Monday, December 21, 2015

Easy Lemon Shortbread (Simple Holiday Cookies)

Are you busy during the holidays? Silly question; of course you are! I am as well. If you’re like me you are expecting company for Christmas. If your life is at the moment eerily similar to mine, you’re also a brand new first time mom and the time crunch is--oh my word--really *real*, people! What to do if you like sweets, especially the homemade kind and want to have something baking when family arrives? You could try this easy recipe for divine homemade shortbread! It comes together with only a few ingredients and leaves the house smelling wonderful. It makes a lot of cookies, should you not be able to help yourself from grabbing just one more. As an added bonus, this is for me a seasonal recipe (December is citrus season in Northern California).

Easy Lemon Shortbread

Makes 2 dozen bars

Adapted from a recipe on

2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 cup sugar + approx 1/2 Tablespoon as topping
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Cream together butter, sugar and lemon extract. Fold in lemon zest
2. Preheat oven to 300. Carefully fold in flour.
3. Gently press mixture into a 9 x 13” baking pan. Make sure to press the entire surface down evenly.
4. Prick all over with a fork and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the tops just begins to get golden.
5. Let stand for about 5 minutes to cool, then cut into bars. Do not lift the bars out of the baking dish until they have cooled completely.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ten Minute Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Ah, the decadence of the holidays. I adore holiday treats as much as the next sweets lover, but they tend to be so decadent (hello bourbon pumpkin cheesecake!) that I can’t rationalize eating them all the time. What’s a girl to do when she’s craving sweets in between all this holiday indulgence. Well, make herself some easy, er “healthy” cookies. Can cookies be called healthy? Well, of the two main ingredients, one is oatmeal--full of fiber and great with sweetener--and the other adds protein (peanut butter). I’m going to claim they’re healthy. At least healthier than your average holiday sweet. Another thing to love about these cookies is that they come together quickly, with few ingredients, and bake up even more quickly. I made mine tiny (one Tablespoon scoop) and baked up about 32 cookies. They turned out rather crunchy after they cooled. If you’d like a soften cookie I suggest making them a bit larger and gently pressing them down. Making them larger will yield between 18 and 24 cookies from this batter. If you don’t have a jumbo egg on hand add a Tablespoon of neutral oil to achieve the proper moisture. You may notice they crumble if you eat them straight out of the oven. To avoid having them dissolve into crumbles allow them to cool a bit before handling. If you can resist the smell of baked peanut butter, that is.

Ten Minute Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from a recipe from

Makes 18 - 32 (depending on size)

1 1/4 cups quick oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 jumbo egg
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl combine oats, raisins and baking soda.
2. In a larger mixing bowl mix sugar and peanut butter.
3. Add in dry ingredients, egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
4. Drop onto parchment lined cookie sheet in small balls. Gently flatten balls with a spatula.
5. Bake for 7 - 10 minutes, or until you can smell the peanut butter in the kitchen.
6. Allow to cool before handling and enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Grandma's Best Meatloaf

A phrase I hear over and over again in conjunction with meatloaf is “my grandma makes the best meatloaf!” Well, so does mine! Not to encroach on your grandma's meatloaf, mine makes hers with ground turkey and puts an Italian spin on it with dried Italian spices and grated parmesan cheese. The resulting meatloaf is very tender and so flavorful that it doesn't need gravy, or a ketchup glaze. Zesty herbs, nutty cheese and acidic tomato compliment the richness of fatty turkey and give the meatloaf a really great flavor.

What makes a good meatloaf? It has to be well seasoned, moist and not too dense. What makes a great meatloaf? A flavorful, consistent personality and a tenderness equal to the best authentic meatball you've had. This is a great meatloaf for all those reasons and more! Try it and you'll be hooked. Grandma promises. 

Grandma's Turkey Meatloaf

Makes one large loaf

2 lbs ground dark meat turkey*
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs**
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Gently mix all ingredients together. Do not over mix or handle more than necessary, as this can make ground meat tough.
3. Pat into a large greased loaf pan. Bake in oven for 50 minutes.

Serve alongside some mashed potatoes or a salad.

*if you can't find dark meat, try to get the ground turkey with the highest fat content

**I had leftover sourdough baguette, so I made my own breadcrumbs using that. I highly recommend making your own fresh breadcrumbs.