Caramel Apple Layer Cake

Brown sugar buttermilk layer cake smothered in apples cooked in brown sugar syrup and finished with a drizzle of the easiest vanilla bean caramel sauce.

Brown sugar buttermilk layer cake smothered in apples cooked in brown sugar syrup and finished with a drizzle of the easiest vanilla bean caramel sauce. 

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While I was off celebrating a family wedding this weekend and pretending not to have internet (don’t lie – we all have those days), something pretty big happened around here: This little blog turned 3 years old!

Yep, that’s right. Stephie Cooks – originally Eat Your Heart Out – is a toddler! Which is only fitting, considering that on Sunday our 19-month-old niece and I both spilled food down ourselves at lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon running around with stains on our shirts. Forever young?

Now is the point in this post where I thank all you for being loyal readers. It probably sounds cliche and dorky when you read that on sites celebrating their blogiversaries, but believe me – we mean every word of it. Think about it – without our lovely readers, us bloggers would just be babbling into the void. Which, while interesting, would also make us a little crazy. Thank you for justifying my babbling and making me less of a crazy person.

Thank you for commenting, liking, sharing, cooking, baking, and – of course – eating! Really, you’re the reason I’m here and still typing away 3 years later. The differences between my original Cream Cheese Ranch Roll-Ups and my new Bacon Ranch Cream Cheese Roll-Ups should serve as evidence enough of how I have grown in the past 3 years. All of that work? For you.

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No-Chill Sugar Cookies

Perfect cut-out sugar cookies maintain their shape and don't require any chill time. Plus, use any flavor extract to flavor your cookies however you like!

Perfect cut-out sugar cookies maintain their shape and don’t require any chill time. Plus, use any flavor extract to flavor your cookies however you like!

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I’m an impatient person. I won’t even pretend otherwise. I grew up hearing my mother constantly tell me, “Patience is a virtue.” I usually mentally responded with something along the lines of, “Well, being prompt is also a virtue.”

It’s really no surprise that my future restaurant manager from my college server days would someday love me for my “great sense of urgency.” My current boss finds this same sense of urgency to be quite an asset, as well. I suppose you could say that I have found my people.

So, when I want cookies…I don’t really want to have to wait for them. The Whirling Dervish over here wants to be able to make them, throw them in the oven, and have cookies in front of my face 12 minutes later. Waiting for dough to chill? So not my thing.

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As such, this is my new go-to cut-out sugar cookie recipe. The dough has been fiddled and tweaked until it holds it shape quite excellently without any chilling, meaning that I can be frosting my sugar cookie cut-outs in no time. Plus, you can use any flavor extract you like in these cookies, allowing you to customize them to the season. Fall? Try almond extract. Spring? Give lemon a try! Winter? Peppermint should do the trick. No-Chill Sugar Cookies are indeed a thing of beauty.

A few loyal readers may remember last year’s Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies and how I proclaimed my eternal love for cinnamon chips and also introduced you to a special partnership between OXO and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. I am supporting the partnership again this year with these No-Chill Sugar Cookies. This fall, while you are out and about, keep your eyes peeled for the following symbol on a number of specially-marked OXO products:

Screen Shot 2013 09 24 at 1.14.06 AM No Chill Sugar Cookies
For every stickered item sold, OXO will donate 25 cents in support of pediatric cancer research as a part of its $100,000 pledge to C4CK*. So now when you purchase helpful items such as this 3-Piece Cookie Cutter Set or this Bent Icing Knife, you can know that you are not just supporting your cookie habit, you are also supporting a great cause.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
No-Chill Sugar Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Yield: About 4 dozen cookies
Ingredients
For the cookies:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon flavor extract of your choice*
  • 4 cups flour
For the icing:
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon same flavor extract as used in the cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and flavor extract and beat until combined.
  3. Slowly add the flour, stirring just until combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and use your hands to form into a disk. Roll the dough to ⅛ to ¼-inch thick and cut with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
  4. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or just until the edges barely start to turn golden. Remove from the baking sheets to a rack to cool before icing.
  5. For the icing, beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the powder sugar, then add the milk and flavor extract. Beat until combined, adding more milk or more powdered sugar as needed to achieve desired spreading consistency. If coloring, beat in food coloring. Spread onto cookies and allow to set before storing.
Notes
*Please use a high-quality flavor extract. My favorite for these cookies is Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract or Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract.

Support OXO and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer on social media:

Twitter: @OXO@Cookies4Kids

Instagram: @OXO@Cookies4Kids

Facebook: facebook.com/OXOfacebook.com/CookiesForKidsCancer

Pinterest: pinterest.com/OXOpinterest.com/Cookies4Kids

*In 2014, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer through specially marked baking tools, bake sale matches and other fundraising efforts. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. Your donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.

