Will Lady Mary ever be happy again after the untimely demise of her husband, Matthew Crawley? Will Lady Edith become the Carrie Bradshaw of the post-Edwardian era? Who will become Thomas Barrow’s new BFF after O’Brien leaves Downton Abbey? We’ll have to watch to find out, as season 4 begins tonight on PBS stations across America.
If you’re an avid watcher of “The Abbey,” you know that season 4 aired in the United Kingdom last fall. That means that you may have come across many “spoilers” for the upcoming season via social media. I don’t know how I did it, but I think the only spoiler I was not able to avoid was the departure of that bitch (er….Lady Grantham’s personal maid) O’Brien. O’Brien is a character you love to hate, so I give the actress who played her major kudos. But I won’t be sorry to see O’Brien go from the story lines; I was rooting for someone to “take her down” for all the nastiness she spread throughout Downton Abbey.
If you’re hosting a Downton Abbey viewing party tonight or just want to make some authentic treats to enjoy in front of the telly, here’s a recipe for gingernuts – also known as gingersnaps or ginger biscuits. Gingernuts are extremely popular throughout the UK, as well as other countries within the British empire like Australia and New Zealand. One of the reasons for their popularity is the tough texture, which can withstand dunking into tea or cocoa. I can just imagine the Dowager Countess of Grantham (played to perfection by the incomparable Maggie Smith) enjoying a gingernut with her tea…but I doubt she dunks it!
Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the dark brown sugar in a shallow bowl or plate; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add both molasses and continue beating until well incorporated.
In another bowl, sift the remaining dry ingredients. Add to the butter mixture. Use a small cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 inches) to make balls of dough. Roll the dough balls in the brown sugar and place on the prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Press down gently to flatten the cookie slightly.
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. The cookies are done when they have cracked and will be slightly firm to the touch. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for about one week at room temperature.
Lightly adapted from Downtown Abbey Cooks recipe for gingernuts.
I reckon we’ve had between 6 inches and 8 inches of snow so far today. I’ve shoveled the front steps and sidewalks 3 times – as well as the back deck and walkway to the garage. And with 4 pugs who can’t walk in deep snow, I even shoveled some paths for them in the back yard so they could maneuver the snow drifts. No more shoveling, at least for today!
Tomorrow and the coming days will be another story, as we’re expecting another 6 inches and the projected high temperature for early next week will be -4 degrees F. Yes, a negative four degrees!
It is definitely soup weather — and a hearty sweet potato and lentil soup is on the menu. It’s both really satisfying on a cold winter’s day (or night) and SO EASY to make in a crock pot. Or do you say slow cooker? I find I go back-and-forth, so forgive me that. I guess it could be worse if I called it a ‘crock cooker’ or a ‘slow pot.’ The latter might be understandable if I lived in Colorado!
As the holidays fast approach, certain flavors like pumpkin, peppermint and gingerbread take center stage in a variety of kitchen creations. To kick off the holiday baking season and to celebrate the start of the 7th year of the Baked Chicago blog, you’ll find my Gingerbread Brownies recipe exclusively on Yummly. This gingerbread brownie recipe is an easy way to get your gingerbread fix in a simply decadent (and deliciously easy) dessert that you can make any night of the week. Click here for the recipe.
Today’s marshmallow & honey banana bread recipe adventure is one for the dogs! Literally. When one of my pugs, Baxter, was diagnosed with severe food allergies, I started changing out his store-bought, grain-based treats with fresh fruits and vegetables. He loves bananas and I can easily cut one up for him and Bing, one of my other pugs. But they can only eat so many bananas before getting too much roughage in their diet, which causes a new set of digestive problems for Bing. And that means I sometimes have a bunch of bananas about to become “overly ripe.”
I faced that today and decided I wanted to try a new twist on banana bread. So I first found inspiration for a base banana bread recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and then I dug into my cupboards to find what I could add for texture and flavor. I found some honey, which is a great substitute for granulated sugar in a quick bread recipe. And then I found some miniature marshmallows that I bought in December, either thinking I’d have them in my hot cocoa or I might have been planning a marshmallow baked treat for Christmas [this year I had many plans for baking, but only had time to execute about 3 of them]. I thought the gooey-ness of marshmallows, honey and smashed bananas would be a great experiment to try, while using up these waylaid ingredients.
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 7 1/2 X 3 1/2 X 2-inch loaf pans (or one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan), and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, banana, oil and honey. Add wet mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined (batter will be lumpy). Fold in miniature marshmallows. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. [If using a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, bake for about 55 minutes.] Watch carefully during the last 15 minutes of baking. If needed, cover loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.
Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack. It's recommended to wrap in plastic or store in airtight container and store overnight before slicing. Makes about 16 slices.
The only thing I hate about cooking is the clean up afterwards, so I love that this ginger brownies recipe uses only one saucepan to mix all the ingredients.
No-Bowl-Needed Ginger Brownies
Preheat your oven to 325° F. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking pan with butter or shortening.
In a medium saucepan, stir the dark chocolate and butter over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Spread the ginger brownies batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows to make 16 brownies.
1 /2 cup butter
3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated, peeled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves