Philadelphia Marathon

 

PHILADELPHIA MARATHON 2011

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For anyone interested in long distance running who has their sights on a marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon may be just the ticket.  I can’t think of a better way to see a city than to go for a nice, long run.  Long, long ago, I was born in Philadelphia. I spent most of my life on the west coast where the sun shines and the warm air is sweetened with Japanese Wisteria and Honeysuckle.  On the east coast, fall happens; colors change, the air cools, the tint of the sky darkens and the crispness swallows up the summer humidity.

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Fall means marathon season.  Philadelphia marked my fifth marathon, or about five more marathons than I thought I’d ever run.  Seriously, when my older sister began running marathons I thought she was fruity loops.  When I moved from Seattle to California in 2006, I didn’t have many friends in the area so I decided to spend my free time training for my first sprint distance triathlon.  I wanted to lose that unwelcome ten to fifteen pounds that had taken up residence in my belly.  Back fat – it’s not just for breakfast anymore!  After about nine months of swimming, biking and running, I focused on my strength and embraced my life long passion for running.  I credit my older sister and high school coach for sending me out to run when I was growing up.  In my early twenties, I lived on a small Aleutian Island with little to do besides work and get into trouble. I wanted to learn more about running, explore the island and give myself something to do.  When I headed down to the lower 48 for vacation, I picked up a book that changed my life.

Jeff Galloway is a former Olympic Marathon and elite runner who has written several books, spoken around the world and coached thousands of age group athletes.  Galloway wrote a book in the late 1980′s called, Galloway’s Book on Running ; it was one of a handful of books available at the time.  I bought it way back when and have followed him ever since.  I used Galloway’s run/walk method during the Napa Valley Marathon, the first marathon I entered and I crossed the finish line feeling fresh and ready for more.  The only down side to marathon running?  It can be a solitary activity, a lonesome task at times.  Getting out the door at 5:00 a.m. when it’s rainy and cold can be hard…What makes it easier? People.  Training groups.  A running partner.

I joined a training program with Fleetfeet Sacramento store and it was an amazing experience.  The Fleetfeet group offered great coaching and great running partners in a beautiful running community.  My buddy down the block was the most reliable running partner ever and boy, do I miss her!  Three mornings a week we hit the road together and shared a love of coffee at the end of our runs.

Fast forward to training for the Philadelphia Marathon 2011.  Believe it or not, running in New York City on hot and humid summer days appealed to me more than slogging through the dark and dreary cold winter. It paid off!  My body recovered well after workouts and I appreciated the extended daylight during my evening runs.

I ran several New York Road Runner events during the training program; this allowed me to gauge my fitness and run alongside lots of fast runners.  I really appreciate getting beaten by  both  super fast, elite runners AND everyone else.  Note, we do not run side-by-side.  I see the elites at the finish line.  After they’ve cooled down, showered and had lunch.  Yet another thing about New York I love.

RACE EXPO

On Friday and Saturday, registered runners picked up bib numbers and goody bags at the race expo held at the Philadelphia Convention Center.  The race expo was crowded with vendors, Clif Bar Pace Teams coaches, and the Runner’s World Coaching booth.  I saw two of my coach heroes signing books,  Bart Yasso and Hal Higdon.  I introduced myself to the Clif Bar pacing team leader, Bill, grabbed my goody bag and headed out the door.  I wanted to conserve my energy and stay off my feet the day before race day.

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RACE MORNING 

We stayed in a hotel in the old city neighborhood, a short subway ride and walk from the race start.

 

 

 

 

 

On the way,  we passed the Occupy Philadelphia encampment.  It was a cool 40-something race morning, I imagine it was a cool night for the protestors.

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The race start had plenty of porta potties, the bag drop off trucks were clearly marked and the PA system worked properly.  If you look closely enough in the photo below, you’ll see the Rocky statue on top of those steps in the distance…

Race organizers assigned runners to color-coded corrals based on estimated race times.  I went into the black colored corral and did not see the pace leader.  This concerned me a bit and then I reminded myself that I had intentionally left my Garmin back at the hotel.  I told myself to relax and not to worry about tracking my pace every mile. If I kept pace with persons in the corral, chances were I would come close to my goal time and if not, I’d slow down and see what happened.  This was liberating!   The first six miles of the course flew by.  This sensation surprises me during long races.  How in the heck do I get so caught up in the moment that six miles seem to come and go without effort?  If only training runs went this quickly!

