Kate

Breakfast Danish

breakfast danish by the wood and spoon blog by kate wood. This is a rough puff pastry made by laminating dough, rolled out and filled with winter fruits like apples, cherries, cranberries, and other bourbon soaked fruit. Learn how to make laminated dough and how to braid a danish dough. Turns into golden, flaky, pastry once baked. Recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

Brett made a scrunchy face at me and meticulously picked through the remains of his breakfast danish. “There’s a lot of fruit in here”, he said.

“Get out of the kitchen”, I replied.

I usually encourage constructive criticism when it comes to recipes and baking, but this danish had taken so much research, preparation, and use of my spare time that I wanted nothing short of glowing reviews. My husband, though, sometimes a bit more honest than my pride can bear, had already given away how he really felt about the pastry that contained hours of my love, sweat, and flour. He went on the lament of all of the “raisins” in the danish, even as I repeatedly confirmed to him that they were dried cherries.

“CHERRIES. They are dried cherries. It’s legitimately dried fruit soaked in bourbon and then baked into a delicious, flakey crust. How is that ever a bad thing? Explain. Now.”

I usually try to heed most of my husband’s likes and desires but this was one instance where the degree to which he was wrong was no match for how oh-so right the pastry was.

braided breakfast danish fruit filling

At the start of this year, we visited Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. I high recommend it. Anyone who would kind of consider themselves a foodie, or even anyone that just really likes to eat, would find themselves at home among the never-ending parade of seemingly perfect meals that we were served the entirety of our stay. The resort is small, intimate, and classically Southern, and they are known for their culinary and wine program.

On the last morning of our trip, we sat down for brunch and my attention was immediately directed to my left where BJ Novak (you probably know him as Ryan, the temporary hire on “The Office”) was dining with three other people. I was literally seconds away from approaching him to ask if we could FaceTime Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapour) so I could fangirl  her and talk about her new book that had me near-pants-wetting the entire time I read it. Right about that time, our waitress brought to our table a complimentary treat: breakfast danish. Let’s talk about that danish.

Actually, I may need a minute to just cherish the memory of that pastry.

Blackberry Farm- you know how to do it. You see all the other restaurants and resorts serving club crackers and cold biscuits as their complimentary bread basket and you decide to Michael-Jordan-slam-dunk-from-the-free-throw-line all over their faces. No, this was not your run of the mill bread basket. 

That danish was of another world. That danish tasted as though it was made entirely of butter and fairy dust. That danish was melt in your mouth, rich, buttery, flaky, tender pastry wrapped around a tart and spicy fruit filling.

braided breakfast danish fruit filling

It was beyond. And I knew I had to have it. After scouring the internet for a recipe that seemed worthwhile, I ran across a recipe by efore I tell you the recipe, a few thoughts that I will share in rhetoric:

  • Is this a ridiculously simple recipe? No. This recipe can look a bit overwhelming from the front end and it is not a mere one or two steps.
  • Is this a recipe that I can prepare in an hour start to finish? Absolutely not. This will take you a chunk of time and is best worked through in short phases throughout the day.
  • Is this a recipe that will melt my face off? Yes. Prepare your face for its day of melting. This is a recipe that is worth every second of meltage and more.

braided breakfast danish fruit filling

I recommend reading the recipe start to finish a few times so you’re kind of prepared for what’s ahead. For additional notes, be sure to check out the original recipe for the pastry as well.

And by the way, BJ Novak, if you ever read this by some random strike of luck or coincidence, tell Mindy Kaling I say what’s up and that we should be best friends. That is all. 

braided breakfast danish fruit filling

 

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Breakfast Danish

A tender, flaky pastry crust braided and baked around a sweet and tart blend of winter fruits.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 90
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the danish dough (Recipe by Samantha Seneviratne)

  • 1 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for rolling dough
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup cold whole milk

For the winter fruit filling

  • 13 dried apricots, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons good quality bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg

Instructions

To prepare the dough

  1. Combine the flour, granulated sugar, yeast and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to combine until butter is distributed in pea-sized pieces throughout the flour. Put the flour mixture in a medium bowl.
  2. In a separate, small bowl, whisk the egg and milk with 2 tablespoons of water. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold the mixture until the liquid is evenly distributed, being careful to not overwork the dough. Dump the contents of the bowl out on to a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 2 days.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to an 8-by-15-inch rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the rolling and folding process. Dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking, rotate, roll, and fold a final time, ending with a small, rectangular piece of dough. Wrap the dough in Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Repeat the entire rolling and folding process one more time. You will have rolled and folded the dough six times. If the dough becomes loose or tacky, place in the fridge to rest for a bit. Wrap the dough and place in the fridge for 2 hours or up to overnight.

To prepare the filling

  1. Combine the apricots, cherries, and bourbon in a 4 quart saucepan over low heat with just enough water to almost cover the fruit. Allow to simmer over low heat until fruit has plumped and some of the liquid has been absorbed. This should take about 15 minutes total. Set aside the fruit and its liquid in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pan over medium heat, combine butter, apples, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, dried fruit, and lemon juice. Bring to a bubble and reduce heat to low, cooking for 5-7 minutes or until apples have softened slightly but are not mushy. During this time, slowly add liquid reserved from the dried fruit so that the filling remains a moist a syrupy consistency but never watery. You may not use all of the reserved liquid. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Allow to cool in the refrigerator.

To assemble the pastry

  1. Roll the pastry dough out in a 11×14″ rectangle on a lightly floured piece of parchment.
  2. Using the back of a knife, mark off a 3″ section of dough running the length of the pastry. Be careful not to break all the way through the pastry. This will serve as your guideline of where the fruit filling will go.
  3. Starting at one end and working your way the entire length of both sides of dough, make 1″cuts perpendicular to the lines you first created, dragging your knife from the barrier line to the end of the dough.These will be the pieces of dough you braid over the top of your fruit filling. Cut off the top and bottom 1″ strips, leaving just a center “flap” on either end.
  4. Beat an egg in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of water and apply a thin coat of this egg wash over the braiding strips and end flap.
  5. Spoon your filling in to the 3″ partitioned section of dough, discarding any extra watery liquid that may have gathered in the bowl.
  6. Fold the center end flaps up and over the fruit. Starting at one end of the pastry, braid your strips, in a slightly downward angle. When you get to the end of the pastry, fold your strips over and lightly press to ensure that the pastry has adhered and sealed.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Move the parchment to a cookie sheet and cover with saran wrap, allowing the pastry to rise. It will puff up slightly and bounce back at your touch.
  8. Brush the remaining egg wash all over the top of pastry. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, gently turning the pan halfway through. Remove from oven when the pastry is flaky and golden. Cool on a cooling rack until just warm. Serve warm with a simple powdered sugar or brown butter glaze.

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Recipe Adapted From: Samantha Seneviratne

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog BY Kate Wood. This is a simple crumbly butter cookie inspired by Emeril Lagasse brown sugar shortbread bars. Buttery cutout shortbread cookies that can be slice and make. Drizzle with chocolate or sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Find the simple, easy, few ingredient recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

My husband says I have a Type A personality. While I would suggest that I’m somewhere between a Type A and Type B personality, I do see some inclinations that support his thinking. Time urgency, impatience, and a short-fused temper are all tendencies that I wear frequently like a behavioral scarlet letter, however, this is often offset by a sprinkling of Type B attributes.

One area I typically lean a little Type A heavy? Decluttering.

I love a good clean-out. I love a freshly organized drawer. I love a trip to Goodwill with a car full of stuff. It’s kinda like when you get a new manicure or like that first day of school when you get to crack open that box of pens and write for the first time in a crisp, new notebook. It’s a new lease on life!

Over Christmas, my friend Jesse told me about a book by Marie Kondo, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Curious, I purchased a copy, and after a fairly substantial skim of the book, I was in. I drank the Kondo Kool-Aid. The next day, I began to tidy.

To say that this method of cleaning was life-altering is an understatement. Whole-heartedly, unabashedly, I will tell you that this book has changed my home and life, maybe forever.

