Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies…mmmmmmmmm

I’ve had a pretty busy month and haven’t been able to get a recipe together to sample for a few weeks now, but I’m back!

All month I’ve wanted to try to recreate something I used to eat often before I was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant…Erin Baker’s Breakfast Cookies. They are made within a few blocks of our Cordata neighborhood store, and they were easy to grab on the way to a morning meeting.  I looked at various recipes, and decided on one that I found on that I felt had a good base.

Last weekend I drove to Hood River, OR for a preliminary meeting for this year’s Provender Alliance Conference at the beautiful Hood River Inn.  You may remember that last year I served as the conference kitchen food liaison and I’ve signed up again this year.  Susan (Provender’s Executive Director) and I met with the hotel catering/banquet managers and their head chef to plan another amazing conference buffet.  I decided a test batch of cookies for my trip was in order.

I found these cookies to be quite a bit different from a Baker’s cookie, but they were delicious nonetheless.  This oatmeal cookie is light and chewy, and extremely easy to put together.  After I decided on a few tweaks to the recipe (and a new name – they are reminiscent of apple pie), I knew I had a winner to share with everyone!

I would urge you to think about the ingredients you choose to use in this recipe, as they can make a difference in how it turns out.  Make sure you use a thick applesauce to get the correct consistency of batter.  I used Nana Mae’s Organics Mid-Season Heirloom apple sauce because it is made with 100% organic apples – no added sugar (and because it’s delicious).  One other key ingredient are the dried apple slices that I used.  We are now carrying some cinnamon apple slices in our bulk department made by GloryBee Foods, a family owned, natural foods ingredient wholesaler out of Eugene, OR.  While these slices do contain sugar, they are the most tasty dried apples I have ever tasted (besides homemade!) and work amazing in these cookies.  If you can’t find these slices at your local co-op or natural foods store, than regular dried apples will work but I would suggest re-hydrating them a little.


photo of apple oatmeal cookies

Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies © Sassy Sampler 2013

Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies

makes 36 cookies


  • 1 2/3 c flour—you can use a gluten-free blend or wheat flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 c butter or margarine, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1/3 c sugar (can substitute coconut sugar, stevia sugar replacement, etc.)
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c applesauce (thick works best)
  • 1 c chopped dried apples
  • 3 c quick cooking oats (Bob’s gluten-free for GF version of cookie)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  4. Cream the butter and sugars together in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer (in a large bowl).  Scrape bowl as needed.
  5. With the mixer on, add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined.  Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Add the applesauce on low-speed and mix until combined.  Scrape down the bowl.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined, scraping bowl as needed.
  8. Add the oats and apples to the now empty flour bowl and mix to combine.  Make sure to break up apple bits so they don’t stick together.
  9. Remove (cookie dough) bowl from mixer (if using) and stir in the oats/apples with a spoon.
  10. At this point, your dough should be moist and very light but very workable; if it seems too wet then add up to 3 T of flour, 1 T at a time, mixing between each addition.
  11. Using a small scoop or tablespoon, drop batter onto prepared cookie sheets.  Flatten cookie slightly, as they will not spread while cooking.
  12. Bake for 12-16 minutes, or until lightly browned along the sides and bottom.  Turn baking sheet halfway during cooking time to get an even bake.
  13. Cool on wire rack for about 5 minutes, then remove cookies from sheet to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.

You can also use coconut butter in place of the butter/margarine, but it will slightly effect the taste of the cookie, and you may need to adjust the cooking time.

Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies PDF

Apple Coffee Cake (with gluten-free option)

Autumn is in full force now, and that only means one thing to me – the crispy and juicy farmer-direct honeycrisp apples that we get every fall from the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-op.  As I do every fall, I had to pick a recipe that showcased these delicious apples.

I looked around for an apple bar recipe that I thought sounded good*, but couldn’t find anything that struck my fancy.  I was feeling kind of daring, so I decided to just wing it and create a recipe of my own.  I love coffee cake, and haven’t had much opportunity to eat it since becoming gluten intolerant, so I thought that would be fun to try.  I wanted my cake to be moist and have a very distinct apple flavor without being too sweet, and I feel that I achieved that with this recipe.

