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Lemon and Raspberry

3 Jun

Large and Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

These cookies happened totally by accident, a happy, happy accident!  I was on Martha Stewart’s website looking at cookies recipes and I came across this Old Fashioned Lemon Cookie Recipe.  I’ve been toying with the idea of offering a lemon option at the farmers market because several customers had asked about it.  I happened to have a lemon sitting on the counter and I already had the other ingredients, so I decided to give these lemon cookies a try.  I compared Martha’s recipe to my own sugar cookie recipe and it was pretty much the same, so I just added the lemon to my own recipe. I added a lot more lemon to my recipe!

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

So, I followed Martha’s instructions and didn’t chill the dough but getting them onto the cookie sheet was a bit challenging.  I sprinkled them with a fair trade cane sugar before baking  for added tastiness.  I wanted to be able to offer samples of these cookies at the market so I made some little and I made some bigger.  The bigger ones, really came out huge!

Large Lemon Cream and Raspberry cookie

After the cookies came out of the oven, they looked really good and they were a bit crunchy.  I really liked them.  My 4 year old liked them too!  Some of the little ones didn’t come out looking very smooth, but the second and third batch came out smooth, like the picture above.  Eva, my daughter, and I had to eat the uneven ones, of course!  She kept sneaking  back into the kitchen and eating cookies!

I still had some lemon juice left over and I was contemplating glazing the cookies or making some kind of icing for the tops.  I couldn’t decide what to do and I was concerned about how the icing would do once I put the cookies in the bags for the market.

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This is how I package the cookies for the market ^.

So, I thought, what if I make cookie sandwiches and put a lemon cream inside the cookies!  I made the lemon cream and i started to pipe the icing onto the cookies.  I had just purchased 2 jars of organic jam, raspberry and blackberry.  Unfortunately, the blackberry jam had huge seeds in it and I couldn’t use it in these. 😦  The good news is raspberry goes really well with lemon and so I put the two flavors together and success!!!  I am in love with these cookies!  The litmus test would be how do they do at the market.  I sold the mini ones in single bags for $.50 each and the big ones, as one customer fondly referred to them as whoopie pies, sold for $2 each.  The next day the cookies were much softer even after they were in the fridge all night.

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

 

They sold out!!   Everyone was delighted and I was very pleasantly surprised!  These may just make the regular rotation!  I love creating new products. Baking brings me joy!

These cookies can be ordered by the dozen and they can be made gluten-free with almond flour by request!  If you live in Northeast Florida you may order a batch today via email or Facebook!

Thanks everyone!!

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Thumbprints – a very popular treat

13 May

Strawberry and Raspberry Thumbprints

This delightful treat is one of the most popular things that we sell at the farmers market.  The recipe isn’t complicated or even that special, it’s the technique and time that it takes to make these joyful tasty bite-sized yummies that makes these so great!

Buttery Thumbprint Dough

I start out with a basic cookie dough, whose name I will not say…gotta keep trade secrets, secret, you know!  The dough gets refrigerated and when it’s ready, I start making little balls of yummy, buttery goodness…

Buttery Thumbprint dough

These get rolled in cane sugar to be prepped for the thumb indents and shaping to come…

Thumbprint cookie dough

This step takes the longest…shaping each ball into to the thumbprint shape.  Of course, I am a perfectionist when it comes to baking goods, so I have to make each one the same size and same shape.  This process takes about 2 hours…once the dough comes out of the fridge until the finished dough goes into the oven.  I put the jam in before I bake them and then they are baked to perfection!  I’ve made these with apricot, orange marmalade, raspberry, and strawberry jams.  Raspberry is the favorite!  I sell out of those every time at the market and it never seems like I make enough!  I’m probably going to have to start doubling the recipe and just make raspberry.  I would like to try blueberry jam though…I love blueberry!  Sometimes, what I love doesn’t translate into sales though…I will try it out and see how it goes!

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Here are the finished, packaged cookies…this picture was taken at Christmas, hence the snowman plate.