At mile seven, I saw two bouncing white and red balloons and a small group of runners, a sure sign that I was approaching a pace group.  Have I mentioned how much I appreciated the high number of spectators?  And porta potties?  At mile 9, I managed a quick in and out of the loo and in time caught back up  thanks to the bottlenecks that slowed the group down.   At about mile 10, I became part of the pack.  And so we ran; over the hills, along the river, over bridges, past the free beer (not my favorite smell when slowly ascending), and at mile 17 we headed out to the last turn around spot.  This gave the slower runners a glimpse at the leaders who were bringing it home at mile 22.  Let me just say, they are fast.  Mile 22 is worlds away from mile 17 on a marathon course.  It was inspiring to see them zoom past us and our pacer had us keep a look out for the first female runner.  She passed by in a flash!

Forget the wall, what about cramping?

For a while the pace felt manageable.  In fact, I still had energy in reserve and was tempted to go off the front and leave my pack members behind.  Then I remembered. Nearly all long runs involve rough spots and if I encountered one, the power of the group would help me stick it out.  I fueled properly, drank water from nearly every aid station, took on electrolytes.  Cramping happened.  A nasty bugger right beneath my right rib cage came on at about mile 20.  So not fun.  ”Control your breathing,” I said to myself, and “relax your shoulders…you’ll get through this patch.”

When it didn’t go away at mile 21, I nearly pulled myself from the group, pulled off to the side where I could bend over in relative peace.  I’m not sure if any of you watch Ironman triathlon?  Chris McCormack is a cocky, talented two-time Kona winner who suffered from cramping during the 2009 marathon.  In the post race interview, he discussed his analysis of his performance and cramping issues.  It boiled down to nutrition, electrolytes, fatigue.  He walked during a portion of the run and commented that before he realized it, he was feeling better and the cramping disappeared.  He began to run again.  This thought pushed me past mile 22 and prevented me from becoming unhinged from the pace group.  It was hard.  So hard. By mile 23, my body was ready for more and I realized how relaxed my shoulders were, how rhythmic my turnover was.  The moment had passed.  Yes, running is hard.  Getting past the mental barriers?  Immense.  Rewarding.

THE FINISH LINE

If only I had paid closer attention to the finish chute before the race began; I would’ve known what to expect, known how far it was to the end of the race.  It was long-ee! Metal barricades lined the road for the last mile of the run.  This is when the spectators began to root us on by name. If you’ve run with your name on  your race bib and heard people cheer you on by name, you know how special that is.  I don’t care who you are, thank you!  In fact, I hugged the barriers and remained as close as possible to the fans until I had to veer right and cross the last timing mat to get to the finish line.  The energy is contagious!

Unlike previous races, I didn’t stumble, cry, pass out or puke at the finish line. I didn’t go into early stages of hypothermia.  The sun was shining and it was warm – perfect day for a run.  I came in feeling really good, with my head held up and knew I had run my fastest marathon yet.

Then came the old man shuffle and the process of recovery…

A PR? Yes?  Boston worthy? Not this year…

I qualified for 2011 Boston Marathon and was unable to register before the registration closed in a mere eight hours.  A record sell out, said race organizers.  The previous year it took weeks to sell out, but this year was different.  The qualifying standards for the 2013 Boston Marathon changed.

The Boston Marathon is one of the best known marathons in the world.  If you ask a runner which marathon they’d like to run, Boston may top their list. I knew it was a dream for me so when I qualified, I was happy.  Here’s a look at the previous qualifying standards:

2012 Qualifying Times (effective September 25, 2010)

AGE GROUP MEN WOMEN
18-34 3hrs 10min 3hrs 40min
35-39 3hrs 15min 3hrs 45min
40-44 3hrs 20min 3hrs 50min
45-49 3hrs 30min 4hrs 00min
50-54 3hrs 35min 4hrs 05min
55-59 3hrs 45min 4hrs 15min
60-64 4hrs 00min 4hrs 30min
65-69 4hrs 15min 4hrs 45min
70-74 4hrs 30min 5hrs 00min
75-79 4hrs 45min 5hrs 15min
80 and over 5hrs 00min 5hrs 30min
* Additional .59 seconds will not be accepted for those submitting an entry from September 12 through September 17.

 

Changes made in 2013

For the 2013 Boston Marathon, qualifying times are more stringent, and must be run on or after September 24, 2011*. Like the 2012 registration process, the acceptance of official race entrants will be based on qualifying time, with the fastest qualifiers (in relation to their age and gender) being accepted first until the race is full. All qualifying times are subject to review and verification.

2013 Qualifying Times (effective September 24, 2011)

AGE GROUP MEN WOMEN
18-34 3hrs 05min 00sec 3hrs 35min 00sec
35-39 3hrs 10min 00sec 3hrs 40min 00sec
40-44 3hrs 15min 00sec 3hrs 45min 00sec
45-49 3hrs 25min 00sec 3hrs 55min 00sec
50-54 3hrs 30min 00sec 4hrs 00min 00sec
55-59 3hrs 40min 00sec 4hrs 10min 00sec
60-64 3hrs 55min 00sec 4hrs 25min 00sec
65-69 4hrs 10min 00sec 4hrs 40min 00sec
70-74 4hrs 25min 00sec 4hrs 55min 00sec
75-79 4hrs 40min 00sec 5hrs 10min 00sec
80 and over 4hrs 55min 00sec 5hrs 25min 00sec
Unlike previous years, an additional 59 seconds will NOT be accepted for each age group time standard.

 

I missed the new qualifying standard by 3 minutes and 3 seconds.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of time over the span of 26.2 miles, does it?

Disappointed?  A bit.  Honestly, I wasn’t concerned enough to look at the new qualifying standards before running Philly and I’m happy I didn’t.  I enjoyed my Philadelphia Marathon.  Had I fretted on pace and meeting the new standard without a pace group, I most likely would’ve blown up; if not, the quality of my race would have suffered.

I couldn’t have run an ounce harder on that day and I am so pleased.  The best part?  My sweetie was at the finish line to help me with my hat and coat, who inched along with me off into the sunshine.

POST RACE RECOVERY FOOD

Eat at your own risk…  Pat’s cheese steak.

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THE MORNING AFTER

What else? Liberty Bell waffles

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Look at New York City Marathon!  I have my sights on you in 2012!

 

 

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Easy to Make Pumpkin Bread

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DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  •  Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans.
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INGREDIENTS:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

3 cups white sugar

  • In a large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.

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3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg,    cloves and ginger.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended

 

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  • Pour into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven.

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  • Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely on a rack and enjoy.

Eat up!

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Ding Dong Cupcakes

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Ding Dong Cupcakes

The inspiration came from a Ding Dong Cake recipe from the All Recipes Website.  It’s true.  The recipe calls for a boxed Devil’s Food Cake Mix and a box of instant pudding.  I’ve made this recipe a few times because I LOVED Ding Dongs as a kid and can’t help but think making a ding dong is nothing short of magical.  I thought a cake was too much of a good thing; the All Recipes Website directs you to scoop out the center of the cake and fill in the center with a ton of filling.  Don’t get me wrong, the filling is my favorite part of the ding dong but I enjoy is a balance between the chocolate cake and the filling.

I travel by subway. Scratch that. I travel on crowded subways most days.  It’s hard to find that happy place when a stranger is up in your business on the train.  Instead of making a hard to carry cake, a tripping hazard, I decided to make cupcakes instead.  They’re easier to package and you can’t go wrong with a cupcake.  What better than to have a tasty, chocolatey mess of a mini-cake to call your own?

