Shortbread with Maple-Bourbon Glaze and Bacon Pecan Sprinkles

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This recipe was an expiration date away from not being created. I was invited to a cookie exchange on Sunday with elicit instructions to NOT bring a normal cookie. Originally I thought to make shortbread cookies with an eggnog glaze, unfortunately the day I went to make the cookies my prized Straus Family Creamery eggnog had expired. I also had procrastinated and decided to make these cookies at 9PM the day before the party so I had to use what was in the house. I’m so happy you all know now that I always have bacon and bourbon in my house.

I used Ina Garten’s foolproof shortbread recipe. Since my cookies were about a quarter of an inch thick (rather than half an inch thick) I shortened the baking time in her original recipe. The cookies have a healthy bourbon flavor so don’t be surprised if people accuse you of getting them buzzed.

Shortbread Cookies with Maple-Bourbon Glaze and Bacon Pecan Sprinkles

Ina Garten’s Shortbread Recipe

3/4 lb unstalted butter at room temperature

1 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 1/2 c flour

1/4 tsp salt

Maple-Bourbon Glaze

2 1/4 c confectioners sugar

1 tbs maple syrup

3 tbs bourbon

1 tsp milk

Bacon Pecan Sprinkles

3 slices of cooked bacon

1/2 c toasted pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use an electric mixer at a medium-low setting to beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Once combined add vanilla.

Sift together flour and salt in a separate bowl then add to the butter and sugar mixture. On a low setting, mix until the dough comes together (this took a little longer than expected, about 2-3 minutes).

Dust counter or surface with flour and gather dough. Shape dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

This is the perfect time to make your bacon and pecan sprinkles. Cook up your bacon if you haven’t already. I think it is best if the pecans are slightly toasted. To do so place your pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. If you over toast your pecans toss them and start over again.

On a cutting board chop the bacon and pecans so that they are all a uniform size. Place your sprinkles in a fine sifter and shake out any of the small crumbs, set aside for later.

Take your dough out of the fridge, on a flour dusted surface, roll dough out 1/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or simply cut dough into different shapes.

Place cookies onto a baking sheet at least half an inch apart from one another (I like to cover my baking sheet with parchment paper) and bake for 12-14 minutes.

While the cookies are baking make your glaze by sifting powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula add the remaining ingredients one tablespoon at a time starting with the maple syrup, then milk, then bourbon. While you stir the glaze observe the consistency, the second your frosting becomes liquid and easy to stir it is perfect.

*If you added too much bourbon or liquids you can always balance it out with more sifted powdered sugar.

Once your cookies have cooled get ready to assemble them. I like to use a large cutting board as a work station for the glaze and sprinkles, and a couple of cookie sheets for my finished cookies.

Using a small rubber spatula, butter knife (or whatever you have on hand) add about one teaspoon of glaze to your cookie and immediately sprinkle with bacon and pecans. The glaze will take about 20 minutes to harden. Take on your next cookie, glaze, sprinkle and repeat!

Heidi Swanson’s Zucchini Bread

Every Heidi Swanson (aka 101 Cookbooks) recipe I’ve tried is fabulous so when I came across her only zucchini bread recipe I thought, yeeeaaaah – I’ll make this, but without the curry powder. The second time I made her zucchini bread I figured, it won’t hurt to add half a tablespoon of curry powder . . . and then her zucchini bread changed my life (I’m not being dramatic). Remember the scene in 500 Days of Summer when Joseph Gordon-Levitt is dancing to Hall & Oates You Make My Dreams:

I’m not kidding you, people go crazy over this bread they’ll come up to shake your hand, give you a pat on your back and you’ll want to twist & shout. I religiously add a tablespoon of curry powder every time I bake this bread.

My Special Zucchini Bread Recipe from 101 Cookbooks

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 c chopped walnuts

1/3 c poppy seeds (optional)

zest of two lemons (optional)

1/2 c crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 c unsalted butter (room temperature)

1 c sugar

1/2 c fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed

3 lg eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 c grated zucchini (squeeze some of the moisture out before using)

3 c flour (Heidi uses whole wheat pastry flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp curry powder (optional but highly recommended!)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter two loaf pans (the 1 lb. size).

2. In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest & candied ginger. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream the sugar and the butter. Add the eggs one at a time. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients. At the lowest speed stir in the vanilla and zucchini.

4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and curry powder. Add the flour mixture a little at a time to the wet ingredients until it is all incorporated. Do not over mix the batter. Fold in the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest and candied ginger (save some to sprinkle over the top of the bread).

5. Pour the batter into the two loaf pans and sprinkle some of the remaining walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest and candied ginger over the batter. The recipe recommends baking for about 40-45 minutes but I feel like my bread takes about 50-55 minutes to finish.

6. Let the loaves cool for about 10 minutes and remove them from their pans. Place the bread on a wire rack to finish cooling.

