Cookie Time – Holiday Special

Have you finished – or even started – your holiday baking? If not, here are a few ideas!

Start with a twist on tradition! You’ll love the newest addition to my blog – Macadamia Snow Balls. Next, if you find sugar cookies a bit bland, then you must try my Citrus & Spice Sugar Cookies. For chocolaty delicious, how about baking up a batch of my Peppermint Bark Cookies? Want a more grownup cookie? My Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti are just the thing.

Shortbread is great for the holidays, so how about my Ginger Shortbread or Macadamia Nut Shortbread. For buttery deliciousness, you can’t beat my Snowy Pecan Balls.

Speaking of shortbread, you might like to add a few savory bites for cocktail hour.
Gorgonzola & Walnut Shortbread with Savory Fig Jam or Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam.

If you are feeling rushed (and who isn’t), Sweet Dream Bars are quick and easy. Chocolate lovers can’t miss with my Triple Threat BrowniesEspresso Brownies or Cheesecake Brownies.

Then there are lovely homemade chocolates and candies! One of  my favorites is Chocolate Almond Buttery Brittle. It is delicious but be careful, it is positively addictive. No less delicious, are my Chocolate Dipped Orange Caramels. For a luxurious treat, try my Chocolate Truffles. Christmas candies are a wonderful addition to your holiday buffet table and make great gifts.

If you are thinking of something sweet as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer, don’t forget my Death by Chocolate Sauce, luscious Maple Sauce or Caramel Sauce. Just be sure to make enough to keep a jar for yourself!

Enjoy everything the holiday season has to offer and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What sweet treats will you be making during the holidays? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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The Holiday Season Bucket List & Macadamia Snow Balls


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The run up to Christmas has begun.
There are all sorts of festive activities to get you in the spirit. From a sledding party to a midnight church service there’s lots to keep you busy. So busy that you might want to make a list and check it twice. You don’t want to let the everyday get in the way of holiday magic. So, here’s to getting in the spirit and filling December with lots of traditional holiday fun.

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Need a little help to get started? Here are a couple of ideas:

Christmas cookies. Whether you track down Nana’s recipe cards or try something fancy and new, Christmas and cookies just go together. Should you decide to take it over the top, a palatial gingerbread house is always a possibility.

Deck the halls.
With several inches of snow on the ground and crutches under my arms, my house will not be ablaze in twinkle lights. Nor will I be climbing any ladders. However, I will definitely scatter some of my favorite decorations around the house. What about you?

Carol sing. If you are like me, you tend to hum Christmas carols throughout December. Fellow hummers will want to be on the lookout for opportunities to sing out loud and strong. In the unlikely occurrence that you can’t find a sing-along, invite friends in for a glass of wine and a song or two.

Tree lighting. A tree lighting is an excellent excuse for us country folk to head down to the big city. The sparkling decorations will make you feel like a kid again. Before returning home, be sure to enjoy a great meal in a fabulous restaurant.

Lights tour. If you can’t get to the city, a neighbor lights tour is a good alternative. A favorite childhood event, my family always spent an evening searching for the biggest and best displays. I’m sure we always found them.

Christmas craft. There is nothing like hot glue and pine cones to get you in the holiday spirit. For even more fun, invite the kids. A knitting lesson with Grandma or building a birdhouse with Dad will create lasting memories.

Read a holiday classic. A favorite Christmas story never gets old. Mine chronicles the life and adventures of Saint Nicolas. For years, it was our December bedtime story. Reading it draws me close to my mother and her indominable holiday spirit.

See a live holiday performance. Try a classic – like the Nutcracker. From big city ballet companies to your neighborhood dance studio, there are lots of opportunities to see Clara dance with her prince. Ballet not your thing? A holiday concert or Christmas Revels might be just the ticket.

Visit Santa. For shy kids, boisterous kids and everyone in between, a visit with Santa is a must. Even if you don’t have a child in tow, it’s a good time to visit with friends and neighbors. Seeing Santa will make you smile. And besides, there will probably be cookies and maybe even a sing-along.