With great trepidation I removed the cake from the oven and could hardly wait to taste it because it smelled so good!  I let it sit for about 20 minutes and then just couldn’t wait any longer…the cake turned out moist and had that bold apple flavor I was looking for.  Success!  Customers and staff that tried it loved it, and I handed out many more recipes to shoppers than I usually do (which is one of the ways I measure the success of a recipe demo).

This is a very easy recipe, especially if you have an apple parer/corer/slicer (which if you don’t and you love apples, you should get one – they are usually pretty easy to find at garage sales, although you can buy them new as well!).  I didn’t add any nuts to the one I made for sampling in the Co-op, but I bet some of the Holmquist Orchards locally grown roasted hazelnuts would be excellent in this recipe, either in the batter or in the streusel topping.

photo of apple coffee cake

Apple Coffee Cake © 2012 Sassy Sampler

Sassy Sampler Apple Coffee Cake


  • 1/2 c butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 large honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 c chopped nuts (optional)
  • 2 c flour (all-purpose wheat or gluten-free blend)
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t tapioca granules

Streusel topping

  • 1 c flour (gluten-free blend or all-purpose)
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c finely chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 c cold butter, cut into 1/4” squares


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9”x13” baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, sugars, vanilla, and the eggs until fluffy. Stir in applesauce.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sea salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just blended. Fold in the apples and nuts (if using).
  5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top.
  7. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack, and then slice into 24 slices. Cover tightly once they are completely cooled.

They will keep at room temperature in an air-tight container for several days, or you can refrigerate them for up to a week.

Streusel Topping Instructions:

  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle butter chunks over mixture and use either a fork or a pastry knife to “cut” butter into flour mixture until it is completely worked in. Mix in nuts, if using.

Apple Coffee Cake PDF

* I’m going to try making the Peach Almond Bars with the honeycrisp apples too, because I think they will be super yummy!

Peach Almond Bars (gluten-free and vegan options)

August heralds the arrival of sweet, tree-ripened, farmer direct peaches from the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative at the Co-op, and they are delicious once again this year.  These are the best peaches money can buy because not only are they organic, but they are picked and delivered by the farmer’s co-op directly to our co-ops, so at no time are they sitting in some warehouse waiting to be delivered to the consumer.  I knew I wanted to feature them this week, and I found the perfect recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Summer Desserts edition.

Every recipe I have ever made from Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen (one of the best shows on PBS, it you ask me!) has turned out fantastic, and they don’t disappoint with their recipe for Peach Bars.  I’ll note that both of their websites have limited free content, but I gladly pay the subscription fee because they don’t allow advertising in their magazines or their websites. Their Peach Bar recipe was easily adapted to being gluten-free (it should turn out pretty identical whether you make it with all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend), and if you replace the butter with margarine or coconut oil you can make a vegan version as well.

This was a simple recipe because the bulk of the work is done by the food processor – you don’t even have to carefully cut the peaches.  I used a couple large and juicy white peaches and one yellow peach, as well as Nature’s Hollow Peach Preserves for a little extra peachy kick.  These bars aren’t overly sweet, and I really wish I could have taken photos of people trying them to illustrate how yummy they are – they don’t look very exciting on the plate, but the look of surprise on people’s faces once they tasted them was priceless!  I highly recommend whipping up a batch – they taste like the best part of summer and you will be exceptionally popular with those you choose to share them with!

Peach Almond Bars © Sassy Sampler 2012

Peach Almond Bars

makes 24 bars


  • 1 3/4 c sliced almonds (6.5 oz)
  • 1 1/2 c flour—can use either all-purpose or gluten-free blend
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c packed brown sugar, plus 1 T
  • Sea salt
  • 12 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2” pieces (you can substitute margarine for a vegan version of the recipe)
  • 1 1/2 # peaches (about 3 large), peeled, halved and pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c peach preserves
  • 1/2 t grated lemon zest, plus 1t lemon juice


