leaves-and-cookies

My boyfriend, Dash, is a total textbook contrarian. So the other morning, as I’m whipping up these easy-as-pie cookies, he walks in and asks what I’m making.

When I tell him they’re pumpkin snickerdoodles, he cringes and says, “I hate pumpkin. And snickerdoodles.”

What?!

ANYWHO, I continue going about my business and he forgets all about the cookies. Later that night, he goes hunting for a snack and emerges from the kitchen, munching on one of these little gems.

His eyes light up, and then it hits him: turns out he likes pumpkin. AND snickerdoodles.

**mic drop**

pumpkin-snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For dipping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamondoughballs

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Set aside.
  2. In a standing mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until just combined (don’t overmix). With the mixer on low, add in the egg yolk, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Scrape down sides, and slowly add in the dry ingredients from the first bowl.
  3. Place dough in the refrigerator and chill for one hour. While dough chills, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Roll dough into 1 tbsp balls and roll in cinnamon-sugar topping.
  6. Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, remove them while they still look a teensy bit undercooked (they continue to bake even after being removed from the oven!)

pumpkin-snickerdoodle

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I love having a trusty arsenal of tricks when I get in the kitchen.

To be honest, most of what I know about cooking, food storage and technique comes from a combination of trial and error, and my allegiance to Martha Stewart and countless other all-knowing doyennes of daytime TV.

The rest of my culinary know-how comes from afternoons spent in my grandma’s humid kitchen, baking lemon pound cakes, frying okra, and peeling pears from my papa’s gardens and groves.

These experiences, along with my own work as a recipe developer, have been invaluable. I’ve cobbled together a list of tried-and-true tips I’ve learn from these varied sources, and I hope you’ll find them as helpful as I have!

egg

1. Put lavender oil or honey on your burns. The lavender oil prevents scarring, and the honey helps relieve the pain.

2. Soften butter quickly by putting it on a sunny windowsill. Or in your pockets, like my grandma did! (It probably sounds gross, but it was so endearing!)

3. Microwave lemons and limes if they become hard. Just because they’ve gotten super firm doesn’t mean they’ve gone bad! 10-15 seconds or so in the microwave will bring them back to life.

4. When baking, make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature. This includes eggs, butter, milk, everything! This allows for even baking.

5. Don’t salt your meat or marinade until it’s cooked. Unless you like it dry!

6. Store root veggies in brown paper sacks, not the plastic or net bags they come in. Plastic bags encourage mildew, but paper bags absorb moisture. And keep them out of the sun!

7. Don’t throw out your crystallized honey. Store it in a warm, sunny place and it will return to its liquid state. Honey never spoils.

8. Freeze your ginger. It makes it WAY easier to grate, plus it’ll last longer.

9. Never store your herbs and spices above the stove. The heat causes them to lose their flavor way more quickly.

10. After handling garlic, rub your hands on stainless steel. It works like a charm to remove the powerful smell!

Do you have any words of kitchen wisdom? I’m dying to know! Share them in the comments below.

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Cookies and milk – is there anything more inviting?
I don’t know about you, but it’s my favorite combination when I think about cozying up during a long binge of Netflix shows.

Unfortunately, I can’t justify spending money on a package of Oreos when I’ve got everything I need to make a MUCH yummier version right at home. (Hello, if I’m binge-watching Netflix, I’m probably not trying to be seen in public!) Besides, this recipe allows you to skip all the artificial flavors and weird chemicals found in store-bought snacks.

These cookies taste EXACTLY like Oreos. Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself!

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Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Cream Filling

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Toss flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat butter on high speed until creamy. Switch to medium speed and beat in the sugar and brown sugar. Once combined, beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping sides as needed.
  3. Turn mixer on low speed and slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. Roll chilled cookie dough into quarter-sized balls, placing them on the baking sheet and limiting 12-16 cookies to each pan. Press each ball to flatten slightly. Bake for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. As cookies finish cooling, make the cream filling. In a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening together on high speed. Once creamy, turn to lowest speed and add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. Beat for 1 minute until creamy. Filling should be quite thick. (This filling may be made up to 2 days in advance, but be sure to bring filling to room temperature before spreading on cookies.)
  8. Once cookies are cooled, spread cream filling between two cooled chocolate cookies. Repeat for all cookies. Store cookies at room temperature for one week or frozen for up to 1 month.

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Tips: 

  • Create themed cookies for any occasion using food dye and/or sprinkles!
  • For a travel-friendly version of these sweet treats, try substituting marshmallow fluff for the cream filling. Ice cream is also a delicious substitute (but not so suitable for traveling– duh!).

Created and styled by Jess Brannen & photographed by Dash Coleman

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Y’all – I can’t say enough about this recipe. It’s a crowd pleaser. It’s easy to make. AND it’s pretty cheap.
It’s the grown-up version of dorm room “jungle juice.” And it’s just plain pretty. Next time you’ve got a gaggle of girlfriends over, try this out — you can thank me later. More

1-walnut-crostini-4

Entertaining guests at the last minute can be a total nightmare! There are just so many factors to consider: Will everyone get along? Will there be enough wine? What will I serve? Occasions like these merit an arsenal of simple, quick recipes that can be whipped up at a moment’s notice. Cue the Walnut, Goat Cheese and Honey Crostini.

This effortlessly elegant dish pairs perfectly with an arugula salad and plays well with a plethora of beverages, from Pinot Noir to a Manhattan. So next time you’re in need of last minute hors d’oeuvres, impress your guests with this simple treat!

What’s your go-to recipe for last-minute company?

1-walnut-crostini-3Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of artisanal bread (I used a 5-grain loaf)
  • 3oz log of goat cheese, near room temperature
  • Coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Wildflower honey
  • Fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut loaf of bread into thick slices and bake until very lightly toasted.
  2. Remove toasted bread and spread with goat cheese. Sprinkle with walnuts and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until walnuts look toasted.
  3. Plate the crostini and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with fresh sprigs of thyme.

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Tips: 

  • Almost everything about this recipe is interchangeable. Try using different soft cheeses, nuts, and herbs for a season-appropriate finger food.
  • Cutting the crostini in half is a great idea if the gathering will be more conducive to eating while standing.

lavender-tea-cake-and-flowers2

Oh, the joys of a simple cup of tea. In a world so harried and hectic, taking time for yourself is crucial for maintaining a sense of calm—and this Lavender Tea Cake is just the ticket. Whether served with a steamy cup of Earl Grey tea or a glass of cold milk, there’s something particularly relaxing about this golden treat.

Tea cake is traditionally made to taste more buttery than sweet. Its firm yet moist consistency makes it ideal for dipping into a cup of coffee or tea without crumbling.

Whether served as a high noon accoutrement or an after dinner treat, Lavender Honey Tea Cakes are sure to delight your guests’ senses.

tea-cake2

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup lavender honey (I used one from Savannah Bee Company!)
  • 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

lavender-cupcakes-with-lavender-waves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ᵒ and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in bowl of a standing mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, cream, vanilla and Lavender Honey.
  4. With mixer on low, add half of egg mixture and butter until well-mixed.
  5. Turn mixer speed up slightly and add remaining egg mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into buttered loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Set loaf on cooling rack and serve at room temperature, cutting around the edges to free the cake from the pan.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar.

Tips:

  • Instead of baking one large cake, make it personal! Bake 4 mini loaves at 25-30 minutes instead.
  • Garnish with sprigs of edible flowers to up the romance factor.