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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Let's talk about shortbread

Let's talk about shortbread

Shortbread derives from Scotland. It is usually made with three simple ingredients: sugar, butter, and flour. To be more specific, one part sugar, two parts butter, and one part flour.

Shortbread is a thick, denser cookie with a buttery richness and melts in your mouth like no other.

You may be wondering if there is a difference between shortbread and butter cookies and there definitely is a difference.

Shortbread cookies have a higher ratio of butter to flour. While butter cookies still contain a high amount of butter, the amount of flour and sugar is increased, which allows them to hold their shape better than shortbread.

Shortbread can be served as cookies or bars.

Some recipes call for vegetable shortening. These shortbread cookies have a crunchy texture instead of the smooth texture you get when butter is used in the recipe.

You can enjoy your shortbread with tea, as it is traditionally enjoyed, or you can serve them alongside coffee or milk.

If you enjoy spicing things up a bit, try these additives in your shortbread to create a unique flavor:

Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, mint, lavender, cinnamon, ginger, or cloves

Tea: Chai, Earl Gray, or green tea (grind them up)

Fruit: Lemon, lime, or orange zest

Cocoa: Replace 2 Tbsp. of flour with cocoa powder

Nuts: Any variety, chopped

Dried Fruit: Raisins, cranberries, cherries

Check out Martha's recipe for shortbread and butter cookies:

Shortbread Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Step 1 Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sift together flour and salt into a medium bowl. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add sugar gradually, beating between additions; continue to beat until mixture is very pale, about 2 minutes total. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture; beat until just combined.

Step 2 Press dough evenly into a parchment-lined 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Cut dough in eighths lengthwise, then quarters crosswise, making 32 rectangles. Evenly pierce all over with a skewer.

Step 3 Bake until shortbread is firm in center and golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; immediately recut rectangles with a paring knife. Let shortbread cool completely in pan.

 Who loves shortbread? Shortbread recipe

Red, white, and blue shortbread squares

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Let's learn about lemons (lemon tips and tricks)


Let's learn about lemons

Drinking lemon juice

Every morning I squeeze a fresh lemon using my hand juicer. I pour the first half I squeeze into a large glass, and fill it with water. I place the juice from the other half in the fridge so I can do the same thing later in the day.

I do like the flavor of lemon, but to be quite honest, I am not the lemons' biggest fan as far as the tart flavor it leaves in my mouth. Then, why do you drink lemon water? Let me tell you why.

First off, lemons turn alkaline after they enter our body. Yes, they are an acidic fruit, but that changes after they are digested. My reason for doing this is to decrease inflammation in my body. An alkaline body is a healthier body.

If you enjoy hot tea, another excellent way to drink your lemon juice is to add it to your mug! Need sweetness? Add a teaspoon of honey.

Zesting a lemon

Lemon zest adds a natural lemon flavor to whatever dish you add it to. The key to zesting a lemon is to be sure you do not zest the white skin beneath the outer yellow exterior. If you do, it will add a bitter flavor to your dish, and that is never appealing. This white skin is called the pith. You will find it under the colorful outer layer of citrus fruits.

You can use the smallest side of a box grater to zest your lemon. This is the side that looks like small rough holes. You can also use a vegetable peeler to strip the outer yellow layer of skin off your lemon. A paring knife will also work if you do not have a box grater or vegetable peeler. 

The difference between a grater and a zester is simply the size of its holes. A grater has larger holes and can slice things into strands. A zester has much smaller holes but functions the same way. 

To avoid wasting the lemon that you have just zested, squeeze out the juice and save it in the fridge for later. Or, you can store the zested lemon in the fridge for up to two months!

If you do not use all of the zest from a lemon, you can freeze it. The lemon zest will last up to three months in the freezer.

Other uses for lemons

Refresh your cutting boards. Lemon is the best natural cleaner!

Rub onto a sliced apple to prevent it from turning brown.

Household bug repellant. Spray lemon juice around the windows and doorways in your kitchen, and watch the bugs run away.