The best thing happened this weekend at the market.  A customer bought a bag of the raspberry thumbprints and she started walking away from the table.  She casually opened the bag, took out a cookie, and popped it into her mouth.  She exclaimed, from several yards away, “These are the best cookies ever!!”  I turned around to see where that exclamation came from and she waved to me.  I laughed and turned to the next customer walking by and said, “After that endorsement you almost  have to buy something now!”  That person, immediately came to the table to check out what I was selling!

I love my job, well it’s not really a job when it’s your own company and you get to do what you love!

New Product: Coffee Gateau

24 Apr

Coffee Gateau Mini Cupcakes

This weekend at the St Johns River Farmers Market we will have these lovely cupcakes available for sale!! Yummy! This recipe is a family recipe passed down to me from my mom and grandma. We call it Coffee Gateau, which means Coffee Cake. In America, Coffee Cake is something totally different from this recipe though. My mother was born in England and they do things a bit differently than Americans, so sometimes the names for food are the same but the food itself is not! My mom makes this as a 2-layer cake most of the time and I’ve changed the recipe into mini cupcakes. This is my all-time favorite cake and the one that my mom makes for my birthday every year! I’m excited to debut it at the market and coffee lovers are sure to love this cake! Of course, I make it with organic and fair trade coffee, sugar, and vanilla! Gotta make it fair trade!

Coffee Gateau Mini Cupcakes
The cupcakes have a coffee buttercream and chopped pecans on top!

Oh and another thing, I’ve used organic ingredients to avoid gmos!

Check out my facebook page for more information about what we will be making this week! We are working on getting things in place to start selling online, but unfortunately, we can’t yet!

I’m looking forward to being at the market this weekend! Coffee lovers unite!!

The Un-Peanut Butter Cup…

18 Apr

The best non-peanut butter cups!

These things are awesome! Let me give you a little back story to my struggle…

I have loved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups since I was a kid.  I love Reese’s Pieces, the mini cups, and the big ones!  It has been 3 and 1/2 years since I’d eaten any type of Reese’s product.  I became allergic to peanuts and soybeans at the age of 33!  I had to give up A LOT of my favorite childhood treats, actually, all of my favorite childhood treats because everything has soybeans in it and if it doesn’t have soy in it, it’ll have peanuts.

So anyway…

I am an activist against slavery and all that as well, so most of my favorite childhood treats are made with slave-harvested chocolate and cane sugar as well.  I am really limited as to what I feel morally comfortable eating already, plus add to that my allergies, and that takes pretty much everything off of the table…literally!

I shop at Whole Foods and I always peruse the chocolate candy isle because I’m always looking for soy-free, peanut-free, and slave-free chocolate to eat.  I saw this new brand, Sun Cups and thought, hmmm….what is that?

The front of the package said Nut Free, so I picked it up to investigate further.  It is made with sunflower butter!  I thought to myself, ‘ yeah, but I’m sure the chocolate has soy lecithin in it…’  I read the ingredients and I didn’t see any soy listed and it also stated that it does not contain soy, which is confirmation that I can actually eat this treat!  I was getting so excited standing there in the aisle and I had to restrain myself from shouting out loud!  I continued to read the small print and when I got to the part of Rain Forest Alliance Certified, I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I felt like I won the lottery.

Rain Forest Alliance Certified Sun Cups...

What are the chances of finding something that is free of allergens and slavery!

The only thing left to do was to taste it.  Once I paid for my things and got into my vehicle, I tore open the packet and it looked just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup!  I bit into it with anticipation and it tasted so delicious!  My taste buds were doing the happy dance!  It has been so long since I was able to enjoy nutty chocolatey goodness!  I was supposed to take a picture of the chocolate for this blog post, but I didn’t take the time to stop eating to snap a photo!  Oh well!

Thank you SunCups!!  I love companies that think outside of the box!  They also make caramel and mint varieties as well.  I can’t wait to try them!

 

Christmas at the Farmers Market

20 Dec

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This is our table from last week’s farmers market. We are currently selling a variety of Christmas Cookies and Gift Baskets.

 

Thumbprint Cookies

Here is one of our baskets with cookies, fair trade tea and fair trade chocolates.

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We also have some baskets with fair trade coffee. You can mix and match what you would like in the baskets and the prices range from $10 -$30.

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies

Last week we had sugar cookies dipped in fair trade chocolate.

