Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Minute Apple Sauce: The Perfect Recipe for Busy People

As a Washington native, you can determine from the smell in the air when it is apple season. The cool breeze will tell you when you should head out to pick apples on the orchard. The best deals are if you hike slightly out of the city and get the apples fresh from the orchard. So naturally you come home with boxes of beautiful, crisp apples.

5 Minute Apple Sauce

Why I like this recipe:
  • Almost no prep time needed and the slow cooker does all the work!
  • This recipe is chunky and thick! I hate it when apple sauce in the slow cooker comes out with a water, soup texture.
  • Along with no prep time, there isn't much to clean up afterwards! It is only my apple cutter and measuring cups that go straight into the dishwasher after preparing the ingredients. 
Washington Apple

  • 10 apples, cored and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon or 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Put all ingredients into the slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours. The sauce will need to be gently stirred, until your desired consistency level.

5 Minute Apple Sauce

5 Minute Apple Sauce: The Perfect Recipe for Busy People
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Ghraybeh: Best Middle Eastern Shortbread Cookie

I love trying out cookies from a different culture, and love it even more when the ingredients are simple and commonly found in my pantry. I typically have orange blossom water, but this is optional and the cookies are still equally delicious if you leave this out. Without the orange blossom water, this is a four ingredient recipe! How often does that happen?!

Why I like this recipe:
  • The dough is incredibly easy to work with making rolling into a ball very simple. 
  • The steps and ingredients are easy and simple. Plus everything is done in one bowl, making clean up a breeze. 
  • This recipe is vegan as it does not require any egg. Great if preparing a meal for a vegetarian friend. Also it removes one guilt factor from eating raw dough!
  • These cookies are delicious for a week after cooking, making them a perfect recipe to make in advance of an occasion. 
Ghraybeh: Best Middle Eastern Shortbread Cookie

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water, optional
  • 2 cups flour
  • Slivered almonds or pistachios for topping
Middle Eastern Cookie Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cream together the butter, sugar, and orange water until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Slowly add the flour and mix until the dough is no longer crumbly. 

Ghraybeh dough

Roll the cookie into an 1 inch ball shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press an almond deep on each cookie, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Rolled Ghraybeh

These cookies do not brown, so be careful not to over bake them. Allow the cookies to cool slightly, and dust with powdered sugar if you prefer. The cookies will last a week in an airtight container.

Ghraybeh Cookies

Ghraybeh: Best Middle Eastern Shortbread Cookie
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Unique Cardamom Pistachio Cookies

I love this recipe if I am feeling like I need to bring a fancier more adult cookie than your typical sugar cookie or chocolate chip. I feel like I sound very mature and elegant when I say "oh there are pistachios with a dash of cardamom in them." On top of feeling fancy, the taste is to die for!

Why I like this recipe:
  • No flour is needed on your counter to roll out this cookie. Makes for a much easier clean up!
  • I don't have a biscuit or circle cookie cutter, so I use the end of a thermos lid. The plastic edges are sharp enough and it doesn't smoosh the edge of the biscuit. 
  • Very easy steps to provide a fancy, unique cookie! 
  • I work full time and being able to break this recipe into two parts is nice. I make it up to the point of chilling in the fridge, then when I'm ready I take it out to roll and bake. 
Cardamom Pistachio Cookies

  • 1/2 cup pistachios, plus 2 Tbsp for topping
  • 2 cup of flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
Put pistachios in a food processor and pulse until they are roughly chopped, about 10 short pulses. Take out 2 Tbsp and set aside. Add the flour to the food processor and give it 5 more pulses to combine. 

Cardamom Pistachio Cookie Dough

Place butter the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix for about 2 minutes until thick and pale. Then add the cardamom and egg and mix until combined. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour pistachio mixture, with the salt and mix until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with cling wrap, and chill for at least an hour in the fridge.

Cardamom Pistachio Cookie Dough

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Take the dough, split into two, and roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper, until 1/4 inch thick. Place the other portion of the dough in the fridge, alternating as you roll out the dough. Use a circle cookie cutter and cut approximately 24 cookies.

Cardamom Pistachio Cookie Dough Cut

Once the cookies are placed on the baking sheet, take the remaining pistachios and combine with the sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the cookies, and bake for 25-30 minutes. The cookies should be firm and golden brown. Allow the cookie to chill on the tray before removing.

Cardamom Pistachio Cookies with Tea

Unique Cardamom Pistachio Cookies
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cheap Flights from Seattle: December 20, 2017

Find the best deal leaving SeaTac

As a Seattle native I'm constantly looking out for cheap flights and deals that are out of SeaTac. It drives me nuts when I get a cheap flight alert, and it is out of NYC or LAX. That doesn't help me! What are the best deals leaving Seattle?!

Best Flight as of 12/20/17
To: Paris (CDG) roundtrip one stop

Price: Starting at $505 (normally $900)

When: Early to mid March

Airline: Multiple

Example: Mar 4 - Mar 14 This is with British Airlines! 

What to Do: Visit the Eiffel Tower, eat croissants, and pretend to be a fashionable Parisian!

There are still great deals to London! Check out this earlier posting for more details. 

As a heads up, these are my traveling preferences:

  • I like non-stop to one layover only. More than two I normally arrive a very angry person who has lost faith in humanity, so I keep it to none or one. 
  • I tend to travel with a carry on only, so watch out for extra bag fees as I don't include those in the price. 
  • I'm open to all airlines and typically pick the cheapest; however, if the price difference is small or the same, I will pick Alaska as that is my preferred airline. 
SeaTac Flights

Cheap Flights from Seattle: December 20, 2017
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Monday, December 18, 2017

No Stress Christmas Sugar Cookies

Nothing says holiday baking like sugar cookies! It's a classic, and must do on most kids' holiday lists. However, every time I attempt to do this, I end up with my feet aching and slightly grumpy. Wasn't this supposed to be fun and bring up fond memories?! My original recipe was extremely time consuming, reminded me that I'm horrible at rolling out dough, and I usually ended up with a stomach ache from trying to eat the dough instead of taking the time to bake it. (don't judge, you know you've done it too...)

Finished Christmas cookies

Why I like this recipe:

  • The dough is made in one quick and easy step, by using the food processor for mixing. 
  • Rolling the dough is done before chilling, which completes a majority of the steps before cutting and baking. This is especially great if you are cooking with children. 
  • No flour is needed for rolling out the dough, so you aren't cleaning flour out of your kitchen for months on end. 
  • The butter should be cold and straight out of the fridge, so you can get started on making the cookies right away.
  • You can use the the freezer to accelerate cooling the dough, making the prep time significantly shorter. 
Stress free Christmas Cookies

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract, optional as this might not be kid friendly
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and diced in 1 inch pieces
  • Icing - see here for recipe
In the food processor, add the sugar and blend for 30 seconds. The sugar should be fine and you may see a sugar "dust" coming from your food processor. Add the chilled butter to the food processor and blend until the sugar and butter forms a ball, approximately 30 seconds. Add the egg, vanilla, salt, and almond extract and process for 10 seconds. Then add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and blend for 30 seconds. The dough will be ready once the flour is completely combined and the dough is together, but still slightly crumbly. 

Cookie dough rolled out

On a piece of parchment paper, split the dough in half, putting one half to the side. Smooth the other into an oval shape, slightly pressing it down until it is ready to roll. Place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the dough, and roll it out to your desired thickness (mine is a 1/4 of an inch). Then take the other half and repeat, rolling the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper. Place the dough in the fridge for at least an 1.5 hours. If you are in a hurry, the dough can be put in the freezer for 30 minutes. 

Cookie dough with cookie cutter

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and take the dough out of the fridge. Gently peel back the top layer of parchment paper and then place it back on the dough. Flip it over, and gently peel back the bottom layer of the parchment paper. Taking off the top layer of parchment will make it easier for removing the cookies. Cut the dough with your favorite cookie cutter, and place on a rimless cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (If you don't have a rimless cookie sheet, flip your rimmed baking sheet upside down). 

Star Christmas cookies

Bake the cookies for 14 - 17 minutes, depending on the size. I found that smaller cuts take a shorter time, so watch those carefully. Once you see the cookies are slightly golden brown around the edges, transfer them from the oven (still on the parchment paper) to a wire rack and cool until they are ready for icing, approximately 10 minutes. Decorate the cookies and serve!
No Stress Christmas Sugar Cookies
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