my photos on tastespotting
Secret Recipe Club
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012
This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in Holiday (16)


Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate flourless cookies

My best friend has been super in to decorating cakes and cookies lately, ever since she took the Wilton cake decorating classes. Because of that, she suggested that instead of exchanging gifts this Christmas, we exchange cookies. A cheaper and more delicious alternative to presents is fine by me, so I happily obliged! I wanted to try a few new cookie recipes for the occasion, and I decorated a plain white dollar store plate to dress up the gift (thank you, Pinterest!). These cookies, which were also found on Pinterest, were incredibly easy to make and very tasty. When they were still warm, right out of the oven, they tasted like gooey brownies. 

1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips, divided
3 Egg Whites, at room temperature (1 large egg white is about 33 grams, in case you had leftover egg whites in the fridge like me)
2 cups Powdered Sugar, divided, plus about 1/2 cup for dusting
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In a glass bowl, melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave in 2-30 second intervals, stirring between the intervals; cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Continue beating until the mixture is shiny and white. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. On low speed, beat the dry mixture into the egg mixture until well blended. Mix in the slightly cooled melted chocolate, along with 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Place about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon of dough into a ball, then roll it in the powdered sugar. Place the dough ball onto the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until the cookies have puffed and the tops cracked. Cool the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 24 cookies.

SOURCE: Picklee


Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa

I had every intention to make a salted caramel hot cocoa mix for all of the people in my department at work this holiday season. However, the day that I sat down to do some homemade Christmas gifts (I've been told that I am NOT crafty and I tried to prove people wrong…), I also chose to make the mix. I managed to burn the caramel, and my finger (don't touch scalding hot melted sugar), and that batch quickly went into the garbage. I started to search for an alternate recipe and decided that plain hot cocoa mix was the way to go. I whipped up the mix, put it into 8 cellophane bags, and realized that I would probably have to make 3 more batches in order for everybody to have more than 1 mug worth of hot cocoa. Well, it never got done, so instead, I put it all in a jar and gave it to my mom for Christmas. It worked perfectly because we had bought her a new tea kettle {and so did my brother and sister-in-law…oops!}, so the hot cocoa kind of went with the theme. I even tried to etch a star into the jar, and painted a mug. Let's just say that the crafty parts of this gift look very juvenile, but rest assured, the hot cocoa mix is delicious!

2 cups Powdered Milk
2 cup Cocoa (dutch process is preferred, but I used regular)
2 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper, or more to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and incorporate evenly. Seal in an airtight container. Keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

To make hot cocoa: Fill a mug halfway with the cocoa mix and pour hot water over the top. Stir to combine. This also works great with warm milk.  

SOURCE: Alton Brown




The very first cookbook that I ever received was The New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens. It was 1989 and I was 6 years old. My aunt wrote a little note in the cover before giving it to me as a Christmas gift. I'm nearly 30 and I still have that cookbook! It proudly sits in between all of my "adult" cookbooks on a shelf in my dining room. Being honest, I don't really use the book anymore, but this year for Christmas, I decided to flip through the pages and came across a recipe for snickerdoodle cookies that I had loved so much as a kid. Instantly, I was brought back to my mom's kitchen, standing on a stool and rolling the dough balls in cinnamon sugar. For a blast from the past, give this super simple, kid tested and approved recipe a try. I hope it transports you right back to your mom's kitchen when you were 6, too!

3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Butter
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, cream together 3/4 cup sugar with the butter. Beat in the vanilla and egg. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Stir into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon until mixed. In the same small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll each in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and allow them to cool on a rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. 

SOURCE: Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook (1979 edition)

IMG 1096


A Look Back

Another year has come and gone, and quickly at that. All in all, it was a pretty good year. We moved into our dream home in January and have been enjoying all of the "firsts" we share here; first holidays, first garden, first paint jobs, first leaking roof (well maybe we didn't enjoy that one). We've met some great people since we've moved in and we are so glad we finally have a place to call home. This past summer, Joel and I were reminded how much fun we could have on a road trip when we drove up to New Hampshire and Maine for a long weekend. This was also the year I tried to kick myself back into shape. I started running more regularly and traveled to Erie, PA in the fall to run a half marathon with a friend. Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened to our families this year was when our nephew Parker was born in August and our niece Lucia was born in October! While it was a great year, I am eagerly looking forward to 2013 to see what new things it will bring! 

