Tag Archives: easy recipes

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut MacaroonsDid you know that the world is still turning and Easter is happening next weekend? How is that even possible?

Ash Wednesday seems like it was five years ago, but it was at the end of February, back when when eggs were not a hyper-precious commodity. It was a time I would have gladly posted a recipe requiring two egg whites and maybe—big maybe—given you an idea of something to do with the yolks. But that was then. Now, the idea of asking you to separate eggs for a non-essential recipe and then leaving you to find something to do with egg yolks is just…well, I’m not going to do it. Not today.Coconut MacaroonsIn keeping with my stay-at-home, work with what you have, waste not/want not approach to baking (and literally everything) right now, I’m taking a note from a recipe I posted last Easter: Chocolate Macaroon Tart. In case you missed it, it’s basically a giant coconut macaroon filled with chocolate ganache…except that it’s not a macaroon at all! Or not the way most people think of a macaroon, anyway. I mean, it’s coconutty and all, but where macaroons are traditionally made with egg whites and sugar, this tart crust is made with sweetened condensed milk. And, since that mixture worked so unbelievably well pressed into a pan, why not mound it like regular macaroons and bake until golden?

Wow, I just said “macaroon” like 478 times.Coconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsAnyway, here is a pantry-friendly version of Coconut Macaroons, a springtime classic. You’d never know these aren’t made with the usual egg whites and sugar—they’re just as toasty-edged, soft-centered and delightfully chewy as their traditional counterparts.Coconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsThe ingredient list is short: a bag of sweetened shredded coconut, about half a can of sweetened condensed milk, some vanilla and salt. No vanilla? Leave it out. Wish they had a little lime or orange to offset the sweetness? Zest some into the sweetened condensed milk before mixing. Like your macaroons dipped in chocolate? Cool them and then dip away!Coconut MacaroonsAnd if you, perhaps, have egg whites leftover from—I don’t know—making Lazy Lemon Curd, and are looking for traditional macaroons, you can double this recipe and swap the potato chips for 3 cups of coconut.Coconut MacaroonsAs for this recipe, all you’ll have leftover is a half a can of sweetened condensed milk, and if you’re not already drizzling that into your weekend coffee…well, you’re in a pandemic and this is the time to start.Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons
makes about 1.5 dozen

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 14-ounce bag (5 cups) sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt.

Place coconut in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in sweetened condensed milk mixture and stir together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Wet your hands. Scoop coconut mixture in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments (I used a medium cookie scoop) and form into balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 15 minutes, or until light golden and slightly puffed. Let cool on pans for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Coconut Macaroons will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Basic Blondies

Basic BlondiesI almost feel silly posting this recipe—how many variations on blondies does one blog need?

But here I am, doing it anyway, because blondies are easy to make, require limited ingredients, and damn near everyone likes them—perfect for this time when all of us are staying at home.Basic BlondiesThis isn’t so much a variation on blondies as it is a back-to-basics. There are no wild flavors or mix-ins, just pure butterscotch flavor and chocolate chips.Basic BlondiesI’ve essentially used the same blondie recipe since 2010, but recently started cutting the flour in an effort to make them denser and chewier. At Christmas, I reduced the usual 1 cup by 2 tablespoons. Now I’ve taken it 2 tablespoons further, so the recipe requires just 3/4 cup flour. Not bad for a whole pan full of blondies!Basic Blondies
As promised last week, this recipe has a bevy of options for substitutions so you can make them with whatever you have in your kitchen. No brown sugar? Mix 1 cup of granulated with a tablespoon of molasses to make your own. In a pinch, you can sub the molasses with maple syrup, honey, agave, golden syrup or dark corn syrup. And if you don’t have any of those, just use your granulated sugar as-is and call them “platinum” blondies.Basic BlondiesBasic BlondiesUse whatever salt you have and are comfortable with. If you only have 1/2-1 teaspoon of vanilla to spare, that’s fine. You could probably get away with nixing it altogether. No parchment for pan-lining? Use foil, or grease & flour the pan.Basic BlondiesRegarding mix-ins, the sky’s the limit! Add whatever you want into your blondies—busted pretzels, chopped nuts, candy bar pieces, swirls of Nutella, a layer of cheesecake—or leave them completely plain. Whatever you want to use is the right thing to use.

As I’ve said many times before, take my recipe and make it yours.Basic Blondies

Basic Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 blondies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and line it with parchment (or foil), leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Grease again. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla, followed by flour and salt. Check to make sure the batter isn’t too warm to the touch before stirring in chocolate chips (you don’t want them to melt).

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan, then use parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Slice with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.Basic BlondiesBasic BlondiesBasic Blondies

Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Oh, hello. Are you social distancing? Good—me too!