Kondo’s method of “tidying” (or as I would describe it, total-home overhauling) is a systematic process of sorting through categories of items in your home by discarding any belongings that don’t spark joy. Yes, I actually handled nearly every item in my home and asked myself the question, “Does this item bring me joy?” Quite often, the answer was no. That item got the boot.
Of course, there were exceptions. Hammers and dental floss and pencil sharpeners aren’t among things that bring me an abundance of happiness, but they do help to achieve other things that I do enjoy- art hanging on the walls, satisfactory gum health, and a newly sharpened pencil so that I can jot down thoughts to share with you kind folks. So those necessary, everyday items sometimes got to stay.

brown sugar shortbread cookies with chocolate drizzle

It took me 6 days, 20 garbage bags, and 2 trips to the massage therapist after I overdid it with my large, pregnant self before I was able to phone Goodwill to pick up my load. And ohhh, it was a load. 98% of the items in those bags were mine; I was living in such excess and I didn’t even realize it. Years of buying new storage bins and more plastic hangers and new drawer organizers was like trying to put a band-aid on the huge, gaping wound that was simply TOO. MUCH. STUFF.

The week long clear-out rid me of piles of things I no longer cared for, and likely, an infinite amount of future purchases I am now less likely to make. While I didn’t follow every facet of the book’s proposed methods, I can tell you that the ones I chose to utilize brought me an incredible amount of joy and lifted a burden of “stuff” that I didn’t even know I was carrying. I have recomended this book to countless people over the past month and now I’m passing this tidbit along to you: DO IT.  It’s fantastic. Bless someone else with your stuff and see how much easier it is to breathe when you don’t have piles of “unnecessary” staring at you in every closet.

brown sugar shortbread cookies with chocolate drizzle

Another tidbit? These shortbread. Ohhhhh, these shortbread.

Buttery, rich cookies that are addictive and practically beg for a cup of coffee. You cannot eat just one, but take it from my personal experience: you don’t want to eat more than three at a time unless you want a bellyache combined with an irrational desire to EAT. MORE. COOKIES. 

This is a recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse, and it’s one of the first things I remember baking as a teenager. Emeril’s recipe calls for baking a very similar dough in a springform pan (so delicious), but I find cookies are easier to share with friends. I’ve included two variations for these cookies: one with a cinnamon sugar topping and one drizzled with chocolate. I lean more towards the warm cinnamon flavors for this cookie, but certainly chocolate is never a bad choice. I’ll also mention that I prefer the thicker, smaller cookies as descibed in the instructions, although you’ll notice I went thinner and wider for the cookies I photographed. Either way, these cookies are incredibly worthwhile and a must-have in your arsenal of shortbread cookies. (Sidenote: if you’re the type of person who has arsenals of things like cookies, I want to know you. Let’s be friends). 

Check out Marie Kondo’s book while you’re at it. 

 

brown sugar shortbread cookies with chocolate drizzle

 

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Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

These buttery brown sugar shortbread cookies are sweet, rich, and perfect for dessert or with an afternoon cup of coffee.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 20

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar, reserved (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, reserved (optional)
  • chocolate ganache, chocolate melting wafers, or melted semisweet chocolate chips for drizzling (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour brown sugar, and salt together until well combined. Add butter chunks and vanilla to dry ingredients and pulse together until a dough forms into one ball. Try not to overwork the dough, but keep in mind this dough is dry and will take more time to come together than some. Flatten dough out into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness. (See notes) Using a biscuit cutter or a 2 1/2″ round cutter, cut out cookies and place on a parchment lined baking sheet at least 2″ apart. If desired, combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over cookies. This will turn your regular old brown sugar shortbread to cinnamon sugar shortbread! If your dough has gotten warm or soft, pop in the freezer for 5 minutes to set cookie’s shape.
  3. Baked for about 12 minutes or just until edges have set. Cool on a cooling rack and if desired, drizzle with warmed chocolate. 

Notes

  • For cinnamon brown sugar shortbread, sprinkle cookies liberally with cinnamon and sugar mixture before baking. If chocolate dipped brown sugar shortbread cookies is what you’re after, apply after cookies have been baked and cooled.
  • The cookies as photographed were rolled to 1/4″ thickness and cut with a 2-1/2″ biscuit cutter. For a more traditional shortbread cookie shape, roll a smidge thicker and cut with a smaller 2″ round cutter. Any shape cookie cutter will do. Baking time will differ based on cookie shape so keep an eye on them in the oven and remove when edges are set and are just barely beginning to brown.

