Almond and Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Almond Coconut Shortbread CookiesI almost named these “funeral cookies.” But that is a hard sell, really. I was in a strange mood when these were created and as I sat in my kitchen with a cup of coffee and a stack of these (quickly disappearing) cookies, I thought to myself, “Gosh, these would be perfect cookies for one of those church events like a memorial service where the cookies are usually awful.” You can’t have ooey gooey decadent cookies all the time. You cannot walk around like a blissed out kid covered in melty chocolate chips all the time saying, “Oh my God, these cookies are amaaaazing.” But, if you are at a memorial service or some such thing, you can stand in the corner and scarf down a couple of great but unassuming cookies and improve your worldview without seeming totally inappropriate. I mean, its shortbread, nothing sexy about that. Now if we can just get them to serve good coffee at church…

I was telling my children this and they were looking at me like I was BATS. Says Lily (11), “Mom, you can’t call these funeral cookies, you know that, right?” Says I, “I suppose not.” So blah, they are Almond and Coconut Shortbread Cookies. Sometimes my kids are no fun at all. But, they love these cookies like mad.

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Brown Sugar and Maple Ice Cream

Brown Sugar Ice CreamMy dad used to call it a “fortuitous concatenation of shadows.” He is a physician, so it is certainly a term of his art and he and his ilk took it to mean something very specific with regard to imaging technology and reading or interpreting x-rays. It trickled down into our home vernacular as something slightly like great luck.

Several events had to concatenate to cause this ice cream to occur, namely, a gift and a gaffe. My dad’s wife, Melody, thought that the hot weather signaled the onset of ice cream making moods so she sent their grandkids a big box containing a wonderful ice cream maker.  Second, I did something I’m strictly not allowed to do…I ran out of sugar and did nothing about it for too long. Then, one evening without sugar and with an ice cream maker in plain sight I thought, “I wonder what would happen if I just made ice cream with brown sugar?” This was an awesome thing to wonder and resulted in ice cream that is out of this world good. This is truly one of my very favorite culinary inventions.

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Blueberry Buckle

Photo of piece of blueberry buckleThis is a buckle, not to be confused with a grunt, slump, crisp, cobbler or clafouti. The fruit is mixed into a cake batter and there is a crumble or crisp topping on top of the cake. It is not unlike a coffee cake. Definitions and traditions and monikers aside, it is simply marvelous. And if you eat it at my house and reach into the pan at the same time as my daughter, you might get injured. We really like this dessert. This is one I’ve made several times trying to get to the perfect concoction, and this is the perfect recipe for me. I will make it every year when blueberries peak and you can actually get the big container for less than the price of your first born child.

But this brings me to another point…welcome to my new website. I’ve done a little bit of renovation. If you came here via this post directly, make sure to visit the homepage by clicking on the pie shape header above. You will see that there is a new slider on the homepage that will show you 15 posts from days gone by. If you come back later it will show you 15 different posts. I’d love to load it with all 350 plus recipes so you can watch it like a slideshow all day long…but alas, it takes long enough for the page to load as it is. You will see that there is a print function with the new, and hopefully, much more readable recipe layout. You may also notice that I said goodby to the ads on my website. My sense is that we have all learned to block out ads, we never click them, and they essentially become visual clutter for which I am paid only pennies per day, but make my website look like my attic…cluttered. Should I ever get 100,000 page views per day through some bizarre turn of events, I might put them back…but for now, let’s enjoy them gone.

Also, at the top, you can visit the new Recipe and Post Index which has a photo index arranged by category. I like it. The long list index of recipes are still there too if you prefer those.

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Lime Cream Cups

Photos of Lime Cream DessertIt has taken only three or four trips to Mexico to find out that cooks in Mexico, or at least the ones with whom I have had the pleasure of cooking, do amazing things with a blender.

My first encounter with this phenomenon was a great cook named Aurelia in Cuernavaca. She made a fresh, smooth, green zucchini soup using very basic ingredients that I still make often. She also used a blender to make the sauce for her Chiles en Nogada, which is a poblano pepper stuffed with savory meat and sweet fresh and candied fruits, topped with a sweet creamy sauce.

On my second trip, I met Señora Inez, who was also an accomplished cook. The owner of the home in which Senora worked had told us in advance that we needed to have her make her storied Tart de Limon, or Lime Pie. Inez was more than happy to prepare it and even allowed us into the kitchen to see how she did it. Camera in hand, I watched this tiny woman do something that prior to that I found unthinkable…impossible. She made a pie in a microwave. In my rather hick-ish internal monologue: “I like’d to died.”

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Pralines with Sea Salt and Toasted Coconut

pralinesPralines are an iconic treat, and depending on from where you hail, there are certainly people very passionate about the pronunciation and the exact attributes of the sugary lump. But, all of the ballyhoo aside, they are simply a wonderful thing to make and an even better thing to eat.

I usually try not to mess with a classic. Texas cookbooks cover the topic of the traditional praline very well. Robb Walsh has a great recipe in Texas Eats. Lisa Fain has a terrific one in The Homesick Texan Cookbook. Your mother probably has six handwritten versions in her old wooden decoupage recipe box. Mine does. Here it is a hard-to-pass-up event at the end of any Tex-Mex restaurant feast. They are simply simple and even a bit elegant, I think. They have an irresistible caramel hue and they are the just right frame for a little pile of meaty Texas pecans.

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