I hope you had a nice Christmas weekend with your family and loved ones. Christmas was a lot of fun at our house, and the kids were showered by ungodly amount of gifts from “Santa” and the grandparents. Mike and I stayed up until close to 2AM on Christmas Eve, getting everything finalized and put together. In addition to all of the gifts that they all got to open, my daughter had the best week of her life! She got to spend a lot of quality time with her grandparents, had a shopping spree the day after Christmas, went to see the “big” movies in the theater, stayed up late, and basically, got to live outside of her regular routine – and that’s pretty wild for a four-year old! I was pretty psyched about getting a new tablet for myself. The one that I had been using was my Christmas gift from two years ago, but it’s been running incredibly slow, so I was ready to get an upgrade on my surfing experience.
I also got to do some major cooking for our Christmas dinner, but haven’t gotten a chance to bake as much as I had wanted. I still have one week left of vacation this week, so I hope that I’d get to do some more fun baking and trying out new recipes from new cookbooks that I have received. Several weeks ago though, I made this Homemade Chex Mix in anticipation of having two weeks off from work. I thought it would be nice to have a nice homemade snack around. As much as I’m huge on having “munchies” around, I just never thought of making my own Chex Mix though, and after this experience, I don’t think that I’d ever go back to buying them from the store. I got to mix in all of the things that I love (all sorts of Chex cereals), and skip the pieces that I don’t normally care for (bagel chips!). I loved them so much that I gave them away as gifts, ate as much as we could, and took them to work that I had to make them again the following weekend.
I have to admit that I’m not very good in sending out Christmas cards. Then one of my friends mentioned that she sends them out every other year. She said that it’s a lot less pressure, but yet her friends and family still get to see their family’s pictures every other year. I thought, what a brilliant idea and decided to adapt that tradition. I didn’t get around to sending them out last year, so I was pretty determined to send them this year. Unfortunately, I booked our photographer late, so while I was glad that she squeezed us in right away, with my luck, the day and time we agreed on happened to be the coldest day in October. Or at least it felt that way. We did them outdoor since we wanted that gorgeous sun, but everyone froze their butts off. We didn’t want to wear our winter coats in our shots, so we just sucked it up and pretended that we were all warm and happy. We just weren’t planning for it to be so cold that early. My son was just not having it, he didn’t understand what was going on and I’m sure the freezing weather didn’t help. Since we took our pictures late, we got our pictures back much later than I had hoped, and then in hurry, I ordered a bunch of cards trying to get the order in. As soon as I ordered it, I remembered that I had a bunch of discount codes for the very same company that I had just ordered the cards from that I didn’t even think about using. Finally, the cards arrived, a day or two earlier than I had planned. But, as soon as I finished writing out cards, I realized that I didn’t order enough because obviously, there were a bunch of people that wouldn’t receive one this year, since I didn’t order enough.
Does that sound like your holiday too? Regardless of all of that, I sent out beautiful Christmas to a small group of our families and friends. I finally got all of the gifts bought, wrapped, and cards sent out before Christmas. We also have plenty blessings to be thankful for this year and we’re ending them in a high note: with everyone being healthy and in a good spirit ready to enjoy the holiday. We all have the tendency to want to do so many things for everyone around us. I hope you take the time to breath and enjoy the season with those around you.
I hope your Christmas is warm & cozy, surrounded by your friends, family and loved ones. I hope your kitchen smells like garlic, rosemary, and lemon, with some sweet cinnamon, cranberries, and oranges aroma in the air; and your table is full of delicious food and drinks that are good for both your bellies and souls.
Thank you so much for reading my blog.
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 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.