Posts Tagged ‘orange’

Hot Cranberry Orange Cake

Hot Cranberry Orange Cake recipe
Hot Cranberry Orange Cake

Fantastic Mimosa Recipe

Fantastic Mimosa Recipe
Fantastic Mimosa Recipe


Recipe by: Adapted from Inspired Taste
Yield: 1 pitcher of Mimosas (8 servings)

This is my favorite Mimosa recipe! Serve a big pitcher of Mimosas at brunch for a bright, fresh zing!

1 (750 mL) bottle of Prosecco, chilled
1/2 cup Triple Sec, chilled
3 cups (plus a smidge) pulp-free orange juice (I used a regular sweetened version), chilled
orange slices and raspberries for garnish

Make sure all of the ingredients are well chilled. Not long before serving, pour the champagne into the pitcher first. Add Triple Sec and then add orange juice. Adding the orange juice last will naturally mix the mixture so you don't have to stir and lose bubbliness. Add the orange slices and chill the mixture until ready to serve. To serve, pour into a champagne flute and add a few raspberries for color. Keep the pitcher chilled between rounds.

Thyme Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

"But I also wondered if he wasn't right, that we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us."
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller

I don't know about you, but I generally feel like I'm right about things. I don't mean that I'm always right, and I'm not a know-it-all; I've just spent a lot of time forming my beliefs and I'm a thoughtful person, so I usually don't feel like my worldview is too far off base.

I think most people probably feel this way. There aren't very many of us, I'll wager, who walk through life feeling totally insecure in our ideas and worldview. We believe what we believe for reasons -- sometimes good reasons, sometimes misguided ones -- and we walk through life feeling pretty certain. Open to change, we hope, and open to learning, but pretty settled.

Every now and then, though, you hit a wall that sends your worldview reeling. Firm ideas you had about your life's purpose, how to weather different circumstances, and how the world works suddenly seem a lot more fluid. In my own life, I feel like I've recently run into the Great Wall of China, not to be melodramatic or anything, and I'm scrambling to find confirmation or revision of my worldview. I won't bore you with the gory details, but I'd like to share some of my revelations with you over the coming weeks.

The first one is that life is not about checking off boxes. Donald Miller, a writer who had to "edit" his life into a screenplay and discusses the process in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, realized that inasmuch as life is a story, there are certain elements that are necessary to make it a meaningful one. One of those elements is character transformation.

We sometimes imagine that attaining our goals in life is what makes us successful: finding a husband, having kids, finding a house, finding a job. Have you ever wondered why we never seem to arrive? If we never seem to be finished with achieving, maybe it's because the achievement itself isn't the goal, but how we change during the pursuit.

Everyone always says, "the journey is the destination," but then when we're faced with health crises, relationship problems, job frustrations, and uncertainty about our future, that ideology falters. We want solutions. We want to be on the other side. It's hard to rest in the storm, knowing God is using every strong wind and bolt of lightning to transform us in the exact way we need to be transformed. That idea can even evoke hostility in people in the midst of their greatest trials -- the idea that God would, even while holding us and loving us in the ultimate sacrificial way, allow us to endure seemingly insurmountable trials is difficult to swallow.

Moreso even than others, I can have trouble resting in a trial. I don't fault God for letting me go through the hard times, but I do inadvertently try to make myself my own savior, scrambling to fix it fix it fix it! My anxiety gets the better of me, and I flail through all different "solutions," some of which do more harm than good. Lately I've been practicing, instead, letting the trouble wash through me like waves. Maybe they're strong waves, and maybe they'll move me. Maybe they'll even knock me off my feet for a bit. But ultimately they'll flow past and disappear against the shore.

If you're in the middle of a trial, practice thinking of each new difficulty like a wave and let it come. Then let it go. And in the meantime, maybe make some cookies. Cookies never hurt.

