All the Rest of the Christmas Cookies.

I had this great idea.

I was going to write three posts featuring the 12 cookies I baked for Christmas this year. They were to feature 4 cookies each. It was a good idea. I even started it. I wrote one post featuring the first four cookies.

Then….life.

I was too busy working, preparing, visiting, baking, shopping, and celebrating. Not that I’m complaining about that. I loved doing all of those things. But now that it’s January 15th, my great idea is no longer relevant. No one is interested in baked goods in January. I made brownies the other day just because. No one wanted to eat them. Not because there was something wrong with them – they were perfectly tasty. They even had extra chocolate and caramel drizzled on top.

brownies

the brownies that nobody ate.

But January is not the time for brownies. Or cookies. Or cakes (unless it’s your birthday). It’s the time of year that the gym is packed, and the over-indulgence of December is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind and/or stomach.

I get it – I’m a huge proponent of eating right and treating your body with respect. I’m also a huge proponent of baked goods. So January, for me, stinks. Did I mention that I don’t like cold weather?

So, for everyone out there, who, like me, still wants to eat brownies, cookies and cakes, here’s a quick glimpse of all the rest of the 12 cookies I made for Christmas. If you just can’t look now, maybe by next December you’ll look at them and feel inspired. I’m certainly giving you plenty of time. ūüôā

#5. Cream Cheese Cookies. (recipe here.)

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#6. Chocolate Cottage Cheese Cookies.

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#7. Marzipan Mice. 

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#8.¬†Jeanine’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. (recipe here.)

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#9. Peanut Butter Hershey Kiss Cookies. 

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#10. Peppermint Bark. (recipe here.)

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#11. Cornflake Christmas Wreaths.

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#12. Honey Whiskey Balls. (recipe here.)

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So there they are. Enjoy them at your leisure, whenever the time is right. You have all year….

The 12 Cookies of Christmas – Part 1.

I’m not sure if I ever shared this before, but my favorite things to bake are cookies. I think it’s because they are small, and the options are endless. You can make a cookie using almost anything. I could experiment with cookies all day, if I only had the time (and a dishwasher).

Every year, I bake a whole slew of cookies for the Holidays. I have a few recipes that I do every year РChocolate Chip, Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese  Рbut this year, I really wanted to add some new players to my lineup, and bring some new life to the team. I also brought some golden oldies out of retirement, and in the end, wound up with a perfect, well-rounded team of 12.

Cookie #1: Cornbread Cookies.

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I had picked up a box of Jiffy Cornbread Mix and planned on making corn muffins for Thanksgiving. Well, that didn’t happen, so I had this great idea to turn the mix into a cookie. So I started doing some research, and found this recipe, which sounded easy and delicious! The only thing I did differently was leave off the icing. The cookies were more like corn muffins that way, and I do love corn muffins.

 

Cookie #2: Pumpkin Spice Drops.

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My mom knows better than anyone how much I love experimenting with new cookies. She had bought me a book that she was going to give me for Christmas, but decided it would be better to give it to me now, in case I wanted to try something from it. Good call, Mom. The book was called “Old -Fashioned Cookies.” It looks like this:

book

In the book, the recipe is called Iced-Pumpkin Drops. I again omitted the icing. The cookies didn’t really need it. They were soft, chewy, pumpkin-y, and yummy, all by themselves.

 

Cookie #3: Breakfast Cookies.

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I actually make these every year, and have for some time. They’re like oatmeal cookies, but with cheddar cheese and cinnamon chips. This year, about half-way through production, I realized I had no oats. I had sworn there was a whole un-opened container, but there wasn’t. I really didn’t feel like running out in the midst of mixing, so I started trying to think of something else that I could use, that I did have already. I found a box of farro. I used it. It worked. I also upgraded the cheese selection from processed shredded cheddar to MontAmore (my new favorite cheese). ¬†They’re more like a champagne¬†brunch cookie now.

 

Cookie #4: R2D2 Ready to Bake Cookies. 

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I had to bake these. Sure, they’re easy. But with all this Star Wars talk, I felt like these needed to be part of the line-up. They came in this box, and they were pretty tasty, not to mention pretty cute. Beep boop boop beep! There was one issue – some Dr. Who enthusiasts seemed to think they looked more like Daleks then R2D2. You know what I say to that? EXTERMINATE!