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Make a foil sling for a 13×9 baking dish—fold 2 long sheets of foil; first sheet should be about 13” and the second should be about 9”.  Lay sheets of foil over pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges.  Smooth foil flush against the pan.  Spray with veggie oil spray.
  3. Process 1 1/4 c almonds, flour, sugar, 1/3 c brown sugar, and 1/2 t sea salt in a food processor until combined, about 5 seconds.
  4. Add butter and pulse mixture until it resembles coarse meal (some pea-sized pieces of butter will remain), about 20 pulses.
  5. Transfer 1/2 c of the mixture to a bowl and set aside.  Press remaining mixture into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Mix 1T of brown sugar into reserved mixture and put it in the fridge (if your kitchen is warm).
  6. While crust is baking, remove blade from processor and wipe out your work bowl.  Pulse peaches and preserves in the processor until mixture is in 1/4” chunks, about 5 pulses.   Cook peaches in a large non-stick skillet over high heat until thickened and jam-like, about 10 minutes.
  7. Take peaches off the heat, and add a pinch of salt and the lemon zest and juice.  Stir to combine.
  8. Pour peach mixture over hot crust.
  9. Using your fingers, pinch reserved flour mixture to create dime-sized clumps and sprinkle them over the peaches.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c almonds over the top.
  10. Bake until almonds are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, at least two hours.
  11. Using foil overhang, lift from pan and cut into 24 squares.  Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.

Peach Almond Bars PDF

Raspberry Muffin Squares

It’s been a busy couple weeks here at the Co-op –  I thought that even though I haven’t had time to make anything for sampling, I would share the recipe of the month from the Whatcom Farm to School program using February’s featured local ingredient – frozen raspberries.

Alm Hill Garden (Everson, WA) and their red raspberries © Community Food Co-op 2012

Washington state is the leading grower of red raspberries in the US – according to the Whatcom Farm Friends website, Whatcom County produces more than 79% of the red raspberries grown in the state, which is also about half of the total US crop.  We also grow the largest per capita crop of red raspberries in the world, with over 100 growers harvesting 6000 – 8000 acres, creating seasonal jobs for 6000 workers (many of them are local schoolkids – I gave it a go back in the day!).  The bulk of these berries are sold to companies like Smuckers and Ocean Spray, but we carry 3 pound bags of raspberries grown in Carnation, WA year round in our frozen department (and they are $1 off until the end of the month).

February’s featured recipe on the Whatcom Farm-to-School website is Raspberry Muffin Squares.  It is a simple recipe that only takes about 15 minutes to put together and can be made with wheat or gluten-free flour.  You can use fresh berries in season, or frozen anytime of year!  This recipe was originally adapted from USDA Recipes for Schools Muffin Squares.

Photo © Community Food Co-op 2012

Raspberry Muffin Squares

serves 16


  • 1 c all-purpose flour + 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour OR 2 1/4 c gluten-free baking mix
  • 3 1/3 t baking powder
  • 1/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c 1% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 3/4 t almond extract
  • 2 c whole raspberries, fresh or frozen


  • 1/3 c rolled oats (be sure to use gluten-free oats if you are gluten intolerant)
  • 2 t whole wheat flour or gluten-free baking mix
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • 2 t vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Prepare a 8×8 baking dish by lightly coating it with non-stick spray.
  3. Stir together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, oil, and almond extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Do not over mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  7. Evenly distribute the whole raspberries over the top of the batter and gently press the berries into the batter.
  8. Combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, and vegetable oil in a bowl and mix well.
  9. Evenly distribute the topping over the raspberries.
  10. Bake until lightly browned and springy when pressed in the center, about 20—25 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack.
  12. Cut into 16 equal pieces.

Muffin squares will last 2 days at room temperature or up to 1 month frozen in an airtight container.

Raspberry Muffin Squares PDF

Chocolate “Lollipops”

One of my favorite recipe demos of the year is always the one before Valentines Day – mostly because it means I have an excuse to make a chocolaty confection!  A couple of months ago I was watched the Food Network’s special “Barefoot in London“, which covers the Barefoot Contessa‘s foodie trip to London.  She visited a chocolatier while there, and they made chocolate lollipops…all I could think was “Yum!”

I used the Cordillera 65% chocolate coins that we carry at the Co-op, but you can use any high quality chocolate.  I recommend using South American chocolate as it tends to be more ecologically and socially responsible.  Chocolate sourced from Africa has been under fire for the last decade+ due to rampant child labor and slavery issues, so it is best to make sure that the chocolate you buy is Fair Trade certified.  You can find an article by the BBC here and videos from their investigation here.

