Today was my LAST working day for the year; I won’t have to be back to work until January 5th. Phew. Can you see me doing my happy dance? I have I had been looking forward to this day basically as soon as Labor Day holiday was over back in September. I know it sounds terrible; but I think everyone can truly benefit from having a good chunk time away from work. With the way that Christmas and New Year’s days fall this year, I was lucky that I was able to have two full weeks off with only having to use two vacation days. I feel pretty grateful and look forward to recharge my energy, have some down-time, and enjoy quality family time. As I was thinking of what I wanted to do this weekend, I definitely wanted to bake some cookies. With that said, since I’m pretty sure that many families are probably doing the same thing this weekend, I’d do a round-up of all of the cookies that I have posted on this blog. Cookies aren’t necessarily my first dessert of choice, but I’m married to a man whose love for cookies definitely rivals with Cookie Monster, so I was bound to have some. Based on the list below, I definitely didn’t post that many, considering that I have been blogging for a while – and the pattern seems like I need to expand my horizon, since I tend to stick to the classic :) If you have a little time this week, give yourself a treat and bake several batches of cookies :)
Flour Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
Flour Chunky Lola Cookies
Triple Ginger Cookies
Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars
Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies
Peanut Butter Crisscrosses
Salted Peanut Cookie Brittle
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Mini Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
Cashew Caramel Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Cookies
The following treats may not be cookies, but I can assure you that they will be surely welcome on your holiday dessert trays:
Rolo Pretzel Turtles
Easy Peppermint Bark
Rocky Ledge Bars
Oreo Cheesecake Bars
Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Bar with Pretzel and Chocolate
Peanut Butter Fudge
Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt
Gingerbread Cake Truffles
Red Velvet Cake Truffles
Cookie Dough Truffles
Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
We’re officially halfway through December… which means: we’re only 10 days away from Christmas. Are you ready for Christmas? I’m especially excited that this is my last working week for the year. The Christmas’ spirit is in full swing at our house. Our daughter had her Christmas performance at her Montessori pre-school last Friday, and this year, we’re a little smarter: we took a camcorder to record the whole thing, so we can watch it again at home and share with the grandparents later. We also finally decided to take the kids to see the Santa at the Zoo; this is the first time that we tried to go. I figured that now that my daughter is four, she may like it and the weather was pleasantly warm for a December day. And she did, although my son hated it (and we have pictures to prove it!). We waited TWO excruciating hours to see the Santa. I’m pretty impressed that we all stood through it against my constant desire to just walk away from the line. To reward my daughter for waiting patiently without any tantrum, I sneaked in her Christmas pajama and slippers in her bedroom while she was in the tub, and I told her that Santa dropped them off early since she was so good. Parenthood continues to amaze me: I’m amazed at how it’s changed me (waiting for Santa for two hours? Seriously? Tell that to my single self ten years, yep- that would NEVER happen). I would also compare this to waiting in line for Black Friday deals, or any tickets to go to any concerts. I don’t think that I would wait in line for anyone or anything. But apparently, I just did – for Santa, since my daughter said that she was willing to wait. Yet at the same time, I’m incredibly humbled every day but how gracious my daughter is.
Talking about Christmas won’t be the same without talking about Christmas dinner. Green bean casserole is such an iconic holiday side dish that everyone loves. Whenever I hear people talk about their menu, or what they expect to have at holiday dinners (myself included!), green bean casserole is definitely one of the top three. I’m always looking forward to the last two months of the year, because if I cook or participate in some sort of the cooking, this casserole dish then will show up. While most people enjoy this more during Thanksgiving, Mike and I had agreed that we’ll include this again at Christmas, and maybe even Easter. Before I started my blog, preparing this specific dish from scratch was pretty daunting, I have to say. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of making the “cream of mushroom” soup from scratch, I mean, where would I even get a recipe like that? Thankfully, with the wonderful world of internet, recipe like this can now be found. As a matter of fact, you can find multiple versions, and then figure out which one that you want to try. I actually tried making another version of this back in 2010 and it was terrible. I remember hosting my sister and her new husband at our home. My daughter was just five months old at the time, and I had terrible colds, so I was miserable. I had never tried the recipe before until that day (I highly discourage this!), and I forgot to season them. It was bland, the texture was a little runny and very disappointing overall. I started looking for a new recipe after that and finally landed on this one – and I haven’t looked for another recipe since then.
As much as I love and enjoy baking, I feel like I just can’t get my stuff together enough to do anything fancy anymore. I definitely would love to do fancy layered cakes or even cupcakes every week if I can and share them with my co-workers. When I do bake, it’s normally a loaf of quick bread that I make for our breakfast, or snacks, and it’s definitely not something that I can share with my co-workers… I mean, I feel kind of weird about bring a half loaf of a quick bread to work. I have been trying to step up my game a little bit when I can though :)
Several weeks ago, my husband mentioned to me that he had a potluck at work on Thursday, and he wasn’t sure what he needed to bring. This was probably either a Monday or a Tuesday, so I thought that we could make fudge. I told him that I wouldn’t allow him to be one of those people that come in empty-handed on a potluck. A couple of years ago, I tried my hands in making my own fudge, and realized how simple, and quick it was! Everyone loved these little bites, so fudge has then become my solution whenever I need something to bring that’s pretty quick, yet still homemade so it feels special. This one is no different. I usually have all of the ingredients ready at home, so no need to run to the grocery store. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love chocolate and Nutella, and adding the sea salt on top really enhanced the sweet-and salty combo that would make your taste buds sing. This is a perfect addition to your holiday cookie tray.
Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had a nice weekend and are ready for the week. I’m counting down to the number of working days that I have left for the year :) And pssst… I also already started thinking about what I’ll be cooking for Christmas dinner. So let’s start with these really yummy dinner rolls. I don’t really consider myself a food snob; although I pretty much noticed that people don’t bake or cook for me anymore ;-) They bring me gifts after I had both of my babies, but nobody brought me dinners. A few of them sheepishly told me that they were too intimidated to bring me anything homemade. While I’m not as picky as most of my friends think that I am, I am pretty much picky when it comes to my dinner rolls, and I really try not to make a big deal out of this when I go out to restaurants. I absolutely adore homemade rolls, breads and its kind. Nothing makes me happier than homemade breads. I appreciate the good ingredients that go into homemade breads, the time it takes for the yeast to rise, and works its magic into homemade breads.
I basically stopped buying refrigerated dough rolls even if I don’t have enough time into planning homemade bread or rolls for my holiday dinner. Sometimes I would go to my locally-owned bakery and buy their beautiful crusty loaf, either a French baguette or a sourdough. But other than that, I’d rather have my dinner without rolls. In my mind, dinner rolls need to be simple: a little crispy skin, but not too crispy, just crispy enough that you know it’s the skin of the bread, but moist enough that you know it’s dinner rolls. The interior needs to be a little bready, but not too coarse, just enough moistness, and have the beautiful buttery fragrant. It tastes great fresh out of the oven, with salted butter, but also tastes buttery and still perfect at room temperature.
And my friend, I have to say that these rolls, are my new best friends. They’re pretty simple to make, although it takes time to prepare, and to rise etc.They can be prepared up to four days ahead, which is fantastic news if you let’s say have weekends’ guests. You can whip a batch of these on a Friday night, and have two trays of them that you can pop into the oven for both Saturday and Sunday brunch or dinners. They’re wonderful for your bread basket in the morning for breakfast: I think they’ll be fantastic with just a simple butter and marmalade jam, or homemade berry jam if you have them. Give these a try!
I haven’t made a lot of cupcakes in a while. I used to bring in fancy cupcakes like these to work all the time; for my team’s anniversaries and birthdays. Our team decided to have a little potluck before Thanksgiving, but there were only six of us, so it’s a little tough to come up with a good menu. I volunteered to make these cupcakes since I thought they would be fun to make, and who could resist homemade chocolate cupcakes with homemade salted caramel buttercream frosting and Snickers? We still have some leftover from Halloween that I thought they would do very nicely on top of these cupcakes. I had made several versions of chocolate cupcakes, with my favorite being these Hershey’s Chocolate Cupcakes; they’re light, chocolaty and pretty much what I think chocolate cupcakes should be. I was in the mood of looking for a new cupcake recipe though, so I thought that I would try the Triple Chocolate Cupcakes, after I reviewed Bridgette’s review.
After having a blog for going on seven years now, I’m now just nit-picking different recipes to find the ones that I like, and then continue on to find a new recipe that can be my next best one :) Thankfully, I had a food blog, so I can talk about how I can tell how the different version of chocolate cupcakes are in the blog, and how I think there is an occasion for each. If I were to try to explain this thought process to random people at work, I’m pretty sure that I would be faced with blank stare. I had considered having my cupcakes filled like Annie did here, and if that’s the case – you really should not use Hershey’s Chocolate Cupcakes, because I don’t know how well they would be with filling inside. I decided the version I have below would have been a better cupcake base to be used with a filling. However, after all of that thought, I still decided to just leave it alone, without the filling, and just add the Snicker bits on top. I ended up really liking this new cupcake; it uses sour cream which gives it a very moist texture – and even my daughter and hubby went crazy for it. They were super moist the first two days, and then of course it got a little drier after that. But I had one leftover that I ate four days later that was still good! The fact that my family gobbled up these cupcakes was a surprise for me, our household prefers white cupcakes instead. I’ve made many versions of that cake for birthdays and just celebrations.
I’m still pretty much obsessed with my Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce, so I decided to make that again to mix into the frosting. If you have a little time, I would highly recommend that you give the homemade caramel sauce a try, it makes such a huge difference in the flavors! I mixed that yummy sauce into a regular buttercream frosting, and drizzle some on the top. Then of course, chopped Snickers on the top. My friends were ogling these cupcakes on Facebook, then a few of them made sure that they stopped my office to grab these. Thankfully, I had a small team, so I had enough for everyone in the office. I don’t normally eat a lot of sweets, but I probably ate three of these at home :)