Countdown to 2017: Most Popular

unnamedWe’re polishing off the year with the five best recipes of 2016.

I skipped yesterday’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes because, believe it or not, I didn’t blog a single one! I’ve used my Slow Cooker plenty but always remaking something or not finding the dish blog worthy. Ah well. There’s always next year.

This blogging countdown party is hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.

2016 was an interesting blogging year for me. I’ve struggled to find my rhythm ever since our move in the spring. We’ve been in California 8 months now, I can’t keep using the move as an excuse! We are enjoying California living and are looking forward to the boys growing and the opportunities we have for exploring the West coast.

I’ve been contemplating whether or not I want to continue blogging. It’s hard not getting caught up in the numbers. I’m part of a lot of blogging groups and some support groups on Facebook. Comparing my little piece of the internet to all of these other “more successful” bloggers brings me down a little bit. I’ve taken a step back from those pages and am just enjoying being me.

It’ll be fun (hopefully?) to look at my annual stats from WordPress.

Well, it could have been fun, however the annual stats report hasn’t come in yet (as of 8:30pm PT on 12/30) and I’m hitting “schedule” on this post soon! If the report comes in and I’m available, I’ll edit this post as needed.

Sew You Think You Can Cook was viewed 40,349 times – that’s 2,535 more times than last year! Definitely not as big a jump as between 2014 and 2015, but my social media presence has been gaining great ground. My Facebook page has reached over 1,000 followers; if you’re one of them I thank you – keep clicking and please keep sharing!

Last year, the majority of my referrals came from Foodgawker. I’ve been quite proud of my photography skill advancement this year thanks to my new macro lens (sure, it’s still got ways to go), but the time and effort I’ve been able to expend towards submitting to Foodgawker and other similar “food porn” sites hasn’t been up to what it used to be. My acceptances have had a higher percentage, but I’m simply not submitting as often as I like or should. I’ll work on getting my images into more public spaces in the future.

This year, my most popular referrer were search engines (mostly Google and Bing), funnily enough though I don’t know what people are searching to reach me!

I’m fairly positive that my busiest day of the year was December 1st when I wrote about having lost our Christmas ornament box. Thanks to fellow military spouses who connected to my pain and shared my post on their own Facebook pages. It was my highest grossing Facebook post ever, reaching over 2,000 people alone! While I don’t think we’ll ever get our box of Christmas memories back, I’m blessed to have the people in my life who can help me make new memories and remind me that it’s still just “stuff.” I was touched when I received a surprise package from my mom’s step-sister with a kind note, a brand new Auburn ornament, and a sweet book for the boys.

And now for the top five recipes of 2016, these are in ranking order:

  1. BBQ Pulled Pork Pasta: A perfect way to use up leftovers!
  2. Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork: A tangy spin on slow cooker pork!
  3. Pot o’ Gold Cookies: Save these addicting cookies for St. Patrick’s Day!
  4. Chocolate Cherry Brownie Pie: This decadent pie was one of my favorite desserts this year, too!
  5. Cappuccino Crinkle Cookies: Save these caffeinated cookies for the adults!

Top 5 posts of 2016 | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

To see more popular recipes click here: An InLinkz Link-up

#FantasticalFoodFight: Shortbread Cookies

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Good morning, everyone.

I think I have a problem.

I’ve joined another blogging group! Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes decided to start up this new food party when The Secret Recipe Club came to a close. Maybe she has a problem too!

But it’s not a bad problem.

Who ever decided problem had to have a negative connotation?

Anywho.

The solution to our problem? Cook/bake, eat, and write. It’s always nice when problem has a simple solution.

This month everyone is baking shortbread cookies!

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My mom loves to bake cookies and I knew it’d be the perfect activity to do with Firecracker when she came to visit. We did a Salted Caramel Shortbread cookie and he loved to help cut out the fun Christmas shapes and sprinkle the salt on the caramel frosted buttery cookie.

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Don’t let the tears fool you, Treat enjoyed his cookie, too! Firecracker decided that he didn’t like the caramel on the cookie so we decorated them in a variety of methods. Stars and reindeer received full caramel treatment, trees got a drizzle, and the wreaths were left plain.

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This recipe makes approximately 4 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter size.

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bag (14 oz) caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tbsp milk

Steps:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla until incorporated then add the flour in stages until a smooth dough is achieved.
  2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness on a floured surface. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters, place on a baking sheet an inch apart. Keep any unused dough in the refrigerator while working.
  5. Bake cookies 14 minutes, until lightly golden. Place on cooling racks.
  6. Combine caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Spoon caramel onto cookies, spreading to the edges. If caramel gets too hard, simply reheat.
  7. Sprinkle cookies with Kosher salt while the caramel is still warm. Return cookies to a cooling rack.
  8. Store cookies in an airtight container, use wax paper to divide the layers.

*This recipe is adapted from http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/salted-caramel-shortbread-cookies/9716f0d7-ce05-4740-b402-f80a95daeff5*

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies for #FantasticalFoodFight from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see all of the other Fantastical Shortbread Cookies click here:  

If you would like to join our Fantastical Food Fight, you can learn more on our informational page.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband occasionally gets the craving for cookies hot out of the oven. And when that happens he’ll typically run to the nearest store and pick up a break-apart refrigerated cookie dough and preheat the oven.

But what happens when he gets the idea to actually make the cookies?

Turns out he breaks open the Cookie cookbook and finds a recipe for us to bake. The cookie was supposed to be a Chocolate-Chip Hazelnut Cookie. Of course we didn’t actually have any hazelnuts. So… it’s just a chocolate chip cookie. But, since when was a chocolate chip cookie a bad thing?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 C chocolate chips

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  2. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cream together butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon cookie batter onto prepared baking sheets an inch or two apart.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from The Cookie Book: Over 300 Step-by-Step Recipes for Home Baking*

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cut-Out Cookies

There’s a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode with the teaching lesson “it’s okay to make mistakes” in which Daniel and Prince Wednesday bake trolley cookies with Baker Aker.

We watched that episode one morning and decided to bake some cookies! With Treat taking a long nap, Firecracker and I were able to do some baking together.

I immediately went into the cupboard and pulled out The Gourmet Cookie Book and started skimming through to see what we could make with what was in my pantry.

I decided on Bizcochitos (Anise Cookies). Except that I didn’t have aniseed or lard. Which is why this recipe title is not Anise Cookies! I substituted vegetable shortening for the lard and decided to prepare for the season by using pumpkin pie spice. This recipe from December 1978 didn’t mention how to store the cookie dough, but I found it easiest to roll out if it were chilled, so I kept the portion I wasn’t rolling out in the refrigerator.

We used a train cookie cutter as is only natural with a train obsessed toddler in the house. He was more than happy to be my little model when it came time to photograph the cookies. In fact, the words, “I help” came out of his mouth as he held up a cookie and took a bite. Only a food blogger’s kid! I love him.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cut-Out Cookies (toddler) | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Depending on your cookie cutter size, this recipe will make 5-6 dozen cookies.

The recipe says to, and I quote! “store them in an airtight container for 5 days before serving.” Yeah, right! These cookies didn’t even last five days on my counter.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cut-Out Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 C vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C water
  • cinnamon sugar

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and pumpkin pie spice, mixing until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add to the stand mixer, beat until combined. Add up to 1/4 C water until dough is smooth.
  4. Roll dough out to 1/8″ thickness. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters and place on baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove cookies to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from The Gourmet Cookie Book*

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cut-Out Cookies | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

SRC: Double Chocolate Cookies

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It’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! In the Secret Recipe Club, each participating blogger is assigned a blog from another participating blogger and secretly searches their site for something to recreate. The accompanying blog post then goes live on reveal day! So while I was immersed in my assigned blog, someone else was picking through mine! I’m so excited to be part of this group, to see what on my blog peaks other’s interests and to stumble upon new blogs and new recipes.

It’s actually a miracle I’m even posting with The Secret Recipe Club today! We moved to California from Ohio last month and I felt quite confident that skipping out of April’s SRC reveal day would be the only break necessary to get through the travel.

I had no problem selecting and making my dish for today’s reveal, but I did have a problem blogging it! We got the keys to our new home April 16th, moved in April 18th, and received delivery of our goods on April 19th. I’m supposed to get internet installed today. Hopefully that happens. It’ll be a while before I get a chance to stop by and check out all of the other SRC posts today, but you can see them via the link at the bottom of my post.

Everything I’ve been doing has been via mobile, except for the rare occurrences when I was able to get away from the boys and sit at a coffee shop with wifi. I actually never left the house, if I had to drive, without my computer so I could at least type up blog posts (this one included) in Word so that when I did get a moment of internet bliss I could quickly and efficiently schedule some posts!

We met a few of our neighbors after moving in and one of them generously and thoughtfully brought over a 6 pack of beers from local breweries that he put together. I knew I’d be searching through my assigned blog, Dessert Before Dinner written by Stephanie, for a thank you treat. The Jalapeno Beer Cheese Bread caught my eye, but it was another SRC post. I knew everyone loves cookies so I decided on her White Chocolate Chunk Chocolate Cookies. I put most of the cookies in a large mason jar and tied it with a bow. It’s a good thing I did, too, because I found these cookies to be insanely addictive. I definitely broke my “only two cookies at a time” rule and even sneaked one for breakfast the following morning.

Double Chocolate Cookies for Secret Recipe Club from Sew You Think You Can Cook (1)

This recipe makes 18-20 cookies.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C flour
  • 1/4 C + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C white chocolate chips

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the stand mixer and mix until combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips until evenly distributed in the dough.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto two baking sheets. Bake 10-13 minutes. Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on the pan before removing to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from Stephanie at http://dessert-before-dinner.blogspot.com/2011/07/white-chocolate-chunk-chocolate-cookies.html*

Double Chocolate Cookies for #SecretRecipeClub from Sew You Think You Can Cook (2)

To see the other bloggers who participated in the Secret Recipe Club this month click here:

SRC: Cappuccino Crinkle Cookies

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It’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! In the Secret Recipe Club, each participating blogger is assigned a blog from another participating blogger and secretly searches their site for something to recreate. The accompanying blog post then goes live on reveal day! So while I was immersed in my assigned blog, someone else was picking through mine! I’m so excited to be part of this group, to see what on my blog peaks other’s interests and to stumble upon new blogs and new recipes.

This month I was assigned the blog Cook with Sara. To say I enjoyed this blog written by a fellow Midwesterner is an understatement. My secret Pinterest board has over 20 recipes on it, from Cherry Bread and Pineapple Sorbet to Creamy Brussels Sprouts Dip and Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry. I couldn’t decide if I wanted breakfast, dinner, a snack, or dessert. Everything looked so good! Not to mention Sara cooks with every day ingredients, making my decision process that much more difficult.

And that’s before I even got through her entire recipe index! While I was perusing Sara’s blog I received a request for cookies. My husband will be graduating with his Masters Degree in Systems Engineering this week! The spouse organization wanted to provide cookies to all of the professors who helped support our husbands. Of course I signed up to help out! But what to bake? I have two separate cookie cookbooks but it seemed like a much better idea to see what Sara had cooking in the blogosphere. I was on the hunt to try and empty out my carton of cocoa powder before the move next week. These Cappuccino Crinkle Cookies were just the ticket! I just had to wait for naptime to bake them and photograph them because there’s no way my toddler needs a chocolate cookie filled with caffeine! But do you know who does need cookies studded with caffeine? Parents and teachers!

This recipe makes approximately 30 cookies.

Cappuccino Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 C butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 2/3 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 C buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C sugar, for rolling

Steps:

  1. In the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, bet the butter until smooth. Mix in the brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso, baking soda, and cinnamon. Beat until combined.
  2. Add in the egg whites and buttermilk until fully incorporated. Add in the flour until the dough comes together.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Place sugar in a bowl. Drop heaping teaspoons of cookie dough into the sugar. Roll the dough into balls and then roll the balls in the sugar again. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-11 minutes until the edges are firm and the cookies have crackled. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from Sara at http://cookwithsara.blogspot.com/2012/06/cappuccino-crinkles.html*

cappuccino crinkle cookies for Secret Recipe Club from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in the Secret Recipe Club this month click here:

#SRC: Pot o’ Gold Cookies

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Good morning and welcome to another edition of The Secret Recipe Club. For a little “behind the scenes” information, The Secret Recipe Club (SRC) is divided into four group. Each group posts on a different Monday of the month. I am in Group C and always post on the 3rd Monday of the month. Which meant that during those special months with five Mondays there’d be a week without any fun reveal day! So now, on the 5th Monday of the month there is a themed reveal and it’s a “free for all,” which means that there aren’t any group restrictions. I’m looking forward to getting to know some of the other bloggers in the club.

Who would have thought that February would ever have 5 Mondays in it!? Happy Leap Day, everyone! As it’s the last day of February the Secret Recipe Club is looking into March for inspiration. Leprechauns and Bunnies was the assignment as St. Patrick’s Day has to share its month with Easter  this year.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better assignment this month! Making Memories with your Kids has an incredible index of holiday foods and crafts. Erin is a single mom to two kids who are most definitely making memories together through baking and crafting. Her blog is such a great resource of ideas!

Her sloppy Joe baskets would work for either holiday, really. Erin made them as “Easter baskets” but they could easily be a “pot of gold,” too.

While I don’t care much for St. Patrick’s Day (especially now that I don’t live near Kate anymore) I decided to make her Pot o’ Gold Cookies instead of her Chocolate Peep Sugar Cookies simply because the former were simple and used ingredients I already had. I did take some liberty in forming a few as Easter eggs and decorating with purple sprinkles, but you’ll notice they’re not photographed. They weren’t very pretty; to make them like Easter eggs definitely use white chocolate instead!

Forming Pot O' Gold Cookies with Grandma  Sew You Think You Can Cook

These shortbread cookies were a huge hit! My mother-in-law helped make them and showed Firecracker how to roll the dough into balls. He wasn’t particularly interested and instead preferred to “Hulk smash” the balls. Until he discovered the deliciousness of the dough! It’s egg-free so I had no problems with letting him try it, though once I realized he was eating it I had to clear most off of his table to prevent a sugar rush!

If I hadn’t put these cookies in a bag they wouldn’t have lasted through the evening. They’re addicting! Luckily the “impenetrable” barrier of a resealable bag (and a trip to Graeter’s ice cream) kept them safe so I could share them with friends.

Pot O’ Gold Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 C flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C milk chocolate chips
  • yellow or gold sprinkles

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and almond extract. Mix in the flour until it starts to combine. Turn dough out onto a flat surface and knead until smooth and combined.
  3. Roll dough into 1″ balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 11 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool completely on the cookie sheet.
  4. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. Spoon chocolate over the cookies and top with sprinkles. Allow chocolate to set before serving.

*This recipe is adapted from Erin at http://makingmemorieswithyourkids.com/2015/03/pot-of-gold-meltaway-cookies/*

Pot O' Gold Cookies for Secret Recipe Club from Sew You Think You Can Cook

I didn’t wait for the chocolate to set before photographing… Firecracker doesn’t like sticky things, he wasn’t quite sure what to do!

Pot O' Gold Cookies, not yet set  Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in the themed Secret Recipe Club this month click here: