Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cookies * Bars * Sweet Breads

Operation Baking Gals : November

This is my first post and baking effort in supporting the troops as a member of Operation Baking Gals! And my shipment comes the day after Veteran's Day which seems appropriate somehow.

What a pleasure and honor it is to give a little something back to those folks who are away from their family and friends in a career that serves and supports our country. This decision to be in the military can at any unknown time cost them dearly their own lives or that of their comrades. It's not the easy life they have, and during times of war, tougher than any one of us can even imagine. Based on this, I am happy to support them in any way possible.The achey feet and exhaustion from a day of baking is nothing compared to what they go through and the thought of any measure of happiness a home baked cookie can give them, goes the distance for me in imagining a smile on their faces or the excitement to receive something from "Home".

I learned recently in my genealogy work on my own family tree that a many times great grandfather on my Dad's side is a 'Son of the American Revolution' and served proudly in the Revolutionary War in the Essex County - New Jersey Militia. It was a very proud moment for me to know that my family has played a role in serving our country and in looking at the actual documents, I was able to connect to that place in my family's history from here in 2012. Some of my family, on my sister Kim's side, still serve our country and I am grateful for their dedication and bravery.

For this month of November, I have baked for our U.S. soldiers: Zucchini Bread, Pfeffernusse Cookies, Chocolate Gingerbread Bars, and Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies
Sound good? They were...and once again, I ate way too many samples but such is life!

Pfeffernusse Cookies

Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Gingerbread Bars


Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies

Recipes and notes are as follows:

Click on the hyperlinked name to go to recipe page online.

Crystal's Notes
  • Martha's photo online is misleading in that the bars appear much thicker and larger than what they are for the 8" pan she recommends in her instructions. In doing a 'close up' shot, I can make it look that way too.
  • Her instructions yield 16 bars...if you look at your 8' pan, you will realize they are tiny bars. If you want bigger, double the recipe and use a larger pan.
  • Recipe did not taste as 'gingerbready' as I had expected. You could easily make modifications to this recipe to give it some extra ginger zing. 
  • The chocolate chips makes this a very yummy bar and the powdered sugar does make it a perfect holiday treat in one. 
While I don't think it really lived up to its name, it's still a yummy bar!

click on the hyperlinked name to go to recipe page online.

Crystal's Notes
  • People will differ on their interpretation of Pfeffernusse cookies based on their experience. I particularly like this recipe and have not ever tried the small bite size crunchy ones.
  • I use excess powdered sugar cause that is my thing and that is why they look exceptionally white :) ...recommended to not eat outside on a windy day or near a breezy window!
  • I cannot stand star anise (anise extract) which tastes like black licorice for those who need a reference. It is subtle in this recipe and I LOVE these cookies so if you have a 'hater' out there, these cookies may get a pass. They are on my favorites list for sure.
  • Slight crunch on the outside, chewy on the inside

Zucchini Bread /Recipe from Mom

This recipe has been made since I was a kid and has always been a holiday favorite of mine. Several years ago, my Mom lost it (Aye!). We tried some online recipes but they weren't "it" and while some were close it just didn't fill that missing piece inside our hearts (or bellies). It was very very very disappointing. Since that time my Mom has moved house like 3 times or something. So you would think not a chance in H** we would ever see it again. About a month ago, I asked her if she had ever found that recipe. I don't know why I even bothered given the time that had passed and what has gone on between now and then with garage sales and getting rid of old stuff... and now that I think about it, not sure why she never told me that she had indeed FOUND IT!  OMG! What a great day it was.
In making this for our troops, I made an extra one for at home and it was the reunion I had hoped for. It was everything I remembered it to be. Simple but GOOD.

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts ( I always use walnuts)
2 cups grated Zucchini
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
1 can crushed pineapple, drain juice
( I do not add the optional items)

  •  Mix dry ingredients
  • Add oil/ eggs/ vanilla
  • Add zucchini and nuts
Butter and flour loaf pans
Preheat to 350F   /  Bake for 1 hour- or until tops are browned and toothpick comes clean
Enough for 2 small loaf pans

Crystal's Notes
  • Top of loafs are crunchy and inside is soft and yummy. Perfect!
  • Taste great with a smear of butter.
  • Great anytime!

These were better than I expected them to be. The 'Baked' boys offer a suggestion in the book that these are indeed made for dunking and that you can and should let them bake up a little longer than you feel comfortable with since they are good for it. I did no such thing and baked for the suggested time. I hate a dry cookie and seeing as these have a journey ahead of them, I didn't want to risk them getting too dry, made for dunking or not! 

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces dried cranberry (1 cup)
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup) (Optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, until incorporated.

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix for  seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat  until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat for 5 more seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a small ice cream scoop with release mechanism to scoop out the dough in 2 tablespoon-size balls (or use a tablespoon measure) and place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 14 - 18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies begin to brown. 

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the individual cookies to the rack to cook completely.

These cookies can be stored, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

Yield: 36 cookies

Best wishes to all our military folks and their families.

God Bless America!


  1. Um hello yumminess! Your goodies look fantastic! I can't wait to try them all. I am especially curious about the pfeffernusse...I am anise hater so it will be interesting to see if it's subtle enough for my sensitive palate. LOL. Nice touch with the twine wrapped around your Tupperware. I know the recipient of your goodies will be smiling. :) Can't wait to see you! I think we have the makes for quite a grand tea party. XOXO, G

  2. I wish you many blessings in return for your kind generosity for our military and their families! Glad that I found your blog to follow along!


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Roz. That really made my day to read! It was funny that just as I was reading your post on the Lemon Biscotti cookies and thinking that they looked amazing and possibly an option for the military shipment for Dec, did your comment pop up in my email :). Must have been meant to be. Thank you again. Have a great weekend.