Do good works. The end of the year is when many of us write checks to our favorite worthy causes. It’s also a good time to show your thanks for a wonderful life by helping others less fortunate. Drive a friend to the doctor, shovel a neighbor’s walk or share that batch of cookies you baked.

Have a wonderful holiday season and bon appétit!

Macadamia Snow Balls
Bake up a batch of these buttery cookies this holiday season. You’ll be glad you did. Enjoy! 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

4 ounces macadamia nuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
White Chocolate Ganache
About 1 cup coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Put the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the flour, baking powder and spices and pulse to combine.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on low speed until smooth. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together. Cover the bowl and chill until the dough is firm, about 2 hours.

Using a small cookie scoop or 2 teaspoons, make dollops of batter. Use your hands to roll the dollops into balls. Place the balls onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake at 325 degrees until pale golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.

While the cookies cool, make the White Chocolate Ganache. Spread warm ganache  on top of each cookie and then dip in the coconut. Let the ganache set before serving or storing.

To store: layer cookies between sheets of wax or parchment paper in an airtight container. The cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 1 week. If making ahead, freeze before frosting.

White Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces white chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons sifted confectioner’s sugar

Put the chocolate, butter and cream in a heavy saucepan over low heat. When the chocolate and butter are about 1/3 melted, remove from the heat, let sit for a minute or two and whisk until melted and smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and whisk again until smooth.

Let cool for a few minutes before frosting the cookies.

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One Year Ago – Ginger-Orange Cheesecake
Two Years Ago – Chocolate Walnut Tart
Three Years Ago – Citrus & Spice Sugar Cookies
Four Years Ago – Peppermint Bark Cookies
Five Years Ago – Mixed Reds & Greens Holiday Salad
Six Years Ago – Snowy Pecan Balls
Seven Years Ago – Chocolate Truffles
Eight Years Ago – Smoked Salmon Mousse
Nine Years Ago – Roasted Beans
Ten Years Ago – Winter Soup with Pasta, Beans & Greens

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite Christmas cookie recipe? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

A Lot to Like about Halloween & Halloween Candy Brownies

Hang onto your hats (and your turkey legs), it looks like Halloween is poised to become the second most popular holiday in the country. Well, maybe not this year or next, but it’s trending in that direction. For as long as I can remember the triumphant trinity of holidays has been Christmas in the number one spot, followed by Thanksgiving and then Halloween. According to a Harris poll, Halloween is now more popular than Thanksgiving with millennials. That’s anyone between eighteen and thirty-five years old. Already thirty percent of the population, their ranks are growing.

Why do millennials love Halloween? Why not? Halloween has a lot going for it. You get to decorate. From cheery autumnal pumpkins and gourdes to ghosts, ghouls and gravestones, there are loads of options. You dress up in some fantastic outfit. What could be better than showing the world your alter ego, your true self or if-only self? There’s candy.

On the other hand, Thanksgiving has family, food and football. When it comes to family, Thanksgiving is famous for its meltdowns. A few weeks after the election, there is more than enough fodder for conflict. Even if you all agree, someone or everyone will begin to rant and rave. Right, left, liberal or conservative, it doesn’t matter. There’s discontent on all sides. Throw in a few alternative lifestyles, a dash of sibling rivalry and one too many glasses of wine and you have an explosion ready to happen. But the food is good and the football is never ending.

But back to Halloween, for little kids and big ones, there is a lot to like about this spooktacular night:

First my favorite part, you can let your imagination go wild. From scary to sexy to silly (or some combination) you get to be someone else for an evening. Try on a new identity; someone braver and wiser. Who knows? You might decide to keep it on for a week or so – maybe even longer. Literally or figuratively, is there anything more empowering than tights and a cape?

