the chocolate and butter the quick and lazy way with the help of my microwave, because my stove is old and cheap and that method would probably triple my prep time. But you can certainly use the stove, too. Whatever works best for you.

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

Mind you, I am a purist about butter on the stovetop for things like browned butter (SO GOOD) but here alongside the chocolate, I don’t think there would be a discernible difference.

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

Modified from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars magazine.

 

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

Bready or Not: Holiday Cherry Brownies

These chewy, classic brownies are loaded with the candied cherries usually used in fruitcake, adding fantastic sweetness and undeniable holiday flare.

  • 1/2 cup (I stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) halved red and/or green candied cherries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13x9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and sugar in careful, 30 seconds bursts. Once everything is smooth, set aside to cool a bit. (This step could also be done at a low temperature on the stove.)

In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Follow that up with the eggs and vanilla until everything is smooth. Fold in the cherries and walnuts.

Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center passes the toothpick test.

Completely cool. Use foil to lift brownies on cutting board to slice up. Store in a sealed container.

OM NOM NOM!

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Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

Posted by on Dec 5, 2018 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

These Classic Icebox Cookies are the kind of cookie I think about when holiday cookies come to mind.

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

That’s because these are the kind of cookies I remember eating at Christmas when I was a kid–at preschool, at school, at home, everywhere. When my mom baked them, I had the all-important duty of Sugar Sprinkler.

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

When I was just starting to bake, but still really nervous about it, I’d buy sugar cookie dough tubes at the store. At least I had the sugar-sprinkling down pat.

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

This recipe makes cookies that are a total nostalgia trip. They look and taste like a childhood holiday.

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

The only difficult thing about this recipe is stirring everything together. Get your biggest bowl, the one a large cat can completely fit in. Even then, stirring everything together might get messy.

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

If you have kids or grandkids around, this is the perfect recipe for them to help out and build some memories of their own. Carry the nostalgia forward.

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

Modified from All Recipes Magazine December/January 2018.

 

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

Bready or Not: Classic Icebox Cookies

These are basic, classic, delicious cookies, packed with nostalgia and topped with colorful sugar. The hardest thing about the recipe is mixing the sheer amount of ingredients in the bowl. Do note that the dough requires chill time prior to baking.

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
  • decorating sugar

Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Gradually mix in as much flour as possible, then stir by hand to get to at least 4 1/2 cups. Dough should be stiff.

Divide dough into thirds and shape into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Enshroud in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice dough rolls into 1/4-inch slices, reshaping with hands as necessary, and place them on cookie sheet with plenty of space to spread. Add decorating sugar on top.

Bake until the cookie edges are turning golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Depending on how cookies are cut, makes anywhere from 60 to 90 cookies.

OM NOM NOM!

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