During the last week of summer I stocked up our shelves with breakfast items for my brother and I to eat every morning at 6:25. Way to early to make something but it is always nicer to head out the door with something delicious and homemade. I had been volunteering at the local library and in my spare time and checked out a bunch of cookbooks. Two of them I later ended up buying and the Barefoot Contessa one was just because of this recipe I tried. I love it. I have made it twice now and can’t wait to make more!

These granola bars have tons of ingredients which I normally try to avoid, and they have a bunch of smaller steps but in the end they are totally worth it. You can find the recipe in he Back to the Basics book which has a ton of recipes I want to make!

Homemade Granola Bars

{The Barefoot Contessa’s Recipe}

2 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 toasted wheat germ

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup honey

1/4 light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 chopped & pitted dates

1/2 chopped, dried apricots

1/2 dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8 x 12 pan with parchment. Toast oatmeal, almonds, & coconut on a sheet pan for 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and add wheat germ. Reduce oven temperature to 300. Boil honey, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a sauce pan over medium heat. Poor over oatmeal mixture and combine. Add apricots, cranberries and dates. Stir well. Place mixture in pan spreading out evenly. Cook for 25-30 minutes until golden. Wait for several hours until cutting! Enjoy!


Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter is ALWAYS on my families grocery list. When baking I go through pounds without even realizing. I can create a stash of 5 pounds in my freezer and before I know it, it appears on the grocery list again. I might as well just go through and write it on every grocery list from now to eternity, or have it delivered to me weekly.

Some recipes I think are just destined to be and it is often my mission to find those. This recipe would be one. I was home all alone on the snow day last Thursday and was determined to bake. I was tired of sitting on the couch and watching food network and was ready to get my hands deep in flour. I had been watching Ina Garten who is my absolute favorite make meatballs. I found one of my cookbooks and needed to bake something. I found tons of recipes and I would be missing one ingredient or the other. I did not feel like walking to the store so found a recipe I had everything for, Martha Stewart’s Shortbread Fingers are what found me.

One of my obsessions are food blogs. I will get a list of my favorite up soon on my sidebar, but one I will share today is Baking through Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook by Amber. This blog is like the Julie & Julia movie and book but better. I love Julia Child, but all her recipes seem so far from what I like to bake and cook. If I were ever to do that it would be with Martha Stewart. I love Martha. Everything she does is so perfect and Martha-esque. If it weren’t for Martha my mom would not be the cook she is and if it weren’t for Julia my grandma wouldn’t be the amazing cook she was. My mom followed Martha when she was a cater, and my grandma took lessons from Julia Child. Amazing, right? So when I found the shortbread fingers I was so happy. Amber told me they were her favorite so I had to try and boy were they good! I have never made shortbread before so it was a new challenge.

The recipe is amazing and perfect. Buttery and Sugary. You must try it when you have a surplus of unsalted butter

Martha Stewart’s Shortbread Fingers

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup + 2 table spoons confectioners’ sugar

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 12-by-8 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In your mixers bowl  beat butter until fluffy on medium speed (2 minutes), then add confectioners sugar. Add flour and beat on low speed, until just incorporated (it should be the consistency of soft cookie dough). Spread dough onto baking sheet and chill until dough is firm (15 minutes). Using a fork poke the dough all over bake rotating halfway through until golden brown, 40 minutes or so. Transfer to a wire rack, sprinkle with granulated sugar. While still hot cut with a knife to form 4-by-1 inch fingers. Cool completely then remove from pan.

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. School gets hectic but you can always count on a weekend post!

Snow Day Baking

Yesterday morning I woke up to the most glorious call at 5:30 am from our schools headmaster saying school would be closed for the day to predicted weather. Seattle was supposed to get bucket loads of snow starting at noon. Well that never happened and it starting snowing at four for an hour or two. I wish we had gotten enough snow to keep us stuck in the house forced to relax but it was nice having a day that was just freezing cold. I spent the day baking which was delightful. The first recipe I made I will share today and the second tomorrow. 

The first I made was the cover recipe on the February Bon Appetit. The more I read this magazine the more I like it but I definitely go in waves with how I feel about it. I normally refrain from buying it but the brownies on this months cover made me look twice and put it in the shopping cart on our way to the check out stand. I am so happy I finally had a chance to make these. I love cooking magazines but normally don’t bake anything from them which I am now trying to change. The recipe was for Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. Super simple recipe that only takes according to the magazine 20 minutes of prep time and 4 hours 50 minutes total time. They were pretty accurate with the times although I didn’t time myself. I was most surprised when I made these discovering that they can be made in one bowl! Always a plus when it comes time to clean up. It was almost as if this recipe was waiting for me in the pantry. There was not one ingredient that I didn’t have! I had exactly the right amount of everything. Perfect!

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnut

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, chilled

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven, preheat to 325 degrees. line 8x8x2 inch metal pan with foil coated with non-stick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter until it stops foaming and browned bits form on the bottom of the pan, stirring every five minutes. Remove from heat and add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon slat. Stir till combined. Let cool for five minutes then add eggs one at a time stirring until each is combined. When mixture is thick and shiny add flour and stir until combined. Beat vigorously 60 strokes (Their words not mine, but really no need to count) stir in nuts, pour into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean, about 25 minutes. Cool pan on rack completely. Cut into four strips in each direction.

These were so good! I loved the nutty taste the browned butter added and the crunch of the hazel nuts! yummy! I cooked mine in a glass pan so it took a lot longer to make them so it took me maybe an hour… Way longer and I don’t even think I cooked them all the way… These are definatley worth making super tasty!

Introducing Myself

I promised I would write a post about me and I am!

My name is Jessica and I am a 16 year old living in Seattle. I have lived here my whole life and love it for the most part. I love to bake and cook, especially bake though. I have been in the kitchen since a very young age.

My mom was a caterer and the best cook I know. Her cooking is amazing and inventive and are all unique to her. In her world recipes are a joke. That would be the opposite of mine. I love a recipe. Cookbooks are what I read before I go to bed and on Saturday mornings while watching TV. Someone tell me I can’t use a cookbook, the best I could do would be some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Not something to be proud of but that’s how it is.

When I cook or bake something I want to challenge myself. My mom tells me I need to master the basics of Chocolate Chips and Brownies but to me that is boring. I will do that every so often but I love trying new things like fruit tarts, unique breads, and cookies that make you question what you just consumed as you are reaching for more. This blog will have the basic recipes but will be filled with unique recipes that will have you trying new things.

Traveling is my new found hobby. Mainly because it gives me new things to photograph but I love seeing other peoples lives besides mine. I am fascinated by cultures. In my classes I don’t mind listening to the lectures about history but when something impacts a societies culture my eyes and ears open. New things amaze me!

Photography is my real passion though. It encompasses every hobby I love. Taking pictures of what I make is so rewarding, and challenging. This blog will mainly be recipes, more baking than cooking, but don’t be surprised when there are occasional posts about traveling, or photography. I am so excited for this adventure! I am more excited about this than the snow falling outside or the six inches we are supposed to get in the next twenty-four hours!

The First of Many

I am starting a baking blog! I am so excited and have been thinking about this for a very long time. Its a dream finally coming true! The name will not stay for very long. Hopefully it will change to Jess.i.cook or bake me silly any day. I have spent all weekend baking so I will have recipes to share! I will do a short post about myself later today with some pictures. My kitchen is now caked in flour but sharing recipes is so much more fun than cleaning! So excited, I have so many recipes to share!