7. Cut yourself a slice of bread and smear some butter on it before your bread gets too cool!

Leftovers (recipes & tasting notes from last week)

I am inspired by so many food bloggers through their pictures and meticulous quests to make the prefect recipe. Some of my favorite food blogs include Smitten Kitchen, PW Cooks, The Kitchn and Joy the Baker (goodness, I’m just scratching the surface). Every Saturday I create a menu for the week based on all of … Continue reading

The Overlooked Nasturshium

“Isn’t that poisonous?” someone else said “Wouldn’t that be a funny headline, San Anslemo Garden Exchange poisoned with nasturtiums.”

Cross my heart . . .  I promise that you can eat any and every part of a nasturtium plant (I did the research the second I came home this morning). Today was the first of many garden exchanges in San Anselmo, a weekly roundup of the members from the community exchanging bounty from their garden. I panicked all week due to the lack of vegetables in my garden. The zucchini has exploded with leaves and yellow blossoms but I wasn’t ready to rob my plant of its first zucchini, the tomatoes are dotted with flowers but I don’t think it will get tomatoes for another month and we just reseeded our lettuce a week ago. The only thing in abundance are bees, lavender and nasturtiums.

Nasturtiums are great in the garden, they are a self seeding plant that plant snakes through the garden, inching between your plants and creeping up fences and walls. Some might consider nasturtiums on the invasive side, but I love the way they fill the space in my garden. The leaves in both shape and color always look like they are ready to pop! A childhood friend of mine would always have a carrot cake for her birthday adorned with a ring of nasturtium flowers that added a zing to the sweet cream cheese frosting. Having a fresh and peppery taste, the flowers range from a pale yellow to a flaming red and taste great in salads. After some research I found that the seed pods can be pickled and used in place of capers and one recipe used nasturtiums in a pepper jelly. I decided to keep it on the simple side and experiment with a nasturtium pesto.

Today’s garden exchange brought lemons, pea pods, zucchini, lovage, some of the best arugula I’ve tasted in my life, fresh eggs, seeds that gardeners saved up from last year and a bunch of starter vegetables donated by the nearby nursery. One of the regulars occupied a full table with his zesty homemade red wine vinegar, a variety of dehydrated fruits and vegetables, and gourmet treats for the dogs.

I dissected my nasturtiums, placing the flowers and leaves in one bowl and the seed pods in another small bowl, serving the nasturtium pesto with some plain water crackers on the side. Initially I had to coax people into trying the pesto, but after everyone was reassured that nasturtiums were not poisonous the word spread. Someone told me that I should mass produce my nasturtium pesto and sell it at farmers markets, another woman started tossing the seed pods into their mouth – “these are like fresh wasabi peas!”

I’m a little disappointed I didn’t experiment with nasturtiums sooner. I don’t think nasturtiums will be the newest fad in the foodie world but do me this favor, if you see a nasturtium plant walking down the street, or if you have a one in your garden, grab couple of vines and blend up up a pesto. You’ll be surprised!

NASTURTIUM PESTO

Yields about 1 cup of pesto

1 heaping cup of nasturtium flowers, stems and leaves

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts

1 clove of garlic

1/8 cup of shredded Parmesan

Approximately 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

If you have a food processor, put the nasturtium, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan into the food processor. Turn the processor on, while the blade is spinning pour the olive oil through the opening on the top of the food processor. Continue to blend until the texture is consistent. You might need to push some of the ingredients down off the side of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

For those of you who do not have a food processor, using a pestle and mortar works, or just chop the nasturtium, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan (and keep chopping for a long long time) until the ingredients are so fine that you can press them into a loose ball. Place the chopped up ingredients into a bowl, add your olive oil and serve

* Olive oil – I always vary the amount of olive oil I use in my pesto. If I’m making a pesto crusted salmon, I like the pesto to be on the thick side, for pastas I like my pesto to be on the runny side.

* Color – If you prefer to have a more green pesto omit the flowers. If you want a red or orange colored pesto omit the leaves and the stems.

Pesto is fun to make and an extremely flexible recipe. You really can’t mix it up and you can substitute anything. For example, if you don’t have pine nuts on hand try almonds or walnuts!

Picking up where I left off

My last blog post was one year and 5 days ago. I stopped blogging for really stupid reasons.

1. I didn’t like my blog name.

"Cans Kill"

2. I didn’t think my photographs were good enough

Fish tacos anyone?

3. I wasn’t happy with my theme

Lack of time had nothing to do with it. I still tested recipes, took photos and started blog posts like I did before, I just never posted them. The weight of not posting got pretty heavy. I compare it to the time when you get a voice mail from an old friend and you don’t call them back right away. Two weeks later you remember you hadn’t returned their call and you decide you WILL call them back tomorrow. Three months later you still haven’t called the friend back and at this point it’s too late. Have you ever done this, or is it just me?

You must have called your other friend named Jacqui

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moral of the story, it’s never too late to get back in the game, start blogging or call your old friend back. I’ve been dying to share with you new recipes that I’ve tried along with some of my own personal recipes. I’m a big DIY girl so I’m putting together some easy projects that you can do on your own and I’ll probably sprinkle in a couple of personal experiences here and there (including my “30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30 List”).

So here I go again, new blog name, new theme, I hope you enjoy it.

P.S. – Thank you so much for those of you that emailed and messaged me along the way asking me to start blogging again, I’m excited to get your feedback!

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