As I've done the last few years, I want to share with you my favorite dishes that Joel and I enjoyed throughout the months this year. What were your favorites?

JANUARY: Roast Beef, Arugula, & Shaved Parmesan Sandwich with Garlic Aioli. This simple sandwich was one Joel picked and we couldn't have been happier. We've enjoyed it many times throughout the course of the year.

Roast Beef sandwich

FEBRUARY: Vanilla Creme Brûlée for Two. We aren't much for celebrating Valentine's day. We opted to stay home and make a nice meal, complete with this dessert. We were both stunned by the results! 

Creme Brulee

MARCH: Butternut Squash Enchiladas. Dubbed "magic" enchiladas by my sister-in-law. I think that name says it all.

Magic Enchiladas

APRIL: Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Portobellos. You can't go wrong with a  giant, creamy, stuffed mushroom!

Spin art stuffed mushroom

MAY: French Macarons with Nutella Buttercream. What a fancy cookie. An intricate process, but totally worth it!


JUNE: Rajas Poblanas. Joel took the wheels and posted a series of guest posts, which he kicked off with this quick and delicious meal.

DSC 0057

JULY: Mocha Granola. I loved this, but Joel didn't really eat any. Bonus-the one and only picture of mine to be accepted to Tastespotting!

Mocha granola

AUGUST: Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, & Goat Cheese Tacos. A Pinterest find, and a very quick and easy meal.

Black bean vocado goat cheese tacos

SEPTEMBER: Grilled Garlic & Herb Bread. A concoction created entirely by Joel to use up some of our garden's herbs. We've enjoyed this many times since.

13405657 20174507 thumbnail

OCTOBER: Apple Cider Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce. My first post for First on the First. What a delicious new group to be a part of!

Bread pudding

NOVEMBER: Ad Hock's Chicken Pot Pie. We've both developed a little foodie crush on Thomas Keller. Everything about this dish was amazing. We are looking forward to many more of his meals with our ever-growing TK cookbook collection!

13405657 20968720 thumbnail

DECEMBER: Momofuku Chicken & Egg. I enjoyed this at David Chang's restaurant in Toronto, and since have enjoyed it twice at home. Simple and delicious!

13405657 21193256 thumbnail


Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies


Happy Holidays! This year, I decided to take part in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay at Love & Olive Oil and Julie at The Little Kitchen, because there is nothing quite like the feeling you get by spreading a little holiday cheer while helping to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. The only requirement for this swap was to make a cookie that had not been posted on my blog yet. I got to searching for something new and came across these red velvet butter cookies. These cookies were unlike any recipe I'd ever made before. They were incredibly easy to put together, and in my opinon, were pretty delicious! I made a double batch and was able to send out 3 dozen cookies and keep a little over a dozen for myself. I had such a great time participating in this swap. I couldn't wait to come home from work every day to see what cookies I got! I was introduced to some wonderful bloggers through this swap that I might not have ever got the chance to. The three dozen cookies that I received came from Angie at Angie's Southern Kitchen, Kristina at Love and Zest, and Katie at Food & Fun in the Hudson Valley and Beyond. They were all different versions of a chocolate chip cookie, and we loved all of them (Thank you, ladies)! My cookies were sent out to Desiree from The Full Woman, Jennifer from What Jen Does, and Katie form Ruffles & Truffles. I hope you liked your cookies, girls! I can't wait to participate again next year! If you want to participate too, click here for more information.

8 ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup Butter, at room temperature
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
Confectioners' Sugar, for dusting

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Beat in the cake mix until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I left it overnight). When ready to make the cookies, roll the chilled dough into tablespoon sized balls. Roll the balls in confectioners' sugar and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, then remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

SOURCE: Taste and Tell, originally from Paula Deen