For best results, you need to temper the chocolate although this isn’t as hard as you might think it is – all you need is a thermometer and a little confidence!  The difference between tempering the chocolate and skipping the step is that tempered chocolate doesn’t melt at room temperature, so if you decide to skip the tempering steps then you will need to keep the lollipops in the fridge until you serve them.  The Barefoot Contessa offers a white chocolate version of the recipe where you temper the chocolate in the microwave – I haven’t done that myself, but if she says you can do it then I believe her!

Once you have the chocolate melted, the fun starts.  To make the lollipops, you simply spoon a portion of the chocolate onto a prepared baking sheet, horizontally twist a pretzel stick into the chocolate (I used Snyder’s gluten-free pretzel sticks), and top with goodies like nuts, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc.  After that, you pop them in the fridge to set and voilá – chocolate lollipops!

That’s really all there is to it – I was able to make about 85 of them in a little over an hour, from start to finish, so this treat doesn’t require much time in the kitchen.  These are incredibly cute little confections, and if you are crafty in the kitchen then you could also use a pastry bag (or a gallon zip plastic bag with the corner snipped off) to pipe the chocolate into heart shapes.

Chocolate Lollipops © Sassy Sampler

Chocolate Lollipops

1 pound chocolate = about 40 lollipops


  • 12-16 oz Cordillera Chocolate 65%, or other high-quality South American chocolate
  • Bag of pretzel sticks (the Co-op carries gluten-free pretzel sticks)
  • Various toppings, like dried fruit and nuts


  1. Temper the chocolate—chop the chocolate coins coarsely.  They don’t need to be very fine, but make sure you don’t have any large chunks.
  2. Place about 2/3 of the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or make your own using a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of water 1” deep).  Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan/bowl.  Heat water until simmering (keep water a slow simmer—you may need to adjust the heat).
  3. Using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula, stir gently, but steadily as the chocolate melts.
  4. Bring the chocolate to 115°F.  Try not to allow the chocolate to exceed this temperature.  Remove from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl/pan, and set it on a heat-proof surface.  Keep the water simmering, as you may need to slightly reheat the chocolate as you are making your lollipops.
  5. Add the reserved chocolate and stir gently to incorporate—this will start to cool the chocolate.  Stir until smooth.
  6. For the lollipops—prepare two baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper or foil (or silicone baking mats).
  7. Drop a tablespoon-sized circle of chocolate onto the baking pan with a spoon, and immediately take a pretzel stick and place it horizontally in the middle of the chocolate round, twisting a few times to cover (make sure you leave a “handle” outside the chocolate).
  8. Add any toppings—chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, etc.
  9. Place baking sheets in the fridge for about a half hour to set.
  10. Remove and enjoy!

If the chocolate is tempered correctly, then you will not need to store these in the fridge.  If you don’t mind storing them in the fridge, then you don’t need to worry about tempering the chocolate first—tempered chocolate holds its shape at room temperature, and un-tempered chocolate tends to get melty.

Chocolate Lollipops PDF

Simple Italian-style Meat Sauce (gluten-free option)

What a doozy of a week – snow, subzero temperatures, icy roads, frozen hot water pipes (at my house at least!) – and I’m glad things are getting back to normal.  In light of all this, I thought I’d pick a recipe this week that would be the heart of a warming meal.  I went to Cooks Illustrated for inspiration (one of my favorite sources), and found what I was looking for in their recipe for Simple Italian-style Meat Sauce, from the March 2008 issue of the magazine (you can also find it on their website, but you have to subscribe for access – if you cook a lot, I feel that it is well worth it due to the sheer volume of tried and true recipes they offer).

While this recipe has many ingredients, there aren’t so many that it becomes unwieldy, and you use a food processor to do most of the prep work so it is pretty simple to make.  The recipe requires you to brown the mushrooms instead of the meat, which I thought was interesting.  Their theory is that the browned mushrooms enhance the flavor of the beef, and I agree with them.  I used local grass-fed ground beef from Matheson Farms, which is rich in flavor and is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids than beef raised on grain (which is what most cows are fed), so the mushrooms just enhanced the goodness even more!

I used a sweet onion (which is my preference – they taste good and are much easier on your eyes when you are cutting them) and local organic hardneck red garlic in the recipe (easy to peel and has a strong flavor).  You can use any kind of onion or garlic – it just depends on what flavors you prefer.  Since you have to either mince the garlic or crush it through a press, you could even opt to get the minced garlic cubes we sell in the frozen department (if you haven’t seen these new herbs from Dorot, they are really cool – frozen herbs pre-portioned so you don’t have any prep).

It only took me about an hour to make the sauce, including prep time and letting it simmer for a half hour, and it tasted like it had cooked for hours because the flavors meld together so well – someone even told me it was better than their grandma’s meat sauce!  I served it with a choice of Field Day Organics traditional penne pasta or Tinkyada organic brown rice spirals (my favorite brand for gluten-free pasta because it tastes great and has good texture).  I also used a slice of Rudy’s Gluten-free bread as a substitution to the original recipe’s call for a slice of high-quality white bread so the sauce would be gluten-free.

photo of meat sauce

Simple Italian Meat Sauce © 2012 Sassy Sampler

Simple Italian-style Meat Sauce

adapted from March 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated
Makes enough for 2 pounds of pasta


  • 4 oz white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed and broken into rough pieces (about 6 mushrooms)
  • 1 large slice of sandwich bread, torn into quarters
  • 2 T whole milk
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 # lean ground been
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 c)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 T)
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 c liquid reserved
  • 1 T minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 c)


  1. Process mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed; transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. Add bread, milk, 1/2 t sea salt, and 1/2 t pepper to empty food processor and process until a paste forms, about eight 1-second pulses.
  3. Add beef and pulse until the mixture is well combined, about six 1-second pulses.
  4. Heat oil in a large stainless saucepan* over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently,  until vegetables are browned and dark bits form on the pan bottom, 6-12 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant and tomato paste starts to brown, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the 1/4 c reserved tomato liquid and 2 t fresh oregano (use the whole 1 t if using dried), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits.
  7. Add meat mixture and cook, breaking meat into small pieces with your wooden spoon, until beef loses its raw color, 2-4 minutes, making sure that meat does not brown.
  8. Stir in crushed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until sauce has thickened and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes.
  9. Stir in cheese and remaining teaspoon of fresh oregano (if using); season with salt and pepper to taste.

Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

* non-stick cookware won’t work as well for this recipe, as you won’t get the delicious browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Simple Italian-style Meat Sauce PDF

Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes)

We have a really great program in Whatcom County called Whatcom Farm-to-School, which highlights a different local produce item each month in participating schools.  The program is important because it links the foods that children eat to the farmers that grow it, and introduces some local produce into school lunch meals.  This was made possible by a grant from another great local organization, the Whatcom Community Foundation.

Potatoes are the January Harvest of the Month item, so I decided to pick a recipe this month where potatoes are the star.  I chose to make Karoffelpuffer – German potato pancakes.  I thought they would be tasty  and great for a cold day (they are typically served at winter street fairs in Germany).  Since they are best served warm, I decided to cook them right at the demo table, which was a first for me.  It went really well, and made my demo extra fun!

They are very simple to make – simply grate some potatoes (Washington grown!) and finely chop some onion, and then mix them with a little flour, egg, salt, and pepper.  Then you smoosh them in a pan with a little oil, let them get golden and crispy, and then gobble them down!  I served them with applesauce (which is traditional), as well as with some sour cream (I chose the locally made one from Breckenridge Farms) for a more savory version.  I did find a recipe for a vegan version (although I haven’t made them myself) on a great vegan food blog called Seitan is my Motor.  There is also an intriguing recipe for vegan sour cream with olives.  Guten appetit!

Kartoffelpuffer © Sassy Sampler 2012

Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes)

adapted from


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c flour (gluten-free blend or unbleached wheat)
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 c finely chopped (or grated) onion
  • 1/4 c canola oil (or olive, sunflower, etc.)


  1. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Finely shred one potato.  Press potato in between paper towels, cheesecloth, or a clean dish towel to remove as much moisture as possible.  Mix into egg mixture.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  4. In batches, drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture into the skillet and press to flatten with a wooden spoon (try to make them as flat as you can).
  5. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp.  Add more oil as needed between batches.
  6. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Serve warm (you can keep them warm in a low oven).

You can shred the potatoes into cold water, drain, and then squeeze out the excess water (see step 2) if you want to avoid the oxidation that occurs when you shred potatoes.  Note—The oxidation does not affect the taste.

