cashew + ritz cracker cookies

cashew + ritz cracker cookies

Ahh yes, I remember those moments, back three days ago, when I could still taste my food. And these cookies! They were a random late-evening attempt at mimicking the potato chip + pecan sandies that I adore, but had not the components for. And I would be so bold as to say that they worked, not so much at mimicking, but at tasting terrific.

Today I am taking a sick day, snuggling up with my honey of a cat and watching the thick-thighed male speed skaters compete in the 500m event in Sochi. More than my love of cookies (which is a briefly-mustered “woot” uttered in my phlegmy sick voice) is my love of the Olympics. Winter sports like ski jumping and snowboard slopestyle? Mad feats of insanity. All of the outfits worn by those various Olympian hotties? Killer style. Emotional recaps of events and athlete fun times featuring soaring overtures with rhythmic new-age pop techno beats? Me in tears, sighing wistfully, every time.

Gearing up for the Games here in northern Maine has been our own little Olympiad. Our television antenna is a chode that doesn’t work, for starters. Secondly, we live in “one of the smallest television markets in the country,” and there is no NBC on network television here, so we’d be out of luck even if we could tune in some sort of imagery. We dallied with the notion of purchasing cable tv just so we could watch the Olympics, but that seemed excessive. And trying to find a live stream online, if you don’t already have a cable subscription, is like navigating the murky backwaters of a piranha-infested river. Why you can’t pay a one-day or one-time fee for online access makes no sense. But lo and behold, we were HOOKED UP this weekend by a generous benefactor, and now, in the words of my excavator operator, we are stylin’ and profilin’. And watching nonstop Olympics.

cashew + ritz cracker cookies

Slopestyle, biathlon, luge, alpine skiing, moguls, ski jumping, speedskating – it’s been an eventful weekend, for me on the eyes mostly. There have been several spectacular falls. There was that one Daft Punk song perfectly intoned by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs choir. Oh my god, I can’t stop watching it. The one guy in the back with the mustache who stands there grinning and looking somewhere off in space. The other guy in the back who looks like he’s been dead for ten years. Those high notes! The fist pumping! All of it is nothing short of incredible. Aside from pop culture gems, it’s the snowboarding and downhill skiing which I enjoy watching the most, though I’m also feeling a bit of a pull towards skiing+shooting now that we live in this biathlon-centric region. Weird sport, really.

These cookies might sound a bit weird as well, though there’s nothing strange once they reach your mouth. Sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy, buttery, crispy. Great for snacking on while you sit on the couch being lazy watching athletes go for gold.

Cashew + Ritz Cracker Cookies {recipe by myself}

Makes about 15


1/2 c. cashews
3/4 c. flour
Heaping 1/2 c. Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted+cooled, or room temp
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk


Chop cashews finely, then toast until fragrant over low medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saute pan. Remove from heat, set aside.

Heat oven to 350 F. In medium bowl, mix together flour, crushed Ritz crackers, salt, and cashews.

In a medium or large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and powdered sugar, and mix well or beat with a mixer until light and fluffy, roughly three minutes. Add vanilla, add egg yolk, and mix to combine. Add flour mixture in two parts, mixing well after each addition.

On a baking stone or a parchment-lined baking sheet, place 1″ balls of cookie dough at least two inches apart. Take a water glass, lightly dip it in flour, and gently flatten each cookie to roughly 1/4″ thickness. Dip glass into flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the dough.

Bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking. When edges have turned a light golden brown, remove from oven. Let cool at least five minutes on pan to harden up, before transferring to a cooling rack.

cashew + ritz cracker cookies

ice fishing

We went ice fishing this weekend. This is what it looks like when all your traps are tangled together. Despite the confusion, the three of us caught two big-ass fish each, including a couple real monsters. I snared one of my fish by jigging the line, after having two consecutive bait fish stolen under my nose. I shouldn’t have gone at all, given my descent into deeper realms of sickness ever since, but it might be the best fishing experience of my life to date.


Just in time for Valentine’s, here is a heart log from me to all of you. I love y’all, thank you for following along.

steep road

And here we have what made me sick. We’ve been constructing a scary-steep winter road that I’ve been fretting over since August. There have been many conversations with heated words, frightening future scenarios imagined, and not a little bit of stress. Oh well, the only place to go now is up.

frye boots

Yesterday I found a pair of Frye boots at Marden’s for 40 smackaroos. Marden’s is a peculiar discount chain store in Maine, where items end up at ridiculous prices. Marden’s is where I recently found corduroy Silver jeans for 10 bucks. It can be quite hit or miss, but when you score, ohhhhhh how you score. And now these boots! I got so excited that I let out more expletives than I’ve ever uttered in public before. They’re a little big, but I don’t mind.

Plus look at my cat.

yoyo party

Finally, we’ve been having quite the yo-yo party lately. Confederate Flag, displayed above. Have you seen what they do with yo-yos these days? HOW DOES IT WORK! My brain hurts just trying to keep up. I want to be great at something like that kid is great at yo-yos.