 

Stayed tuned for the next installment of the 12 Cookies of Christmas, coming soon to a computer screen near you!

 

Heart-shaped Chocolate-dipped Sugar (sort of) Cookies with Sprinkles.

 

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I love making Valentine’s Day desserts, which is funny, since I really don’t love Valentine’s Day. But I do love making things that are pink, or red, or heart-shaped – or better yet – all of the above! I had this sugar cookie recipe made with Monk Fruit in the Raw that I was dying to try, and this heart-shaped cookie cutter that I had yet to use, so I¬†decided¬†on heart-shaped sugar (sort of) cookies for this year’s¬†V-Day Small Indulgence of choice.

the main ingredient.

the main ingredient.

I followed the recipe pretty much down to the teaspoon, except that I added one thing – red food coloring. I wanted my cookies to be pink and swirly – and I figured a small amount of red food coloring would do just that. I wound up with dough that looked a little like a human heart. I figured that meant I must be on the right track.

the tell-tale heart dough.

the tell-tale heart dough.

I chilled it for a few hours, then rolled it out and cut it into heart-shapes. The result was swirly pink hearts, just as I had hoped!

pretty in pink swirls.

pretty in pink swirls.

I let them cool, and then thought that although they were cute as they were, they needed something more. So I melted down some milk chocolate, and dipped them. Oh, and added some festive sprinkles, while they were still wet.

dipped and sprinkled.

dipped and sprinkled.

I chilled them for a bit, then packed them up, and shared them with my fiance, my parents, my friends, and my co-workers. I guess I really don’t mind Valentine’s Day that much after all – it gives me the chance to spread the love, by doing what I love.

all you need is love.

all you need is love.

I suppose it’s true what they say:¬†love actually…is all around…and in cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Mummies and Spiders and Eyes, Oh My!

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I made some Halloween cupcakes today, for no real reason or purpose, other than it’s almost Halloween and I felt like being creative. I baked up two dozen apple caramel cupcakes, which, although quite tasty, kinda reminded me of that apple cinnamon oatmeal from the pouch I used to eat as a kid. In this case, the cupcakes were to serve more as a canvas anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned, and besides, I liked that oatmeal. I decided to do four different Halloween-ish designs.

Design #1: Pumpkin.

the obvious choice.

the obvious choice.

I had recently made these same cupcakes for a wedding, and I still had some of the candy corn pumpkins left over, and I wanted to put them to some good use. So I did.

Design #2: Mummies.

mummy is so yummy.

mummy is so yummy.

A friend had posted a pic of similar cupcake mummies to my facebook page, and I thought they were just so darn cute, I had to try them myself.

Design #3: Spiders.

is that a spider on your cupcake?

is that a spider on your cupcake?

I had done these a few years ago, but with mini Oreos. All I had were a bunch of regular Oreos in the cabinet, so I opted to try these using those this time, instead. Plus, I had a tub of cookies and cream frosting leftover from that same wedding a couple weeks ago (I made Oreo cupcakes for it as well), so I busted it out,slathered it on, and slapped a giant killer Oreo Spider on top.

Design #4: Eyeballs.

Eat with your eyes...

eat with your eyes…

I was thinking of these the other day when I was telling a friend I made eyeball cupcakes like 6 years ago, using a green lifesaver for the retina. I had no lifesavers, but I did have a ton of light purple icing…so that happened.

All in all, I think they turned out pretty cute, and I think I’ll bring them in to work to share with my coworkers on Halloween. Let’s just hope they all liked that cinnamon oatmeal in the pouch as much as I did growing up….

taste like...oatmeal?

tastes like…oatmeal?

Recipe: Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies.

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I love pumpkin. I love the fact that everything has a seasonal “pumpkin” or “pumpkin spice” flavor. I want to buy it all and hoard it for the rest of year. But I fear that if I do, I will be poor and hungry, since I’d grow sick of eating nothing but pumpkin. So for now, I’ll just continue to love it in the fall.

Because it’s such a small window of time, I try and take full advantage, making as many pumpkin desserts as I possibly can. This will be number 2 so far this season. Since the last thing I made was a Pumpkin Almond Spice Cake, I wanted to do cookies for this next round. I thought I’d made pumpkin cookies before, but I found no record of such a thing in my binder, so I started from scratch and began a search for a recipe to use as a foundation. I found this one, and it sounded like a perfect platform from which to jump right in and create.

there's something pumpkin going on.

there’s something pumpkin going on.

I mixed up the recipe, pretty much as it was written, but I didn’t like the glaze idea, so I decided instead to add two cups of one of my absolute favorite baking¬†accoutrements, Cinnamon Chips.

it's beginning to look a lot like pumpkin.

it’s beginning to look a lot like pumpkin.

I used my trusty mini ice cream scoop, which is perfectly cookie-sized, and scooped them out onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.

here's the scoop.

here’s the scoop.

I baked them at 350 for about 15 minutes, and they were perfect. Seriously. They were not burned, yet were cooked all the way through, and remained soft and chewy and delicious throughout their entire lifespan.

soft. chewy. cinnamon chip-y.

soft. chewy. cinnamon chip-y.

The recipe made a lot of them, too. I had baked 3 trays of 15 cookies each, and had to stop because someone was nagging me about using the oven. In his defense, it was dinner time. So I wrapped the rest of the dough and put it in the fridge and plan to bake it off this week!

 

Short and Sweet Recipe: Mini Strawberry Shortcake.

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Last week, my fiance and I were invited to another couple’s place for a game night. Being that we never like to show up anywhere empty handed, I decided to make a little dessert to bring along with us. I wanted something relatively simple, relatively summery, and relatively small, since it was going to be a small gathering. After much contemplation, I settled on the queen of summer desserts herself: Strawberry Shortcake. I already had some really nice-looking strawberries that had I literally just purchased the day before, so it would appear that the stars had aligned just right. (Except for that one star that I’ll call “heavy cream” – I had to send my fiance out to get that at the last minute).

But otherwise, I had all the ingredients to make a tasty vanilla cake, whipped cream frosting, and fresh strawberry filling between layers and adornments for the top.

top that.

top that.

Again, since it was for small gathering, I decided to make it a 6″ cake, instead of the traditional 8″. Not only would it be a more appropriate amount of dessert, but it also looked so darn cute. Like the puppy version of a cake.

baby cake.

baby cake.

And even with making it smaller, there were leftovers. Not that I’m complaining.

Wanna make your own for that Labor Day gathering you were invited to this weekend? Here’s how!

Mini Strawberry Shortcake.

For the Cake:

What you’ll need:

1 cup water

1/4 cup + 2 tblsp canola oil

1 tblsp white vinegar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups sifted flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

(Plus 1 cup of chopped strawberries for filling and 5 additional whole strawberries for decorating)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the water, canola oil, vinegar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until smooth. Grease two 6″ round pans, and evenly divide the batter between the two. Bake for approx. 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

What you’ll need:

2 cups heavy cream

3 tblsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

What you’ll do:

In a pre-chilled mixing bowl, whip the cream with the whisk attachment until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

Frost the top of one of the layers of the cake with the whipped cream, and using a decorating bag fitted with the star tip, pipe a border around the edge, Fill the center with the chopped strawberries, and place the second layer on top. Cover both layers entirely with a smooth coating of the whipped cream. Using the same star tip, pipe a shell border around the base of the cake, and 8 rosettes around the top. Cut the 5 large strawberries in half, and place one half on top of each of the rosettes. Pipe a dollop of whipped cream onto on of the remaining two halves, and make a little strawberry and cream sandwich for the center.

 

 

The Cupcakes of Summer.

I love summer. I always have. It’s my favorite season. Knowing this, I’m not sure why I remain in the Northeast, where there’s that season-that-shall-not-be-named, full of snow, ice and misery. I believe my love of summer stems from my love of being outdoors. So for the majority of summer, I’m out there more than in here. Thus the reason I have posted anything in over a month.

biker chic.

biker chic.

I have, however been doing a lot of baking recently. so I figured the time has come to share it with the universe. Last week, I made two different kinds of cupcakes for a post-wedding celebration. The first of the two was Cookies and Cream. I made up the batter and mixed in crushed fake oreos (faux-reos).

batter up.

batter up.

Next, I baked them (obviously).

coolin'.

coolin’.

Then, I decorated them with cookies and cream frosting, and half a faux-reo on top.

topped off.

topped off.

The other type of cupcake was Chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I baked those as well (duh). They rose rather nicely.

on the rise.

on the rise.

Next, I topped them with a large dollop of cream cheese frosting.

like snow capped cupcake mountains.

like snow capped cupcake mountains.

Finally, I sprinkled them with shaved chocolate.

after shave.

after shave.

