Food, Faith, and Other Fabulous Finds

Recipes, devotional thoughts, and other cool things I come across.

A Few Freebies, Several Sweet Treats, and My Love Letter to Panera October 4, 2011

I don’t know about you, but to me, blogging follows Murphy’s Law.  Last week, I had to kind of scrounge to come up with ideas to blog about.  Almost as soon as I hit “Publish”, several things that I really wanted to blog about ambushed me all at once.  I displayed great self-control in order to give you a chock full post today.  Hope you enjoy!

Let’s start with the freebies!  Once again, that pantheon of products known as Amazon is offering up a free $2 mp3 credit.  Just follow the technique discussed here with the code FALLMP3S.  I love it when they offer these and always enjoyably agonize over which songs I want most.

The other freebie is just as exciting.  For the entire month of October, the company known as Great American Cookies is offering a free cookie when you donate a new or gently used book.  For more info and to find a participating location near you, check out this page.  I haven’t been to donate yet, but the hubby and I did recently stop by and discover an amazing option for you to consider.  It is called the Chewy Pecan Supreme and it is a mouthful of fall with some spice, pecans, and even a little maple yumminess.

Now, are you ready for our four fabulous foods? (Not grammatically correct, but nicely alliterated.)  We’ll start with things you can buy and then move on to something you can make at home (tonight anyone?).  I have finally gotten to try real Italian gelato.  We bought a container of stracciatella flavored gelato (the Italian version of chocolate chip) that was absolutely delectable.  I am definitely a fan and will be buying more whenever I can.

I’ve also gotten to try another new flavor from Ben and Jerry’s called Fair Goodness Cake.  It’s described as chocolate ice cream with German chocolate cake pieces and a coconut caramel swirl.  I would describe it as the most delicious chocolate and coconut ice cream on the planet.  If you are a fan of Mounds candy, then this is the ice cream for you.  My husband said that it’s one of the only types of chocolate ice cream that he’ll eat (and that’s saying something – he’s definitely a vanilla guy).

Now if that wasn’t enough chocolate for you, pay close attention to this next recipe.  It’s getting closer to my favorite season (Christmas!!).  When most people think of a quintessential Christmas cookie, they think of sugar cookies.  Personally, I’m not a big fan.  As a vehicle for frosting, I’d prefer cupcakes.  As a cookie, I find them boring (although often very pretty).  For roll out and decorate type cookies, I usually go for gingerbread.  I might just have to change my tune thanks to Smitten Kitchen’s Brownie Roll-Out Cookies.  There are so many great reasons to make these cookies, I’ll list a few.  They’re made from normal household ingredients.  The dough is easy to work with (roll out, cut out, etc.).  They don’t spread out at all, so they are great for intricate shapes.  They taste great, like brownies.  And my favorite reason of all: they are a perfect vehicle for all sorts of icings, glazes, and ice creams (ice cream brownie sandwiches anyone?).  Do you really need any other reason to start making some right now?  By the way, I’m sure they keep well, but I doubt that I’ll have a chance to test that theory.

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)

3 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 c. softened butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 c. cocoa

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa.  Gradually add the flour mixture and mix til smooth.  Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the chilled dough on a floured counter.  Cut into desired shapes, brushing off extra flour.  Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 8-11 minutes, til the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.  Cool on wire racks.

Brownie Roll-Out CookiesBrownie Roll-Out Cookies 2  (I added these photos in 2014, for the filling recipe check out this post.)

The last treat also has an update for you.  Do you remember me talking about a new talk show called The Chew that I was hoping would be good.  I have watched several episodes now, and I do think that it’s worth the watch.  The show is a lot of fun and has some really good tips and recipes.  In fact, I’ve already tried a recipe from the pilot episode.  They called it Fried Apple Pancake Rings, but I would rename it Apple Pie Pancakes.  Either way, it’s easy to make and delicious (plus quasi healthy).  My only addition would be to say that you really need to cut the slices thin, no more than a 1/4 inch thick.  Otherwise, the apples won’t get tender enough.  My slices were of varying thicknesses, but I still really loved these pancakes.  We had them with regular pancake syrup, but I think Carla’s apple cider reduction be delicious.  I would also love to try them with some vanilla ice cream.

Fried Apple Pancake Rings(from The Chew)

1 c. Bisquick

1 egg

1/2 c. milk

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Zest of 1/2 lemon

2 peeled, cored Granny Smith apples

1. Beat together the Bisquick, egg, and apple til smooth.  Add the pumpkin pie spice and lemon zest and mix til incorporated.

2. Grease and heat a griddle pan.  Cut the apples into 1/8 in. thick slices.

3. Dip the apple slices in the batter and cook them on the griddle til golden brown on each side.

The last thing I wanted to share today is a love letter I wrote to one of my favorite restaurants.  I didn’t send it to them, I’m just getting it off my chest (so to speak).

Dear Panera Bread,

I know I haven’t been the most consistent of customers, but I really do love you.  Even before I knew you existed, you were my ideal of the perfect restaurant.  Once I found you, you consistently exceeded my expectations.  Your decor is always fun and attractive without being stuffy or tacky.  Your atmosphere is relaxed and inviting.  Your food is always fresh, delicious, and inventive.  I always look forward to visiting you, and think about you often when I’m not near you.

Now that you’ve started a personalized program, I find myself making excuses to come visit you.  I love having a reason to see you every couple of months.  I also love it because it means that you miss me too and want me to come see you.

Most of all, I love how you can read my mind.  I don’t know how you knew that I’ve been craving a NY crumb coffee cake, but you clearly did.  Imagine my surprise when I walked in the other day, and you had a beautiful NY style crumb cake just waiting for me.  And you let me have a piece for free!  Maybe when I come back for my free espresso drink or smoothie, I’ll get one of those new breakfast souffles that you so willingly let me sample last time.  They were delicious and made me love you more.  I eagerly await our next meeting!

With hunger,


P.S.  Please consider bringing back your delicious crispani pizzas.  They were a mainstay for me in college, and I miss them almost as much as I miss you between visits.


2 Responses to “A Few Freebies, Several Sweet Treats, and My Love Letter to Panera”

  1. […] our breakfasts on vacation was a fabulous NY-Style Crumb Cake which I thoroughly enjoyed.  You may remember me getting to have a piece of this fabulous cake on a visit to Panera, and I was very excited to […]

  2. […] about to share with Smitten Kitchen’s brownie roll-out cookies (that I blogged about here).  Though I didn’t roll the cookies thin enough this time, the taste was still pretty […]

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