Heading out shortly today to Yale Appliance and Lighting in Framingham (http://www.yaleappliance.com/framingham.aspx) to make some desserts, which if you know me, is one of my favorite things to do with my time!  I love all things about making desserts but especially about making seasonal desserts this time of year.  Now granted, you can find pumpkin puree in the grocery store year round now but do you really want a pumpkin cheesecake in June?  Ok, you might, but let’s celebrate the season and eat pumpkin desserts today!

Here are the three recipes I will be featuring at my demo today.  If you are in the neighborhood or feel like taking a drive, I promise you, the treats will be worth it!  My demos run from 11-3 today–you can get there and back before kickoff this afternoon!


Spiced Cranberry Pumpkin Mini Breads with Sweet and Salty Cashew Butter

For the Pumpkin Minis:

1-15 oz can pumpkin puree

4 large eggs

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped

3 tablespoons raw or sparkling sugar

For the Sweet & Salty Cashew Butter:

2 cups salted roasted cashews

3-4 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray and place on a large baking sheet.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with electric hand mixer, beat pumpkin, eggs, canola oil, water and vanilla until smooth.

Sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture until beat slowly until just combined.  Add in chopped candied ginger and dried cranberries and beat again–do not over mix.

Scoop batter into prepared mini loaf pans and sprinkle batter with raw or sparkling sugar.

Bake in preheated oven 35 to 40 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, make the cashew butter:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine cashews, 2 tablespoons canola oil and brown sugar.  Process on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Process mixture until smooth adding more oil, 1/2 a teaspoon, at a time if necessary.

Slice the Cranberry Pumpkin Mini Breads, spread on the cashew butter and enjoy!  


Caramel Swirl Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars With Cinnamon Whiskey Whipped Cream

(note–the photo is of the same recipe but without the nut topping–since I made this recipe up a while back, I have become allergic to pecans…ugh)

1 14 oz. bag or box gingersnaps

1 tsp salt

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1 stick salted butter, melted

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened

¾ cup sour cream

6 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1-29 oz can pumpkin purée

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

2 tablespoons cornstarch

⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1-14 oz can dulce de leche

3-4 tablespoons cinnamon whiskey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil sprayed liberally with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade pulse gingersnaps until fine crumbs.  Add salt, butter and raw sugar and pulse to combine.

Spread crumbs evenly into prepared baking dish. pressing to form a crust and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until crust is firm and fragrant.

Meanwhile, In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth.  Add sour cream and eggs and whip again until completely combined.  Add sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and whip to combine.  

In a small bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup heavy cream and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved.  Add to pumpkin mixture and mix until incorporated.  

In a small bowl whisk remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream, dulce de leche and add whiskey to taste.  Pour filling mixture evenly on top of crust and swirl in the dulce de leche mixture

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until center is set.  Cool completely before serving.

Meanwhile, make the whipped cream

2 cups heavy cream

4 teaspoons honey

1-3 tablespoons cinnamon whiskey (to taste)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat heavy cream and honey to soft peaks.  Add whiskey and vanilla extract and bet to a stiff peak. Serve on cooled cheesecake bars.


Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Streusel Topping and Salted Caramel Sauce

6 cups cubed brioche or other soft bread

8 large eggs

¾ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup heavy cream

4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ginger

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree


1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

Place bread cubes on baking sheet in a single layer and toast in preheated oven, 10-15 minutes until all sides are toasted, tossing bread cubes occasionally.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add salt, melted butter, milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and stir to combine.  Add pumpkin and whisk until pumpkin puree is completely incorporated into the egg mixture.  When bread is cool, add to egg mixture and fold to coat each bread cube.  All mixture to rest, refrigerated, for 30 minutes to an hour or until most of the mixture is absorbed by the bread and the bread cubes are soaked through.   

While bread is soaking, prepare the topping.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cubed butter and salt.  With a pastry blender or fingertips,

When bread is soaked, pour into prepared pan.  

Bake in prepared pan 45-55 minutes until center is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread pudding comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly before serving with caramel sauce.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce.  

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar

⅓ cup salted butter, cut into cubes

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt sugar to an amber brown, shaking pan occasionally.  Reduce heat to low, add butter and stir until butter is melted and absorbed into the sugar.  Add heavy cream, a few tablespoons at a time and stir constantly until combined.  Remove from heat, add salt and vanilla extract and stir again until combined.  

