Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Operation Quick Bread Cookies

They say that home is where the heart is, and sweets are baked with love.  This morning, I found that to be my motto of the day as I stirred, mixed and scooped my way to the perfect cookie.  You see, today was my first official bake off with Operation Baking Gals  and I was baking for Staff Sergeant Daryl and his US Air Force team, so I wanted everything to be perfect. All I could think about is making a cookie that exemplified my heart and support for our troops in Iraq and the hope that the second they untied the meticulously wrapped brown paper box, I could feel the smiles from across the ocean.  

Backed with the support of my team, Hungry Fox, I grabbed my oven mitts, armed my self with my favorite Pottery Barn green spatula and hit the oven running. Today I decided that I would make something a little different than the average cookie, something fresh and light to get them through those hot summer days in the Iraq sunshine...this led me to a simple but tasty recipe I have had stacked in my recipe pile for ages from the Pillsbury website. With a few modifications, I think I have created the perfect, yet refreshing, cookie that will no doubt fill the bellies of our soldiers and  pile on the smiles. 


Cran-Orange Quick Bread Cookies

1 package Pilsburry Cranberry Quick Bread and Muffin Mix
3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup sweetend dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup oil (I use a little less than 1/2c.)
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 eggs

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl/standing mixer, combine quick bread mix, oats, coconut, cranberries and orange peel. Mix well.
3. To dry mixture, add oil, orange juice and eggs. Mix well.
4. Drop by heaping teaspoons (I used a medium sized cookie spoon) onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake 10-13 minutes
6. Cool on wire rack
7. If desired, frost with basic powdered sugar glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- enough juice squeezed straight from the orange to make a glaze
- spoon over top of cooled cookies
*Makes 2-3 dozen

Variations: You can really use any flavor of quick bread mix, from pumpkin to lemon, and adjust the add-ins, like walnuts for cranberries or lemon zest for orange.

*In loving memory of Army Spc. Chase R. Whitham*

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gluten-Free Goodness


What more can I say...nothing says the end to a perfect weekend quite like a big retro bakery sign yelling at you from a crowded New York sidewalk. But then again, it didn't actually come upon me out of the blue. It came to me through my gluten-free goddess, Sarah.

Ever since I moved to New York City, she has been emailing me and sending me letters (yes, snail mail) about this amazing bake shop called Babycakes. But this is not just another cupcake shop gone Manhattan, this is a quaint little nook in the cranny of the Lower East Side. Babycakes prides itself on sweet baked goodness for the alternative spirit of the allergen tummy. Treats here are not only gluten-free, they are free of refined sugar and vegan (this sounds scary, but I promise you, its not).

These cupcakes are naturally sweetened with agave nectar and in the place of eggs and ultra bad for you butter, you will find heart healthy coconut oil. No artificial colors, no refined flour, no guilt...unless you eat 5, which we did. Nothing but goodness is left behind in these cupcakes. Not even my boyfriend and sweet tooth master could taste anything different about these delectable treats (well, we didn't necessarily tell him they were GOOD for you, that would ruin the fun, but you get the point). Just look at too will never miss the processed sweets again. This is a one stop shop for the perfect cupcake.

When you are finished, top it all off with a quite stroll through China Town on the way home (to walk off the many treats that you will undoubtedly want to try) and you will have completed one perfectly delicious day in the Big Apple!

My Gluten-Free Girl!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Operation Baking Gals

Today is a very special post, that is not about my recipes per say, but rather about making my recipes mean something to others. As I was surfing my daily baking blogs, I stumbled across a blog...rather a movement...that is getting together to bake cookies and treats for our soldiers overseas called Operation Baking Gals. Instantly, I was drawn in knowing I had found my calling to put my oven to work in the most positive way.

Having lost my best friend Chase in Iraq in back in 2004, I found this the perfect way to honor his memory, and to combine my passion of baking, to help support all of our men and women out there that go through so much everyday just to stand up for what we believe in. I want them all to know we thank them and applaude them...and what a better way to send love than in a homemade chocolate chip cookie?

A little more on Operation Baking Gals...Operation Baking GALS will be supporting our troops every month, once a month, and instead of our soldiers getting deodorant and soap, they'll be getting the one thing they can't get from the canteen - Homemade goodies made with LOVE. They will be assigning a different soldier to certain sub-groups of bakers each month so that we spread the love, and that way, a homesick troop will have a package with HIS name on it, filled with goodies to share. Now, does that not sound like one amazing movement?! I am so honored to be a part of this and if you would like to get involved too, please go visit Susan's website linked above.

I will keep you updated via my postings and share all the goodness I will be sending over too.

What a treat.