There are many variations you can try:

  • Use 1/4 c shallot or garlic instead of onion
  • Add a 1/4 t nutmeg
  • Can be served savory with sour cream, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
  • Can be served sweet with applesauce, cinnamon and sugar (which is traditional at winter street fairs in Germany) or berry jam.
  • You can replace the flour with instant grits
  • You can also fry them in butter, or a mixture of butter and oil.
  • Shred an apple into the mixture (squeeze out excess water as you would with the potatoes).

German Potato Pancakes PDF

Peanut Butter Cup Mini Cheesecakes

It’s December, and that always means I’m looking for some kind of delicious treat to make…’tis the season!  While I was perusing the web looking for a recipe to prepare today, I ran across Paula Deen’s recipe for Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Minis.  Game over.

These little confections are amazingly simple to make – no greasing, no chopping, and no special tools are needed (aside from a muffin pan and a mixer).  I wanted to make a gluten-free version, and that was also very simple.  For the crust, I used our Bakery’s gluten-free “graham” crust mix – this is a tasty mix that is super easy to use (simply mix in some butter or margarine and press into your pan).  I also used the too-yummy peanut butter cups from our bulk department, although I will note that while they don’t contain gluten they are made in a facility that also uses wheat flour.  A couple of packages of Organic Valley Organic cream cheese, some organic granulated sugar, and a couple organic eggs later I had beautiful little cheesecakes!

You have a few options when making this recipe – if you can tolerate wheat, you can just use crushed graham crackers for the crust; we also carry gluten-free “graham” crackers that you can crush to use for the crust; and as for the candy center, I’ve heard that Snickers minis also are fantastic in this recipe.  I did end up chopping up the peanut butter cups for the batch I sampled in the store (so they would be easier to cut into smaller portions) and it worked really well, so that is another option if you want chocolate in every bite!

This is my last post for the year, so I want to wish everyone a very happy and safe New Year (Glückliches Neues Jahr, Heureuse Nouvelle Année, etc.).

I also want to mention that 2012 has been declared the International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations.  Our co-op was one of eight in the nation chosen to take part in a video series (starring Kevin Gillespie from Top Chef) highlighting different ways that cooperatives help communities thrive (our videos will be released in late February and in March) so look for those and other events throughout the year!  Go Co-op!  For more information on cooperatives of all kinds, check out Stronger Together, the International Cooperative Alliance, and the Northwest Cooperative Development Center.

Peanut Butter Cup Mini Cheesecakes © Sassy Sampler 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Mini Cheesecakes



  • 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs or Co-op Bakery gluten-free graham crust mix
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 12 bite-size peanut butter cups *


  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c flour, either gluten-free baking mix or unbleached wheat flour
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

*note—The peanut butter cups we carry in bulk do not contain gluten, but they are processed in a facility that also uses wheat flour so there may be trace amounts.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place a cupcake liner in each cup of a standard muffin tin.
  2. To make the crust—in a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until the crumbs are moistened.
  3. Press crust very firmly into the bottom of each muffin cup with the back of a soup spoon.
  4. Place one peanut butter cup in the center of each crust.
  5. To make the filling—beat the cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy.
  6. Add sugar, flour, and vanilla and beat well.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  8. Spoon cream cheese mixture over peanut butter cups and graham cracker crust.
  9. Bake until set, about 20 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes PDF

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free option)

I don’t watch a lot of daytime TV, but this last Monday I happened to catch the chocolate-centric episode of ABC’s new show The Chew.  Most of you probably know by now that I am a great lover of chocolate, so when Chef Michael Symon said he had a recipe for chocolate pumpkin pie, I think my heart skipped a beat.  I immediately got on their website and checked out the recipe – it was a no-brainer – this was definitely the recipe I was going to prepare for this Friday’s recipe demo!

We have some beautiful locally grown sugar pie pumpkins in our Produce departments right now, so I decided to use fresh pumpkin rather than canned, although you can use either in this recipe.  I also love bittersweet chocolate, so I used 6oz of the Cordillera 65% dark chocolate coins as well as 3oz organic dark chocolate chips.  I made a gluten-free pie crust using Pamela’s Products Gluten-free Bread Mix “Easy Pie Crust” recipe (which I think is the best gluten-free crust out there), but I also made a wheat-based pie crust because I had plenty of filling for both pies (the recipe is technically for one pie, but I had enough to fill two shallow pies).

The feedback from tasters was pretty unanimous (o.k., there was one person that thought it was “sacrilegious” to add chocolate to pumpkin pie, but she was in the definite minority).  Nobody had heard of a chocolate pumpkin pie before, even though it seems like such a natural combination!  The pie was delightful – a strong chocolate flavor followed by a delicate pumpkin flavor that combined into pie heaven.  I urge you to try this pie this Thanksgiving – it isn’t any harder to make than a traditional pumpkin pie, yet you will wow your guests with your baking genius when you serve it!

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, Sassified Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

 Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, with gluten-free option

For the original recipe, click here


For Pie Crust (wheat flour based):

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, (very cold and cut into small pieces)
  • 2-3 T ice water

Ingredients for Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pie Crust:

  • 1 bag Pamela’s gluten-free Bread Mix
  • 1 cube (8T) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 c Spectrum Shortening
  • 7-8 T Ice water (tip – you can use half vodka/half water – the vodka evaporates and leaves you with an even flakier crust)

For Pie Filling:

  • 3 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (finely chopped) (I used the organic dark chocolate chips we have in bulk)
  • 6 oz Semisweet Chocolate (finely chopped) (I used the Corderilla 65% chocolate coins)
  • 4 T Unsalted Butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 14 oz can Pumpkin (see instructions below to make your own from scratch)
  • 1 12 oz can Evaporated Milk
  • 3/4 packed Light-Brown Sugar (I used organic dark brown sugar)
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1 T organic Cornstarch
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 t Sea Salt
  • 3/4 t Ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 t Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 t Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Ground Cloves


For the Pie Crust:

  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until coarse, with small marbles of butter remaining OR follow directions on bag of Pamela’s Gluten-free Bread Mix for a gluten-free pie crust and skip to the filling instructions.
  2. Sprinkle 2 T of the ice water and pulse until crumbly and dough holds when squeezed together.  Add another sprinkle of water if it is too dry, but do not over-mix.
  3. Transfer dough to a plastic bag, press into a disk, and refrigerate for one hour.

For the Pie Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Roll out dough on floured surface. (wheat) or on parchment paper.  Press into pie plate, trim to leave 1-inch excess around edges, fold under and flute edges.  Cut a piece of parchment paper or non-stick foil to the size of the pie, and use to line pie crust.  Fill with pie weights, and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.*
  3. Reduce heat in oven to 325°F
  4. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently until it is smooth and then remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  6. Fold in the chocolate mixture, and pour into your pie crust(s).
  7. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake at 325° until the center of the pie has set, about an hour.
  8. Refrigerate until cooled completely to serve.

* I only pre-baked one of my pie crusts and they both came out perfect – you can opt to skip this step if you like as I didn’t really notice a difference between then two.

To make Pumpkin Puree –

Wash your pumpkin and cut in half—discard the stem, seeds and stringy pulp.  In a shallow baking dish, place pumpkin halves face down and cover with foil (optional—sprinkle insides with sea salt).  Bake in a 375°F oven until tender, about 1—1 1/2 hours.  Let pumpkin cool, remove the flesh and either purée in food processor or mash it until smooth.

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie PDF

Apple Turnovers (with gluten-free option!)

I have been craving apple pie, so I figured it was high time that I tried some pie crust pastry recipes, a la gluten-free.  I’ve never noticed a pre-made product made with a gluten-free pie crust, and I think for good reason – it’s kinda hard to make…or so I thought.

My mom and I have tried in the past to adapt a regular pie crust pastry recipe to being gluten-free, but it didn’t really work.  They turned out too grainy and not very flaky, and tasted like they were gluten-free.  I next tried a very simple recipe using Pamela’s Gluten-free Pancake and Baking mix (it was just butter/shortening, water and the mix) – much better, but it fell apart in my hands after baking…and all I made was pie crust “cookies”.  I knew I was on the right track though, because it tasted really great (although with a subtle almond flavor due to the baking mix).

I had heard that you could use Pamela’s GF Bread mix to make pie crusts – one of the winning recipes in the Pamela’s recipe contest (where the fritter recipe from last week came from) was cute little mini pies made in a muffin tin.  I have had such good luck with Pamela’s products in the past that I figured it was worth a try.  I was not disappointed – the pie crust was flaky, easy to make, and absolutely did not taste like it was gluten-free!  Tasters couldn’t believe that they were eating a gluten-free crust, and we promptly sold out of the bread mix at the Cordata store.