Good Morning friends!

What are you doing today?  If you are withing driving distance, please come and say hello to me at Yale Appliance and Lighting at 296 Freeport St, Dorchester.  From 11-3 today I’ll be cooking up some fun football and Fall foods and giving away samples as well.  If you have not been to Yale Appliance, you are missing out.  Beautiful showroom, well informed and friendly staff and they make freshly baked chocolate chip cookies throughout the day—how can you go wrong?

Here are the recipes that I’ll be making this week:


2 cups canned kidney beans, drained

¼ cup sweet onion, minced

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sweet pickle relish

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon garlic powder

hot sauce to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the kidney beans, and set aside to drain. In a medium bowl, combine minced  onion, mayonnaise, relish, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Gently fold in rinsed kidney beans until coated with dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve or up to 2 weeks.  

Best served with neutral flavored crackers, pita chips or crostini


2 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup blue cheese crumbles

2 teaspoons garlic powder

¼-⅓ cup buffalo sauce (to taste)

½ cup chopped banana peppers

1 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese

Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cooked chicken, sour cream, mayonnaise, blue cheese crumbles and garlic powder.  Add buffalo sauce to taste and stir to combine.

Spread chicken mixture into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with chopped banana peppers and cheddar jack cheese.

Bake for 15-25 minutes until center is hot and mixture is bubbling on the edges.  Serve with tortilla chips

molasses ginger cookies


2 ¼ cup all purpose flour*

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoons cinnamon

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup butter flavored shortening

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

½ cup molasses

¼ cup turbinado or sparking sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Set aside.

In a large bowl cream shortening and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and molasses until well blended.  Slowly add flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat again until well combined.  Tightly wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover four baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, place sparkling, granulated or turbinado sugar.

Roll dough into 1” balls and roll balls in sugar to coat.  Press balls slightly into sugar if necessary.

Bake 12 cookies per sheet for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked and cookies are firm to the touch.

*For gingerbread cut out cookies, increase flour by 1/2 cup.  Generously flour rolling surface before rolling out the cookie dough.  Depending on the size of the cut outs, bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies are fragrant and lightly golden brown on the edges


Hello Friends.  Between work and travel I have been very quiet on the blog as of late but I am taking on a fun new challenge–live cooking demos at Yale Appliance in Dorchester and Framingham!  My first demo is this Saturday, September 17 from 12-4 at the Dorchester location (http://www.yaleappliance.com) and I will be making recipes and handing out samples. The theme of my demos this time is ” Late Summer Herbs and Vegetables and What To Do With Them.”

My herb bucket is overgrown with lemon thyme at this time (Ugh…pardon the pun), people are handing me zucchini left and right and we are buying local fresh corn like it’s going out of style because it’s so delicious so I am planning on featuring this late Summer bounty at the demo.

Please come by and say hello and be totally blown away by the showroom and the very well informed staff.  Here are the recipes that I will be featuring and sampling:

“Still Summer Grilled Corn, Bacon and Jalapeno Cornbread”

5 slices bacon, diced small

 2 tablespoons butter

1 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk (or whole milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar)

1 large egg, beaten

2 ears fresh corn, grilled

1 small chopped fresh jalapeno, membranes and seeds removed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a small skillet, cook bacon until crispy.  Drain off bacon drippings and reserve.  Set aside.

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place 2 tablespoons butter into an 9″ nonstick cake pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until the pan is very hot and butter is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and set aside.Meanwhile, In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

To the dry mixture, add buttermilk, reserved bacon drippings and egg and fold together until smooth. Fold in the bacon, corn kernels, jalapenos and cilantro and mix until combined. Place baking pan back in to the oven for 5 minutes until hot again.  Carefully remove heated pan from oven and pour in the batter and spread to cover.

Bake the bread until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Remove bread from the oven and let stand in pan for 10 minutes before cutting. Remove from pan and slice into desired portions.

Serves 8

“Garden Fresh Herb & Cheddar Pie”

Prep time:  15 mins

Cook time:  45 mins

Total time:  1 hour

Serves: 6


  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup baking mix (such as Bisquick)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 small sweet onion, minced
  • 3 cups zucchini and /or Summer squash, very thinly sliced or grated
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, marjoram, parsley all work well alone or in combination, plus more for garnish, very thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon all purpose seasoning mix (such as Adobo) or kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon paprika


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch pie pan or an 8’x 8′ baking dish plate with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until combined.  Fold in canola oil, baking mix, parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, minced onion and two tablespoons fresh herbs, all purpose seasoning mix and black pepper to taste.  Pour into prepared dish.