It’s all in good fun. As the days grow shorter and colder, Halloween gets us out and about. It’s a celebration. Whether you are a little kid dashing from one house to another or a big kid dancing the night away, there is nothing too terribly serious about Halloween.

There’s something for everyone. If you don’t feel like trick or treating or dancing, you can travel back through history and learn about the origins Halloween. The ins and outs of ghosts and goblins, witches and their familiars make for interesting reading and study.

The community comes together. Clusters of kids and their parents roam the neighborhood. Parks and parking lots are filled with cars for trunk or treat. Friends come together for festive cheer. History buffs gather at the library for a lecture on the Salem witch trials or some such thing. Superficial divisions melt like a jack-o’-lantern candle and cheery neighborliness rules. By the way, beneath our masks, we’re all human – suggesting that any and all divisions are superficial.

There is a spirit of generosity. Everyone turns on their porch light and stands at the ready with peanut butter cups and crunch bars. Well, not everyone. In quiet rural neighborhoods like mine, we see nary a ghost or superhero. However, we would be ever so happy to welcome you with a treat if you happen by.

Have a wonderful Halloween and bon appétit!

Halloween Candy Brownies
Start with your favorite brownie recipe and add leftover Halloween candy for a spooktacular treat. Enjoy!
Make 24 squares

About 12 ounces leftover Halloween candy – try M&Ms, peanut butter cups, Milky Way, Snickers, Heath Bars and/or Three Musketeers
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Cut the candy bars into small pieces – about 1/2-inch square.

Put the butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in a heavy saucepan and heat on very low until the chocolate is about 2/3 melted. Remove from the heat and stir to combine until melted and smooth. Add the sugar and instant coffee and stir to combine.

Put the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork. Beating constantly, a little at a time, add about a cup of warm chocolate to the eggs. Add the remaining chocolate and the vanilla to the chocolate-egg mixture and stir to combine.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the candies evenly over the top and gently push into the batter.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and cut into squares.

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One Year Ago – Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Two Years Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato & White Bean Hummus
Three Years Ago – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Four Years Ago – Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Five Years Ago Ago – Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Six Years Ago – Chicken in Every Pot
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Carrots & Pearl Onions
Eight Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Nine Years Ago – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions
Ten Years Ago – Mexican Chicken Soup

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite Halloween candy? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Weekend Special – Coffee? Tea? Please Join Me

At a certain point, no matter how young or energetic, we all need to slow down. I think I’m rapidly approaching that point. The roller coaster of cold, thaw, rain, snow, more cold, more rain and another thaw has not helped. It’s time for a lazy morning or afternoon or both.

Call up a pal and invite him or her over for coffee or tea. Keep it simple. It’s all about the company. Light a fire, set out a basket of muffins or a plate of cookies and enjoy a good long chat. While I find baking relaxing, particularly the simple stuff like homey muffins and cookies, sometime you just want to curl up in a big armchair. So, a little hint here – a few times a year, I bake a double batch and freeze them.

Here are some of my favorite muffins –

Applesauce Muffins

Zucchini Muffins

Very Ginger Gingerbread Muffins

And some cozy cookies –

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies

Root ’n’ Tooty Good ’n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies

So brew  a pot of your favorite coffee or tea, sit back and enjoy. For a special treat, you might like to try my Spiced Chai.

Relax and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How will you celebrate the New Year? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Halloween on Pleasant Lake & Apple Oatmeal Cookies

What’s Halloween like in rural New Hampshire? Well except for the coyotes, pretty quiet. Yes, I know. There’s plenty going on up on Main Street. But nothing, zip, nada in my neighborhood. Down by Pleasant Lake, we’re a mix of year-round and summer people. By mid-October, most of the leaves have faded, it’s dark before six and more than half of houses are empty. We are not a hub of Halloween festivities, far from it.

