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Archive for December, 2011

New Year’s Eve, 2011

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Technically it is New Year’s Eve. But I’m getting my Happy New Year wishes in early!

I want to thank all of you for following along with me on this blogging journey. I started my blog this year, and it has been a wonderful experience. To know you are reading my crazy ramblings, leaving comments, and even making the recipes…is Just So. Cool!!!! I am so excited for 2012. To learn more about taking pictures, to create new recipes, and to hopefully figure out Facebook (I am a little slow at figuring out technology)!!

As I end this last post for 2011, I want to wish you all joy, peace, and happiness for the new year!

Have a safe, and fun, New Year’s Eve…and I’ll talk with y’all next year :)

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Cinnamon Lover’s Scones

Here is a recipe for some scones I made on Christmas morning. Nick and I had breakfast with my parents and my brother. My mom was doing most of the cooking, but requested “a biscuit or something”. So I went with the “or something”!!!

I stayed away from chocolate (for once!), as I know not everyone likes chocolate for breakfast. Weird, but true!

These are loaded with cinnamon chips and a layer of cinnamon goodness. Decadent while warm and served with butter, these are also equally yummy at room temperature. The texture of the scones is just right- not too crumbly, yet not too heavy. If you like cinnamon, I highly suggest making these for breakfast, brunch, or just a lazy weekend morning.

Cinnamon Lover’s Scones
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes 12 scones

2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons half and half, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 1/2 tablespoons + 1/2  teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon. Slowly add in 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons water- stirring until it is a spreadable consistency. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Stir in the eggs and vanilla bean paste. Add in 1/2 cup half and half and stir until the dough just comes together. Add in the cinnamon chips.

On a floured surface, dump out dough and gently knead a few times until the dough is smooth and stays together. Roll out into a 9 inch circle (doesn’t have to be exact). Spread on the cinnamon mixture from the small bowl- leaving 1/4 inch all along the edge. Gently fold one side of the dough towards the center, then fold the other side all the way over- like you are making an envelope. This should leave you with more of a rectangle shape. Roll out until it is 3 inches by 18 inches. Cut this into 6, 3 inch squares, then cut each square in half. Transfer scones onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Place scones in the freezer for 30 minutes (this will let the butter harden back up, in order to give the scones a flaky bite).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Remove scones from the freezer, and brush with remaining 2 tablespoons half and half. Sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Notes: If you don’t have cinnamon chips, you can use white chocolate chips- just add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dough (add it in to the dry flour mixture).

Cinnamon filling

Question of the day: Which do you prefer- scones or biscuits?

Made with love, not calories!

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Normally I post a recipe on Monday’s…and I post a lot earlier in the day! Obviously not today.

I had the day off from work, and after sleeping in, I spent the day with Nick and his friend (now my friend, too!) Erin! We headed off to Melt, for a late lunch/early dinner (it was a madhouse, but the food is well worth the wait).

I had my usual…Wake and Bacon
“fresh amish farmed fried eggs,crisp bacon, american”

Nick also had the Wake and Bacon, but added turkey to his.

And Erin had the special sandwich of the month: The Mighty Macaroni Melt …
“Homemade Macaroni and Cheese coated with seasoned breadcrumbs then fried to a delicious golden brown. Add more cheese! Choose your favorite.”
 

After we finished eating, we headed over to Whole Foods. I’ll give you one guess as to what I bought.

Any guesses?

That’s right…CHOCOLATE!!! I know- total shocker!!!

I found some new-to-me chocolates.

YUM!

Starting from the left:
“Theo” Orange Dark Chocolate (70% cacao)
“Theo” Gingerbread Spice Milk Chocolate (45% cacao)
“Theo” Cherry & Almond Dark Chocolate (70% cacao)
Bottom:
“Equal Exchange Chocolates” Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt (55% cacao)

I can’t wait to bust into these :)

Anyways…I’ll be back on Wednesday with a recipe!

Question of the day: Do you splurge on new-to-you items at specialty food stores? If so, what do you buy?

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Merry Christmas Eve!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!

Milk and cookies are ready for Santa’s arrival!

And according to NORAD, Santa is currently in Guyana, and will be making his way to Brazil! Pretty soon he will be making his way to the States, so I had better get to bed!

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday- filled with love and surrounded by loved ones.

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Photo Friday

I played Santa’s helper yesterday at work, and handed out candy canes to all my co-workers!

Like my reindeer ride?!!!!

See the antlers and red nose??

Oh, and how do you like the standing water in the side yard? In December- 3 days before Christmas. In Northeast Ohio.

Downtown Willoughby holiday lights

What is it with cats and boxes?!

Question of the day: Totally unrelated to the above pictures…what kinds of goodies are you leaving out for Santa?

For your listening pleasure: A really CUTE Christmas song…”Milk and Cookies” by Clint Black

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Eggnog Cookies

Eggnog Cookies!

I really like eggnog. Rich, creamy, and non-alcoholic for me! I drink mine with unsweetened almond milk and a little pinch of nutmeg!

As you can tell by the picture at the bottom of this post, we had some eggnog at one point during the last week! It was stored on the inside door of our fridge, and every time I opened the door, it stared at me. I mean really- it stared at me! And I caved. I couldn’t take the pressure! The carton came out and the eggnog went into making cookies! Now all that’s left is an empty eggnog carton and some cookie crumbs!!

Eggnog Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

Cookies:
1 standard-sized French Vanilla cake mix
1/2 cup eggnog
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or rum extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons eggnog

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper- set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix half of the dry cake mix with the eggnog, eggs, vanilla or rum extract, and spices. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in the remaining cake mix.
Using a large-sized ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, move cookies onto cooling racks and cool completely.