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Recipe Adapted From: Emeril Lagasse

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. This is the best recipe for a one bowl, soft, moist and fluffy chocolate cake recipe. This cake is made with dark dutch process cocoa and a little espresso coffee powder. Made with oil not butter. This is the best chocolate layer cake recipe you will find and it is so easy! Makes a one layer or layered cake recipe. Find out some helpful tips and technique for making perfect cakes every time on thewoodandspoon.com

Everyone has a go to recipe. It’s the one you’ve made so frequently that you’ve nearly memorized it.  It’s the one you carry with pride into a party and it’s the one you submit to the church cookbook at the end of the year. 

A word on this. Who are the people that are still submitting recipes for gelatinous salads? Are we still eating these things? Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the 1950’s. Unless you’re pouring up that jello mold because you have plans to recreate that scene from “The Office” where Jim puts Dwight’s stapler in a bundt pan of Jell-O then please, let me urge you to reconsider. Maybe it’s my years of working at hospitals or the emotional scarring I’ve endured from having a husband who would rather eat a pudding pack than have a slice of homemade cake, but let the record show that if you bring me Jell-o, or any other food that wiggles in such taunting audacity, we are no longer friends.

I have very few recipes that I’ve created all on my own that I think are really solid, but many to boast of that other creative minds have come up with. One is for chocolate cake. When I first learned about how cool food blogs were, I was testing recipes for my wedding cake. I came across Rosie Alyea’s blog Sweetapolita and fell in major like with her chocolate cake recipe. I have yet to find another one, or even a modification of this one, that tastes better than it currently stands: dark, rich, and incredible fluffy. It’s the recipe I use for everything from wedding cakes to everyday trifles. And because every recipe deserves a fair trial, I have made a pros and cons list:

Pros

  • It’s a one bowl recipe
  • It uses oil instead of butter, so no waiting for butter to soften 
  • It uses dark cocoa powder so no need to chop up bars of chocolate
  • Is easily adaptable to make more or fewer layers
  • Stays fresh for days after baking
  • Freezes well when wrapped in Saran Wrap and foil

 

Cons

  • You will love this cake and subsequently try to eat it all before you’ve even frosted it. Then, when you show up with a tiny one layer cake instead of the 3 layer cake you promised, your friends will ridicule/judge you on account of you eating all of some poor kid’s birthday cake. As a result, you won’t be invited to birthday outings with your friends any longer and everyone will hate you. So basically, if you want to be invited to parties and not be shunned by everyone you’ve ever known, don’t bake this cake. You’ve been warned.Chocolate Cake

This is pretty much all you need to know about this recipe, however, I wanted to share some more tips on cake baking. I haven’t been baking long, but as a self-taught, amateur baker, I know that freebie tips on cake baking are worth their weight in gold. So here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Use room temperature ingredients. The ingredients in most cake recipes will emulsify together better when not at extreme temperatures. So what do you do when you forget to set your ingredients out in advance? Set your eggs in a cup of warm water to quickly bring to room temperature and feel free to nuke milk in the microwave at a low temperature in 10 second intervals till it’s no longer ice cold. As for the butter: consider slicing it into tablespoon pads and resting at room temperature while you set out the rest of your ingredients, or, nuke in the microwave for 8 seconds per side of butter.
  2. Use parchment paper. Yes, it can be a pain to cut out rounds of parchment, but I use it every time. Why? Because the only thing more annoying that cutting out parchment rounds is baking a beautiful cake only to have chunks of it remain stuck to the innards of your pan. If you’re feeling really aggressive, you can purchase pre-cut rounds of parchment online and they make life so much easier. Just do it.
  3. Do not overmix. If you read a recipe that says “mix just until combined”, do just that. Overmixing your batter will cause your cake to be chewy and dense… not usually what we’re going for.
  4. Make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh. If you open your cabinet and the baking soda says it expired in 2009, throw it out. I’m talking to you, Mom.
  5. If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, don’t fret! I sometimes will use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for every scant cup of milk when I need a quick substitute for real buttermilk. Works like a charm.
  6. Don’t overbake! Toothpicks cost like, $1 at the store. And I’m pretty sure you can steal them from hostess stands at most chain restaurants. So keep some on hand and when the cake looks just barely firm in the middle and is no longer jiggling in the pan, test it. Moist crumbs should come out. If it’s not done, set the timer for one minute and try again. And in the midst of all that checking, try not to open and close the oven too much. You’ll end up with a  cake crater big enough to put your face in. On second thought, this isn’t such a terrible outcome so do whatever you want. No judgement here.
  7. Allow to cool a bit in the pan before flipping out on to a cooling rack.

