Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chocolate Espresso Coins

Yet another from the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine. These are amazing.

Chocolate Espresso Coins
1/2 c butter softened
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c flour
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or mini chocolate chips)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted for drizzling on the cookies (I didn't do this...)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugars and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg, cocoa powder,  cinnamon, espresso and salt until combined.

Mix in the flour, then the 3 oz chocolate chips.

Divide the dough in 2, and roll into logs about 1" diameter. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.

Slice into 1/4" slices, and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes.

The recipe says it makes 144 cookies, but I think I made my cookies bigger so I had maybe half the amount of cookies. These are shortbread consistency and they don't spread too much when baking. You can put upwards of 12 cookies on one baking sheet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cherry Surprise Crinkles

Remember me talking about these cookies and how they were rather suggestive when baked? They still taste delicious regardless of looks....
These are from (you guessed it) the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine.

Cherry Surprise Crinkles
1/2 c butter, softenened
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
2 c flour
1/2 c chopped marashino cherries
36 Hershey's kisses

In your stand mixer, beat the butter for 30 seconds. Mix in the sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt until combined.

Mix in the egg and almond extract, then the flour, then the cherries.

Refrigerate the dough until firm. If you don't refrigerate it, it gets really sticky.

Divide the dough into 36 portions and shape each around a Hershey's kiss. Or if you want a G-rated cookie,   push the Hershey's kiss into a ball of the dough, so it is like a peanut butter blossom.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peppermint Snowballs

This is another recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine. I rolled the dough into logs and sliced it instead of dropping by the spoonful. I am trying to be more efficient in my Christmas cookie making and have discovered that it's a lot easier to make 5 batches of cookies if I roll the dough and freeze it, and then thaw and bake right before I need it.

Peppermint Snowballs
1 c butter, softened
2/3 c powdered sugar plus 1 c for rolling the dough
1/2 c crushed peppermint candies (about 20 candies, or you can buy candy canes already crunched up; they're with the chocolate chips at the grocery store)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 c flour

Beat the butter for about 30 seconds, then add the powdered sugar, peppermints, vanilla and salt. Mix until combined. Mix in the flour.
At this point you can choose to shape into 1" balls and roll in powdered sugar, or you can split the dough into two balls and roll into logs about 1" diameter. If you make rolls, slice them about 1/4 to 3/8" thick. Then put them in a plastic bag or leftovers container with powdered sugar and shake until coated.
Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, or until set. These have the consistency of shortbread cookies; you don't want them to brown.
The original recipe called for rolling the cookies in powdered sugar after baking, but that doesn't seem very easy....
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Today, I caved and started seeds: basil, dill, cumin, cilantro, and chives. They're in a small domed container on the seedling heat mat.
Also today, the hubs and I purchased the cabinets for the kitchen island. It will eventually have a concrete counter and breakfast bar. 7 1/2 feet of cabinet is A LOT of cabinet! Hopefully will make up for the lack of pantry in the house.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What's in your cookie box?

Clockwise from top left: cranberry pistachio white chocolate, almond caramel swirls, chocolate toffee shortbread, peppermint snowballs, Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles, chocolate crinkles, chocolate espresso coins
Quite possibly the best Christmas cookie box to date!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almond Caramel Swirls

This year I picked up the Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine. An entire magazine of nothing but cookie recipes. I flagged at least a dozen new recipes to try. This was one of them. 

I tweaked it a little bit because I didn't have almond meal. I meant to reserve some almonds and make it myself, but I forgot. And I wasn't about to buy almond meal - it's expensive! Glad I'm not gluten-intolerant because it would really jack up the grocery bill! (A 16 oz bag is $12! Compared to $2 for a 5 pound bag of flour!) So I did some quick research and found I could substitute ground oatmeal for almond flour. 

I measured 1/2 c quick oats into my coffee grinder and pulsed it until the oats were flour consistency. Don't worry - my coffee grinder was clean!

Almond Caramel Swirls 

1 c butter
11 oz cream cheese, divided into 4 oz, 4 oz, and 3 oz
1 c brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 c ground quick oats (or almond meal)
2-1/4 c flour
30 vanilla caramels, unwrapped

For the cookie dough: 
In a mixing bowl beat 4 oz of cream cheese. Add the brown sugar and mix until incorporated. 
Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract. 
Mix in the quick oat flour and flour. 

Divide the dough in half and roll out between two pieces of wax paper. You want the dough to be about 8 x 14. Put the dough in the refrigerator so it doesn't get too sticky.

For the caramel filling: 
Heat the caramels in a small sauce pan on low. You will have to keep stirring so the caramel doesn't stick and burn. 
Once the caramels are melted, add the cream cheese. Keep heating and mixing until it melds together. 

Spread half the caramel filling on half the dough. Then roll up with the long edge as the leading edge. 

