Chinese Spicerdoodle Cookies

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Photography by Chia Chong
With Candace Brower

Take a snickerdoodle cookie and roll it in a mixture of Chinese 5 spice and sugar! The perfect treat for a Chinese New Year party or any party or just for breakfast. 
Chinese Five Spice Recipes, Snickerdoodle Recipes, Libbie Summers Recipes, Sweet and Vicious Baking, Cookies for a Chinese New Year Party, A food-inspired life,
Chinese Five Spicerdoodles
makes 40ish cookies

What you need:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
3 teaspoons ground Chinese five spiceWhat to do: 
Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cream together. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla paste and mix until combined.
Add dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just combined.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining sugar and Chinese five spice.  Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls and roll in the sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until just set (about 8-10 minutes).


Pucker Up Chicken

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith

This. Chicken. Is. EVERYTHING.
A full meal in one pan with plenty of zesty juices to sop up with crusty bread.

Pucker Up Chicken
serves 6

1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 whole lemons, 2 juiced and one sliced, divide
3 whole oranges, 2 juiced and one sliced, divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
Flake sea salt (I use Maldon)
Freshly ground black pepper
12 pieces (about 5 lbs.) bone-in skin on or skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
12 fingerling potatoes

•Preheat oven to 400ºF.

•In a small mixing bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

•Place chicken, sliced onion and fingerling potatoes in a roasting pan with sides large enough for them to lay in a single layer. Pour olive oil mixture over and use your hands to toss to coat. Tuck lemon and orange around and under the chicken. Sprinkle all over generously with salt and pepper.

•Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with additional chopped fresh herbs.

Styling Props to:
Enamelware dishes: Vintage and some new sourced at Cohen’s Retreat
Necklace: By Repeat Offfender
Knife: Cut Brooklyn
Always Chambray Shirt: J Crew

Kumquat Layer Cake

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower

I love SAYING “kumquats” (because it’s a funny word), EATING kumquats (because you get to pop them in your mouth whole) and BAKING with kumquats (because they have a bitter sweet citrus flavor).


Kumquat Layer Cake
makes one 4-layer cake
(for the cake in the photo, I doubled the recipe and baked one 10-inch cake/cut into three layers, one 8-inch cake/cut into two layers, one 6-inch cake/cut into two layers…with frosting in between all layers)

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon grated kumquat zest (about 6 kumquats), save for juicing
1-1/2 cups vanilla sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup fresh orange juice plus any juice from the zested kumquats  (from about 3 large or 4 medium oranges)
Kumquat Buttercream Frosting (recipe to follow)
Tons of sliced kumquats and a few fresh kumquats for garnish

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 8-inch round cake pans and 2 6-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and on medium speed, cream together the butter, shortening, and zest. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions and scraping down the sides.

Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating well on low speed after each addition. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the four prepared cake pans. Tap the pans on the counter before putting them in the oven to remove any air bubbles and to even the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Keep a close eye on them, because the different size cakes will bake at different times –anywhere from 16 to 28 minutes. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 min. and then loosen the layers by running a knife between the cake and the edge of the pan. Remove the layers from the pans and put them on a rack to continue cooling. Frost when cool with Orange Buttercream frosting and decorate with sliced kumquats (see close ups of the decorating process below).

Orange Buttercream Frosting
makes 5 cups 

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon orange extract
4 to 8 tablespoons evaporated milk
orange food coloring

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add 6 cups of the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to medium and add the salt, vanilla paste, orange extract and 4 tablespoons of the evaporated milk. Beat for 2 minutes. If the frosting is too thin at this point, add more of the confectioners’ sugar, 1⁄2 cup at a time, and beat for 1 minute, until fully incorporated. If the frosting is too thick, add more of the evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat for 30 seconds or until just combined. Divide the frosting into 2 bowls (3 bowls is you doubled the cake recipe and did a 10-inch cake too like I did). Using the orange food coloring tint the frosting into two shades of orange/medium orange/brighter orange (do a really pale orange if you baked the 10-inch cake too). Refrigerate the frosting for 20 minutes before using. Frosting can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Decorate:
I always start with a little inspirational sketch…some more crude than others.
I thought one layer of kumquat slices around the sides of the bottom layer of the cake, two layers of slices around the sides of the middle layer and covering the sides of the top layer would be beautiful. On the top, I thought a pile of kumquats and leaves would be a great way to keep a little bit of an organic feel and show off the beauty of the fruit.

Frost the cake layers using the coordinating frosting color for each diameter of cake. Make sure to do a crumb coat before the final coat. For a fun tutorial video on how to frost a layer cake, click HERE.

Then, I sliced a TON of kumquats. This takes a lot more than I thought (about 30). Make sure your knife is sharp because you’ll be cutting through some seeds. Luckily, I had a brand new handmade knife from Sam Densmore that my niece, Corie, had so generously given me for Christmas. You have to check out Sam’s knives. They are works of art AND I loved the way it cut and felt in my hand. I’m a bit of a knife snob and I couldn’t be more pleased with this knife…but more on that later.

It’s important to note that your frosted cake layers should be pulled out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before adding the kumquat slices or they won’t stick. I worked from the bottom up following my sketch.

So stinkin’ cute right!! Good enough to insta. A celebration of the citrus season.

Buttermilk Citrus Bundt Cake

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith
Assisted by Candace Brower

Easy to make.
Gorgeous when baked.
Loaded with citrus and love.


Buttermilk Citrus Bundt Cake
serves 12

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Zest and juice from one lemon, divided
Zest and juice from one small orange, divided
5 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 to 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar (for glaze)

•Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour a (9-inch) Bundt pan and set aside.

•In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

•In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, lemon zest, orange zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons orange juice and set aside.

•In a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and light in texture (about 5

minutes). Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. In 3 additions, alternate adding the

sifted dry ingredients and the buttermilk ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, stirring on low JUST until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt and bake until the center of cake springs back when touched and a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean (about

60 to 75 minutes).

•Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Release the sides and bottom of the cake from the pan with a narrow metal

spatula or knife. Invert the pan and turn out the cake. Place a wire rack in a baking pan and set the cake, right side up, on the rack.

•For glaze, mix the confectioner’s in a small bowl with just enough of the remaining lemon and orange juice to make a pourable frosting.

•Once the cake has cooled, pour the glaze over the cake and allow to firm up before cutting.

•For a beautiful decoration, I like to fill the center of the cake with fresh citrus and citrus leaves like kumquats or satsumas.

Take a peek behind the lens in this 15 second video of getting this shot.

Shaved Eggplant Salad with Jalapeno Spiced Orange Dressing

Recipe by Brenda Anderson
Photography by Chia Chong
Styling by Libbie Summers

A Food-Inspired Life, Libbie Summer, Orange, Citrus


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup agave syrup (or honey)
  • Juice of two oranges
  • ¼ cup chopped mint plus small leaves for garnish
  • ¼ jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 small eggplants
  •  ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese


In a pint jar with a tight-fitting lid add olive oil, syrup and orange juice. Shake well. Add chopped mint and jalapeno pepper, gently shake again. Let stand at least 4 hours at room temperature. Strain dressing through a fine mesh strainer into another jar discarding peppers and mint. Salt and pepper to taste. Very thinly slice eggplant using a mandolin or sharp knife. Place eggplant on platter and drizzle with dressing or, layer in a bowl and pour dressing over top (make sure to shake strained dressing well before pouring over eggplant). Top with shaved parmesan cheese and garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

  • Servings: 6
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: N/A
  • Innactive Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Please…this is so easy

Recipe courtesy of Brenda Anderson

A Food-Inspired Life, Libbie Summer, Orange, Citrus