Category: dough

Fruit & walnut jammy bars.

Fruit & walnut jammy bars!

So school has started. It’ll be about a month until Christmas decorations start to show up in stores. Things are only going to start getting more hectic from here; now that the slow & easy days of summer are gone. So how about some comforting treats? Like cookie bars! I love cookie bars. Cookie bars are so easy, fun and delicious. Plus they’re even kinda cooler to make than cookies, because you can just throw it all in a pan and not worry about the shape. Or removing it too quickly before it’s cooled and ending up with a smooshed falling apart cookie and a burned mouth.

Or is that just me?

Yeah. So cookie bars. Jammy bars. Cookies filled with jam, basically.

Fruit & walnut jammy bars!

Anyway, this is a great recipe for many reasons. One, you can use up some of those half-filled jars of jam in your fridge. Two, it’s a great school lunch item. And three, it’s 100% customizable. Literally any kind of nut and any flavor jam/preserve can be put in it. Including lemon curd or Nutella, if ya wanna get crazy! You can literally do anything you want and they’ll come out sweet. Get it? Sweet? Ha. Or hey, even pumpkin pie filling! GO NUTS.

And the best thing is, if you have problems taking it out of the pan & it crumbles, it makes a fantastic ice cream or yogurt topping! SO WHO CARES! PAAAAARTYYYY!

*ahem* The only reason I mention that is because the first time I made them, that’s what happened. Still delicious, but I didn’t use enough butter/flour on the pan. Ooopsie.

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Peanut butter birthday pie.

For three people in my life, I have a rule. Only three people. The rule is: on your birthday, you get to pick one baked good- anything you want- and I will make it for you and you get the entire thing to yourself. You won’t be asked to share it. You can do with it whatever you want. Eat it all by yourself while watching TV, share it, bring some to work, smear it on your face and run around town naked, etc.

Okay maybe not so much that last one… Anyway

Oh look, sneaky highly edited preview wedding shot!

Sneaky wedding preview shot!

So, only THREE people get this privilege- there were four, but my Nana passed away almost 4 years ago. Today actually would’ve been her 97th birthday, and she would get whatever she wanted. But that happened regardless of what day it was, let’s be honest. Anyway, there are three people in the entire world who have this privilege and two of them (my parents) get it for an extra day each: Mother’s Day/Father’s Day as well as their birthdays. The third person is Jason.

But sometimes… even if they pick something on their own, I see a recipe that just screams their name. So they get two things.

Peanut butter pie topped with pretzels, crumbled chocolate cookies & peanut butter chips.

Jay has picked a variety of things over the years, sometimes cupcakes. Sometimes cookies. Sometimes pie. This year, he chose cheddar dill scones (I know, random). Which was fine by me. However I also had another trick up my sleeve: peanut butter pie. And since its not quite his birthday yet- it’s actually this Saturday, the 23rd- I could make more than one thing easily.

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Donegal oatcakes.

Donegal oatcakes.

I grew up my whole life thinking that my Irish family was from Sligo. That’s it. Just Sligo. I never grew up hearing about anywhere else. My one Irish ancestor who came direct from the Emerald Isle that I heard the most stories from/about passed away in 1936, she was my great-great-grandmother Winifred Macken (Mackin) née Mahon. She was poor, and came here and worked as a maid. Never learned to read or write. She was very secretive and didn’t like to talk about the past- this only adds to the air of mystery surrounding her in my mind. Including the fact that she was married twice and nobody was 100% sure of the names of either man. Anyway, it’s very possible that she was indeed from Sligo (I can’t find a trace of her anywhere either way), but the other Irish side that came here around the same time, the Kieran/Rooney’s, hailed directly from Louth. We have plenty of info on them, including the house that Jane Rooney (née Kieran) was born in, which is still standing.

Sufficient to say, however: I have no family (that I know of) from Donegal.

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Hearty black pumpernickel bread for a freezing winter’s day.

It was so cold, that there was ice caked on the storm windows. It hadn’t snowed (although there was plenty of snow on the ground already), there was just ice. So cold that the heating system couldn’t keep up and the house temperature was about 10 degrees lower than what we set it on. In other words, IT SUCKS.