It was summer and the neighborhood very busy when I moved into my house several years ago. Up until the Columbus Day, there was still a fair amount of weekend activity. That’s when the summer people closed up their cottages. About the same time, the snowbirds disappeared. That said, down at my end of the road, there were a few kids. Not many mind you but enough to know they were there. From time to time, I’d see them with their heavy backpacks on their way to or from the bus.

Knowing there were kids in the neighborhood, I dutifully bought a bag of fun-sized Milky Way®. About that name, what’s up with that? No not Milky Way, I get that. The candy bar was named after a milkshake. The milkshake was named after the galaxy. Why? Well, the story starts to get murky so that’s about all I can tell you.

No, the part I don’t get is why the teeny tiniest candy bars are called fun size. Where’s the fun in these one-bite wonders? Moreover, and please correct me if I’m wrong, those fun size bars seem to be shrinking every year. Who are the candy manufacturers trying to kid?

The fun moniker would be more appropriate for one of those supersized bars. I ask you, what’s more fun – a teeny tiny drop of chocolate or a big honkin’ bar? Come to think of it, a more fitting label might be fun-while-it-lasted. Eating one of those giant candies in one sitting is an invitation to a tummy-ache. But hey, you’re only a kid once.

All right, enough digressing, let’s get back to my Halloween preparations. Although I dutifully stocked up on miniature Milky Way® bars, I forgot to stop at the bank. So I went through every pocket and purse for loose change for Unicef. I put on my orange t-shirt, the one with the jack-o-lantern. I tasted a couple of the mini-chocolates. (Only a few, I needed to make sure they were safe for the children.) And I waited. Then, I waited some more. And some more. When it started raining, I figured that was that.

About eight-thirty, maybe nine o’clock, I was ready to turn off the outside lights and change out of my silly t-shirt. That’s when a car drove in the driveway. What’s with that, I thought. The parents on Jackson Road never chauffeured their kids around on Halloween. Rain, sleet or snow, we walked from house to house. However, I didn’t judge. Instead, I picked up my bowls of candy and coins and headed to the door.

Hands in his pockets, a hunched over middle schooler shuffled through the rain. He didn’t shout trick or treat and I was none too sure of his costume. However, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was going for subtlety – Clark Kent on casual Friday. Beyond the headlights, I could see the driver’s silhouette and maybe another person. On second thought, maybe it was a simple ploy by his nitwit older brothers to collect candy. You know – send in the kid. After helping himself to a handful of fun, the boy shuffled back to the car. He was my first, last and only trick or treater.

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe they were lost or Russian spies trying to figure out this bizarre American custom. I’ll never know. Bon appétit!

Apple Cookies
Loaded with fruit, nuts and oatmeal, if you like you can pretend these cookies are good for you. Enjoy!
Makes about 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup instant oatmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ginger
1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and allspice
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 apples, about 1 cup finely chopped or coarsely grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Set 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicon liners or parchment paper.

Put the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Turn the mixer down to low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Fold in the apple, raisins, nuts and chocolate chips

Drop tablespoons of dough about 3 inches apart (a mini ice-cream scoop works great) onto the prepared baking sheets. If you like, you can flatten the cookies slightly with moistened fingers. Switching racks and turning the pans midway through baking, bake the cookies until they are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let the cookies set for a minute and then transfer to a rack to cool.

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One Year Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato & White Bean Hummus
Two Years Ago – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Three Years Ago – Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Four Years Ago Ago – Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Five Years Ago – Chicken in Every Pot
Six Years Ago – Roasted Carrots & Pearl Onions
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Eight Years Ago – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions
Nine Years Ago – Mexican Chicken Soup

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How many trick or treaters will be at your house on Halloween? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What’s your Brand? & Chocolate-Hazelnut Bars

fabAlmost fifty years ago, Joe McGinnis wrote a book on the marketing and selling of Richard Nixon. At the time, the whole idea of branding a politician like a tube of toothpaste or a fast-food burger was revolutionary. It seemed more than a little strange. After all, we went to the polls to elect a president, not buy a can of soup.