Sprinkle mixture with remaining shredded cheese and top with reserved fresh herbs.  Sprinkle with paprika

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown on the top.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Can be served cold, hot or room temperature.


“Lemon Thyme Cocktail Cookies”


1 cup. granulated sugar

3 lemons, zested and juiced

1 lb. all- purpose flour (3 1/4 cups)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¾ tsp. salt

12 oz. butter, softened

4 egg yolks

1 ½ Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme or lemon thyme

Yield: 3 ½ dozen cookies

Bring all ingredients to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process sugar, lemon zest, flour, cornstarch, salt and herbs until the herbs are finely ground.  

Add the egg yolks and butter to the bowl and process until mixture is combined.  Add lemon juice and process again until a cohesive dough forms.

Divide dough in half and form two disks.  Wrap dough securely with the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator, at least several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.

Let the dough sit at room temperature until it is pliable enough to roll with a rolling pin. Roll the dough out ¼ inch thick on a lightly floured surface.

Use as little flour as possible; flour may toughen the cookies. Cut out cookies with cookie or biscuit cutters; cut them as close together as possible to minimize scraps. Rolls scraps into fresh dough to minimize toughness.

Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies start to turn a light golden brown around the edges, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies.

Remove cookies from baking sheets. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.

Store in airtight containers.

Is it just me or when you’re away for a few days you come home to find little bits and odds and ends of stuff in the fridge? Does anyone see these things and think to eat them? Are they still edible? Have they turned into a giant hunk of mold in the container? I hate to waste so I always try find a way to use what I have on hand.

My favorite thing to do with odds and ends in the refrigerator is make a pizza.   The danger with using lots of veggies on your pizza is that it’s easy to have a soggy crust.  Read along and I will tell you my tips and tricks for using up your leftovers on a pizza and keeping the crust crispy.

I few days ago, I made my way in to the unknown….the back recesses of the fridge to find all of the these ingredients:  sauteed escarole, oil packed sun dried tomatoes, pitted stuffed olives, cooked mushrooms, pepperoncini, roasted yellow pepper strips and grated parmesan cheese.  I was also lucky enough to find a container of my Mom’s nut free pesto in the freezer.  She makes it at the end of the summer and its delicious.  We had been to the store the day before and stocked up on some fresh veggies as the fridge was more than kind of empty since I had been gone.  We got some chopped kale and some more mushrooms, both of which I sauteed in a large batch to have some to put in my eggs the rest of the week.  I also had some shrimp in the freezer (we love shrimp on our pizza) and some four cheese pizza blend.

You might be afraid to put so many veggies on your pizza for fear that it will never crisp up but the secret to using high water content vegetables is as follows:

  1. Roast veggies on the top of the pizza (as I will do with the kale)
  2. Cook out most of the water (which is what I did with the mushrooms, slowly over medium heat and did not salt them until they were mostly cooked, which roasts them and enhances the flavor)
  3. Literally squeeze the liquid out of the greens (which is what I did with the escarole and do with spinach)
  4. Pat dry anything that is in liquid or oil (the pepperoncini, olives, roasted peppers and the sun dried tomatoes)




The next trick to a crispy crust is a pizza stone or an overturned large baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone and a very high oven temperature.  Long before you start building your masterpiece, put the pizza stone in the oven at 450 degrees to heat all the way through.  It’s going to take a good 25-30 minutes to heat to 450.  If you are using a baking sheet overturned, it only takes about five minutes.  The key to a crisp crust is sliding the dough on to a hot surface to set it right away.

If you have a pizza peel, use it.  If you don’t, you can use a second overturned baking sheet in it’s place.  Cornmeal.  Cornmeal is the key to success with all pizza but especially a heavy one laden with deliciousness.  Sprinkle your peel (or second baking sheet) with a generous amount (at least 2 tablespoons) of cornmeal and spread it around to the edges of the peel.  Stretch your dough as thin as possible, leaving a nice edge for the crust and lay it on your pizza peel.  Now shake the peel.  Does the crust move freely back and forth?  If not, lift up the crust gently where it’s stick and through some cornmeal in there.  Shake it again…does it move?  You’re in good shape.