One year ago: Straw-Raspberry Basil Fruit Leather
Two years ago: Homemade Buttery Croissants and Pains-au-Chocolats

Thyme Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: two logs of about 15 cookies each

These are some amazing cookies. Buttery, delicate shortbread is already delicious, but the addition of orange zest, cranberries, and thyme make these shortbreads particularly special. They're not too sweet, but a drizzle of white chocolate sweetens them up. They'd be perfect for tea, snacking, or a dessert. It's also easy to bake a log of them and keep the second log in the freezer for unexpected company!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried thyme
3/8 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (about the zest from one orange)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
about 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and dried thyme. In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter, orange zest, and powdered sugar 2-3 minutes or until pale, light, and fluffy. Mix in the orange juice. Beat in the flour mixture and then stir in the cranberries by hand to be sure everything is combined.

Use a sheet of wax paper to roll the dough into a 1 1/2-inch wide log (if you're having trouble, chill the dough for a bit in the fridge before rolling it). Wrap plastic wrap or foil around the logs and freeze them for 20 minutes until firm (you can also double-wrap them and leave them frozen for up to 3 weeks at this point. When you're ready to bake, just use a serrated knife to cut the cookies and bake as usual. It make take a few minutes longer since they'll be baking from frozen, but just keep an eye on them.) While they cookies are freezing, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the center. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Use a serrated knife to slice each log into 1/4-inch slices and place these about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 8-10 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes on the pan before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. In the meantime, melt white chocolate according to package instructions (usually half-power, in small increments, stirring often) and spoon it into a plastic zip-top bag with a tiny corner cut off. Set cookies on wax or parchment paper and squeeze the melted chocolate from the zip-top bag over them in a zig zag design. Let them dry. Store them in an airtight container separated by leaves of parchment or wax paper for up to a week.

If you liked this post, please:
-Subscribe to Willow Bird Baking
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Twitter
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Facebook

Sweet Orange Florentines

"Don't worry! It's not scary. Here, I'll go first."

Her curly blonde ponytail bobbed as she picked her way through the freezing mountain river towards the sluice. She waved me over and I waded, fully clothed and reluctant, over to her side. The water was rushing past us, slamming into the rocks downstream in a mess of white spray. I must have looked nervous, because she reiterated: "It's not scary. Watch me."

She sat down in the freezing, frothing water of the sluice and was whisked away, laughing and splashing, to a pool downstream. Our 7th grade students, who had hiked to this stream with us as part of their overnight field trip and were now watching from the shore, cheered. It seemed easy enough.

You need to know a few things about me to guess how I was feeling at that moment:

1. I have older siblings, which made for some traumatic pool experiences as a child.

2. In college, my roommate frantically demonstrated (on the floor of our dorm room) how to swim minutes before our freshman year swim test, where I was positive I was going to be the first student in Davidson College history to drown.

3. It was a year later before I really learned to swim semi-confidently. I still opted out of taking a SCUBA class when I spent my semester doing marine biology because I was afraid I'd panic underwater and drown.

4. I did panic in about 15 feet of water at one point in the Gulf of Mexico, at which point I promptly requested that my friend drag me to the nearby boat. I think the undercurrent of hysteria in my voice got her attention. "Undercurrent" might be the worst word choice ever given the subject matter. Ugh.

Basically, I love water, but I am not fond of drowning.

sweet flowers for this post provided by one of my lovely vacation bible school students!

Ashley had just run the sluice right in front of me, though, and was safe and sound. If my mom were there, she would've begun, "If all your friends were jumping off a bridge...," but thankfully she wasn't there at that particular moment. I sat down in the froth of water, which was much colder than it had seemed when it was only up to my knees.

Gasping from the cold, I felt the water begin to propel me down the stream. I picked up speed and bounced through bubbles and foam before being deposited, laughing and flailing, into the pool of calmer water. Our students cheered. Ashley and I promptly posed for a soaked photo taken by one of them.

That wasn't the first time Ashley had supported or encouraged me. As coworkers, we talked all the time about how to model certain behaviors for our 6th and 7th graders, but she probably didn't realize how often she modeled fun, joy, and above all, bravery for me. I left every conversation with her feeling calmer, more joyful, and inspired -- whether by her fantastic hand-crafted earrings, her creative outfits, her sweet relationship with her family, her bright outlook. How many people can you say that about?

Just recently, Ashley modeled bravery for me one more time. After teaching middle school Spanish for years, she made the decision to move her entire life to Spain, where she'll be teaching middle school English! She told me that the decision -- leaving family and friends and country indefinitely! -- was one of the hardest she's ever made, but after crying for a bit and taking a nap (we both agreed that naps are great for decision making), she knew it was the right choice.

Since she's famous for packing light, I didn't want to get her a physical going away present, but I did want to give her something she could "take with her" to know how special she is to me. She's a cookie baking superstar, so I cobbled together this recipe for her. These florentines are based on some cookies her mom bought once that we all loved. They happen to be the best cookies I've ever had, so I hope she can bake them sometime in Spain and enjoy a "taste of home."

Love you, Ashley!

One year ago: Itsy Bitsy Berry Cream Pies
Two years ago: Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches with Creamy Coleslaw and Summer Bean Salad

Sweet Orange Florentines

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: about 15 sandwich cookies

These are the best cookies I've ever tasted, seriously! Don't be afraid of the anise extract -- I hate licorice flavor, but the anise extract here is just enough to give an amazing depth to the orange flavor, not enough to make the cookies licoricey. These cookies are so different than drop cookies -- make sure you only use a teaspoon of mixture for each cookie even if it looks tiny, because they spread out into the beautiful lace you see above. They're easy and a lot of fun to bake!

1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/8 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
About 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1/2 orange)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon anise extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds and macadamia nuts together until finely chopped without letting them form a paste. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, orange zest, salt, and finely chopped nuts.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, cream, honey, and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue cooking the mixture for about a minute before removing it from the heat and adding the vanilla extract and anise extract. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture until it's combined and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, use a teaspoon measure to scoop up 1 teaspoon of batter at a time and roll them into balls. Place these balls on your prepared baking sheets at least 4 inches apart -- don't skimp on this distance, because the cookies will spread a lot as they form their "lace." Flatten the balls into discs. Bake one pan of cookies at a time, rotating once halfway through the baking time, until they are thin, lacy, and golden brown, about 6-7 minutes (this is one of those cookies where you inevitably burn the first pan and then get the hang of it, so don't fret. Just keep a close eye on them). Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing them with a thin spatula to a cooling rack. Repeat until all cookies are baked.

In the meantime, melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave according to package instructions (usually half-power, in small increments, stirring often.) Carefully spread a very thin layer of white chocolate (just a whisp or they'll be too sweet) on the bottom of one cooled cookie and top it with another to form a thin sandwich. Place these on wax or parchment paper to dry (you can stick them in the refrigerator to speed up the drying process). Serve immediately or store for up to 3 days in an air-tight container with layers separated by wax paper.

If you liked this post, please:
-Subscribe to Willow Bird Baking
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Twitter
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Facebook

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Orange Rosemary Butter & Goat Cheese

In light of Willow Bird Baking's Cooking Hard Stuff Challenge, I'll be sharing some tips for tackling new or challenging recipes throughout the month of March. If you haven't signed on for the challenge yet, make sure you read about it and join in the fun.

My first bit of advice about how to Cook Hard Stuff (or really, how to cook anything at all) is going to seem half obvious and half new agey, but it's important enough to harp on a bit.

Cooking Hard Stuff Tip #1: Read and visualize the recipe.

Once upon a time, I treated a recipe like a labyrinth. I started at the beginning without any knowledge of what was ahead, putting one foot in front of the other and hoping I eventually reached the other side.

It was exciting, for sure. Suddenly, I'd need a cup of sugar. I'd dig around in the cabinet for a bit, do some measuring, and accomplish that task. Then, bam! I'd need a stick of butter. I'd scrounge around in the fridge to see if I had one. The pitfalls of this technique are pretty obvious: sometimes you're out of sugar, or your butter needed to be set out to soften hours ago, or the pan you need is soaking in the sink with last night's baked ziti caked all over it.

It only took a few such missteps to start reading recipes, but even then, I just "read" them. Skimming did the trick most of the time. Finally, a few mid-recipe trips to the grocery store made me realize that a cursory scan of a recipe wasn't going to cut it either.

When I say you should read through your recipe, I mean you should grab a pencil, sit down with the recipe, and really read it. Make grocery lists based on the ingredients. Make a schedule for your prep work so things like softening butter don't sneak up on you. Sketch a plan for how to set up your workspace for finicky or time sensitive recipes so you won't have to stop and rummage through the pantry.

These things take a little time. You might sit with your recipe for 15 or 20 minutes planning. I can say from experience, though, that the time and angst you'll save as you breeze through your recipe is worth the few minutes of preparation.

Once you've given a recipe a thorough reading and made any helpful notes, you need to sit down and visualize the steps of the recipe. Literally, sit there and picture yourself doing each step. Maybe this is starting to sound a little like a yoga class, but mentally walking through a recipe is one of the most important things I do to ensure my success. It's during this exercise that I realize what order the prep work is best completed in, what techniques I'm unfamiliar with and might need to read more about, and what kitchen tools I should use in order to maximize my efficiency and minimize my workload.

Thinking through the recipe a few times also makes me feel like I've practiced the steps I'm about to tackle, which boosts my confidence and leads to better results in the kitchen.

These Hasselback Sweet Potatoes aren't Hard Stuff; they're actually pretty simple to prepare and boast a gorgeous flavor profile. But having never made Hasselback potatoes before, you better believe I was reading around online, comparing various recipes, and making a prep list for myself. After this bit of preparation, the dish practically flew together.

As I hoped, the orange rosemary butter, goat cheese, and smidge of warm orange marmalade glaze worked perfectly with the sweet potato to create a bold savory side dish. Do a little reading and a little visualization (and maybe even some yoga?) and then make yourself some sweet taters.

What tips for Cooking Hard Stuff would you offer other readers?

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Orange Rosemary Butter & Goat Cheese

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, inspired by A Cozy Kitchen's Hasselback Potatoes
Yield: 2 sweet potatoes, 2-4 servings

These sweet potatoes are stuffed with delicate orange rosemary butter and goat cheese and drizzled with a touch of warm orange marmalade when they're fresh from the oven. The result is a savory side dish with a hint of sweetness and a ton of bright flavor. Don't fret if the butter and cheese needs to be smooshed into each slit in the potato and ends up a little messy -- the finished product will be gorgeous.

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
3/4 teaspoon honey
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more for salting butter to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon orange marmalade

Make the Rosemary Orange Butter: Mix softened butter, orange extract, orange zest, finely chopped rosemary, and honey until well combined. Add salt to taste. Spoon butter onto a square of wax paper and gently form into a log. Wrap the log and place it in the freezer to firm up completely.

Prepare potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and cover a baking sheet with foil. Place a wooden spoon handle on either side of your potato and slice thin slices into it, allowing the spoon handles to stop your knife before you cut all the way through. Slice your cold butter into thin slices and stuff a sliver into every other slit in your potato. Stuff goat cheese into the other slits (some goat cheese will smear out onto the top of your potato and form a topping of sorts). Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet, drizzle each potato with 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Check halfway through and tent with foil if the goat cheese is beginning to brown too much. Remove the potatoes from the oven after baking and heat the orange marmalade in a small, microwave safe prep bowl for about 15 seconds. Drizzle half over each potato and serve immediately.

P.S. This dish will be entered in the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission's No More 'Mallows Recipe Contest. I love me some sweet tater and marshmallow casserole, but I also love that sweet potatoes pack a lot of savory potential.

See all the Cooking Hard Stuff Tips:
The Cooking Hard Stuff Challenge
Tip #1: Read and visualize the recipe.
Tip #2: Mise en place.
Tip #3: Make a schedule.
Tip #4: Try, try, try again -- or share your success

If you liked this post, please:
-Subscribe to Willow Bird Baking
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Twitter
-Follow Willow Bird Baking on Facebook
-Give this post a thumbs up on StumbleUpon
-Pin It

1 2