The infamous Stash Bash cookies

I spent the last four days at The Stash Bash, just outside of Atlanta, with an amazing group of women that I'm missing quite a bit this morning. Good thing there's exactly two cookies left from the giant double batch of Salty Caramel Chocolate Chip cookies I baked for them, because it's the perfect "hair of the dog" kind of hangover cure I'm needing this morning.

Salty Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies - recipe on the blog

Elizabeth's Salty Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks of softened, room temp salted butter - trust me, use salted butter here!
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract - I like the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla brand best
1/4 cup salty caramel sauce - Jen's recipe is the best
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
18 oz mini chocolate chips - 1 1/2 bags worth, roughly
Pink or white coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a baking sheet or two with a Silpat or with parchment paper.
2. Beat softened butter with the sugars until fluffy and well mixed. Mix in eggs, then caramel. Quick tip on the caramel - spritz your measuring cup with some Pam or similar to make the caramel come right out, super easy. Add in vanilla, mix thoroughly and scrape the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Slowly add your dry ingredients, a cup or so at a time, to the dough, and mix thoroughly.
4. Add chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon or spoonula.
5. To make big cookies, scoop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are slightly browned on the edges. Underbaking is key to making the cookies stay fresh longer! I usually bake for 10 minutes on the dot, depending on how my oven is behaving.
6. To make smaller cookies, like the ones I brought to the Stash Bash, scoop using a regular silverware spoon. Dough is pliable, so roll into a ball and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before baking for 7-8 minutes. Again, underbake slightly to ensure that the cookies stay fresh longer.
7. Either size you bake, make sure to let the cookies "rest" on the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes before moving them to a rack to finish cooling.

One batch makes approximately 36 large cookies or 80 small cookies

Happy Monday everyone!

Baking up some holiday cheer

Growing up, the baking and decorating loads and loads of Christmas cookies was one of those things that was a very big part of celebrating the holidays in my family. These days, it's not much different, although I think in the last few years, I've mellowed a little bit and stopped making eleventy-zillion different varieties of cookies. Last year I think I made 9, and this year I've whittled it down even further to just 7: wagon wheels, peanut butter balls, snowballs, sugar cookie cut-outs, festive fudge cookies, salted caramel brownie cookies, and muddy buddies. I always like to give a little something homemade to teachers and neighbors and such, and while I feel like this holiday season has been a lot busier than the last few, I couldn't pass up doing some holiday baking over the weekend.

Festive Fudge Cookies - super easy holiday recipe on my blog today

Before I started sewing, baking was my hobby of choice. My mother taught me to bake as a little girl, and it's something I've always enjoyed - in large part due to the yumminess that baking yields! I've baked less and less over the last few years, especially this past year as I've been working on eating healthier and losing weight. Christmas baking is different, though, and I don't see myself ever giving that up. On the bright side, I've noticed that I've eaten far fewer cookies thus far than in years past, so I guess I've learned something this year in my quest for healthier eating!

Nothing like some good old-fashioned child labor!

I wanted to share the easiest holiday cookie recipe that I make - something I call Festive Fudge Cookies. I've made them since the kiddo was a teeny tiny baby, and they're insanely easy to put together. I've made several different varieties, some with Andes mints in the center, some with plain Hershey kisses in the center (for chocolate lovers like me), some with Hugs in the center, and some with the candy cane Hugs. They all taste wonderful, but the Hugs make them look awfully cute, and when you're giving holiday cookies, I like to think you get bonus points for cuteness, so I like to use them.

Festive Fudge Cookies - recipe on the blog!

Festive Fudge Cookies
makes about 60-80 cookies

1/3 cup butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate squares
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 pouch/box sugar cookie mix, 17.5 oz
60-80 Hugs, kisses, or mix, unwrapped

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave, for about one minute, and stir until smooth.
2. Stir in condensed milk. Stir in the cookie mix. This will take some effort, as the dough will get quite thick. Use a wooden spoon or firm spoonula for this step.
3. Shape and roll dough into 1/2" balls. Place on a cookie step about 1" apart. The cookies do not spread much while baking.
4. Bake for 6 minutes. When you take the cookies out of the oven, immediately press 1 candy into the center of each cookie. Let the cookies sit on the hot cookie sheet for about 3 minutes, then gently push the candy down, to spread the candy across the top of the cookie. Wait another 3 minutes, then squish the top of the candy to flatten the candy.
5. Let cookies cool thoroughly before storing. I like to place mine on an unused cookie sheet and pale it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour before storing, to solidify the candy.

Note: I usually make a lot of cookie dough in advance this time of year, freezing it until I'm ready to make the cookies. I don't recommend that with this recipe, it takes a crazy amount of time to thaw and is positively unusable while frozen.

Happy Wednesday to you all! Have a great day :)

Happy Book Day!

If you follow me on Instagram or on Facebook, you probably know that I received a super awesome box yesterday - a box of books!!! I squealed at the UPS man as he handed the heavy box to me, and I'm sure he probably thought I was crazy, but I don't care a bit. I was so excited!