My co-worker Michael suggested that I make turnovers for my recipe demo instead of pie – that way each sample would have enough of that awesome pie crust to really taste it.  I thought that was a great suggestion and I got to work.  I made the crust using organic butter and Spectrum’s Butter flavored Organic Shortening – it is a vegan product that doesn’t have the hydrogenated oil and trans-fat that Crisco has.

For the filling, I went straight to the Honeycrisp apples again, and my “secret” to great apple pie – a couple small Asian pears (you can also use Bartlett pears).  I have made this pie filling more times than I can count, but there was no recipe for it so I had to actually measure my ingredients!  I’ll note that you can add any sweetener to the apples as you cook them – I like to use organic dark brown sugar, but you could use agave syrup, brown rice syrup, granulated sugar, etc.  How much you need to add will depend on how sweet your apples are – the Honeycrisps are super sweet so I only added a couple of T of brown sugar.

You don’t need to use a gluten-free crust in this recipe if you can tolerate wheat.  We now have Immaculate Baking Co’s pre-rolled pie crusts at both Co-ops that could be used, or you can make your favorite pastry recipe from scratch (I recommend the one created by Cook’s Illustrated – check out Smitten Kitchen’s detailed and visually stunning post about it here).

Apple Turnovers © Sassy Sampler 2011

Apple Turnovers © Sassy Sampler 2011

Apple Turnovers



  • About 2 # apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4” -1/2” small chunks
  • 2 small Asian or Bartlett pears, prepared like the apples (optional)
  • 2-4 T sweetener, like brown sugar or agave syrup
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1-2 t cornstarch


  • 1 recipe Pamela’s GF bread mix pie crust, or 1 package Immaculate Baking Co. Pastry sheets or your favorite pie crust recipe


  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 T sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare apples and place them in a stockpot large enough to be able to mix them easily.  Add 1 T of your chosen sweetener and the cinnamon.  Mix well.
  3. Cook over medium-low to low heat for about 20 minutes, until apples are tender but not smooshy.  Mix apples periodically and taste them to see if you need to add any more sweetener (add a T at a time).
  4. After about 20 minutes, add 1/2—1 t cornstarch into the apples to thicken the juice that has accumulated.  How much cornstarch you need to add will be determined by how juicy your apples are.  Cook for an additional 5—10 minutes, add more cornstarch if necessary, and cook for 5—10 more minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your pastry (by rolling it out into a rectangular shape; if you are using the prepared sheets, just remove them from the packaging) on sheets of parchment or waxed paper.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  6. Combine the 1 t cinnamon and 2 T sugar in a small bowl (this is for sprinkling on top of the turnovers).
  7. Take apples off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  8. Take your pastry out of the fridge and cut into 5”—6” circles (I used a collapsible steamer that had no feet as my guide—they are about 5” in diameter).  Try to handle the pastry as little as possible.
  9. Carefully remove pastry circles from paper and fill one half of the circle with 2—3 T of apple filling.
  10. Carefully fold over unfilled half of pastry over filling and press edges together.  Use the tines of a fork to help seal the edges.
  11. Transfer turnovers to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cut vent slits in the top of the turnover and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling starts to bubble out the vents and the turnovers turn golden brown.
  13. Cool slightly, top with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!

Apple Turnovers with gluten-free option PDF

Use remaining pastry/pie crust to make cinnamon sugar “cookies” – add leftover pastry to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and cook for about 10 minutes.

You can also use this filling in pies (it works especially well with Dutch apple pies – see recipe below for streusel topping).

The Pamela’s GF Pie Crust recipe using their bread mix is also excellent for making reliable pie crusts.  One bag will make two 9” pie crusts—enough for two Dutch apple pies or one pie with a top crust.

Dutch Apple Pie/Streusel Topping

  • 2/3 c flour (gluten-free or wheat)
  • 2/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c cold butter, chopped into 1/4″ chunks
  • 1/2 t cinnamon

Optional – You can add a 1/2 c of oats, but you’ll need to increase the butter to about 1/2 c.


Add all dry ingredients to a food processor or medium bowl and combine.  Add butter bits to dry mix and pulse  or use a pastry cutter to cut in butter, until it is bean sized and coarse.  Sprinkle on top of pie evenly and bake until filling starts to bubble and the crust and topping are golden, about 30 -45 minutes.  Enough for one pie.