For better or worse, we’ve come a long way. Throughout 2016, the pundits and newscasters talked a lot about the candidates’ brands. It didn’t shock or even surprise us. In fact, these branding discussions made sense. While a politician’s brand may be a simplistic measure, it gave us instant insight into his or her stance on a number of issues. Love him or hate him or something in between, our new president presented a brand that combined business success with brash, tell-it-like-it-is populism. Not everyone believed him but about sixty-three million voters bought into his brand.

But enough about politics; what about you? What’s your brand? And if you don’t know, how do you figure it out. (And, if you don’t like what you got; can you change it?)

Your personal brand combines what you do with how you do it. You’re not just a grandmother (among other things); you’re a fun loving and kind Nanna. You’re not just a plumber; you’re a trusted advisor when it comes to my pipes. Plus, you’re wicked cool and play a mean bass.

So, the first part is probably pretty easy. You know if you are a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. You’re probably a bunch of other things as well, Mom or Dad, golfer, gourmet cook, poet, painter or volunteer. Next, and more difficult, is to figure out the how. Are you thoroughly dependable, happy-go-lucky, creative or analytical?

This last part, the dependable or creative part; it stays with you at work and play. It doesn’t matter if you are working with colleagues and customers or hanging out with friends and family, your brand will shine through. Of course, you will tone it down or amp it up based on the circumstances but you is what you is. If you’re a nasty son-of-a-gun at the office, you’re probably just as nasty on the golf course.

So now you may be wondering, “Is this brand thing set in stone?” Is it possible that you could be stuck – forever – playing the nasty son-of-a-gun, class clown or prim miss. I’m optimistic. I think anyone can change. Just so long as you realize, when it comes to your personal brand, you have to change from the inside out. If you want to become a tough guy; you have to earn it. As I understand it, the tough guy brand requires, among other things, wearing shorts in the middle of winter, never being wrong and lifting weights.

A few weeks ago, I suggested kindness might be a good 2017 resolution. Maybe you’re willing to go so far as to adopt a new kinder brand. You need to beware, the kindness brand requires more than a few nice words. You actually have to become a nice person. Otherwise, people will see right through you. But don’t worry it’s not that difficult. After all, you don’t need to wear shorts in a blizzard or spend hours at the gym. Be positive, smile and, when in doubt, assume the best about people.

That should get you started. Bon appétit!

Chocolate-Hazelnut Bars
Every baker needs a few brownies and bars. Perhaps you’ll add this one to your repertoire. Enjoy!
Makes 24 bars

Shortbread Base
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, cut in small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until small lumps form. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and firmly press into the bottom of the pan.

Bake the shortbread in the middle of the oven until golden, 15-20 minutes.

While shortbread is baking, prepare the topping.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Topping
1 egg
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1 cup (6 ounces) roughly chopped hazelnuts
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Put the egg, bourbon, vanilla and cream in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar, honey and salt and whisk again until smooth. Stir in the hazelnuts.

Pour the nut mixture over the hot shortbread. Return the pan to the oven and bake until set, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle chopped chocolate evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Spread the melted chocolate over the top. Cool in the pan and cut into bars.

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One Year Ago – Whole Grain Pilaf
Two Years Ago – Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Cheese Tartlets with Sausage & Leeks)
Three Years Ago – Chicken, Sausage & Bean Ragù
Four Years Ago – Spicy Tequila Chicken Wings
Five Years Ago – Caribbean Black Beans
Six Years Ago – Fettuccine with Escarole, Radicchio & Mushrooms
Seven Years Ago – Cassoulet
Eight Years Ago – Caribbean Fish Stew

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What’s your brand? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

New Ride & Mini Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

I’m celebrating spring with a sweet, new ride. That said, since I brought my little car home, the weather has not been particularly spring-like. After an unseasonably warm winter, we’ve been plagued with repeated doses of what weather.com calls a wintery mix. Anyway, a few gray skies and icy drizzle can’t dampen my exuberance for my shiny new Mini Cooper. After all, this boxy two-door in British Racing Green (of course) is all about fun. With its moon roof for summer and heated seats for winter, it is nothing short of perfection.