I have tons of baking supplies at the moment; I scooped up 20 extra pounds of flour when everything started to go to hell about three weeks ago. Before anyone scoffs, I’m not taking from others, baking is literally my job. I understand, however, that you may not have had a 10 pound bag of chocolate chips from Costco on your list, and even if you did, the likelihood that you actually got it is not great. But. But! You don’t need 20 pounds of flour or a gazillion chocolate chips or even to sacrifice eggs in the name of baking during this pandemic.

Real talk—if there ever were a time to bake, this is it. We’re all going to be home a lot; we are going to need things to do to pass the time. For better or worse, baking is entertainment, a way to redirect your mind, and it results in something delicious for you and your family/significant other/roommate(s). You’re going to need something to do between your Zoom meetings and burning through Love is Blind.

These are some of my favorite bare-bones recipes, meaning that maybe they don’t require eggs or can be made with different fats or use only the smallest quantities of everyday ingredients that are hard to find right now. These are the things you can make when you don’t have much in your pantry. I want you to get the most bang for your baking buck, you know? And in that spirit, all the recipes I post (and I will continue to post) for the foreseeable future will fit into these categories or come with substitutions.

We’re all in this together.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Oatmeal Blender Pancakes

These excellent pancakes just happen to be vegan and gluten-free, so you won’t need hot-ticket items like flour, butter or eggs to make ‘em. As long as you have oats, oil and some form of milk (plant or dairy)—oh, and a blender—you can make a shortstack in record time. Heads up that these freeze well and can be microwaved for pancakes on-demand.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Buttermilk Biscuits

I am happy to eat a biscuit any time of day. They take just a few minutes to whip together and can be on your table in about half an hour. Don’t want to sacrifice a whole stick of butter? Swap half for shortening, or try coconut oil biscuits. Cream Biscuits & Cornmeal Biscuits are also great options right now.

One great thing? Biscuits don’t require any eggs. They sure are delicious with them though.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Sour Cream Waffles

I have half a container of sour cream that needs a purpose, so I’m going to make some waffles this weekend. If you’re not in the same position, you can swap in some plain yogurt, or use buttermilk in place of both the milk and sour cream. I won’t be able to eat all the waffles at once, which is wonderful for future me. They can be frozen and reheated in the toaster when the mood strikes. Trust me, the mood will strike.

If you need your waffles to be gluten-free or vegan, try these Cornmeal Waffles.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Chocolate Chip Cookies

No dessert is quite as comforting as a chocolate chip cookie, and chances are that you have some chocolate chips or a bar that can be bashed up, thrown into some cookie dough, and baked. Don’t have cornstarch? Nothing terrible will happen if you leave it out. Same with vanilla. You can also swap all the sugar for brown sugar. I haven’t tried using all granulated sugar in this recipe, but if that’s all you have, you can use this cookie base, minus the sprinkles.

Heads up that cookie dough can be rolled into balls, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen. Once they’re frozen-through, put the dough balls in a freezer bag. You can bake the cookies from frozen at a later date, adding a minute or so to the baking time.

Don’t want to make a whole batch of cookie dough? You can make just enough to make one cookie!

Need your cookies to be vegan or gluten-free? Try these—you can swap in peanut butter in a pinch.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Vanilla Wafers

This was the recipe that got me into this whole baking racket. The ingredient list is short and sweet, but the recipe makes a ton of cookies and they keep forever.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

This was almost a list without a cake—most require a lot of ingredients, including several suddenly-precious eggs. Boterkoek, however, requires just one lone egg and the remaining ingredients are almost all pantry staples, which is a win. Oh, and nothing terrible will happen if you leave out the almond extract and ginger.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Blondies

These are super easy and require just six ingredients (in small amounts!) at their most basic. Throw in whatever mix-ins you have or try one of the options in my archives.

My peanut butter blondies are super popular and can be made with regular chocolate chips and without the Oreos. Oh, and if you’re looking for the recipe that’s pictured, it’s not on the site quite yet—next week.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Brownies

Everyone loves brownies! Make ‘em with a gorgeous, glossy, and gluten-free, or swap out the dry ingredients for flour if you’re in a pinch. No chocolate for melting? Make cocoa brownies—feel free to simplify them by using all granulated or brown sugar. Heads up that brownies freeze incredibly well and are super delicious when ice cold.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Easy Raspberry Jam Squares

These squares require minimal ingredients (no eggs!) and you can make them any flavor you want. They’re somewhere between a blondie, an oatmeal cookie, and a linzer—a great recipe to have in your back pocket.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Magic Bars

I love a magic bar. They’re incredibly easy to make and can be made with damn near anything you have in your pantry, permitting that one of those things is sweetened condensed milk.