There’s also this guy. Part performance art, part cartoon, all yo-yo.

pear, apple, pecan tarte tatin

tarte tatin

Tarte tatin. It’s one of those desserts that quickens my heart rate just at the thought of it. Oozy caramel, sweet juicy fruit, a delicate layer of crust that may or may not be sort of smooshed because you didn’t give it enough time to chill because you wanted to eat your lunch and it never pays to rush plus you only had a can of salt for a rolling pin but who can tell because it’s underneath all of that other good stuff.

Two pears, one apple, a generous smattering of cardamom and a heck of a lot of butter contribute to this tarte. One of our health resolutions for this year was choosing to cook with olive oil rather than butter, so I’ve been building up my butter quota in anticipation of something decadent like this.

Our other health resolution was to only eat bacon twice a month, and I’m coping somewhat stoically with that one (and waiting for February for my next fix). Because even though we’ll be eating bacon tomorrow night, it will be stuffed inside of a freshly-caught brook trout, and that therefore does not count in the greater scheme of things. Woods logic, y’all.

tarte tatin

Use whatever kind of pears you want for this. I’m not picky. I’m just thankful that my grocery store has multiple types of pears for me to choose from. Cut your pears into quarters; any smaller, and they will become difficult to handle. Cut the apple into smaller pieces, to nestle in amongst the pears.

I chose to leave those pears face up for the baking stage, with the hope that they would remove themselves without much fuss from the pan. Sure enough, no pear experienced any difficulties in the making of this tarte. But, I dare say the tarte would be equally pretty if the cut sides were baked face-down.

I adapted this from a similar tarte tatin I made two years ago. I recommend that one as well, it was quite delicious.


3/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp ice-cold water

2/3 c. pecans
2 pears, in the happy place between firm and soft
1 apple
6 tbsp salted butter
Heaping 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cardamom


Making the Crust

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, and cardamom. Add small pieces of frozen unsalted butter and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Add in cold water slowly until mixture makes a ball or near-ball in the food processor.

Roll out on a lightly-floured surface until disc of dough is the size necessary to fit into the pan you will cook your apples in. Chill in fridge on a sheet pan.

Note: I didn’t follow my own instructions at all, and my crust fell apart somewhat sadly. Use cold butter, and a food processor, or at least a pastry blender – I had none of these things, hence the mishap.

Making the Tarte

Heat oven to 375 F.

Break pecans into small pieces, and toast in a saute pan until fragrant. Set aside.

Get out your heaviest pan – for me, this is a 10″ cast-iron skillet. This recipe makes a small tarte tatin, so the smaller the pan the better. However, if the pan isn’t heavy enough, the caramel will burn quickly, this I promise you.

Core pears, and cut into quarters. Leave skins on for a rustic approach and no nutritional compromising. Core apple, and cut into eighths. Halve several of these eighths if needed.

Remove crust from fridge, set aside.

Melt the salted butter in the heavy pan of your choosing, then add sugar. Spread butter mixture evenly over the pan’s bottom surface. Arrange the pears and apples as desired, I started by arranging mine face side-down. Sprinkle cardamom over the apples, and top with pecans.

Return to heat, which should now be turned on medium-high, depending on the strength of your stove. For most stoves, high shouldn’t be a problem. Cook for around 10 minutes, or until a medium caramel color appears. Flip each piece of fruit. Cook three to five minutes more.

Take crust and place over fruit, tucking dough around the sides of the pears and apples if possible. Place in preheated oven and cook for around 25 minutes until crust turns a light golden brown.

Remove pan from oven, quickly run a knife or spatula around the edge/bottom of the tarte, and flip onto a serving plate.

Serve warm. I imagine this would go great with a cardamom vanilla whipped cream (1 c. heavy cream, 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp cardamom), though I haven’t had the pleasure.

tarte tatin

I froze my face off riding on a snowmobile this weekend. It seems unnecessary that certain activities require specific gear, so I’m usually content to make do with what I have, at least until my face falls off. Just like in that top-notch Nic Cage movie.

And then, faceless, I may begrudgingly purchase accessories to help keep me alive. Or put my face back on.

For the first time since I started my job, we spent the weekend at my work cabin. Ice fishing in ridiculously windy conditions, snow sledding in those same windy conditions, and eating like royalty all throughout the day because ridiculous wind makes you mad hungry.

We topped off the weekend with an after-dark snowmobile ride where we found a moose antler. We’d been halfheartedly searching for two days, so our find felt justified. I forgot to mention that our weekend started off with Fast & Furious 6, so our action adventure saga came full-circle. Though neither of us flew through the air from one vehicle to another, we still had an epic couple of days. As Vin Diesel’s sagacious character Dom construed, “Some things you just have to take on faith.”

I have faith in the woods.

snowmobiling north maine woods

Oh, and hey, if you’ve got a few minutes, give it up for this gem, which has been stuck in my head for three days now. 2 Chainz, wut up dawg.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but some things…. you just have to take on faith.

deep dish pistachio + plum jam thumbprint cookies

deepdish thumbprint cookies

And like that, it was Christmas.

This saddens me, because it means that pretty soon it will stop being acceptable to listen to my NKOTB and Hanson Christmas CD’s day every day all day. And it means that I won’t be able to talk about them on this space for roughly 315 days. Phew, man, I just gotta be strong. I got this.

