The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap If you know me even a little bit, you know I love cookies, and I especially love trying new cookies. So I am thrilled to be part of this year’s The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Basically, I bake and send a dozen cookies to three other bloggers, then receive three dozen different cookies from other food bloggers from all over the country. Yes, it’s a sweet deal. And it gets better because The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is again partnering with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.



So how does a long distance cookie swap work? Well, this one runs like clockwork – I happily baked my three dozen holiday cookies and shipped them off and then sat by the mailbox waiting to get my three dozen cookies. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long!

First up, some brown butter cookies with vanilla bean icing from Kristen at Bourbon and Honey. Wow. Wonderfully delicious!

Next some rosemary shortbread from Amber at Loves Food, Loves to Eat. Fantastic – especially because she even dipped them in chocolate!

Brown butter white chocolate macadamia nut cookies Jessica at Golden Brown and Delicious were prettily packaged and on my door in time for breakfast – I mean lunch. I would never eat cookies for breakfast, even cookies as delectable as these.

My cookies? The recipe for my first (and best) batch is from a phenomenal home baker and friend.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (except when they’re not chocolate)

1 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly to blend. Add butter and process about 30 seconds

until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and vanilla and process until a smooth dough forms. Pat dough into a flattened ball, wrap in

plastic and chill for at least 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Put on greased cookie sheet (wash them with the egg yolk.) Bake for

15 to 18 minutes or until firm but not browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Notes from husband of the phenomenal home baker’s husband:  add additional butter and sugar. When making the non-chocolate, add a little more flour to make up for the missing cocoa powder…not scientific.

Frosting is very unscientific mix of powdered sugar and water…to whatever consistency works for you. Put on frosting and decorate immediately…let dry for a really long time or else your beautiful work will be wrecked if you stack them.

Ultimately these are my family’s favorite cookies but I felt as if my instructions were too imprecise so I made Joanne Chang’s very precise and wonderful holiday cookies.

Recipe here:

Holiday Sugar Cookies

by Joanne Chang of flour bakery and cafe 


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cream sugar and butter for 5 min until light and fluffy in an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 min until combined.

In separate medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder & salt until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture into the butter-sugar-eggs-vanilla mixture and them mix until it is totally incorporated.. Refrigerate the dough for around one hour – I have done it for less and it’s been fine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly flour your work surface, place dough on the surface and flour the dough and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and use your favorite cookie cutters. I went with stars this time. Transfer to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on the edges.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

I’m proud to have donated to The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and the proceeds go to

From the website:

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national 501(c)3 non-profit, is committed to raising funds for research to develop new, improved treatments for pediatric cancer, the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S. We provide inspiration and support for individuals, businesses and organizations to raise funds by hosting grassroots bake sales and other fundraising events.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015
Beautifully hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen – many thanks! Want to know more? Join next year’s swap?  Go here.

Thank you to sponsors Dixie Crystals Sugar, OXO and Land O’ Lakes butter for the baking treats.


Halloween is sweet over at The Food Network

What is sweeter than Halloween? And some of our favorite shows are on The Food Network, where I often find inspiration, and they have special Halloween themed recipes…of course they do! Check out these sweet and savory treats. The Food Network has two great October shows that offer more great Halloween recipes and ideas – Halloween Baking Championship (Mondays @9:00pm) and Halloween Wars (Sundays @9:00pm).

You know I’m all about the sweets, and there are some great treats like Wicked Cupcakes 


Pull Apart Graveyard Cupcakes

Pecan-Caramel Spiders
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen


1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Chocolate curls or jimmies, optional


Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Mound 30 small clusters of pecans, about 3 or 4 pecans each, spaced a couple inches apart on the pan.

Make caramel: Warm the cream over low heat and keep warm while you cook the sugar.

Put the sugar and corn syrup and in a deep, heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and simmer until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage, or 305 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.

Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture. Gradually pour in the cream and vanilla taking care since the mixture will bubble up. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F on the thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Immediately remove from the heat and cool for a minute.

Ladle a couple tablespoons of warm caramel over some of the nut clusters, to make the spider bodies. Then press 6 pieces of licorice into the warm caramel to make the legs. Repeat with the remaining caramel and licorice. (It’s helpful to have an extra hand here, since the caramel can set quickly. If caramel hardens, warm over very low heat. ) Let spiders cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1-inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.)