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These Thumbprint cookies were a big hit! We made them in apricot and raspberry varieties. We almost sold out of these last week. We will definitely have them again this week!

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These have been a crowd favorite and one of my favorite cookies! Classic Chocolate Chip. Some had walnuts too! Chocolate Chip Cookies were my first cookie that I baked on my own way back when I was just a teenager.

On the menu page there is a list of all the cookies that we make. We only bring a few varieties to the market and we do special requests as well. You can always order a dozen or three and pick them up this Saturday! Come out and see us on the 22nd at the St. Johns River Farmers Market on Rt 13 in Fruit Cove. The market is set up inside Alpine Grove Park from 10am – 2pm every Saturday. This is the last chance to get a gift basket for your neighbors, teachers, friends, and family! We make everything from scratch with organic and fair trade ingredients!

Merry Christmas from The Cooking Activist!!

Crispy Salmon Cakes

21 Sep

I have been experimenting with salmon lately.  Salmon is very good for you but I have refused to eat for years.  I just had the thought in my head that salmon did not taste good and I only tasted it once or twice in the last 15 years.  For someone like me, that is always experimenting with food and constantly trying new recipes, this is actually very strange.  I had totally written off salmon as an option.  I also am a proponent for healthy, natural, organic foods and yet, salmon was off limits to my repertoire of healthy foods.  So I recently decided to give salmon a go.  My husband likes salmon and my daughter, who tried it for the first time because my mom brought some over, likes salmon too.

Crispy salmon cakes with sauteed kale and mushrooms served with mashed sweet potatoes

This is my second attempt at making salmon and I will blog about the first attempt with another blog post at a later date.  The moral of all this would be; don’t write off a food just because you tried it once or twice a long time ago.  Especially if that particular food is a super food.

Wild Sockeye Salmon

I recently started using Pinterest which is dangerous, time consuming, and absolutely wonderful!  I’ve found loads of new recipes to try and exciting ideas for baking!  I’m in love and this recipe for crab cakes came by way of Pinterest.   I made a few changes to it:

Ingredients:

2 strips of pastured bacon, cooked in the oven at 400 degrees until crispy(about 15 minutes), bacon fat reserved and bacon set aside to cool and then crumble.

1/4 cup chopped organic onion

1 medium organic egg

1/2 cup soy-free mayonaise (because I’m allergic to soy) if you use soy, Always use organic soy products!

2 tsp organic Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp organic cane sugar, Fair trade whenever possible

1/2 lemon, zested

2 1/2 wild sockeye salmon pieces (15 ounces), baked at 400 degrees with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper, 10-15 minutes, cooled, skin removed, and flaked. Avoid farmed salmon like the plague!

Wild Salmon, individually wrapped

1 medium organic white potato, baked, cooled, peeled, and fluffed with a fork

1/4 cup soy-free bread crumbs (Whole Foods 365 brand)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Black Pepper

Olive oil or expeller pressed canola oil and reserved bacon fat for cooking

Directions:

I baked the salmon, potato, and bacon at the same time earlier in the day to  give them a chance to cool.  I put the salmon in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Cool the onions for a bit.

Mix the bacon, onion, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the salmon and potato, mixing gently after each addition. Separate into 12 parts, onto a plate.  The mixture is wet, which is good but hard to work with.  Place the plate with the salmon, into the freezer for about 15 – 20 minutes.  It will be much easier to work with semi frozen/very cold.

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper, to taste. Very carefully, press the salmon into patties and cover with the the bread crumbs.  It is easier to do 4 at a time and keep the uncoated salmon in the fridge or freezer.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and/or bacon fat in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cook the salmon cakes in batches until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil, as necessary. Remove the cooked patties to a plate and continue with the next batch.

I served these patties with an amazing Kale and Mushroom dish which is a Rachel Ray recipe.

Picture of Smothered Mushrooms and Kale Recipe

I followed this recipe almost exactly. I used white organic mushrooms because that is what I had. I also used Sherry Cooking Wine instead of Marsala wine. My husband and my oldest daughter loved the kale! It was really good and I would definitely make it again!
I also paired this dish with mashed sweet potatoes. I was hoping to have leftover potatoes to make sweet potato cakes with, but we ate them all!