For the glaze- in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons eggnog. Add more eggnog to reach the consistency you prefer. Spread, or drizzle, onto cooled cookies. Set cookies aside to let the glaze harden. Enjoy!

Eggnog glaze

Do you like your eggnog with, or without alcohol?

Made with love, not calories!

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Weekly Running Recap

Ok readers- I am not making excuses this week. I made a decision and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I did not run this week, and if I don’t run until after Christmas- I am going to be just fine.

Work and baking are making me way to short on time. So I am setting aside the workouts for a little while. Will it be harder to start up again- a little over a week from now? Nope! And I’ll tell you why (even if you don’t want to know!)…

I have been buying some new running clothes!

This is big for me people. Normally I get my clothes at Wal-Mart or Target…cheap, but works well for me. Well, I started wearing running skirts, and fell in love with the Skirt Sports brand. They fit well, have pockets for gels, or camera, or cell phone, or ipod- and they look pretty! Well, they are offering some  fantastic deals on some of their products…a different one everyday for 12 days!
There have been a few items that I have admired from afar (I’m cheap, and their items are not!), but I couldn’t pass up these prices.
I bought the Tough Girl Skirt and the Wonder Girl Dress! That’s right- I bought a dress to run in…I AM SO EXCITED!!! I can’t wait to try it out (yeah- I can be a girly girl when I want to be!)!

I’m going to wrap this up now, as I have cookie dough ready to be baked and my ovens have been pre-heated and just beeped to tell me they are ready to go!

Have a good week everyone!

*Disclaimer- Skirt Sports is not paying me to talk about their products. I simply love the skirts that I own, and am looking forward to wearing these new-to-me items (that I have paid for).

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Photo Friday

Romeo- laying on the electric blanket

2nd round of chocolate: 25 pounds!

Some of the candy...

(Rice Krispie treats, homemade marshmallows, Santa cookies)

…more of the candy!

(Chocolate covered pretzels and Oreo’s)

Sleeping again!

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I mentioned before that I don’t really care for spicy foods. However, I really like the tastes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. And that is a good thing too, as this recipe includes all 4 of those spices, plus molasses!

Gingerbread really makes an appearance at this time of year. Oh, you always see gingersnaps in the cookie aisle, but gingerbread men and gingerbread houses? They come out in droves during Christmas (though honestly? At the store I shop at, they were out the day after Halloween).

Gingerbread bars have a little thicker texture than a gingerbread cake. And slathered with cream cheese frosting! Yum! The gingerbread and frosting balance each other nicely. These are perfect for that after dinner dessert with coffee. Actually, they would be perfect anytime!

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 1 pan

Gingerbread bars:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teapsoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 3/4 cups flour

Cream Cheese frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11 x 15 pan (or line with aluminum foil & grease). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and molasses, and mix well. Stir in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add in the flour and mix until just combined .
Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add in the vanilla, then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Mix until everything comes together and the frosting is smooth.
Once the bars have completely cooled, spread on the cream cheese frosting. You can cut and serve the bars now if you want, or you can refrigerate them and let the frosting set.

Note: I used a 13×9 inch pan, and baked it just shy of 35 minutes. They were really thick…so I think an 11×15 inch pan would work better. If you only have a 13×9, by all means use it- just know the baking time will be longer and they will be thicker.

What dessert do you enjoy with coffee?

Made with love, not calories!

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Today is our last cookie.

I hope you all enjoyed these last 12 days of Christmas cookies. Maybe you decided to make one or two of them for the holidays. Or maybe you will wait until after the New Year to try something. Either way, I have enjoyed sharing these recipes with you, and the memories that went along with a few of them.

This recipe is very simple and quick (unless you want to make your own puff pastry…then it ain’t so quick!). By now, the holidays are almost here, and if you have been baking like I have, you are ready for a no fuss cookie.

Angel Wings, also known as Palmiers, can be made savory or sweet. Today I am making sweet ones, but savory ones would make a great appetizer (you can do this by simply spreading pesto on the puff pastry before rolling, and sprinkling it with parmesan cheese).

Angel Wings
Makes 24

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farms brand)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. On a flat work surface, spread half of the cinnamon sugar mixture, about the size of your puff pastry sheet. Unfold the puff pastry and lay down one sheet on top of the cinnamon-sugar. Sprinkle on the remaining cinnamon sugar. Using a rolling-pin, gently roll the dough out to about 10 x 12 inches. The rolling action will also be pressing the cinnamon sugar into the dough.
Take one long side of the dough and fold it into the center. Do the same with the other long side of the dough.  Going back to the first side, fold that one more time into the center (you are folding on top of itself). Repeat for the other side. Finally, take the first side and fold it on top of the other side. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut the dough into 24 pieces. Place 12 on each parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Note: the cinnamon-sugar will caramelize, so parchment paper, or silpat will allow for easier clean-up! Bake for 7 minutes remove from oven. Carefully flip each cookie.  Return to the oven and bake another 6-8 minutes, or until puff pastry is done. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, they should peel right off and you can move them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Puff pastry dough covered in cinnamon-sugar

Fold # 1

Fold #2

Fold #3

Ready to bake

Are you ready for Christmas? What do you still need to do?

Here is a recap of the previous recipes:

Nut Ball Cookies
Pfeffernuesse Cookies
Santa Claus Cookies
Brown Butter Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies
Molasses Cookies
Brownie Cookies
Meringue Cookies
Kolachi Cookies
Santa’s Whiskers
Sugar Cookies

Made with love, not calories!

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