Window cleaner. Yes, you read that correctly. Spray freshly squeezed lemon juice on your windows and wipe away the dirt and build-up.

Clean your stainless steel sink. Sprinkle salt on a sliced lemon and scrub it clean.

Upset stomach? Have a glass of lemon water to find relief.

Add a slice of lemon peel to your garbage disposal and run it. This trick will eliminate odor.

What can I bake with lemons?

Lemon pie

Lemon pound cake

Lemon cookies

Lemon doughnuts

Lemon cheesecake

Lemon bars

Lemon blueberry bread

Lemon scones

Lemon cupcakes

Lemon muffins

Lemon cake

Lemon shortbread

Lemon extract

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the health benefits of lemons, how to easily zest a lemon, how to use lemons around the house, and what you can bake up using lemons. Now, all you need are lemons!

Lemon sprinkle cookie recipe 

Cheesecake tips and tricks


Monday, August 30, 2021

What is Cookie Con? (plus sugar cookie tips and sugar cookie recipe)


What is Cookie Con?

Allow me to start by saying that there are two Cookie Con events and locations available for you to attend this year. The first event is September 1 through the 4th in Orlando, Florida. The second event is October 6 through the 9th in Dallas, Texas.

Cookie Con is a gathering of professional cookiers and upcoming cookiers to learn, show, and grow. Cookiers will meet other cookiers, show off their skills, learn new skills, and most importantly, have fun!

Be prepared to learn from instructors and other cookiers as well as inspire others with your ideas and skills. There is no better time than now to be inspired, with the fall and Holidays quickly approaching.

There will be vendors all set up with new products that you may absolutely have to have to take back home with you.

Cookie artists from all across the world attend Cookie Con. Chances are you will make new friends at either of the fantastic events this year.

Cookie Con offers core classes, electives, and add-on workshops that are available for each attendee. Core classes and two elective classes are available with your attendee ticket. Add-on workshops can be additionally purchased.

Cookie Con tickets are $399 each and can be purchased directly from their website.

Tips for constructing the perfect sugar cookie:

  • Room temperature eggs: Allows for even distribution in the dough

  • Use pure extracts: Good, quality extracts add the best flavor

  • Sift the flour: Use a whisk to sift your flour. This adds air to the flour for a more tender cookie.

  • Chill the dough: This will allow for less spreading while baking.

  • Do not overmix the dough: Overmixing will cause a tough cookie.

  • Rolling the dough in flour: Do not add too much extra flour when rolling out the dough. Adding too much flour when rolling will create a tough cookie. Rather than use extra flour to roll out the dough, try rolling between two sheets of parchment paper.

  • No overbaking: Sugar cookies should not be brown in color. Bake until just golden.

Extra sugar cookie tips:

The thickness of the cookie: If you roll the dough 1/4 of an inch thick, it will provide a sturdy cookie. If you opt for 1/8 of an inch thick, it will provide a delicate and fragile cookie.

Utilize all the dough: Get as many cookies out of each rollout as possible. This way, you do not have to collect the scraps and re-roll as many times.

I am a fan of Alton Brown on the Food Network. Here is his recipe for sugar cookies:

Sugar Cookie Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  3. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.


    Let's talk about apples ad apple punch recipe 

    Toblerone cookie recipe


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Let's talk about apples (and fruity apple punch recipe)



As September approaches, Home Bakers will start baking more with apples.

It is a good time to learn about this juicy, sweet fruit and be ready for when apple season is in full swing.

First, let's take a look at how to choose the perfect apple:

Check for a firm apple.

You can check to make sure that the apple is firm by holding it and pressing gently on the skin. If you feel soft spots, this will not be the ideal apple for eating. However, if you have a bunch of apples at your house that you are planning to bake with, you can still use the apples with soft spots in your baking. You can also use them to make juice, applesauce, or in a smoothie.

Learn about the different varieties of apples.

There are many varieties of apples, and certain ones are best for baking and others are best for eating. If you are looking for the ideal apple for baking, try Golden Delicious. If you are looking to eat your apples raw, try Honeycrisp apples. I love two varieties for both baking and eating, Pink Lady and Fuji. If you choose your apples accordingly, you will have the best experience.

Color matters.

When apples are covered with deep, vibrant hues, it is an indicator that they have absorbed the most sunlight, which will allow for a great-tasting apple. If an apple does not have a deep or vibrant color, it does not mean that it can not be used. These are perfect for cooking!

Does it smell good?

Apples should have a pleasing scent. Some have stronger fragrances than others, but every apple should smell fresh and pleasant.

Apple tips: Did you know?

1. You can use apples to keep your baked goods moist. Add an apple wedge or two into a sealed container with your cakes, sweetbreads, or chewy cookies, and they will keep them from going stale. 

2. You can make pancakes out of apples. Core and peel an apple. Slice into rings about 1/4 of an inch thick. Dip them into a prepared pancake mix to coat. Cook as you would your pancakes and serve with syrup.

3. You can use the peels for air freshener. Add your apple peels into a crockpot along with ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Set on low and allow it to fill the house with a delightful fragrance.

4. You can prevent your apples from browning. After slicing, soak them in salt water for about ten minutes. Try 1/2 teaspoon of salt per one cup of water. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Rinse before using to remove salt water.

Fruity Apple Punch

  • 1 bottle of apple juice

  • 1 can pineapple juice, sweetened

  • 1 liter of orange soda

  • 1 box strawberry Jello

Prior to making the punch, place juices and sods in the refrigerator overnight.

Mix all ingredients and stir to combine.

Tips: You can purchase an extra bottle or can of juice and make ice cubes in ice cube trays with the extra liquid. Place juice cubes into punch after combining ingredients and before serving.

You can also add vanilla ice cream or sherbet to the punch just before serving.


Easy no-bake Oreo dessert recipe 

Vintage recipes and gifts in a jar

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Easy no-bake Oreo dessert

Have you ever made an icebox cake? Basically, it is a layered dessert that you pop in the fridge. Hours later, the flavors and textures have become one and it is a delightful treat. 

I recently made this Oreo dessert and created a TicTok video about it. The video tells you exactly what I did to create it and I have to say, it is super easy!

All you need are:
1 package of chocolate sandwich cookies
1 container of whipped topping
Vanilla coffee creamer, liquid

You wet both sides of each cookie is the creamer and then place them flat in a loaf pan.
Add a layer of whipped topping and alternate 2 to 3 times.
Top with sprinkles and crushed cookies.
Place in fridge. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Vintage recipes and Gifts in a Jar


Is anyone else in love with vintage recipe and giving food as gifts (gifts in a jar)? Hopefully, I am not alone in this boat!

I have recently written 2 in depth articles about vintage recipes that if you include the recipe meme, contains 4 vintage recipes for you to try at home. 

Vintage recipe article

I am a huge fan of making and giving food related gifts. Gifts in a jar are my favorites!  You layer the dry ingredients into a jar, add the recipe, some pretty fabric, and a bow and call it a day. I went into detail and added recipes in my newly published article: Gifts in a Jar

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Christmas in July: Two Girls and an Oven


Christmas in July is here and so is my new book, Two Girls and an Oven.

This sweet, easy reading, novella takes place in a bakery during the Holidays. At the end, you will find cookie recipes from the book. Take a look into the life of Nat...

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Nat, a single mother of one, baker, and business owner. Life has been crazy but worth every second of craziness. Let me try to explain.

It has been me and my beautiful daughter, Summer, for many years, which is why I chose the name, Two Girls And An Oven for my beloved bakery.

Business has been slow, and bills are piling up. My hope was that with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, I would have a line of customers pounding down the doors.

Then, it happened. Cookies. Yes, cookies happened. You've got to be curious as to how twelve weeks of cookies saved my life, right? Prepare yourself for the story of a lifetime!

Tip: If you ever see a plate of cookies sitting outside your door, take them and run!

You can order your paperback or Kindle version today! Click here or on either photo in this post.