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The first few times I made the recipe, I made the cake from scratch using a Devil’s Food Cake recipe from David Lebovitz’s Sweet Life in Paris Food blog.  The recipe is written using metrics and thankfully,  he included a link to help make sense of the conversions.   Why the U.S. never began using the metric system, I do not know.  Well, I have a hunch. My high school biology teacher was wrong, by the way.  He swore that we could  use the metric system or we would be in a world of hurt. I think it was his clever to get us to study?

I’ll break this entry up into three parts: the cake, the filling and the chocolate ganache-like frosting.  The cake recipe makes a 9-inch cake, 12 large cupcakes or about 16 smaller cupcakes.  Clearly, I prefer the jumbo-sized cupcakes.  If you want the devil’s food cake recipe, follow the link to David Lebovitz’s site.  I’m making some changes to the recipe to make it more cupcake friendly.

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David Lebovit’s Devil’s Food Cake Recipe

Devil’s Food Cake
one 9-inch cake or 12-16 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 (3.9 ounce) package of instant chocolate pudding mix*

1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup strong coffee (or water)
½ cup whole or low-fat milk

*Instant pudding mix is from the All Recipes Ding Dong Cake Recipe

1. Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line two cupcake pans with standard muffin baking cups.

3. Sift together the cocoa powder, instant pudding mix, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.

4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. (If using a standing electric mixer, stop the mixer as necessary to scrape down the sides to be sure everything is getting mixed in.)

5. Mix together the coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, the add the coffee and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.

6. Divide the batter evenly into the two cupcake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

 

The trick to making it a “Ding Dong”?  Add the instant pudding mix.

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I have to be honest, my coworkers wolfed down both versions of the recipe and if you’re in a hurry, skip the made from scratch cake part and use the devil’s food cake mix.  I know the pastry gods are going to strike me down, but what the heck? Here goes:

Here is the All Recipes Ding Dong Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons water

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Line cupcake pans with baking cupcake liners.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix and instant pudding.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, oil and water.
  5. Mix until well blended.
  6. Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.
  9. Once cooled, insert an apple corer into the top of the cupcake and remove a small amount of cake from the center of the of the cake. Discard or save for another use (or eat up – it’s good!).
  10. Brush crumbs off the top of the cake with a pastry brush.
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FILLING

  1. To make the filling, whisk together the flour and milk.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
  3. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Beat the 1/2 cup shortening, butter, sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy (2-4 minutes).
  5. Add the milk mixture and continue to beat for 4 more minutes.
  6. Spoon about a third of the filling into a pastry bag. If you do not have a pastry bag, snip a small triangle piece of plastic off the corner off a zipock bag and voila!  You now have a pastry bag.
  7. Squeeze the filling into the center of the cupcakes until the filling expands into cake and reaches the top (I filled my very full and created the bump on the top of the cupcakes).  Did I mention that I love the filling?
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 FROSTING
  1. Combine the chocolate chips, 1/4 cup shortening, corn syrup and water in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Heat on high for 30 seconds, remove, stir mixture.
  3. Continue to heat the mixture until it is almost melted and smooth.
  4. Since the mixture is hot, the chocolate will continue to melt as you stir. Once it is entirely smooth, you are ready to glaze the cupcakes.
  5. Take a cupcake by its bottom (!), tip over and dip the top of the cupcake into the warm chocolate mixture.
  6. Cover the top of the cake and smooth over the sides.
  7. Refrigerate until serving.

I didn’t include photos of each step in the process, but it is a pretty straight forward recipe and hopefully it’s easy to follow.

If you’re really motivated to make your cupcake look like a hostess cake, use white frosting and create a spiral on its top.  Happy eating!

Let me know if you have questions or comments!  BBB

 

 

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Brownie Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookies

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I love brownies, sandwich cookies AND chocolate chip cookie dough so when I saw this recipe on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures blog, I thought, “Heavenly, I must bake and EAT these cookies!”  Every Thursday night, I wind down from a busy week and bake my heart out.  On Friday afternoons,  I make the rounds around the office, say hello to my coworkers and hand out baked goods.  I’m still relatively new to New York and am somewhat of an introvert, so this is a fantastic opportunity for me to get to know people in a relaxed manner and enjoy good eats along the way.

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Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepare to make these yummy cookies.