And here’s the deal: I know cold. I’ve gotten up and gone to school in knee socks and a skirt in cold weather (for 6 years). I’ve walked in cold weather (and in snow) with a portfolio and box of paints, from the train to school and back. I’ve dealt with it. I’ve waited in it. I’ve stood in it. I’ve shoveled snow in it. I know I live in NY and cold weather is part of the deal. But -8° is NOT normal NY weather. That’s some Minnesota/Wisconsin/ mid-western shit. So before anyone says, “OMG Northerner stop bitching, it gets cold up there” just remember that. This is abnormal. We haven’t had temps this low since 1994. Usually we have 30° temps, sometimes 20°, and occasionally- maybe a few days every winter- in the teens. But in the negatives? Uh, no. Understand? Good. Moving on…

Delicious pumpernickel bread.

Anyway Jay had to get up at 5:30 a.m. and be at work by 7, so I of course was awake early. No matter how quiet you are, you will always disturb your significant other when you wake up before them. So despite my efforts to go back to sleep in my warm, cozy bed piled with down comforters and Irish wool blankets with the blinds tightly shut, by 6:45 a.m. I was up, browsing Facebook on my phone, thinking about warming the place up. And by 7:30 I had opened the blinds to see… ice. Remember when I said that sometimes all I did was creep out of bed to bake (or eat) and then I crawled back in? Uh huh.

But I don’t give up easily and so I stayed in bed until almost 9, when I realized I was not falling back to sleep and it hadn’t gotten any warmer out. That’s when I decided to bake.

Baking is awesome in this weather because you can “preheat” your oven a long time in advance. Leave that shit on and have some coffee, watch TV, lazily make your way in to get the flour, the eggs, etc, etc. No rush. And because I have a gas oven, it gets so hot so quick it can warm pretty much the kitchen, dining room and living room (and some of the hallway) immediately. Which is a blessing now, in the summer it’s a different story.

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Grateful for grapefruit pie.

To be totally honest, I made this pie for my mom’s birthday, over a month ago. I took some shots of it (’cause that’s just what I do), but wasn’t going to post it. Why? I don’t know. It just seemed like a wintery pie, since I associate citrus with the winter. I have to stop doing that, though. Because citrus is really perfect for summer. It’s bright, crisp, tangy & wonderful.

Hold that thought.

Ruby red grapefruit pie with grapefruit scented whipped cream.

This time of year is a weird one. Isn’t it? I mean, it’s hot as hell but summer might as well be over. Even if there’s a few weeks left, every store is stocked with back to school supplies and I even saw a few COATS.

COATS, people. It’s 100 million degrees and they’re selling COATS. And probably boots. I mean, WHAT?!

I’m sitting here like, eff that. I’m wearing shorts and a tank top and I’m bakin’ up pies and fanning myself right next to the A/C vent like an 80-year-old lady. I don’t want a freakin’ coat.

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Sweet cherry cream pie for the 4th of July.

There really isn’t anything prettier in the summer (in the U.S.) than seeing Old Glory flying proudly. Even better when accompanied by the sound of fireworks popping in the sky & the smell of burgers cooking on a charcoal grill. ‘Murica. F*$k yeah. Yet another thing that’s awesome about America: pie. Specifically, cherry pie on the 4th of July. Eff you, Arthur, you won’t spoil my fun!

This pie is a kind of cherry custard pie, being that custard is made from egg yolk & cream & that’s what you combine with cherries in this filling. A refreshing change from the ordinary cherry pies you see this time of year!

Sweet cherry cream pie with coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream!

My pie pan was a bit smaller so I halved the filling recipe & it worked out just fine, a bit flat on top but otherwise fine. If you’re using a pie pan larger than 9″, then you’re good to go with the whole filling amount. Out of all the pans I have, I wanted to use a teeny tiny metal one. Go figure.

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Strawberry jam brioche rolls.

We’re in full-on spring mode now, right? The sun has been out & we’ve been gardening & sprucing up the outdoor areas. And of course there’s tons of sprouts growing in the yard! No more snow on the horizon.

One of the main things that makes me think of spring & summer is jam. Making it, canning it, baking with it. Last year I made a jammy version of strawberry shortcakes, so this year I thought I’d do something new with strawberry jam: a brioche-y type roll filled with it!

Like a jelly roll, but with jam, and individually sized. The dough is incredibly easy to make, the jam can be store-bought or homemade (homemade takes NO TIME at all), and they come together very simply.

Delicious and easy strawberry jam brioche rolls.

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