Don’t have cookies to crumble? Use crackers and a few tablespoons of brown sugar or try a blondie base. Only have one sort of topping? This is not a problem—just go with it! Magic bars are sort of…magical…that way.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Cornbread

Cornbread goes with everything. My recipe is naturally gluten-free, as it contains no flour, but if you’re running low on cornmeal, feel free to swap flour in for half the dry ingredients. Want to jazz it up? Add chorizo or jalapeños and/or cheese or herbs or bacon or…you get the point.

Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Pizza Dough

Pizza dough requires minimal ingredients and can be used for way more than just pizza. Brush it with oil and sprinkle with za’atar for za’atar bread. Top it with everything bagel seasoning for something to snack on or use with a dip or spread or under runny eggs. Brush it with butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar for dessert pizza. As for pizza, use what you have. Barbecue sauce and cheddar? Throw some chicken on it. Pesto and mozzarella? YUM. Really, your only limitation is your imagination.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Got any bare-bones baking questions? Hit me up on here or social media! I’ll be keeping it simple around here for the duration of this thing. I hope you and your loved ones are all okay.

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

Oreo Cheesecake BarsAfter declaring that I was going to tackle my fear of cheesecakes (more accurately, the water bath/bain marie) last summer…well, I didn’t do that. I made you a bunch of other stuff though, so I’m not that sorry about it.

Perhaps this will be the year I make a real, mile-high, baked in a water bath, dreamy, creamy, wonderful cheesecake. But perhaps not. I’m going get my cheesecake fix either way though with these Oreo Cheesecake Bars.Oreo Cheesecake BarsNot only are they freaking delicious—Oreos + cheesecake, duh—but they are waaaaay easier to make than a traditional cheesecake. They bake in just 30 minutes and cool in 3 hours (seems like nothing when you remember that most cheesecakes require 8-24!) and require exactly seven ingredients. That’s right, all you need to make a batch of these of these bars are Oreos, melted butter, cream cheese, sugar, an egg, sour cream, and vanilla. And time. And a functioning oven. And a refrigerator.

But like, ten things isn’t much to ask when cheesecake is involved.Oreo Cheesecake BarsThese are incredibly simple to make and they’re the perfect treat to have in the fridge all weekend. Crumbly Oreo crust and a thin layer of tangy cheesecake studded with more Oreos and you didn’t have to use a water bath? Is this real life?!

Yes. Yes, it is. And it is delicious.Oreo Cheesecake Bars

Oreo Cheesecake Bars
makes 1 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

Crust:
24 whole Oreos
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 whole Oreos, cut/broken into shards

This recipe requires a 3 hour chill after baking. Plan accordingly.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil. Grease well. Set aside.

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into in even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes to set. Let cool a few minutes while you prepare the cheesecake.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg, sour cream, and vanilla, until mixture is smooth. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in Oreo pieces, holding back a few for the top, if desired.

Spoon cheesecake mixture over the crust and carefully spread to the edges of the pan. Dot the top with reserved Oreo pieces, if desired. Tap full pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the center just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool to room temperature on a rack. Chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before slicing and serving. For cleanest slices, wipe your knife’s blade clean between cuts.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For best storage, layer bars with sheets of wax paper. They may also be frozen for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Oreo Cheesecake BarsOreo Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsIt’s been gloomy out lately, but I’m keeping it sunny in my kitchen with these classic Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThey’ve got loads of bright lemon flavor from fresh zest and juice, a little crunchy texture from poppy seeds, and they stay moist for days thanks to ingredients like eggs, oil and whole milk.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThese muffins come together quickly and easily and don’t require a mixer. In fact, a mixer would be a detriment here. The secret to tender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (and most muffins and quick breads) is to mix them as little as possible. You can stir the wet and dry ingredients separately as much as you like, but once they’re in the same bowl, you want to stir just 15 or 20 times.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThe batter is divided into 12 muffin cups before being baked at 400F for five minutes, and then 350F for fifteen more. That initial blast of heat helps them to dome, while the remaining bake time ensures they cook evenly.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsOnce baked, let your muffins cool a few minutes before drizzling on a quick lemon glaze. You could skip it in the name of breakfast or health, but…why?

Life is short. Muffins are breakfast-appropriate cupcakes. This glaze is “secretly” an icing.

Don’t. skip. the. glaze.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsServe your Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins up with coffee or tea or whatever makes you happy. Good luck resisting a second. I’ve been known to eat three or four of these throughout the day, which seems like a lot, but can you blame me?Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 medium lemons)
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2-1 medium lemon)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use your fingertips to rub lemon zest into sugar. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, lemon juice, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined—no more than 15-20 strokes.

Divide batter among muffin cups—they will be full. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350F and bake for an additional 14-16 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least five minutes before removing to prepared rack.

Make glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice until thick, but pourable. Pour or drizzle over muffins. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving. Glaze will set completely after several hours.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days. Unglazed muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsLemon Poppy Seed Muffins