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Cookie Ingredients:

Brownie Cookies

1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two addition, beating until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

Portion the dough into 1 -1 1/2 tablespoon balls. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. With damp fingers, slightly flatten the balls of dough.

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Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set and the tops are puffed and cracked (but still soft).

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Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely.

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Cookie Dough Filling

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 13 oz container marshmallow creme

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

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To make the filling:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the brown sugar and beat until well combined.

Mix in the flour until incorporated (the filling will be almost crumbly).

Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth and thick.

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To assemble the sandwiches:

Match the cookies in pairs by size.

Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto the flat side of one of the cookies in each pair.

Put the other cookie on top and press to push the filling to the edges.

Makes about 20 sandwich cookies

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I came up with 18 sandwich cookies.

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Chewy Frosted Sugar Cookies

 

 

I lived in Seattle for about sixteen years. If you live in Seattle, you know about Uncle Seth’s Pink cookies.   They’re everywhere – grocery stores, gas stations, coffee shops.  And they’re delicious.  If you appreciate a dense, chewy, heavily frosted sugar cookie with lots of flavor, this recipe is for you.  Thanks again to  one of my favorite blogs, Sweet Peas Kitchen, for sharing this recipe.  It’s dreamy and I plan to try my hand at Halloween themed decorating.  Decorating is NOT my specialty and I have made some otherwise good tasting treats look less than stellar.  Make the dough the night before you decide to roll these out so that you’re certain the dough is really firm – it’s worth the wait.  I hope you enjoy the cookies.  Happy Halloween!

 

For the Cookies:

  • 6 cups flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups light sour cream

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk 5 cups of flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat beater attached, cream the butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough needs to obtain the right consistency for rolling, so add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until this is achieved (up to 1 cup more flour). Divide dough into two sections. Flatten into rectangles about 1 1/2 inches thick, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Raw Sugar Cookies


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
  2. Generously flour a work area and rolling pin. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until pale golden. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

For the Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Several drops food coloring
  • Sprinkles


  1. To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired spreading consistency is achieved. If desired, add food coloring and beat until combined.
  2. Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles. Allow frosting to set, then store in an air-tight container. Let cookies sit for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

 

Yields: 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Raw Sugar Cookies


 

 

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Celebrate Fall with Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

One of my favorite blogs is Sweet Peas Kitchen . I was a little suspicious when I saw her recipe for pumpkin snickerdoodles. I admit, I can be a little bit of a stick-in-the-mud and why wondered to myself, why mess with a perfect cookie? Traditional snickerdoodles are right up on my list of top cookies.  Did I mention that I happen to love, and I mean LOVE pumpkin?  Unfortunately, some of the pictures are blurry.

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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  1. 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  6. 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  7. 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  8. 1 large egg
  9. 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  10. 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.20111021-081117.jpg
  4. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon for rolling in a shallow bowl.20111021-081248.jpg
  5. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball, roll the ball in the sugar mixture, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.  20111021-081148.jpg
  6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Yields: 4 dozen

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Note:

  1. The dough can be made through step 3 and either covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen.
  2. To freeze the cookie dough, portion into individual balls, roll in the cinnamon and sugar, and freeze on a parchment- or wax-paper-lined plate (don’t let them touch or they will fuse together) until completely firm, 2 to 3 hours. When ready to bake, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and increase the baking time to 17 to 22 minutes.

Use an ice cream scoop if you want to create cookies that are similar in shape and then roll them up into tight balls.

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Pumpkin Scones to Die For

Glazed Pumpkin Scones
Glazed Pumpkin Scones

Glazed Pumpkin SconesPumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

I love scones and it wasn’t until I actually baked scones that I realized that I had been missing out.  It may go without saying that I love baked goods and do my best to sample as many bakeries as possible.  In New York City, we have no shortage of bakeries. No, scratch that.  Superb bakeries.  I walk a lot and every day, my senses are reminded that I live in one of the most foodie-friendly places in the world.  The air is filled with scents of spiced grilled meats, roasting chestnuts, and in the background?  The noise and hum of a city that is awake and paying attention.