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each spider. Sprinkle with jimmies or chocolate curls, if desired. Let cool until firm.

Copyright 2007 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved

From Food Network Kitchens

© 2015 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Read more at:











But I also love tomato soup with a nice grilled cheese and this recipe is too adorable not to share! Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster Sammies to fuel us your little trick or treaters before they get all sugared up from Halloween. Plus it’s a rookie move to order a pizza on Halloween night because everyone does and the wait is endless.

For more Halloween recipes and ideas, tune in to Food Network or visit






Coats for Kids by Anton’s Cleaners and Jordan’s Furniture

Do some good. Clean out your closet and help keep a kid warm by donating the coats to Coats for Kids. It’s easy and there are so many donations spots – any of Anton’s Cleaners locations (there are 42) and any of the Jordan’s Furniture locations (there are five). Since 1985, Anton’s Cleaners has collected, cleaned and distributed nearly 800,000 coats. Let’s give them a shout out and a little help meeting their goal of 60,000 coats for kids this winter.

So while you’re changing over your closet from summer to winter, earmark a couple of coats for Coats to Kids. You’ll be glad you did, and more importantly, so will the children who get the much needed coats. Need more info?

What: Collecting Warm Winter Coats for Children & Adults

When: October 12th, 2015- January 8, 2016

Where: Warm winter coats will be accepted at all Anton’s Cleaners and Jordan’s Furniture locations

In these hard economic times there are thousands of individuals in our very own community that are without a warm winter coat. Donated coats will be cleaned free of charge by Anton’s Cleaners. Once collected and cleaned, coats will be distributed through the Coats for Kids Distribution Partners network, which includes organizations such as Massachusetts Community Action Programs (MASSCAP), Salvation Army, Middlesex Human Service Agency, BU Medical Center Outreach Van Project, Wish Project, Community Giving Tree, Mental Health Association of Greater Lowell, Strafford County Community Action, Catholic Charities, to name just a few

You can become a partner, sign up your school, or make a monetary donation online, or just drop off a coat or two. It all helps. And thank you.

For more information go to Coats For Kids.

Follow on them on Twitter for updates.

The Importance of Child’s Play


This is a sponsored post and yet all opinions remain steadfastly my own. As always.

Long ago when all children were free range children, only we were just called children, unstructured play ruled the land. Granted, you could say it was an easier time, a gentler time, but was it, really? When I was young, we had to be in when the street lights went on, and that was when we were in elementary school. On those long, hazy summer nights we were covered in mosquito bites and a fine dusting of dirt from the street, or maybe some muck from the frog pond. We were always amazed when our mother knew we had been to the pond  (we weren’t supposed to go), and thought she was magic. Now I know that she could smell frog pond on us from 100 feet away. Anyone could, really, and that’s why it was off limits, not because we might fall in and drown, although I’m sure she considered that as a possibility.

Now, and I include myself in the ‘in control’ parent group, playtime is structured, scheduled and organized and supervised, but should it be? Classes are great, interests are wonderful, but where has the time for play gone? Here is a great article by Dr. Michael Patte, on the Genius of Play website.

Here is another article from The American Academy of Pediatrics, in case you like more data.

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

And, yes, my children had their share of scheduled activities from play dates to lessons to organized sports.  While I was not for letting my children wander off in the vague direction of a frog pond, they did have plenty of unstructured play. The swing set in our back yard has the typical worn down dirt under each swing and these patches of dirt became a magnet for their play, especially after a rain. Small plastic animals lived there (some, I fear, are still buried there), Barbies swam in the puddles with Polly Pockets, lions and horses, mud pies and castles reigned, and it was just the right amount of mess for my girls, and for me. As it turns out, frog ponds are really stinky.

So, sign your children up for a class or two, but remember that your backyard, local park or school yard has plenty of opportunities for play and the benefits for the children are enormous, so take the pledge to play. Don’t just take my word for it either.

Click here to take the Pledge to Play.





Need more info on the benefits of play? Here are some stats and facts. Need ideas? Here are some great ideas for games.
Find the Toy Industry Association on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube for more great tips about, basically, child’s play.
I received compensation for this post. 

1 2 3 4 25

%d bloggers like this: