Tag Archives: Martha Stewart

Smoky Bacon-Ginger Cookies

We had a cookie exchange/Secret Santa shindig with the girls at work. Everybody was asked to bring a dozen cookies, preferably something that reminded them of home. I guess I didn’t hear this last part because I went ahead and made cookies my mother never would have made growing up.

But times have changed. Bacon continues to ride the wave of food-trendiness. You won’t see me with a “Keep Calm and Eat Bacon” tee shirt, but I like bacon as much as the next red-blooded American. Leave it to Martha Stewart to turn something as low-country as bacon into a sophisticated cookie that will wow your guests.

The brilliant part is that you POUR THE BACON GREECE INTO THE BATTER. Don’t let your arteries get into a tizzy – this batter has way less butter to account for the bacon fat, so the resulting cookie is chewy and spicy like a ginger cookie, but with something extra – the smoky smell of the hickory-smoked sea salt you sprinkled on top, plus a savory bite that enhances the rest of the flavors.

I was most surprised to find that I couldn’t really taste the bacon. So don’t expect a mouthful of bacon bits. Instead, it’s more of a flavor enhancement…

Smoky Bacon-Ginger Cookies


  • 6 slices of good, thick-cut smoked bacon cut into 1/4-inch dice (this is not the time for off-brand bacon!)
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 c. raw sugar for rolling
  • smoked sea salt for sprinkling (I used hickory smoked sea salt from Williams-Sonoma, you can really smell the hickory!)

Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon bits are crisp and have released their fat entirely. Reserve the bacon fat (you want about ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons) and set aside the crisp bacon (about ¾ cup as well) on a paper towel. Let the bacon and fat cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and brown sugar and white sugar until they become fluffy together, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon fat and mix well, about 1 minute. Add the egg and mix until well blended. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour in the molasses and mix. On slow speed, slowly pour in the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Gently mix in the bacon bits.

Scoop 1 T of dough out and roll into a 1-inch ball, then roll in the raw sugar to coat entirely. Put the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Flatten the balls of dough with the palm of your hand, then top with a pinch of the smoked sea salt. Slide the sheet tray into the oven and bake until the edges of each cookie is starting to crisp, the tops start to crack, but the center is still soft, about 8 minutes. (Turn the baking sheet halfway through.) Do not be tempted to over-cook these. I would stick to 8 minutes at least for your first batch. These cookies do well when they are chewy in the middle.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on a rack, about 15 minutes.

Then plate up … with an Elf on a Shelf!

I never heard of the Elf on a Shelf tradition until I moved down here, but I love these little guys, hiding all over the house – Santa’s little snoops.

While I baked these cookies, Grant poured himself some Makers Mark, which goes well with the smoky nibbles.

And we enjoyed a silent night.

Here is the obligatory photo of my cat being forced to wear a reindeer outfit.

Happy Holidays, friends! xoxo


Wine-Poached Pear Frangipane Tart

Almonds remind me of the first sentence in one of my favorite books, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

The almonds used in this French frangipane tart are not bitter – rather, they are richly sweet ground into the pillowy filling that holds my tender wine-poached pear slices.

Adapted from Martha Stewart, of course, this flower-like tart is a definite crowd-pleaser. I omitted the rum simply because I had none, but a dash of alcohol never hurt anyone…

Pate Sucree (crust)

Ingredients (makes 2 crusts – you’ll need one; freeze the other):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add yolks; pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together (no longer than 20 seconds). Divide in half; shape each into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (up to 2 days).
White Wine Poached Pears
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 4 firm but ripe pears, stem on, peeled

Combine wine, 4 cups water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add pears, reduce to simmer, and cook until the pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool pears in poaching liquid.

Wine-Poached Pear Frangipane Tart


  • 1 pate sucree
  • 4 wine-poached pears
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, room-temperature butter, plus more for tart tin
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup fig jam, for glaze

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch tart tin with a removable bottom. Set aside. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour, and roll pastry dough (pate sucree) into a circle with a 14-inch diameter. Fit circle into prepared tin, being careful not to stretch dough too thin. Transfer to freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, finely grind almonds. Set aside.

Make the frangipane: Combine butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer). Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ground almonds, egg, almond extract, and flour, and beat until smooth. Spread evenly into chilled tart shell and refrigerate while preparing pears.

Remove cooled poached pears from liquid and cut each in half lengthwise, removing core and stem. Place each half, cut side down, on a cutting board and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange sliced pear halves on frangipane around edge of tart, leaving space between each half. Bake until the tart shell is golden brown and the frangipane is puffed and brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

While the tart is baking, melt jam with 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush warm-from-the-oven pears with apricot-rum glaze.

Cool tart to room temperature before slicing.

Delicious! The pears themselves smell so wonderful while poaching – the wonderful combination of lemon, cinnamon and vanilla. Then the almond frangipane baking with that rich, buttery crust…ahhhh.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Strawberry-Basil Shortcake

Strawberries! The farmers are waving pickers in by the droves as these red rubies grow juicy under the sun. Strawberries are a great way to celebrate spring, and this twist on the traditional strawberry shortcake is a wonderfully herbal surprise for your spring entertaining.

I changed Martha’s recipe a bit, adding more of the basil cream to the dough in the shortcake – GREAT idea. The cake is very buttery and flaky and delicious. I had never made it in one big cake before and it was very pretty! Quite the WOW factor when you serve. If you love basil and love strawberries, you obviously will love this dessert.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Strawberry-Basil Shortcake


  • 2 1/4 cups cold heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons, for brushing
  • 20 large basil leaves, plus 1/3 cup small or torn basil leaves
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups sliced strawberries (1 pound 4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  1. Bring cream to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bruise large basil leaves by hitting repeatedly with the dull side of a knife, and stir into cream. Remove from heat, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let steep for 25 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing solids to extract liquid. Refrigerate until very cold, at least 5 hours (I did mine a couple days ahead).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, the baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers. (The largest pieces should be the size of small peas.)
  3. Whisk together 3/4 cup of the basil cream, the eggs, and vanilla. Stir into flour using a fork until ingredients are moistened but not fully incorporated. (Do not overmix.)
  4. Turn dough out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and pat into a 9 1/2-inch circle. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons cream, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.
  5. Bake until light golden brown and just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely (or not, I was hungry!)
  6. Meanwhile, macerate strawberries with remaining 1/4 cup sugar, plus more if needed, depending on sweetness, stirring occasionally.
  7. Toss berries with small basil leaves. Whisk basil cream with confectioners’ sugar in the chilled bowl of a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
  8. Mound basil cream on shortcake. Spoon berries with juice over top.

All you have left to do is enjoy, friends! xoxo

DIY T-shirt necklaces

Happy Birthday to Me! It’s true, I am a year older, but to celebrate the art-school kid who will always thrive inside me, I had a very crafty birthday brunch to celebrate. What is it that makes cooking and crafting go hand-in-hand?

I saw this idea on a blog and thought it would be great for a party of some sort: turning old T-shirts into new necklaces! I quickly researched the idea and found a Martha Stewart article to help – it entails cutting your T-shirt into shreds, stretching the pieces until they curl and then looping them into a colorful necklace/scarf. The necklaces are soft and warm and cozy. In the summer, you can get them wet and they’ll keep you cool on hot days. I’ve even seen them for little babies and it was super cute.

Find detailed instructions  here.

Here are Anna and Kristin, modeling their necklaces:

I loved how all my friends/party-goers swapped and shared their fabrics, so everybody had unique and beautiful designs. Natalie even wove a gold chain through hers, which I thought was a nice touch.

Some day, I will become rich making these out of vintage fabric, adding some ribbon or a sparkly brooch and selling them to Anthropologie for $50 a pop.

Beautiful Erica in the TWO scarves she made!

Oh yes, and I made a fabulous brunch spread, featuring mango mimosas, bloody marys, andouille and spring onion frittatas, smoked-salmon blinis with creme fraiche and a three-tiered strawberry “cake.” Stay tuned, friends!

Cheers to the girls! xoxo

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate, cinnamon and ground chipotle chiles give these cookies a smoky-spicy aftertaste that transform a regular ol’ chocolate cookie into something that could keep up with your festive spiked punch.

As only Martha Stewart could make it, these cookies contain cream of tartar, giving them the chewiness of a snickerdoodle. In fact, combined with the slight saltiness, I’ve dubbed these cookies chocolate snickerdoodles rolled in smoked chiles. It’s a description that will entice or deter.

Like traditional snickerdoodles, they are indeed rolled in a sugary spice mixture, then baked until the tops crack and become shiny.

My dad declared that he loves them, which is high praise for someone who hates one new thing each week. [This week it’s Facebook (womp womp).]

I find these to be a welcome addition to all the light-colored cookies we see in wintertime. A bit of deviled chocolate.

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (could also use cayenne or ancho chile powder)
  • Directions: 

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
    2. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder. Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets (I recommend cushionaire). They will spread quite a bit! Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

    Hope you are enjoying your holidays, friends! xoxo

    Peach melba spoom

    Peach and raspberry frozen meringue

    I haven’t been an avid ice-cream maker this summer – all the steps for making the curd, all the chilling and mixing and chilling again, then straining and chilling – it can be exhausting, albeit gratifying. So I’m looking for simpler ways to get the indulgence of ice cream, but without the work.

    A recent Martha Stewart recipe for peach melba spoom caught my attention. What the heck is a spoom? Essentially, it is a cross between a sorbet and a frozen meringue. Made with NO CREAM, and just two egg whites instead of egg, it is light and airy and full of tart fruity flavor. Berries and peaches are beautiful right now, but you can make this with any fruit, really.

    Martha’s Peach Melba Spoom

    • 1/2 c. water
    • 1/2 c. plus 1/3 c. sugar
    • 5 peaches, halved, pitted
    • 12 oz. raspberries
    • 2 large egg whites

    Bring water and 1/2 c. sugar to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool in fridge. Now you have simple syrup!

    Slice and puree three peaches with half the raspberries and 1/4 c. chilled simple syrup – you can do this in a food processor or blender. Add more syrup to taste (I used almost all of it). Pass mixture through fine sieve and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (a rubber spatula will help force the liquid out).

    Place egg whites and remaining 1/3 c. sugar in heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Using a hand-held mixer, whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch, 2 min. Remove from heat. Whisk at high speed now until glossy peaks form, about 5 min.

    Gently fold fruit puree into whites. Freeze in an ice cream mixer according to manufacturer’s instructions (for my Cuisinart, it took about 25 min. to get thick enough). Transfer to a container, seal and freeze for at least an hour.

    To serve, layer sliced peaches and raspberries with the spoom in pretty glasses.

    Each person I serve this to remarks on how surprisingly delicious it is. Strongly flavored with fruit, tart-yet-sweet and with an airy texture. And serving it with the fresh fruit is an added texture that works really well.

    This is a wonderful dessert if you are serving someone who can’t eat a lot of dairy (you know who you are!). Guaranteed success.

    Enjoy, friends! xoxo

    Spooky chocolate pumpkin tart


    Okay, so I know that Halloween is more than a month away. But darnit if those grocery-store magazines with all their fall/Halloween promos didn’t snare me. So now my coffee table has Martha Stewart, Country Living, Southern Living, Pottery Barn and Rachael Ray. All in orange, black and white.

    A girl has to be prepared, right? This way, I’ll know which dishes to make and how to make them better by the holiday.

    So, on to Martha Stewart. Her Halloween issue is one of my favorites because she always goes crazy. One recipe (among many) interested me: her chocolate-pumpkin tart. It took me around six hours, but I made it. And it is yummy nummy. The hardest part was finding canned pumpkin puree that is NOT pumpkin-pie filling. I finally found some, but it had to be organic, costing $3 a can! I had most of the other ingredients and used my turkey eggs, which worked great.

    The most time-consuming part of this recipe was the baking/chilling time. The actual cooking part was easy, it just took a lot of steps. As a result, I’m not going to post the recipe here. It would take almost as much time as cooking the dang thing!

    It starts out with a chocolate crust that you make with butter, cinnamon, cloves and cocoa powder (and salt, flour, sugar). You make it, chill it, roll it out, chill it again, then bake. Once that bakes, you sprinkle chopped chocolate over it, which melts nicely.


    Chocolate on chocolate

    Chocolate on chocolate


    Next, you make a custard with creme fraiche (I used sour cream), eggs, brown sugar and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves). Pour that over the crust and bake until set. Then you have to chill it before you make the spider-web pattern. For the web, I melted more chocolate and piped the pattern free-hand. Instead of adding plastic spiders to decorate like Martha, I piped my own little chocolate spider in the corner. I love the effect! Totally worth the tendinitis I now have in my left hand.


    Then you have to chill it again, for about an hour (we watched “Mad Men”). This will make the chocolate design set like a shell. When you cut in, you get the spicy crust, then a layer of chocolate, then the pumpkin custard, then more chocolate on top. It was very chocolatey, like a pumpkin pie dipped in chocolate.


    Layers of goodness

    Layers of goodness

    I think this tart would be great to bring to a Halloween party because it looks so festive. And it feels good to make something so pretty. Friends, don’t wait until the holidays to make delicious treats – you can always make more later. Enjoy!