During the month of September, OXO will donate $100 to C4KC for each blog post dedicated to this campaign. I received samples of specially-marked products as part of the campaign, but received no other compensation for this post. All opinions are my own and simply reflect my desire to support a worthy cause!

Mixed Berry Cobbler

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Fruit cobbler made with tart mixed berries and a lattice crust. It is the best possible combination of pie and cobbler you’re gonna find.

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I know I probably should have shared this with you before Labor Day, what with holiday cookouts and all, but part of me just wanted to hang onto summer for a few minutes longer.

This hasn’t been an all-around outstanding summer. This past month (which was admittedly pretty crappy) aside, it was just…a summer. We worked a lot. We don’t have any outdoor space so the Mr. didn’t get to grill very much. I spent most of my weekends in the kitchen and forgot to do things like sit outside in the sunshine or go berry picking. So while everyone else is ready to hurry right along to the land of pumpkin spice everything, a part of me is ok with hanging on to summer sun for just a minute longer with Mixed Berry Cobbler.

This recipe is adapted from a family favorite Blackberry Cobbler recipe from an old Southern Living cookbook (Southern Living 1999 Annual Recipes, to be exact). Since blackberries are admittedly a bit expensive even under the best of circumstances (unless your grandfather happens to accidentally grow to many and gives your family several dozen pounds…not that we have ever had that happen or anything…), I went ahead and made a few changes to the recipe, including swapping out the blackberries for mixed berries. Feel free to use any berries you like in this recipe – if you happen to have several dozen pounds of blackberries (or raspberries, or strawberries or…you get the idea) hanging around, go ahead and use those! Otherwise, a mix of fresh or frozen berries will do just fine.

Oh, what’s that? Now that you see this recipe, you want to hang onto summer a bit longer, too? Then may I suggest topping your luscious Berry Cobbler with some homemade peach ice cream? I mean…duh.

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4.7 from 3 reviews
Mixed Berry Cobbler
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ⅔ cup half-and-half
For the filling:
  • 8 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen berries, thaw completely)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ cup butter, cut into pieces
Instructions
Make pastry:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Add the half-and-half, stirring with a fork until the mixture is just barely combined.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; knead 6-8 times, until dough forms a ball. Roll ⅓ of the pastry into ¼-inch thickness and cut into strips 1½-inches wide (reserve the rest of the dough). Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Make the filling:
  1. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract. Let stand until sugar dissolves. Spoon half of the mixture into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Break the baked pastry strips into pieces and lay on top of the fruit mixture; top with the remaining berries. Dot with the butter.
  3. Roll the remaining pastry dough into ¼-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch wide strips. Weave into a lattice over the filling. If desired, brush the pastry with additional half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes or until bubbly and golden.
Notes
Half-and-half is a mixture of half cream, half whole milk. If you do not have access to half-and-half, feel free to use milk instead.

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Muffins with Buckwheat

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Whole wheat, naturally-sweetened muffins are the perfect vehicle for tart rhubarb and earthy buckwheat flour.

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Before I get to muffins, I have something much more important to say.

Thank you to everyone who read and responded to my latest post about my mom’s cancer. To say that my whole family as been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love this weekend – much of it from people we have never even met – would be an understatement. I have always said that the community is the best thing I have gotten out of blogging, and that has never been more true than this weekend. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers – believe me when I say that we will be carrying them with us to the hospital on Wednesday for her surgery. We are so blessed.

Alright. Some food. I hadn’t planned on a post from me this week (though you will be hearing from a couple of friends who were so generous as to offer to guest post for me even with such short notice), but wanted to share this rhubarb recipe with you before it is completely impossible to find any in the stores. Normally I would be sharing rhubarb earlier in the season, but almost no stores by me carry it! I wasn’t able to find any until a recent jaunt to a new grocery store. Believe me, it’s my new favorite place in the world.

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Paleo Strawberry Crumble

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Grain-free strawberry crumble uses almond flour and the natural sweetness of summer strawberries for a dessert that is healthful and easy to make!

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Happy Friday, my sweet readers! I have a treat for you today! Remember our friend Julia? Of course you do – we were just oo-ing and ah-ing over her new cookbook last week with this Massaged Kale Salad with Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette! Well, she knows that things have been a little loco over here for me and offered to share a super fantabulous recipe with y’all today – how could I turn down that offer?? So, without further adieu…here she is!

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Cocodoodles

Cocodoodles

Snickerdoodle cookie base rolled in shredded coconut. Behold, the Cocodoodle!

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I totally just made up my own word. And it was hard.

To be fair, I could have just called these cookies “Coconut Snickerdoodles” and been on my way. But that seemed too easy. Also, slightly misleading – would people think that they involved both coconut and cinnamon-sugar? (Not a delicious-sounded combination, if you ask me, but to each his own.) No, that wouldn’t do.

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