I discover, admire, drool over pastries.  When I am home, I check in with my favorite food bloggers and fellow bakers. Once again I have to thank the Brown Eyed Baker for this fantastic pumpkin scones with spiced glaze recipe.  I doubled the recipe and sent S. to work with a container full of scones (makes for a happy group of colleagues).  My upstairs neighbors are moving to the Bronx so I left a plate of warm scones at their doorstep on moving day.  I’m going to miss them!

 

Pumpkin Scones without glazeGlazed Pumpkin Scones

 Make sure to cool completely before adding the glaze or the scone will soak it all up.

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

Yield: 12 scones

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a large bowl. Use a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious; set aside.

For the Scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

6 Tablespoons cold butter

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half and egg. 

½ cup canned pumpkin
3 Tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg

4. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball.  

5. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick circle.  I put a little bit of flour on my hands as I patted the dough into a disc. The dough was moist once all the ingredients came together. If you find that your dough is too wet, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little milk or half and half till it comes together.

6. Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough into six to eight equal triangular portions.

7. Place on parchment-lined (or silicon pad) baking sheet.

8. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until light brown.

9. Place on wire rack to cool.

For the Powdered Sugar Glaze:

1.  To make the powdered sugar glaze, mix the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth.

1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

2 Tabelspoons milk

2. When scones are cool, use a brush to spread plain glaze over the top of each scone.

For the Spiced Glaze:

5. To make the spiced glaze, while the powdered sugar glaze is firming, combine all of the ingredients for the spiced glaze. 

1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Drizzle over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (about an hour).

I hope you enjoy these scones as much as I do!  Apparently, they were a big hit at the office.  Enjoy and remember, Starbucks pumpkin scones don’t even come close to this recipe!

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Follow your bliss. Coco I miss you like mad.

coco-kai-june-15-2009

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Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese

Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/pasta-bolognese-recipe/index.html

Prep Time:
45 min
Cook Time:
4 hr 30 min
Level:
Intermediate
Serves:
6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups hearty red wine
  • Water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing

Directions

In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt.

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Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.

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Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don’t rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

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Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes.

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Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

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Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything.

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Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water.

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This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

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During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pastawater is under seasoned it doesn’t matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generousdrizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

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Boy did I screw that up!

Chocolate MoonPie Fail

I’ve always liked eating sandwich cookies and this year I decided to actually make sandwich cookies.  MoonPies have been overshadowed by the ever popular Whoopie Pie.  Whoopie pies come in flavors such as pumpkin, chocolate, banana, and red velvet.  MoonPies seem a little bit less frilly than whoopie pies, but I can’t shake the childhood memory of those plastic wrapped, frosted sandwich cookies.  The sweet and waxy taste of the frosting and the delicious filling created a special soft cookie interior.  The problem was, many of the cookies were squished or crumpled in the pouch.  It was so sad!  Why couldn’t the grocery stores and gas station convenience stores properly care for the cookies?  Which reminds me of a second memory; shaking crumbs from the bottom of the wrapper and into my mouth.  MoonPies are not frilly.

The Brown Eyed Baker is one of my favoring baking blogs and I have tried out several of her recipes and until today, the treats I’d made were tasty. Ah, we live and learn.  What do I think went wrong?  I probably didn’t beat the marshmallow filling long enough so it wasn’t think enough.  You’ll note in the photos that the filling oozed out all over the wax paper and the tops of the cookies slid off.  I may not have put a big enough pinch of cream of tartar either so that may have changed the consistency of the egg whites.  Another thought?  Refrigerate and firm up the marshmallow while the cookies are baking and the chocolate is melting.

Next time, I think I’ll coat the cookies in a traditional chocolate ganache instead of the chocolate sauce made with vegetable oil.  The flavor of both chocolate sauces is really good. I think the texture of the chocolate sauce in this recipe is really close to the MoonPie itself, especially after it set.

In addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe, you’ll need a few kitchen supplies:

  • Round cookie cutter about 2-3″ in diameter
  • Pastry bag with a round, hollow tip, a coupler (If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a large spoon to scoop the marshmallow onto the cookie halves.)
  • Rolling pin
  • Wire
  • Wax or parchment paper and saran wrap
  • Candy thermometer
  • Mixer with a whisk attachment
  • Rubber spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wire cooling rack

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I found these round cookie cutters at Williams Sonoma and use them for making biscuits, cookies, pancakes.  It’s a pretty cool set to have on hand and they’re durable.  I’ve seen them in under places and they’ll run you less than $20.00.

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This pastry bag came with a set of frosting tips.  If you have a pint size drinking glass, place the narrow end into the glass and fold the top of the bag over the outer rim of the glass.  The bag-over-the-glass tip makes scooping the marshmallow filling into the bag easy and neat.

You can use a spoon and scoop the marshmallow onto the cookie – the recipe only makes 14-18 sandwich cookies so you may want to avoid the mess and use a spoon.  Course, I made a huge mess because my marshmallow was runnier than I would like.

Here is the Brown Eyed Baker‘s recipe for each element of the cookie:

Moon Pies

Yield: About 18 double-decker moon pies

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Bake Time: 30 minutes

For the Cookies:
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

1. To Make the Cookies: With a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and the salt, and mix just until a soft dough forms. Divide the dough in two, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2½-inch diameter round cutter, cut out the rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about ½ an inch apart. Refrigerate the cookies (on the baking sheets) for 10 minutes.

3. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on the pans for a couple of minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

This is a picture of one of the saran wrapped refrigerated dough discs.  The dough  is moist so I recommend chilling it a good hour or two to avoid sticking.

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Do you want to save dishes and keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin? Place the dough in between two sheets of saran wrap or waxed paper, roll the rolling pin directly on top of the saran wrap until it is about 1/8″ thick.

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This dough is a little sticky and next time I’ll keep it in the fridge another hour before rolling it out.  The cookies don’t have to be perfect circles, I prefer a homemade look myself.  The chocolate covering will hide any major boo boos, too.

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Here’s a picture of the cooled cookies, lying belly up waiting to be topped with marshmallow.

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For the Marshmallow Filling:
2 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch salt
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

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It’s true. I’m in love with my mixer.  It’s been with me for nearly a decade and it’s still going strong.

4. To Make the Marshmallow Filling: Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the salt until firm peaks form, gradually increasing from medium-low speed to medium-high speed as the egg whites gain volume. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the corn syrup over high heat without stirring until it registers 230 to 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer (thread ball stage). Slowly drizzle the hot corn syrup into the egg whites and beat at high speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, beat in the vanilla extract and the powdered sugar.

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See how the consistency appears thick but not really, really thick? As I mentioned above, you may want to beat the egg whites to a stiffer consistency, adjust the amount of cream of tartar, or beat the marshmallow sauce longer.  I’ll put the marshmallow in the fridge next time while the cookies are baking and cooling next time.

5. Using either a pastry bag or a spoon, mound about 1½ tablespoons of marshmallow filling into the center of a cookie. Top with another cookie and press lightly to spread the marshmallow to the edges. Add another mound on top of the second cookie, and top with another cookie, again pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.

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Easy, no?

For the Chocolate Coating:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
¼ cup vegetable oil

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6. To Make the Chocolate Coating: Using a double boiler or in the microwave on 50% power and in 30 second increments, melt the chocolate and vegetable oil together until completely smooth. Place the assembled cookies on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax paper. Spoon the melted chocolate over each cookie so that it runs down the sides and covers most of the cookie. Allow to set at room temperature for about 2 hours (or refrigerate to speed up the process). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

(Recipe adapted from Food and Wine)

Brace yourself for a less than beautiful cookie construction set of photos!  The cookies are beautiful and the marshmallow?  Well, take a look.

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Spoon the chocolate over the cookies.  Note to self: use a wire rack next time.

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Close up of a cookie slip-sliding away.

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Next step, I picked up the cookies and dipped the bottom in chocolate to coat entirely.

I placed the finished cookies in an air tight container and into the fridge to set.  Here’s a photos of the MoonPies…the morning after.

Not exactly the prettiest looking cookies but they TASTE really good!  Good luck with the baking and be sure to let me know how your MoonPies turn out!

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