 

For more on chocolate cakes, check out my Instagram here — typically chocolate cake overload. I’ll be sharing some decorating how-to’s in the near future so stay tuned!

 

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Chocolate Cake

This recipe for chocolate cake is rich, moist, easy to make, and the only recipe you’ll ever need for chocolate cake.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 21/4 cups (270 gm) all-purpose flour
  • 21/4 cups (450 gm) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (60 gm) dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 21/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 21/4 teaspoons corn starch
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs (180 gm), room temperature
  • 11/4 cups (300 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups (180 mL) black coffee, hot
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 11/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 (8″) round cake pans with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment rounds.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, loosely combine all of the wet ingredients and these to the bowl of the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed for just shy of 2 minutes, scraping the bowl (and bottom of bowl!) twice throughout.
  3. Pour equal amounts of batter in to all 3 pans. Carefully place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until center is just barely set and toothpick comes out of cake almost clean. Allow to cool in the pans and on a cooling rack for 20 minutes and then remove from pans to continue the cooling process. Cake will stay fresh for several days if covered, or, for one month if wrapped well in saran wrap and frozen in freezer.

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Recipe Adapted From: Rosie Alyea

Cranberry Pear Mini Pop-Tarts

cranberry pear mini pop tarts recipe by the wood and spoon blog by kate wood. this recipe makes mini hand pie type pop-tarts filled with bits of pears (or apples!) and cranberries. They are baked in the oven until golden and flaky and the whole thing gets topped with a powdered sugar glaze. This is a great way to use leftover pie crusts or to make individual pie crusts. Find the recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

If you follow me on Instagram or have known me for longer than ten minutes, you have probably gathered that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. God bless decent genetics and enough spare time to exercise occasionally because otherwise, I’d be in deep. 

Surprisingly though, I’m a bit of a health-nut//control freak when it comes to my daughter, Aimee. It’s really important to me that she eats appropriately (even if mom cheats a little every now and then daily), so she’s typically pretty limited on what she’s allowed to have. 

Truth be told, this is in part due to me not wanting to deal with a picky eater, and even more embarrassingly, because I don’t always want to share my treats. The day she learned to say the word “cookie”, I pretty much melted and knew my days of solo cookie consuming were over. She’s a girl after my own heart.

pastry dough for cranberry pear mini pop tarts

Needless to say, Aimee has not tried a lot of the foods I really loved when I was a kid. Because my diet as a kid was often a mash-up of processed food faves, I was usually the girl you wanted to make a trade with at the lunch table… and for the record, no, the leftovers from your mom’s mystery meat with cream of whatever soup sauce was NOT a plausible trade for my pizza Lunchable. Good try, though. 

One of my faves growing up was Pop-Tarts. If we’re being honest, I still probably love them, it’s just been a minute since I’ve ventured to that region of the grocery store. After becoming confident with my favorite pie crust recipe, I decided it was time to take a stab at the illusive Pop-Tart.

Ya’ll.

Homemade Pop-Tarts, or this recipe at least, is essentially a mini, personal-sized pie with DOUBLE CRUST. [Drops Mic]

cranberry pear mini pop tarts

Hot out of the oven, these teeny pie bites have a buttery, flaky crust, and tart fruit filling that is as diverse as it is easy to make. If you want to make strawberry filling… well, make strawberry filling! If you’re feeling blueberry and lemon… bake away! Quite often I will use stocked up preserves from the summer and spread those on to the pastry- super simple. No one will ever guess it’s just jam.