The next step is to layer appropriately.  I start with the pesto (obviously) in a very thin layer and then the dried vegetables that don’t need to be cooked, just heated including the escarole, sun dried tomatoes, olives and roasted peppers.  It’s important NOT to put anything that needs to be cooked (such as raw chicken, shrimp, raw mushrooms etc) under the veggies and cheese on the pizza because by the time the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted the raw food will not be cooked through, it will steam being trapped under the cheese and veggies and will cause the crust to be soggy.  Now is time to shake your crust again to be sure it moves freely.  If not, through some more cornmeal under the crust.  This is going to be a heavy pizza with all of the stuff on it so periodically, make sure it moves.





The next layer is the remaining veggies, all but the kale, the cheese and the raw protein.  Keep in mind, however, that unless chicken, for example is cut very small it may not cook through, even on the top of the pizza.  Seafood, shrimp and/or scallops are a good bet because they cook so quickly as is any other cooked protein.  Time to add the shrimp and then sprinkle with some grated parmesan.

And finally the kale.  I love crispy kale so it’s the perfect veggie to top the pizza.  Cooked broccoli is also a good bet as both kale and broccoli get very crisp when exposed to high heat.  Then some dried rosemary/oregano/ thyme or whatever you have on hand and some kosher salt and pepper.


Shake your pizza on the peel once again and if it moves freely, you are all set.  If not, you know what to do.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until shrimp is cooked through and crust is golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let pizza sit for 5 minutes for the cheese to set up and so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth because you’re going to want to eat this pizza as soon as possible!



20160127_195207.jpgI usually work night and have been traveling quite a bit lately for work and cooking adventures so I was very excited about a night at home and time too cook a meal for my family!  Here’s the perfect recipe even for the pickiest of eaters.  Hands on time is quick, cooking time is fairly fast and you don’t have to do much to have a wonderful dinner that the leftovers are as good as the meal, easy to reheat and simple to make for a small crowd.

I adore chicken thighs.  They are inexpensive (12 pc for 7.20 at Market Basket), delicious, meaty, moist and tender and usually I use my good friend Doug Keiles’ line of rubs (http://www.ribswithin.com/products/) on the meat and put them on the grill or in the oven on a sheet pan and all is right with the world.

Tonight however, I decided that I wanted to make something to go with pasta with Meyer Lemon Oil, parsley and spicy roasted broccoli, which are two favorites in my family and I had the pleasure of not only my immediate family for dinner but Famous Chicka (my niece, Sarah) and my daughter’s best friend Ashley who is a culinary student at Lily’s school for expert assistance.  It’s remarkable how fast you can get things done with extra hands chopping, slicing and stirring!

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Meyer Lemons and Olives

2 tablespoon olive oil

10-12 bone in skin on chicken thighs

2 tablespoons dried Italian Seasoning

2 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed

1 cup dry white wine

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup pitted brined olives (use whatever you have on hand)

2 Meyer Lemons (or regular if you don’t have Meyer), one thinly sliced and seeds removed and one zested and juiced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

With a knife or kitchen shears, remove any excess skin from chicken.  Season chicken liberally with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, Italian seasoning and crushed rosemary.

In a large, heavy Dutch Oven (I use the Le Creuset 9.5 quart French Oven) over medium high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering and nearly smoking.  Place chicken thighs, six at a time, skin side down in hot pan and brown for 5-6 minutes until skin is browned.  Remove from pan to a baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain all but 3 tablespoons fat from pan, reduce heat to medium and add wine to the pan, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan while stirring.  Add shallots and cook until shallots are softened, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.  Add olives and Meyer lemon slices, zest, juice and chicken broth to the pan.  Add chicken back to the pan, skin side up in a single layer.  Cover pan with lid or aluminum foil and place in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and reaches 165 degrees F.

Remove from oven and set aside, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

I served mine with spicy broccoli (toss bite sized broccoli pieces in olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, place on a baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until slightly charred and softened) and pasta (I used the high protein) tossed with Meyer lemon oil, fresh parsley, freshly cracked pepper and topped with parmesan cheese.

Another veggie that I thing is under appreciated is escarole.  If you sautee it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and some garlic, its initial bitterness and then sweetness on the palate is the perfect accompaniment to the meal and I often toss it with the pasta.