You know what else I’ve got? New skis. A gorgeous new winter coat. Loads of not-new stuff. Chipped nails. Constantly-splitting ends. A truck with snow through-the-grill from plowing myself through 15″ of fresh snow. Cat affection. Cat reflection. Cat detection. Cat protection. Cat selection. Cat complexion. Cat infection. jk.

I also have these Deep Dish Pistachio + Plum Jam Thumbprint Cookies, and tell you what, they are infectiously good. Speaking of infections, after making Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead last for months, we found a little contagion of our own and watched 10 FLIPPING EPISODES in a one-day time span over the weekend. Disgusting. Disgustingly good. And yet also, disgustingly bad. Poor actors who get all emotional, pick a point somewhere off yonder and stare pointedly, I’m looking at you. While Eli comforted my conscience by quoting the recent and surely scientific study of Netflix users, wherein 73% felt awesome after binge-watching the program of their choice, I can’t help but feel a bit rueful about time lost.

mirabelle plum jam

I used Mirabelle plum preserves for these thumbprint cookies, because it is gorgeously golden in color, decadently sweet in taste, and delightfully refreshing as far as jams go. I also added in a few splashes of red currant jelly, for festive flare and extra yumminess.  Spell check recommended I change yumminess to crumminess, but I don’t believe it for a minute. I’ll mention now that when I say deep dish, I mean huge monstrous dish – – so if you are jam-averse in the slightest, this is not a cookie for you. These cookies have jam for days.

And pistachios, darling gems of the plant world. I had a sudden onset of confusion while at the grocery store the other day, realizing that I didn’t know what a pistachio…. tree?bush?shrub? looks like. Sure enough, it is a small tree native to the Middle East and Central Asia. Surprise factoid of the day: pistachio trees actually contain urushiol, the same toxin found in poison ivy (as well as mango, cashew, and sumac trees). How about that. No urushiol here, though, because good golly am I allergic.

If you make these, make sure to let them cool fully, or else you’ll have jam running every which way like I did. One cookie makes an excellent treat split between two people, but then you’ll just want to eat twice as many. An interesting conundrum with an easy solution. Deep dish holidays are here to stay, I think.

Deep Dish Pistachio + Plum Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 12 deep dish cookies


1/2 c. roasted + salted pistachios, shelled and chopped fine
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter, softened
Heaping 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 c. flour

7 oz. Mirabelle plum preserves (or other plum jam)
1-2 oz. red currant jelly


In a large bowl, beat softened butter two to three minutes until floofy and light-colored. Add in sugar and salt, and cream together. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time.

Add flour, and mix until just combined. The dough will look pebbly and crumbly. Cover, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Butter and flour one 12-cup muffin tin; set aside. Heat oven to 350 F. When dough is chilled, remove from fridge and divide into twelve equal portions. Roll each dough ball in the crushed pistachios, then set into the prepared muffin wells. Push down in the center and up around the sides, to create a bowl or cup shape out of the dough. As you can see in the above picture, I brought the dough up nearly evenly with the edge of the pan.

Place one heaping tablespoon of Mirabelle plum preserves in the center of each cookie. Add 1/2 tsp of red currant jelly on top of each for extra color and tasty taste. Sprinkle with any remaining pistachios.

Bake for 22-26 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes – they are fragile and jammy until the cool significantly. Run a thin knife around the edge of each cookie, until you can pop each one out of the tin. Set on a cooling rack to cool further, before storing in an air-proof container, preferably in the fridge.

++Options:++ Switch up the jams or the nuts if this combination isn’t to your liking. Also, feel free to add a dollop of your favorite brown sugar-based streusel on top, prior to baking. The computer wants to auto correct streusel to stressful, but streusel is only stressful when you’re out of brown sugar like I was, hence the lack of streusel here. These are very pretty as is, though. Like giant cheery Christmas eyes, watching you…. always watching.

deepdish thumbprint cookies

I’m really quite jazzed for Christmas. I spent weeks eying various fir trees alongside the roads I drive every day, only to end up cutting the tree next to the tree I had chosen, upon discovering that aforementioned chosen one was a reeeeeeally wide load. I cut it down in a freezing rain downpour, and once it had thawed out at home, we lit it up with our five strings of lights and various homemade ornaments. I create a wood-burned ornament for the tree each year, and this year, it was an homage to my thousand times gorgeous teal Yeti mountain bike.

Sunday was a snow day. We took to the streets on our new skis, and had the greatest time bombing down mini hills and plowing through the foot or so of snow that we had accumulated at that point. We brunched at our local organic cafe, The Whole Potato, where I discovered this frightful puppet looming above me, working to finagle some of my sweet potato hash. Stay back, haunting little person.

The snow days continue out here in the woods. Only a few more days to be spent plowing through the snow in my truck, before launching into fully-fledged Christmas cookie consumption and cat adoration/infection. Happy holidays to each and every one of you – may whatever you celebrate be celebrated with peace, joy, and love.

frightful puppetpistachio kittytruck plow