We usually have a good variety of pears at our grocery store in the winter months, so I opted to try out a pear and cranberry variety. My house smelled like a winter wonderland while these were in the oven, and I really think this flavor combination makes for a grown-up, sophisticated way of saying, “um, yes, I still love Pop-Tarts.”

Both the pastry and the filling can be made in advance and they require very little active kitchen time. In a pinch, you could always try refrigerated pie crust from the grocery store, but you have my word that the homemade route is the best way to go.

Give these tarts a try and let me know what you think! If you discover a new flavor that is next level, please fill me in.

Happy baking! Oh, and for the record… I won’t be sharing these with Aimee.

cranberry pear mini pop tarts

 

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Cranberry Pear Mini Pop- Tarts

An updated take on the classic pastry, these cranberry-pear mini pop-tarts include a flaky crust and tart cranberry pear filling that is delicious treat to serve to kids and adults alike!

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup finely diced pear (I used Bartlett but any firm pear for baking will do)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the pastry

  • 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 5 Tbsp. ice water

Instructions

To prepare the filling

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and add to the pan with the butter. Stir frequently over medium heat until cranberries have burst and filling is thick and somewhat uniform, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

To prepare the pastry

  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or fork until it is the consistency of a course meal with small, pea-sized chunks of butter throughout. Add water one tablespoon at a time, tossing gently until pastry comes together in moist clumps. Divide dough in half and pat into two round, flat disks. Wrap with Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To assemble

  1. Roll out one disk of pastry on to a floured surface to 1/4″ thickness. Using a 3″ biscuit cutter, gently cut rounds of dough. Each Pop-Tart will require two rounds (one for top and one for bottom).
  2. Place one tablespoon of cooled filling on top of half of the rounds.
  3. Top the filled rounds with a second circle of of crust and use a fork to crimp the edges. Vent the top of each rectangle by poking the top of the pastry with a fork 2-3 times. Freeze the pop tarts on the baking sheet for at least 2 hours or up to a week.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the tarts, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and top with sifted powdered sugar or a glaze of choice.

Notes

  • I used a simple powdered sugar glaze for the pop-tarts pictured, but feel free to get creative!

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Butternut Squash Soup

butternut squash soup recipe by the wood and spoon blog by kate wood. this is a creamy fall and winter time soup make from roasted butternut squash, cream, onions or shallots, garlic and savory herbs like thyme, rosemary, and more. This recipe feeds a crowd and is great to make ahead. Find the recipe for this delicious one pot dutch oven broth soup on thewoodandspoon.com

I’m starting to realize that we will never stop learning. Years out of college and a decade from high school, I can tell you that my learning here on earth has only just begun. In school, our studies were a series of numbers, punctuation rules, and a seemingly endless list  of things to memorize. I can still tell you the name and order of all of the planets in our solar system, and I can even pronounce the word “onomatopoeia”, both things my seventh grade teacher tricked me in to thinking would somehow be helpful in my adult life.

A New Kind of Learning

Today my studies are vastly different and infinitely more practical. I study my daughter as she explores with her tiny fingers, eyes, and feet and as she so innocently discovers new things like wind or the sound of a train. Or I pour over new recipes and study my husband’s reaction while he taste tests for the first time. I study fabrics when I’m preparing to quilt a new project, gas prices when I’m choosing a pump station to fill my tank, and  my best friend’s face when I’m looking for her approval as I try on a new pair of jeans.

butternut squash soup recipe

Comparing

I also spend more time than I’d care to admit studying other women. I tell you this with equal parts shame and fear, but only in hopes that you would be able to hear my honesty. Women are brutal, both to one another and to ourselves. We compare thigh gaps and complexions and wardrobes. Then we size up one another’s weaknesses and often feel small in the shadow of someone else’s strengths. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to keep up with the Jones’ and every social media personalities.

No One Has It All

Let me be clear: no one has it all. Furthermore, no one does it all. Hands that  wash piles of soccer uniforms and scrub finger paint out of tile grout and wipe little five year old noses don’t always have perfectly manicured nails. Bodies that are strong from hard labor or from caring for a debilitated family member do not always fit in skinny tailored pants and blouses. Women who stay up to talk to a friend who needs a pair of listening ears are not always free to prepare nightly gourmet meals.

Let’s all just chill. Let’s cut ourselves a break. Who cares if the laundry basket gets a little full or if your two year old goes a day without eating the recommended  four servings of vegetables. No one needs to know if we haven’t shaved our legs yet this week or that the real reason we don’t wear the popular-at-the-moment high-waisted jeans is because it makes our butt look like the offspring of a muffin and a hippo. No one has it all.

butternut squash soup recipe

A New Way of Thinking

So this is what I propose: Identify your strengths and work them. Own it. And if something isn’t your thing, don’t get discouraged. Either work hard and figure out how to get whatever it is you want or smile, shrug, and keep doing your thing. You probably have a lot going for you already.

Likewise, celebrate the talents you see in others. Tell people when they’re killin’ it. What if we spent a less time on jealousy or judgement and a little more time sharing appreciation for beauty in others? What if we took captive every negative thought and tried to turn it into a word of encouragement?

This is something I’m desperately needing to work on. I want to be more of myself and less of what I feel pressure to be. Even more so, I want to be happy with the person I am and joyful towards the people around me. I kinda feel like things would be better that way.

Butternut Squash Soup

Things are also better with this soup. It tastes like fall and reminds me of chilly days, cozy socks, and sharing lunch with your best friend while sitting cross-legged on the couch. You should make this soup. When you do, invite someone over for a bowl and casually interject some kind words. Make someone’s day with words and with food. Also, if you make this soup and want to invite me over, I promise to bring lunchtime appropriate wine and loads of compliments for whoever gives me a bowl and a spoon. (Cough… Anyone?)

butternut squash soup recipe

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Butternut Squash Soup

A creamy and delicate butternut squash soup perfumed with sautéed onions, rosemary, thyme and smoky bacon.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 butternut squash, appx. 5 lb total weight
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 4 whole sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 4 whole sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • 6 slices of applewood smoked bacon, browned and chopped with grease reserved
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 11/2 cup chopped), or 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup of whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. Cut each squash lengthwise into two equal halves. Drizzle each half with olive oil and stuff the cavity of each with one sprig of rosemary and thyme. Distribute the unpeeled garlic cloves among the cavities of each squash half and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Carefully turn each squash half, flesh facing downward, on to the lined baking sheet.
  3. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Allow to cool.
  4. When squash is cooled, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and set it aside. Squeeze garlic from its peel and reserve it with the squash. Discard herbs.
  5. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Combine the reserved bacon grease and butter. Add chopped onion to the pot and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft and fragrant.
  6. Add squash and garlic to the pot and toss together with the onions. Add chicken stock, white wine, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, chopped rosemary, and chopped thyme. Stir to combine. Mash any large clumps of squash until broken up. Reduce heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once simmering, remove from heat and stir in the cream. Carefully, puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches using a standard blender. Once smooth, add salt and pepper to taste (I used 2 teaspoons of salt and another 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
  8. Garnish soup with chopped bacon bits and serve with croutons or sliced baguette.

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Recipe Adapted From: Chuck Williams

Apple Crisp Ice Cream

apple crisp ice cream recipe by the wood and spoon blog by kate wood. This is a churned ice cream recipe made with brown sugar and cream cheese (adapted from joy the baker) and filled with a oatmeal cookie crisp filling and chunks of homemade apple pie filling. This is a great summertime recipe, perfect for fourth of july and other holidays. Find the recipe for this ice cream at thewoodandspoon.com

So apparently last week marked the first days fall. This is news to me, as I thought that Labor Day was actually the last day of summer. If this is untrue, why do the powers that be dictate we cannot wear white after Labor Day? I  neither listen to nor support this regulation at all; In fact, I’m hereby making it my personal mission to incorporate white into my wardrobe as frequently as possible this fall/winter season. I’m pretty sure I saw Taylor Swift wearing a white crop top sometime last winter so naturally if Taylor does it, it’s ok. She can do whatever she wants. I luh you, Tay.

Fall always makes me think cinnamon, caramel, apples and pumpkin– all delicious things I love! But here’s my problem with the onset of fall foods:

I MISS THE SUMMER FOODS.