Yay for a big fat book box!!!

So, I can now say that my book is officially in stock in my Pattern Shop at the moment. If you pre-ordered, your book will be on its way to you today!

Holy cow, that's stacks of my book!

And because it was Happy Book Day, I couldn't resist making an old family favorite cake to celebrate - Brown Beauty Cake. It's a recipe that's been in my family for as long as I can remember. It's the cake that I had for my birthdays growing up, for any celebration, really, and often just because. I don't eat cake the way I used to anymore, so I debated whether or not I'd even bake a cake yesterday, but ultimately, I wanted to celebrate, so I went for it. Sometimes it's okay to indulge, right? :)

Happy Book Day cake!

Here's the recipe, in case you're so inclined to do a little celebrating of your own:

Brown Beauty Cake

Brown Beauty Cake
makes one 9" square cake

1/2 cup boiling water
2 squares unsweetened chocolate (I like Baker's)
1 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg
1/4 buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Pour hot water over chopped up chocolate and stir until fully melted. Set mixture aside to cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x9 square baking pan.
2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl. Add cooled chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in butter and mix well. Beat for one minute.
3. Add egg, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat for one minute.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted, and just a dense crumb or two sticks to the toothpick.

1/2 stick softened butter
Powdered sugar
Milk or 1/2 and 1/2

Mix softened butter with powdered sugar, to taste - I usually use around 2 cups. Add approximately 1-2 tsp of vanilla, 1 Tbsp of milk or 1/2 and 1/2, and a shake or two of salt. Frost cake after it has fully cooled, and enjoy!

A recipe for Blueberry Buckle

It's officially blueberry season here in Florida, and at our house that means it's time to make all things blueberry, from muffins to pancakes to a cake we call Blueberry Buckle. The local blueberry farm not only offers up blueberry plants that you can grow at home, but they also offer U-Pick, allowing regular old folks to come pick from their bountiful trees.

This year's crop is quite beautiful, and on Friday morning, I headed over to the farm to pick a few pounds of blueberries. Almost all the berries are bright purple now, so it was easy to find loads of great blueberries, and quite a few of my son's favorite type of berries, "monster" berries - ridiculously large berries.

On Saturday, my son and I donned our aprons and got to work making blueberrry buckle, a simple coffee cake style cake with blueberries. This recipe works beautifully with fresh or even store-bought frozen blueberries and is  a simple treat to whip up. The tastiest part of this recipe, by far, is the streusel topping. And blueberries are chock full of healthy vitamins and minerals, so that makes this kind of a cake a bit of a healthier option than a slice of chocolate cake, right???

Blueberry Buckle - recipe on the blog today

Blueberry Buckle

Makes approximately 16 slices of cake, and freezes well

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk of your choice
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries

Streusel topping:
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan.
2. Cream softened butter and granulated sugar until well blended. Add egg and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients well with a fork or whisk. Add to butter/sugar/egg mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with your milk. Gently fold in blueberries with a rubber spatula, then transfer batter to your greased square pan.
4. To make the streusel topping: Mix brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter well. This mixture will be a bit crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over the top of your batter.
5. Bake at 375 for 28-30 minutes. Let cool before serving.

I hope you have a great day today!

Friday Fun: A little bit of fabric, and a little bit of bagels

Thanks for all your lovely comments yesterday about my trek to preschool to talk about quilts - it was a lot of fun, and the children were just adorable. And they all went ga-ga over my munchkin's superhero quilt, which was really cute. Definitely put a smile on my face!

Speaking of putting a smile on my face, this little fabric bundle I put together for Sew Lux Fabrics puts a smile on my face. I'm calling it Preppy Sophisticate and it's on sale this weekend, through Sunday. I love mixing hot pink and green together, it absolutely reminds me of the preppy 80s, and also Jen Lancaster's super sarcastic memoirs. I also love the little pop of two low-volume gray prints from one of my all-time favorite collections, Half Moon Modern. What would you make with it?

Preppy Sophisticate bundle from Sew Lux Fabrics

Last but not least, I want to share a little recipe with you guys today for super easy bread machine bagels - that my friend Amber just made and has been enjoying immensely with her new bread maker. These bagels are incredibly tasty, make the house smell great, and can be customized to be whatever type of bagel flavor you like best.

photo by Amber/One Shabby Chick

Super Easy Bread Machine Bagels
source: can't remember - I've had it a long time, and I jotted it down on notebook paper, so who knows??
makes 9 bagels

you'll need:
1 cup warm water (between 108-112 degrees)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T white sugar
3 c bread flour
I envelope of active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you're measuring from a tub)
3 q boiling water
3 T white sugar
1 T cornmeal
1 egg white
toppings: Usually I turn mine into everything bagels, sprinkling them with minced onion flakes, garlic salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

1. Place warm water, salt, sugar, flour and yeast in the bread machine pan in the order your instruction manual indicates. Select Dough setting.

2. When Dough cycle is complete, take out pan and let dough rest on a lightly floured surface. Meanwhile, in a large pt, bring 3 qts of water to a boil. Stir in 3 T of sugar.

3. Cut dough into 9 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. Poke a hole in the middle of each using your thumb. Twirl the dough on your finger, or thumb, to make the hole bigger, and to even out the dough around the hole. Cover the shaped bagels with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

4. Sprinkle an ungreased baking sheet 1T cornmeal. This will prevent the bagels from sticking, so it's important, don't skip it! Start preheating the oven now, to 375. Carefully transfer the bagels, one by one, to the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, turning halfway. Drain briefly on a clean towel. Arrange boiled bagels on baking sheet. Glaze the tops with egg white and sprinkle any toppings you'd like on top.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375, until well browned. Let cool before eating - trust me, they are super hot!

Have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend!

Sometimes you need a muffin

It's been a rough couple of days here in the Not Betsy household, between coming down with a monster of a cold and finding out that our six-year-old air conditioning unit needs to be replaced.  So, I did what I always do in tough times...bake.

Yes, I love to sew, it's my most favorite thing in the world to do right now, but baking was my first love.  I've been baking since I was a little girl, under the tutelage of my mother, who learned from her mother, and so on.  In our family, baked goods have always been something special; never something that came from a box, always something that was made from scratch.  I can remember when I learned that the way we baked in our family was not exactly the norm; my best friend's mother suggested that we make brownies during a sleepover when I was 8, and she pulled out a red box of Betty Crocker brownie mix from the pantry.  That was probably the moment I turned into a baking snob.  I'm kidding...mostly ;)  I'm just the kind of dork who enjoys baking from scratch.

Here in Florida, it's blueberry season.  Our local blueberry farm opened up for picking last week and we trucked over there on the weekend and picked ourselves 6 pounds of gorgeous blueberries.  We've been going there since the munchkin was barely walking, and he's become quite the blueberry aficionado over the years.  Now, the munchkin would be a blueberry-a-tarian, if we would let him, but us grown-ups prefer our blueberries tarted up a bit.  Enter my blueberry muffins...

I've been making blueberry muffins since I was a little girl, but it wasn't until the last two years that I had to tinker with the classic family recipe.  See, my husband is painfully allergic to all forms of dairy, so he has to steer clear of milk and butter - you know, the good stuff.  And my family blueberry recipe called for milk, as well as butter, to create a rich muffin.  Thankfully, through some trial and error, I've reformulated the recipe to not only taste fabulous but also to not contain one ounce of dairy.  Do yourself a favor and make these muffins this weekend, even if you can only find frozen blueberries - trust me, you will be a happy camper :)


Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Makes 24 muffins

2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Zest of one large lemon
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup milk (I used soy here, but regular milk works well here too)
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare two standard sized 12-cup muffin trays either with Pam or muffin liners.

2. Add sugar, oil, milk, and vinegar to one large bowl and whisk until well combined.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and lemon zest with a fork.

3. Dump your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix gently.  Don't overmix - you'll create tough muffins.  A few streaks of flour are okay here.

4. Add your blueberries and fold gently into the batter, again being careful not to overmix.

5. Fill muffin liners/cups approximately halfway full and bake in your preheated oven for 20-22 minutes.  Allow muffins to sit in tray for five minutes after they come out of the oven, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling, although these muffins taste fantastic when they're warm!  They also freeze well.

Happy Friday to you all, I hope you have a great weekend!

Time for a chocolate break!

Stacks and stacks of spiderweb quarters

In the midst of spiderweb madness (the fabric kind, not the spider kind!) here at my house, I felt the need to bake some muffins.   My husband's travelling for the first time since his new no-dairy rules from his GI doc, so I thought it would be good to make some muffins for him to take with, since they're so easy to eat on the run. I baked these on Sunday, and loved them so much, I had to make some for myself!  Most of the dairy-free baked goods I've made so far have paled in comparison to real baked goods, but these muffins are so moist and delicious, I would never have known they were butter and milk free if I hadn't made them myself.

I cannot figure out where I found this recipe, since I jotted it down instead of saving the link, but oh my goodness, these are delicious.  These muffins great as cupcakes too - I couldn't resist making some mocha frosting to put on top, and that makes them even more wonderful, although very not dairy free :)

Vegan Chocolate Muffins (or Cupcakes)

1 cup coconut milk (make sure to shake it up first)
1 T instant coffee or instant espresso
1/3 c canola oil
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 c sugar
1 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 12-cup muffin trays or line with paper liners.
2. Heat coconut milk until warm - but NOT boiling.  This should take approximately 30 seconds, depending on your microwave.  Stir in the instant coffee powder and stir until dissolved.
3. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla to coffee milk mixture and whisk well.
4. In another bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
5. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin liner, and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before eating - they'll fall apart if you don't wait long enough!