Blackberry Pie Bars

Blackberry Pie Bars

This is the beginning of a summer full of pie bars.

I love pie but I’ve never made pie bars before. So when my coworker, Susi, gave me some juicy blackberries from her garden, pie bars were on the top of my mind. To be honest, I wasn’t up to making pie crust on a weekday. Whether you call them pie bars or crumb bars, this dessert starts with a shortbread crust, followed by a layer of fruit filling which is then topped with a reserved amount of the crust to create a crumb topping. I can totally imagine that I will use this base recipe to create all sorts of summer pie bars. Blue ones with blueberries, red ones with strawberries or cherries and orange ones with peaches, nectarines or apricots. Summer fruit is one of my favorite things and I am incredibly glad it is back!

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Yin Yang Cookies

Yin Yang Cookies

My Hapkido friends and I have a lot of fun devising intriguing treats that complement our martial arts practice.

Once the inspiration of these Yin Yang cookies came about, it was hard to resist creating them. There had to be a way to make this symbol come to life—and here is how you can do it! If you do not have a friend who has access to a 3D printer, yin yang cookie cutters are available on the Internet via a quick Google search. We used cutters that did not include the dots and pressed in the dots on top by ourselves by hand. I imagine this was a less frustrating process than cutting them out individually or having to get the dots out of the cutter each time. It was loads of fun putting the two halves together and adding in the dots of the yin yang symbol. They don’t spread out too much while baking, so you needn’t worry about wonky-looking yin-yang symbols.

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Peppermint Bark Cookies

Peppermint Bark Cookies

I’ll keep this one short as I know everyone is in the last-week-before-Christmas craze.

At this point in December, you might find yourself with a box of peppermint bark laying around. Maybe you have already eaten it and maybe it won’t go eaten for another few days.

When I find myself with Halloween and/or holiday candy, I usually can’t help but put it in some sort of baked good. When applicable, of course! Nothing of the gummy variety will ever find itself in any baked good of mine.

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Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

When it comes to food trends, fads and things that are "breaking the Internet", I tend to raise my eyebrows and, keep an eye out but not participate until I'm really ready to.

Often times, this is after the hype is over. I didn't try kale until years after it started being a big thing. 

In general, I am not a quick decision maker. I mull, I overthink and convince myself in the opposite direction in as many ways as I can before coming to a final, final, final decision. It took me a while to decide to try these cookies and even longer to write about them.

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Butterscotch Blondies

Butterscotch Blondies

Deciding what to bake can be either a ridiculously easy task or one that makes me change my mind a hundred times up until the last minute I am about to bake. 

Or sometimes, I don't even bake at all. Shocker! It happened this past weekend. 

Often times, I am trying to use up something that I already have—some fruit that is reaching its prime, some special ingredient that I used in something else or often something out of my freezer. Instead of baking this past weekend, I made a freezer inventory list. It probably has over 50 items on it which is kind of amazing considering how small my freezer is. But, I was happy about that. It's now the most organized I have seen it in a long time. After several frozen fingers and some cursing, it will hopefully make it easier for me to finish little bits of this and that that I tend to accumulate so I can go forth and make new things!

Speaking of new things, I love it when I already have everything I need to bake. It's basically validation that the recipe was meant to be. When it came to this recipe, it sat on the back burner for quite a lot less time than usual. I stumbled upon it reading Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette which I go back to when I can. She has some of the most thought-provoking and beautiful writing. I aspire to write as well as she does. The recipes she shares are often simple but flavorful like these Butterscotch Blondies she shared from The Violet Bakery Cookbook

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Chocolate Linzer Cookies

Chocolate Linzer Cookies

For this year's annual V-Day treat, I decided to go back to the basics with heart-shaped cookies. 

Not just any heart-shaped cookies, but chocolate Linzer cookies. If you have been around here for a while, this is the third type of Linzer cookie I have made although none of them have been particularly traditional. Maybe someday, but for now, I am perfectly happy making untraditional renditions of this Austrian favorite. 

These came about because I was trying to use up some leftover jam I canned and made last year. If I recall correctly, it was a mix of strawberry and rhubarb on the crux of spring turning into summer. I was afraid the texture would be all wrong but it was actually perfect for these cookies. Jams that are too loose or wet make these cookies messier and more difficult to handle and assemble. I found that using a jam that is more firm and thicker is easier for Linzer cookies. The jam acts as a kind of glue that binds the top and bottom cookie together.

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Triforce Linzer Cookies

Triforce Linzer Cookies

I made these for my coworker, Lydia, whose father passed away last week. 

As is the nature of my office, we all decided to do something for her when she returned to work. The first thing was decorating her desk with a forest of flowers. Since Lydia loves Zelda, anything Triforce-related and dessert, it was almost too good to pass up combining the three of those things into one. The birth of these cookies came to me in a moment of pure joy and excitement and I knew I just had to make them come to life. I think it's actually pretty perfect that Lydia was born the year the first Legend of Zelda game was released and that her dad knew that game through and through. Kind of crazy how the universe is like that sometimes. 

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