For the potatoes:
I baked 2 large sweet potatoes at 400 degrees until they were soft, about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on them because they tend to drip and one potato was done before the other. I let them cool off a bit and then peeled them and mashed them up with a little organic heavy cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and organic brown sugar to taste. So easy, yet so tasty!

Loaded Potato Wedges

16 Sep

Loaded Potato Wedges

Football season is here and I wanted to experiment with a favorite type of food most likely served at sports bars around the country: Loaded Potato Skins. I’m actually not a big fan of potato skins, but I am a fan of potato wedges and cheese fries. I thought…hmmm…what if I made loaded potato wedges that combines two favorite potato styles that I love!

I found this great recipe for garlic potato wedges here at The Purple Foodie blog.   I used this recipe for a basis of this great dish!  These potato wedges are delightful by themselves too!  I changed the recipe a little, I ususally change recipes to suit my own tastes, to use organic ingredients, and to make dishes soy-free.  I have food allergies and have to make mostly everything from scratch.   I always look for organic and non-gmo versions of ingredients in all of my recipes.

Non-gmo cornstarch

8 smashed garlic cloves

6 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil

5 organic potatoes, washed and cut into wedges

2 tablespoons of non-gmo cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon Simply Organic Ranch Dressing Mix

2 oz monteray jack cheese

2 oz colby jack cheese

4 slices of pork bacon, farm fresh pastured piggies with no antibiotics or hormones

Homemade Ranch for dipping or Organic sour cream and chives

Green Onions for garnish if desired (I didn’t have any on hand today, but I’m sure it would have tasted great!)

1.  Smash garlic cloves, remove skins.  Put the olive oil in a small saucepan with the garlic and heat to a slow simmer.  Turn off the heat and let it marinate.

2. Place the bacon on a baking sheet and put into a cold oven.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Flip the bacon after 10 minutes and cook 10 more minutes.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, it may not need this long in the oven.  Please keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn or get too crispy.  Let the bacon cool and then crumble into bits.

3. While the bacon cooks, fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Gently place the potatoes in the water and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and dry them on paper or cloth towels.

4.  Mix the cornstarch, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and ranch mix.

5.  Take 5 tablespoons of garlic oil and place on a baking sheet, you can use the same sheet you cooked the bacon on and you can use the oil from the bacon plus the garlic oil.  Don’t use more than 5 tablespoons oil total!  Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and toss in the oil.

6. Sprinkle the dry season mix over the potatoes and mix well but be gentle not to break the potatoes.  You will probably need to use your hands!  Don’t be afraid to get a little messy while cooking.

7.  Bake for 30 minutes on 440 degrees.  Turn the potatoes halfway through baking to get crispy all over.  Remove potatoes and place in a glass dish, cover with the shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.  Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

8.  Serve the potatoes with sour cream and chives or ranch dressing.  Sprinkle with chopped green onions on top, if desired.

I use the Simply Organic ranch mix with the grassfed buttermilk and a soy-free mayo.

Organic ranch dressing mix and grassfed buttermilk

I have made ranch with my own seasonings before too, but the organic mix is just as good and so easy!  Enjoy and try not to eat all of it by yourself!  These are very addicting and I found it hard to stop!  The cayenne pepper gives a nice kick but if you are serving this to kids or someone that doesn’t like spicy, omit the cayenne pepper.

Got Allergies?

5 May

Chocolate Cake, no gmos, no gluten, no soy

My sister and her husband visited a few days ago and I attempted my first cake with gluten free all-purpose flour. I’ve made flourless cakes before, but I hadn’t had much success with gluten free flours yet. When Vicki and I get together, it is not easy to eat at restaurants because we are allergic to soybeans and she can’t eat any gluten. It is also a challenge when we go to someone else’s house to eat because most prepackaged foods contain soy in some form or another. Vicki said my house was a safe zone because virtually everything I buy is soy-free! Our mother’s birthday was on May 3rd, so I needed to make a soy-free, gluten-free cake.