I want to eat pico de gallo off of salty chips and drink a margarita out of a heavily condensating glass and eat so many ice cream cones that my belly aches and the only cure is MORE ICE CREAM.

 I embrace you, fall, but friends don’t turn their backs on one another and summer, sweet thing that it is, was so good to me. 

How about we all stop with our no white wearing regulations and obligatory drinking of spicy beverages and just agree to agree that summer and fall can combine to make something magical and delicious. At least through September? 

apple crisp ice cream

The defense for this notion calls the court to observe exhibit a: apple crisp ice cream. It’s apples (totally fall) and ice cream (hello summer)! I started thinking of this recipe a while ago when I first tried Joy the Baker’s brown sugar ice cream. It’s the easiest ice cream recipe I’ve ever made because it requires zero cooking. Also, it’s delicious. The fact that it contains a healthy dose of Kentucky bourbon is irrelevant (False: it is everything). 

This ice cream is creamy, rich, and with that little extra oomph that makes you say, “Lordy Lordy, what is in this ice cream!?” 

My initial idea was to add a streusel crumb to this ice cream base. So I went for it and my first choice for cookies to crumble was G Mommas Buddascotch Oatmeal cookie.

apple crisp ice creamG Mommas is a small business bakery started here in Selma, AL by a good friend of mine, Robert Armstrong. He began his cookie making based off of a recipe his Gammy (thus, “G Momma”) used to make. These cookies are bite-sized, buttery, and wonderfully crisp. I call them the Cheez-it of cookies because you start eating them and then all of a sudden the bag is empty, your husband is mad that you ate the last of his snacks, and you suddenly hate yourself but also love yourself because those cookies were the most delicious thing you ate all week. 

These cookies are a perfect flavor match for the tart bites of apple and sweet, creamy brown sugar bourbon ice cream base. I’m not saying you can’t make this ice cream without these cookies, but I am saying you’ll be happy if you just order yo’self a bag and make it the appropriately Southern way. The good news is that these bad boys (and their chocolate chip counterparts) are being sold increasingly across the southeast and in some major specialty stores like Cracker Barrel and World Market. Who knows- a bag could be just around the corner from you!

apple crisp ice cream

Strap on your white pants, pick up some cookies, and please just make this ice cream. Happy Fall, y’all!

 

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Apple Crisp Ice Cream

This apple crisp ice cream is a bourbon brown sugar ice cream base with bits of oatmeal cookie crumble and tart apple pie swirled in.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the brown sugar cream cheese ice cream, from “Homemade Decadence” by Joy Wilson

  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese at room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups of cold half-and-half
  • 1 cup pack light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp bourbon

For the oatmeal cookie crumbs

  • 3 ounces of crunchy, crisp oatmeal cookies (I used G Mommas Buddascotch Oatmeal Cookies)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the apple crisp bits

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg

Instructions

To prepare the ice cream base

  1. Combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, and salt in a stand mixer. Once combined, add the half-and-half and bourbon. Blend on high speed until smooth.
  2. Transfer ice cream mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To prepare the oatmeal cookie crumble

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Crumble cookies in a food processor until they are small crumbs. Add brown sugar, butter, and salt and pulse until well combined.
  3. Bake on a lined cookie sheet for 12 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature prior to use.

To prepare the apple crisp bits

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 12 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and thick.
  2. Allow to cool in fridge prior to use.

Finally, to assemble the ice cream

  1. In an ice cream container (I use a ceramic loaf pan measuring 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″), layer 1/4 of total ice cream mixture, 1/4 of crumbs, and 1/4 of apple pie filling. Repeat this process 3 more times.
  2. Drag a knife through the loaf pan 6-7 times to create a swirl of all of the ingredients. Smooth out the top.
  3. Place in freezer to firm up for at least four hours. This ice cream will keep up to 1 week.

Notes

  • 1. Make the apple crisp bits and cookie crumble ahead of time. Allow to cool completely prior to use.
  • 2. While the bourbon is not necessary in this recipe, it is 100% recommended.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

Recipe Adapted From: Joy Wilson