Although it is not my first small car, it’s my first cool little car. I have always admired cool little cars. In fact, coveted might not be too strong a word. When I was a tween and teen, about half the college kids drove Volkswagen Beetles. I just knew that would-could-should be the car for me. The other half drove their grandmother’s old Chevy Novas.

Since I went to college about 100 miles north of the middle of nowhere, my dad agreed I needed a car to get back and forth. Nana Nye drove a Chevy Nova but, thankfully, was in perfectly good health. I suggested that I take Dad’s weekend car, a twenty-something year old Land Rover. In those days, men coming up from the suburbs to New Hampshire bought old Land Rovers or Jeeps with canvas tops. Now they buy pickup trucks. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that the Land Rover would have been a man magnet and made me ever so popular with the rock climbers and skiers at school. Unfortunately, it couldn’t go much faster than thirty-five and spent more time in Kidder’s garage than it did on the road.

In the interest of safety or to avoid a rescue mission on the frozen tundra (I’m not sure which), Dad found an almost new, bright yellow Ford Pinto station wagon. The Pinto cost $1,500. Thanks to my summer waitressing job, that was every penny that I owned. Dad and I struck a deal. First, since the Land Rover had made one too many trips to Mr. Kidder’s, Dad agreed to sell it. The money would go towards the Pinto. It took all of ten minutes to find a buyer, probably another suburbanite. Dad had paid $500 for the blue beast and got the same back. I turned over $500 from my hard-earned tips and Dad chipped in the rest. It wasn’t a Beatle but it was bright yellow and not a Chevy Nova.

A few years later, I had my first gander at the Mini. Prince Charles had just announced that Lady Diana Spencer was not the love of his life but an appropriate choice for a wife. The press was all over her, trailing her comings and goings. Although it could be false, I have a distinct memory of the long legged, soon-to-be princess climbing in and out of a dark blue Mini. Move over VW Bug, I’d found a new car to covet.

By that time, the Pinto had gained fame for its deadly fuel system and was long gone. It was replaced by Mom’s old Firebird. Although decidedly more flashy, the Firebird had definitely seen better days. It was a simple question of sooner or later. When exhaust started streaming into the car through the air conditioning vents, sooner or later became NOW.

So, you wonder, did I buy a Mini? I might have but they weren’t available in the US. It had something to do with emission standards or some pesky nonsense that had nothing to do with being cool. Instead, I bought a boxy little Honda. It was the antithesis of flashy and never claimed to be cool. Best described as trustworthy, the Honda could haul a passenger or three plus skis, bikes and bags from here to there and back again.

Well enough practicality, finally, all these years and four Hondas later, I have my Mini.

Happy trails and bon appétit!

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Whether you have a new car this spring or not, with warmer weather and sunshine (let’s hope!), it’s time to make whoopie! Enjoy!
Makes 20-30 whoopie pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Filling (recipe follows)

Arrange the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Put the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg, sour cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well combined.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Using a 2-teaspoon or 1-tablespoon scoop or spoon, drop dollops of batter onto each baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cakes. Bake the cakes for about 6 minutes or until springy to touch. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely. Repeat using the remaining batter.

Using a spoon or pastry bag, drop a generous dollop of Peanut Butter Filling on half of the cakes and top with the remaining cakes.

Peanut Butter Filling
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter
About 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Put the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar. Increase the mixer speed and beat until smooth.

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One Year Ago – Tiramisu
Two Years Ago – Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce
Three Years Ago – Confetti Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Four Years Ago – Magret de Canard Provencal
Five Years Ago – Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool Parfaits
Six Years Ago – Grilled Lamb & Lemon Roasted Potatoes
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Olives

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What your good news this spring? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016