Unfrosted Gluten free cake

I found this recipe for a gluten-free cake. Of course, in my normal way of trying new recipes, I changed most of the ingredients. I always try to use organic ingredients when I can get them because my sister and I don’t eat GMO’s. I made some other changes as well, and the next time I make this recipe I intend on changing it further. I used different flours, different chocolate, and a different fat. I also doubled the recipe and baked it in a glass pan.

Gluten free birthday cake

This cake came out really moist and dense. I was surprised at how good it tasted! The frosting was delicious! I used a fair trade cocoa powder and butter from grass-fed cows to enhance the frosting, so it was ethical and healthier! I didn’t even measure the cocoa, I just dumped a lot into the bowl and it tasted more like a dark chocolate frosting. My husband and kids have become accustomed to the organic, homemade foods and we are definitely not the average American household.

I love experimenting with food, especially when it comes out great!

Have you ever had an Irish potato?

3 May

Irish Oatmeal Cream Pies
Irish Oatmeal Cream Pies

I love Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, and I always have.  I haven’t had one in almost 3 years because like everything else, they are loaded up with soy.  Since I am allergic to soy, I have had to give up a lot of my favorites and I have been wanting to recreate this treat for quite some time now.

My basic oatmeal raisin cookie
My basic oatmeal raisin cookie

I used my basic oatmeal cookie recipe, sans raisins for the cookie and I made them bigger than the average cookie size. I was going to use a basic buttercream frosting for the filling, but I had 2 boxes of organic cream cheese in the fridge that I hadn’t used. Inspiration struck, and I thought, “why not make a cream cheese frosting instead?” So I improvised, and ended up creating this frosting that tasted like an irish potato.

Irish Potatoes

I grew up in the Philadelphia area, more specifically, South Jersey.  Every year around St. Patty’s Day, I would make Irish Potatoes from scratch at school and at home.  It is a traditional candy and very, very tasty.  It is made with cream cheese, coconut, butter, and confectioners sugar.  The filling is rolled into a ball and then coated with cinnamon.  It is very sweet because the recipe calls for a lot of confectioners sugar that I find hard to eat as an adult.

I didn’t have any coconut, (which may take this icing up a notch), so I used cream cheese, butter, and confectioners sugar.  Since I love the cinnamon in my cookies, I decided to add cinnamon to the frosting and when I tasted it, it was just like the Irish potato only not as sweet! I don’t like ultra sweet icing so I added enough and then had to chill the cookies to harden the filling.  My husband and I were so excited about these cookies!  They didn’t last long and the children loved them too!

Canning Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

7 Nov

One thing I’ve been wanting to learn is canning.  My dad has tons of stories about his mom, my grandma, canning all types of things when he was a kid.  He grew up in the deep woods of the South, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Bassett, Virginia.   He has those stories of walking miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways, fighting off snakes, etc…classic!  Anyway, they didn’t have electricity back then, nor indoor plumbing…which means they used an outhouse even in the dead of winter.  My grandma canned everything that could be canned.   Unfortunately, I never learned the art of canning because we had electricity and refrigerators when I was a kid, back in the 80’s.   My mother tried to learn some of the deep south cooking techniques and she made pickled peaches and strawberry jam, but canning was never necessary so she didn’t do it often.  My mom still makes pickled peaches though, but she doesn’t can them, they are stored in the fridge and are eaten very quickly by my dad and my husband!

In my desire to learn how to do everything from scratch and to store large quantities of food, canning is next on my to-do list.  I was offered the opportunity to join a MOPS group, courtesy of my friend Suzanne, when they did a canning lesson on spicy pepper jelly.  I jumped at the chance and I also was able to talk to the moms about choosing organic, buying fair trade, and how to avoid gmo’s.

Homemade Spicy Pepper Jelly

I don’t have the recipe that we used, but here is a link to another recipe for spicy pepper jelly, I haven’t tried this recipe and it is spicier than the one we made and it is paired with lamb, yum!

Here are instructions on canning pepper jelly.  We used red peppers and Jalepeno peppers when we made this.  Make sure you use fair trade cane sugar in your recipe so you know that you are supporting farmers and farm workers!

Pepper Jelly tastes really good!  I enjoyed it with organic cream cheese and organic wheat crackers…mmm!  Let me know of your experiences with canning or any funny memories from your parents!