Chill the dough for 4 hours before cutting. 

Cut the cookie dough into 1/4" slices. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, rotating trays halfway through cooking time. 

The recipe is supposed to make 96 cookies, but I didn't have my dough rolled that thin, so I maybe got 4 dozen cookies. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies

I've been baking the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for ages, and somewhere between switching to an electric oven (because we don't have a propane tank yet), and using Aldi's all purpose flour instead of name brand flour from Dillon's, the quality of my cookies has deteriorated. 

I found this website, through Pinterest and it details how to fix your cookies. You see the numbered picture that tells you what to do to fix your cookie? My oatmeal cookies have looked like #4 lately. 

So I made a batch of these cookies, and baked one tray. They spread out way too much. So I added 1/2 c more flour. And they worked. They were beautiful cookies, as long as I remembered to rotate the trays to the other shelf halfway through cooking. 

This is based off a recipe from the November 2011 issue of Food and Wine: Dried Cranberry and Chocolate Cookies. I tweaked it because I wanted to add pistachios and use white chocolate chips. 

Cranberry, Pistachio, White Chocolate Cookies

2-1/2 c flour
1 c quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-1/2 sticks butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 c white chocolate chips
1 c pistachios, chopped
1 c dried cranberries

In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

In your stand mixer bowl, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Then add the eggs and vanilla. 

Then mix in the dry ingredients. 

Then mix in the chocolate chips, pistachios and cranberries. 

I use a cookie scooper that is about 1-1/2 Tbsp.

Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes. You may need to rotate the trays halfway through baking. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


... I've taken a hiatus from blogging. Partly because I was afraid I would rant and scare people off.

I decided I didn't care if I scared anyone off. So here's the rant.

A couple weeks ago I was behind a customer in line at the grocery store who was discussing taxes with the cashier, and complaining about having to pay taxes on a new Ipad if purchased at the local Best Buy. So she bought it online and didn't pay taxes.

I didn't say anything even though I wanted to. Here's what I would have said:

You remember the snow we got yesterday? Were the streets cleared when you left your house to go to work? Your sales tax pays for the snow removal equipment and employees, as well as road salt.
When you went to work, were the traffic lights and street signs in their proper locations and in working order? Your sales tax pays for traffic control.
Do you enjoy time at the park in the summer, playing on the playground equipment or bbqing with friends? Your sales tax pays for the playground equipment, pavilions and bbq grills, and for the lawn mower and the people that maintain those parks.
When you have an emergency, does the Police or Fire respond in a timely manner? Your sales tax pays for the communication equipment, police and fire vehicles, and their salaries.

If you don't want to pay taxes, realize that these services may not be around. You may not have a plowed street after it snows, Police and Fire may take longer to respond, the grass may be overgrown at the park, and the bbq may not even be available anymore.

Just know that you had the choice to pay sales tax and chose not to. So that means you don't get to complain when these services aren't up to your par.

Additionally, you had the choice to keep your money local and help not only our local economy, but a local employee. Next time a local store closes, think again about where you spent your money. Did you support a local store? Did your money even stay in the same state?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Booklist

2012 was the first year I had a Nook Color. I would say at least 75% of the books I read in 2012 were on my Nook. Others were library books.

Violets are Blue by James Patterson
Roses are Red by James Patterson
Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich
Full Speed by Janet Evanovich
Full Tilt by Janet Evanovich
Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
The Book of Secrets by Tom Harper
Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson
You're the One that I Don't Want by Alexandra Potter
Lost Temple by Tom Harper
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
Who's that Girl by Alexandra Potter
To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell
Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell
Full House by Janet Evanovich
Full Scoop by Janet Evanovich
Foul Play by Janet Evanovich
Before I fall by Lauren Oliver
Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
I'll be Seeing You by Mary Higgins Clark
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
A Painted House by John Grisham
Lost light by Michael Connelly
The Drop by Michael Connelly
The Litigators by John Grisham
The Summons by John Grisham
The Brethren by John Grisham
Fify Shades Trilogy by E.L. James
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Fruitless fall : the collapse of the honeybee and the coming agricultural crisis by Rowan Jacobsen
Beekeeping in the Midwest by Elbert R. Jaycox
Self-sufficiency beekeeping by Joanna Ryde
Beeing : life, motherhood, and 180,000 honeybees by Rosanne Daryl Thomas
The Confession by John Grisham
Loves Music Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Mary by James Patterson
London Bridges by James Patterson
Cross Fire by James Patterson
Jack and Jill by James Patterson
Full Scoop by Janet Evanovich &Charlotte Hughes
Kill the Girls by James Patterson
Cross by James Patterson
Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
Black Ice by Michael Connelly
The Poet by Michael Connelly
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
May Day Murders by Scott Wittenburg
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