I took super close up shots of them both, because I’m obsessed with super close up shots of food.

cookies and cream super close up.

cookies and cream super close up.

and…

Chocolate and Cream Cheese super close up.

chocolate and cream cheese super close up.

It was fun making these. It made me want to make more cupcakes again. So I think I just might. But first, an oreo coffee cheesecake for National Cheesecake Day. It’s cooling RIGHT NOW! ¬†Stay tuned for more details…. ūüôā

 

Cake Sandwich (With Almond Pound Cake and Maple Buttercream).

So I made this cake for my dad for Father’s Day. It was an almond pound cake. I wrote the recipe, and the batter was very good. But I made a mistake when I baked it – I used a loaf pan, and I should have baked it at a lower temp for a longer time. Instead, it started burning around the edges before the insides were even completely cooked. So, after seeing the finished product, I decided it didn’t pass my leaving-the-house test.

not up to snuff.

not quite up to snuff.

I was pretty bummed, because I knew it was a great tasting cake on the inside, and I really didn’t want to throw the whole thing away. So I wrapped it in foil, and stowed it away for the night. The next morning, I awoke with a brilliant idea. The cake is a loaf-shape. What do you do with a loaf? Why, you slice it and make sandwiches, of course! So, I would cut off the burned ends, and make cake sandwiches filled with icing! I quick whipped up a batch of maple buttercream.

sandwich filling.

sandwich filling.

I cut the burned ends off of the loaf, and began slicing the rest into bread-like slices.

the best thing since sliced bread.

the best thing since sliced bread.

I took two slices and spread an ample amount of the maple buttercream on one slice.

not your mama's sandwich.

not your mama’s sandwich.

I then assembled the slices into a complete cake and icing sandwich.

dessert for lunch.

dessert for lunch.

At this point, I realized, this sandwich might be too much for one person to eat in one sitting. So in keeping with the Small Indulgences philosophy, I sliced it in half, into two much more petite, but equally delicious mini-sandwiches.

a small indulgence at it's best.

a small indulgence at it’s best.

At this point, I ate one, you know, just to make sure it was ok…

love at first bite.

love at first bite.

This time, it definitely passed all of my leaving-the-house tests. And it made so many sandwiches, that I decided to wrap them up, and share them!!

sharing is caring.

sharing is caring.

And that’s how you turn what seemed like a bad cake into an awesome dessert to enjoy and share. It’s all about how you look at it. ūüôā

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios Treats.

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So the other day, a co-worker of mine said something along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be awesome to make Rice Krispies Treats with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios instead of Rice Krispies?” I responded with a resounding “YES!!” and then remembered I had a bag of marshmallows at home just waiting to be used. “I’ll make these tonight!” I declared. So when I got home, I made a beeline for the kitchen and started prepping ingredients. My fiance came home mid-prep, and wanted to go out for a run. So I left the butter in the saucepan (since it had to be melted anyway) and out we went. Upon our return, he noticed the chunk of butter in the pan on the stove, and gave me his classic raised eyebrow “what on earth are you doing now?” look. He was in for a very pleasant surprise.

I started with a box of Chocolate Cheerios and a box of Peanut Butter Cheerios (both of which are delicious on their own, but even better when combined). I mixed them with the marshmallow and melted butter and spread them out into the pan, let them cool, and brought them into work the next day. They were a raging success, and will be made again, I guarantee it.

Cheerios are the new Rice Krispies.

Cheerios are the new Rice Krispies.

We cut them into squares, and found them to be denser then the traditional Rice Krispies version, but the chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow combo was magically delicious, fo’ sho’.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter and Marshmallow, oh my.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter and Marshmallow, oh my.

The recipe is very simple. You just sub in Cheerios. But here’s the actual measurements I used, in case you want to give this quick and easy perfect-for-any-party treat a try on the fly.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios Treats.

What you’ll need:

1 bag (10oz) large marshmallows

1/4 cup butter

4 cups Chocolate Cheerios

4 cups Peanut Butter Cheerios

What you’ll do:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Over low heat, add the bag of marshmallows, and mix until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Cheerios. Pour the marshmallow mix over top, and stir until all the Cheerios are completely coated. Grease a 13×9 baking pan, and spread the mix into the pan. Let cool. Cut into squares. Eat!

Cupcake Decorating Teacher for Hire!

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