Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Compost Cookies

I have wanted to try to make "compost cookies", based on the famous Momofuko Milk Bar recipe, for quite some time. After reading several of the recipes online AND all the comments about them, I wasn't sure if I should try. Many people complained about the cookies spreading too much and being really flat - even after chilling the dough. The original recipe called for mixing for 10 minutes after you add the eggs and vanilla (!) which seems excessive. Based on several of the comments left on various blogs, I decided to mix them for the amount of time that I normally do (3 minutes-ish), add additional flour, decrease the baking powder, and eliminate the corn syrup.

These are great! I've made them twice now - once using pretzels, some frosted shredded wheat, some oats and few gingersnaps as the "snack mix" and once using just pretzels and oats. I never have potato chips around but I think they would be good. The cookies themselves are crunchy on the outer edges and chewy in the middle.

Compost Cookies

  • 2 sticks of softened butter (16 Tablespoons)

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten (room temp)

  • 9 oz. flour (about 2 cups, if you don't have a scale)

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt (or 1/2 tsp sea salt)

  • 1 1/2 cups snacks (pretzels, etc)

  • 1 1/2 cups baking ingredients (in this case - chopped dried apricots, semisweet choc chips, cocoa nibs)

  1. Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color (2-3 minutes)

  2. Crush snack pieces (pretzels, etc) by putting it in a plastic bag and hitting it with a rolling pin.

  3. Add eggs and vanilla, a little at a time, until fully incorporated (again, probably 2-3 minutes on medium speed)

  4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk to evenly distribute ingredients.

  5. Add half of dry ingredients to wet and mix on low. Add other half until just combined (there may be a few dry spots but don't overmix).

  6. Add snacks/pretzels and choc chips/whatever and finish mixing by hand (I use a wooden spoon or a stiff plastic spatula). If you use the mixer, the dough can get overmixed and develop too much gluten.

  7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

  8. Remove dough and place golf ball sized scoops onto parchment-lined baking sheets. I used and ice cream scoop. You can make them smaller, but these make nice bakery-size cookies. Put back in fridge and start preheating oven to 375F.

  9. After 20 minutes, remove cookie sheets from fridge and place in preheated oven on middle rack.

  10. Check cookies after about 12 minutes. When cookies are brown around the edges with just the middle part looking a little raw then they are done. If you cook them until they are completely browned then they will be overdone and too crunchy! My cookies took about 14 minutes but your oven will vary.

  11. Allow cookies to cool on tray for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to finish cooling.

  12. Store airtight 3-5 days.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jack-O'-Lanterns - A Few Days Later

Here are our jack-o'-lanterns a couple days after Halloween (my sister's above and mine below). Since they were scary faces to begin with, I think they've improved with age! I thought about leaving them out there to become really gnarly but I guess it's time to move on. I'm sad that Halloween is over for another year but on to Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lemon Bars (from Martha)

This was my first time making lemon bars! It's actually quite easy. The crust is a shortbread-type crust that you really can't screw up. The lemony part is just a mix-and-pour type deal. I followed the recipe on Martha's site exactly except I used regular butter for the crust instead of brown butter and I used vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar. It is definitely worth the trouble to squeeze your own lemons rather than using a bottled lemon juice. The bottled kind always has a weird metallic quality to it. The lemon is the star here!


Dryer-Vent Pumpkins!

I came across this idea on pinterest, of course! We just happen to have left over dryer venting from last year's Halloween robot display.

One great thing about these - you can use them for decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Here is the link to the tutorial:

She uses hot glue to glue the ends of the vent together. I used silver duct tape. Whatever works! I also used stick wrapped in black duct tape for my stem (yes, we tend to have a lot of duct tape around the house) I also didn't paint mine but it would be cool to do a bunch in different colors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Spice Quick Bread

I know it sounds weird, but here's the deal. We get lots of potatoes with our CSA farm share. We only eat potatoes in small amounts (usually mixed in with sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and other roasted veggies) so I've been struggling to keep up with the supply. I searched the web for potato-based cakes and found very little (although there is a recipe for candy made from potatoes...intriguing). However, there are LOTS of sweet potato bread recipes out there. So, I figured regular potatoes should work, right?