Cookies packed and ready for the holidays!

Cookies packed and ready for the holidays

Literally dusting off my cooking blog to share my recipe that I made, along with my sister Kate, in a “sizzle spot” demo at the World Food Championship in Celebration Florida last week.  And dust off I do mean it as I have not blogged at all in two years.  Well, that’s about to change.  Time to get back at it so please follow along and look forward to some simple good recipes and goodness only knows what else with the holidays coming.

The recipe is a take off on a Lufkin family tradition at the holidays.  My Mom always makes these cookies and all of my sisters have followed in her footsteps making them for their own friends and families.  I call my recipe “double duty” because if you add additional flour to the recipe, you can roll them out and make ginger bread people and other cut out cookies.  As you can see by the well worn card, this recipe is a true holiday classic.  I like them spicier than my Mom makes them.  If you compare the handwritten card below (which was a direct copy from her recipe) to my recipe below you will see that there is a lot more spice.

front side of beat up recipe card

front side of beat up recipe card

back side of card

back side of card

Try your best to read my recipe through the stained and tattered card but fear not, I’ll spell it all out below.  However, some interesting tip emerge from the grime such as they reason they are called “Double Duty” cookies.  If you add about 1/2 cup of flour to the recipe you can roll out the dough and make cut out cookies such as gingerbread men.  If you need to make a massive amount of cookies, say 350 for a donation to our local elementary school, you need to purchase 2 large tubs of shortening–one tub is simply not enough–and five double batches of this recipe make a generous 350, even with children around who might like to sneak a little bit of the dough.  Also, did you know that a cup of shortening weighs 6 7/8th oz?  I got sick and tired of measuring it out and making a giant mess so I decided to weigh it on my food scale and that’s how I do it now if I have to make more than one batch.  It’s also important to use fresh spices but to sift your dry ingredients in this recipe because the spices tend to clump, especially the nutmeg, in humid weather.  The picture of the cookies above is what they look like from the recipe below.

Double Duty Molasses Ginger Cookies

2 ¼ cup all purpose flour*

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

2 teaspoons ground ginger, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup butter flavored shortening

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sparkling or turbinado sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and spices and set aside.

In a large bowl cream shortening and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses until well blended. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat again until well combined. Divide dough in to two pieces and tightly wrap  in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

When read to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover four baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a shallow dish, such as a pie plate, place turbinado/sparkling sugar.

Remove one wrapped dough from the refrigerator, keeping second dough chilled until ready to use.  Roll dough into 1” balls and roll balls in turbindo or sparkling sugar mixture to coat. Press balls slightly into sugar if necessary.

Bake 12 cookies per sheet for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked and cookies are firm to the touch.

*add 1/2 cup for gingerbread men

My niece "Famous Chicka" posing with the first cut out of 350 cookies last year

My niece “Famous Chicka” posing with the first cut out of 350 cookies last year


Blueberry Bars Photo

Dessert Time!  If you know me personally, you know how much I love coconut so I was thrilled  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon. One of the selecting ingredients/flavors for paring was coconut so I knew right were I was headed.  Although blueberries are amazing to eat by themselves for dessert, their deliciousness is only heightened by coconut!

Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas and if you make these for a holiday gathering or really any time of year, please let me know what you think!  

Polka Dot Coconut Blueberry Bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup salted butter, cut in to cubes
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups toasted unsweetened coconut, divided
2-8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1-13.5 oz can coconut milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups frozen high bush blueberries, tossed with one tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9″ x 13″ inch baking dish with foil and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse flour, confectioners sugar, cubed butter, salt and 1 cup toasted coconut until small crumbs form.  Remove I cup flour/crust mixture from processor and set aside.  Press remaining mixture evenly in to prepared pan and bake 18 – 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned on the edges.  Mix remaining coconut with reserved flour/crust mixture.

Meanwhile, to the processor add cream cheese, coconut milk, cornstarch, egg yolks and extracts and salt and process until smooth.  When crust is ready, pour filling over crust.  Sprinkle blueberries over the filling and sprinkle coconut/crust mixture over the blueberries to cover.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set.  Remove to cooling rack to cool completely in the pan.  When cool, remove bars by lifting foil out of pan and cut to desired portions.  Enjoy!

blueberry coconut bars

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