The bread came out very moist and plenty sweet (I thought about increasing the amount of sugar since the original uses SWEET potatoes, but it wasn't necessary). You don't taste the potatoes, just the cinnamon and nutmeg with a hint of citrus. Feel free to add nuts or dried fruit; I didn't have any handy but maybe next time. The turbinado sugar sprinkled on top before baking gives the bread a great crunchy top.

Here is the original recipe that I adapted:


  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1/2 tsp orange zest

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup cooked and mashed potatoes

  • turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray loaf pan with baking spray or grease with butter.

  2. Mix first six ingredients (dry) in a large mixing bowl, whisk to make sure thoroughly combined.

  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients, except potatoes and turbinado sugar, in another bowl. As always, make sure eggs and milk are room temp.

  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until ALMOST all combined. There may be a few pockets of dry stuff - that's okay at this point.

  5. Add mashed potatoes and stir until just combined (lumps are okay but no pockets of dry stuff).

  6. Pour batter into loaf pan and sprinkle turbinado sugar on top (I use a pretty liberal dose)

  7. Bake until tester/toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean (no crumbs or smears) - about an hour.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Last Hurrah

It has been in the 70's and 80's around here, which is highly unusual for this time of year. There are still some blooms hanging on around the neighborhood, though it has been unusually dry, as well, so some are a little ragged. The bees and other pollinators are working frantically to gather as much as they can!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Carrot Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


Happy October!

Yay, October has arrived! This is my favorite time of year - leaves are changing, cheery orange pumpkins are everywhere, it's hoodie weather (well, not here - it's been in the 80's! in Minnesota!), and, at the very end of the month, is the frosting on October's cake - Halloween!

Anywho, I love pumpkin anything and have been pondering these cupcakes for a while. We got a bunch of carrots in our CSA box last week, too, so it seemed like this might be a good way to use some up!

I used the recipe from here, and modified it slightly:

I also made cupcakes instead of cake, so the baking time is much quicker! It makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon *note* you can use pumpkin pie spice, as the recipe suggests. I just never have any around
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 light brown sugar
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium carrots, grated (about 1 cup) *note* the original recipe says "coarsely grated" but I would grate them pretty fine unless you want pumpkin cupcakes with just the occasional big chunk of carrot


1. Preheat oven to 350 (I preheated mine to 325 because it is always way hotter than it is supposed to be. You know your oven best, so if you have a decent oven and not a crappy rental kitchen oven then go for 350).
2. Make sure eggs and milk are at room temp. This makes a big difference in the end product. You can place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes and that should do the trick. For the milk, I used dehydrated powdered milk so just added warm (not hot!) water to it. For regular milk, you can microwave it a little bit to get it to lukewarm.
3. Place all dry ingredients (listed at the beginning, exclude the sugar) in a large mixing bowl and mix together with a whisk until well-combined.
4. In another mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. When well-combined, pour wet into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. That means that there aren't any pockets of dry ingredients (make sure to stir up the bottom) but it will still be a little lumpy. Don't overmix!
5. Fill cupcake liners a little more than half full and pop 'em in the oven. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (no goo and no crumbs).
6. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Recipe
2 blocks of cream cheese (8 oz each) (I used Neufchatel because it's lower in fat but whatevs)
1 stick of butter
powdered sugar (start with a cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

1. Soften butter and cream cheese in the microwave. Be careful not melt them, though!
2. Use paddle to mix in stand mixer or mix on low with hand mixer. This is not a "fluffy" frosting so you don't want to incorporate too much air.
3. Once butter/cream cheese mixture is lump-free, start adding the powdered sugar. Mix on low or you will have a cloud of sugar in your kitchen! Keep adding sugar until you reach a good balance of consistency/sweetness. The sugar helps make the frosting less gooey but it also (obviously) adds sweetness so you don't want to lose the tanginess of your cream cheese.
4. Add cinnamon and vanilla to taste and mix until incorporated.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sugar Sugar

After a very busy summer, I'm trying to get caught up on my posting. I visited Sugar Sugar, a candy store in south Minneapolis devoted to old-fashioned, gourmet, and hard to find candy. You must think I spent the whole summer going to candy stores (I wish) but my visit to Sugar Sugar was way back in July. The shop itself is super cute and the proprietor, Joni Wheeler, is both friendly and knowledgeable.

I tried to limit myself to just a few treats but it was difficult! I ended up focusing on chocolate, which is funny because it was (no joke) 100 degrees the day I visited. Holy Smokes! No problem, though, as Joni thoughtfully packed my chocolates with some little ice packs to keep them cool on the ride home.

I ended up with two Komforte brand chocolate bars (Ramen Noodle and Tortilla Lime), a bag of sour gummy worms, a Bing Cherry treat, a bag of chocolate-covered caramel bites, and a bag of chocolate-covered ginger.

Of the two chocolate bars, I was expecting to really like the Ramen Noodle and wasn't sure about the Tortilla Lime. As it turned out, the Ramen Noodle was nothing special, really - the chocolate was delicious but the noodle part really added very little but crunch. The Tortilla Lime, though....mmm-mmm, the flavors were all perfectly balanced.

The gummy worms were another surprise. I wasn't even thinking of getting any until Joni offered me a sample. Delicious! Perfect gummy consistency (not hard on the outside like some gummies) and, again, perfect balance of sweet and sour. I'm pretty sure I ate half the bag before I even got home.

The chocolate-covered caramels and ginger were both delicious - obviously made with high-quality ingredients. The cherry candy was a little strange - a chocolate covered cherry with nougat and peanuts. Not really my thing but still pretty good.

If you're looking for something quirky, something nostalgic, candy from other countries, or candy for a gift, I'd recommend Sugar-Sugar, for sure.
Address: 3803 Grand Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55409

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jim's Apple Farm (a.k.a. Minnesota's Largest Candy Store)

Road Trip Time! I got an unexpected 3-day weekend over Labor Day weekend (typically, I never have two weekend days off - that's the food biz, for ya) and may or may not have whined about how, "I never get to go anywhere!" My sister agreed we should get out of town for a day and let me pick our route and destinations.

First on my list of day trips: The Largest Candy Store in Minnesota.

So, True Fact - the largest candy store in Minnesota is called Jim's Apple Farm. Ha! That's probably to trick your parents into taking you there. The kids are all like, "Mom, can we go to this place, Jim's Apple Farm?" and the moms are like, "Sure, I love apples and they are SO healthy." It isn't even really a lie because there are bags of several different kinds of apples right as you walk in the entrance!

Okay, first thing - breeze by those stupid apples so you can get to the good stuff! Just kidding (sort of) but apples are NOT why we are here, right?

Jim's also sells pies that are made on the premises. I didn't try any but they look delicious! I also love the sign below....

Also available are many, many different kinds of soda (or pop, if you are from Minnesota). Many are small and/or regional brands. I got a sarsparilla and a birch beer from a company called Sioux Falls but there ARE tons of different kinds, especially root beer! If I had more money, I would have gotten one of each of the root beers and had a Root beer Tasting party. Next time!

Okay! Now let's check out the candy, right?

Old fashioned candy sticks!

... a lollipop Indian!

Ginger chews in all different flavors!

A shelf of circus cookies!

Ribbon Candy!

They have 56 kinds of licorice. I kinda hate licorice. Sorry, licorice-lovers. You'll have to check it out yourselves. But I did admire the cool licorice pipes below...

They don't just have old-fashioned candy, though. They have tons of gross-out novelty candy to please the kids!

It's gross (shaped like a toilet - REALLY?) and it's sour. Kids will love it! Hopefully it comes in blue flavor and then you have the trifecta!

Meatball bubble gum, anyone?

"Mints" of all flavors - including garlic and corn dogs. Uh.... yum?

I need this gum!


There are tons of other things that I didn't show. Of course there is a whole chocolate section with lots of gourmet flavors. I didn't feature it because you can get most of the brands here in the cities at food co-ops and high end grocery stores. It's convenient to have it all in one place, though!

Jim's also sells tons of puzzles for people who apparently have way more patience that I do (and no cats who just stubbornly sit on the pile of pieces while you're trying to puzzle!)

In addition, there are jams and jellies, gourmet soup and dip mixes, sauces of all kinds, beef jerky, cheese curds, and a variety of other delights.

Jim's Apple Farm is located right off a highway and, as you can see, is a bright yellow barn with a bright yellow fence. You can't miss it! Seriously- if you miss it then you have no business driving and please give me a call when you're going to be out on the road so I can stay home.

Jim's Apple Farm is located between Jordan and Belle Plaine off Highway 169. Here is the actual address:

17365 Johnson Memorial Dr

Jordan, MN 55352

(952) 492-6380