Happy December! The last few weeks have been super busy. I swear right after Halloween, someone hits the fast forward button, and the rest of the year flies right by. I have been fortunate enough to test a few new recipes a midst the craziness, so here we go. The first new recipe was for marshmallow brownie cupcakes. O.M.G. These brownie cupcakes are amazing!! Let me start by saying that marshmallows are NOT veggie friendly as they contain gelatin. If you aren’t sure how gelatin is made, please stop reading and “Google” it immediately…ICK! I know what gelatin is, so right off the bat I knew I’d have to substitute. I realize that some things contain gelatin, and we cannot avoid them (think antibiotics that are in a capsule form, OTC pills, and some vitamins). I’ve made my peace with it when absolutely necessary, but readily avoid it as much as humanly possible. Happily there is a such a thing as vegan marshmallows. That said, they don’t really melt up the same as regular marshmallows, so I used marshmallow fluff, which fortunately is veggie friendly. I made these brownie cupcakes on a whim, and they got rave reviews!! They are fudgy in the middle, and the marshmallow fluff on top gets toasted and crispy…YUMMO!! I would definitely make these again!! Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://springraine.blogspot.com/2012/02/marshmallow-brownie-cupcakes.html
The next two recipes combined equaled a really yummy dinner. I came across two separate recipes for Asian dishes on Pinterest, and knew immediately that I would combine them into one delicious dinner. I am happy to report that I did and it was super good. I will definitely add this to the regular dinner rotation as we loved it. Of course, Ryan didn’t try it, but the rest of us enjoyed dinner immensely. I was totally craving Pad Thai, and these recipes satisfied that craving. Here are the links to the recipes that I combined: http://produceonparade.com/chicken-vegan-pad-thai/ and http://madeitateitlovedit.blogspot.com/2012/03/sweet-and-sour-chicken.html I did make a few substitutions. First I didn’t have the type of vegan chicken that the first recipe called for, so I substituted some Quorn naked cutlets. Also, I don’t use soy sauce, so I substituted with Bragg liquid amino as an alternative. Next, I didn’t bread the chik’n like the second recipe recommended. Last, after the first batch, I ran out of rice noodles so we substituted regular spaghetti.
The next recipe was for minestrone soup. I LOVE LOVE LOVE soup, and I LOVE to make it in the cold months. Soup is so comforting and warm, and I feel cozy when making and eating it. I really wish Ryan liked soup, but alas this is another dish he won’t even try.
Anyway, the rest of us liked it. I LOVE minestrone soup, but wanted to try a different recipe, so I selected a copy cat recipe of Olive Garden’s minestrone soup that I saw on Pinterest. I am happy to report that the soup is delicious. If I am being totally honest, it’s not as good as my other minestrone recipe (a copy cat recipe of Lelli’s minestone), but it is still pretty good. Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/2012/12/olive-garden-inspired-minestrone-soup.html?_szp=122926
WARNING: The rest of this post contains pictures and recipes for delicious and decadent desserts. I have been informed that the pictures cause intense cravings for cookies and chocolate.
The rest of this post may also include…oh I don’t know…an edible cookie plate and candy dish.
Yep. True story.
You’ve been warned. Continue reading at your own risk! ☺
The first yummy treat I made was sprinkle sugar cookies. As a kid I LOVED sprinkles. I used to put them on ice cream, and all the goodies that I made with my Easy Bake Oven. Flash forward to current day, and my kids LOVE sprinkles like I used to when I was a kid. So in that spirit, I decided to pay homage to that little ice cream sundae condiment, and make a cookie that featured them. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and decided to give it a whirl. The cookies came out great, but mine didn’t puff up like the ones in the picture. There were really yummy, and everyone ate them up in a hurry, but they were not as puffy as I’d hoped. I am glad that I tried this recipe, but I don’t know that I’d add them to my regular rotation. If someone requested a sugar cookie, I’d definitely consider this recipe, but this isn’t a cookie that I will crave and HAVE to make again. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://buddingbaketress.blogspot.com/2013/08/puffy-sprinkle-sugar-cookies.html
The next yummy treat was homemade fudgy brownies. I got this recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I hadn’t ever tried this brownie recipe before, so I was eager to give it a try. The result?
I’ve had better brownies. I’ve made better brownies before. I was really surprised that these didn’t turn out better, but I don’t think I did anything wrong. I reread the recipe multiple times, and the only thing I can come up with is that they should have baked longer. My brownies kind of sank in the middle, so I am guessing they needed more time in the oven. If I try this recipe again, I would add 10 minutes to the total baking time. Going forward, if I am going to make brownies, I’d probably use another recipe. That said, these brownies were gone in less than 24 hours. Poor Ryan was too full from dinner to have one for dessert, and by the time he wanted one (the next night after dinner) they were gone! Poor baby. Next time, I will make sure I set aside a brownie or 3 just for him. ☺ Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://www.bhg.com/recipe/brownies/fudgy-brownies/ FYI…I didn’t frost the brownies when I made them.
Since Ryan didn’t get to enjoy a brownie, I decided to make fudge. I was planning to make my annual goodie bags for the elementary office for Christmas anyway, and the goodie bags always include fudge. Since Ryan didn’t get his chocolate fix the day before, I decided to make, and then deliver the goodie bags early. I have used the same fudge recipe for as long as I can remember. I copied it off the side of a jar of marshmallow fluff back when Dan and I were first married. Dan LOVES this recipe, and you don’t fix something that isn’t broke, so I’ve never tried a different chocolate fudge recipe. Actually, I take that back. Once, when we lived in our old house, I tried a different fudge recipe, and it was awful. I remember that it was really gritty, and we didn’t care for it. Since then when I make fudge, I always use this recipe:http://allrecipes.com/recipe/the-original-fantasy-fudge/ Anyway, my Ryan has been requesting fudge for about a month, but I kept putting him off, knowing I was going to make fudge at Christmastime. When he requested it on Sunday, I couldn’t resist his adorable face, so I decided to make my Christmas treats for the office a few days early. This fudge is amazing and my family LOVES it.
The next recipe I tried was for spritz cookies. Okay so I have eaten these cookies my whole life, but I’d never made them until now. I actually own a manual cookie press that I bought back in the day at a Pampered Chef party. Oddly, I’ve never used it for cookies. I remember the Pampered Chef demonstrator using it to make deviled eggs and fancy mashed potatoes, and I was smitten. Anyway, I still have that cookie press somewhere, but for these cookies, I actually used an electric press. I bought it the first summer in this house. I remember the purchase, because I bought it from a hardware store that was going out of business. The store is gone now…completely gone…torn down, but the cookie press is alive and well, and residing comfortably in my kitchen. I’ve had the press for eight years, and until Sunday, hadn’t even opened the box! Well eight years is long enough, and that cookie press needed to earn her rightful spot in my kitchen cabinet. Well earn it she did. It took me a bit to get used to the press. Okay so truth be told, it took Dan to use it and show me how. I tend to have a short fuse when it comes to using new appliances, or any other sort of new “technology,” so Dan helped. I had a hard time putting the press together, but once Dan “engineered” it for me I was good to go. Even after he put it together the right way though, it would only work when he stood at the counter and watched me. The minute he’d walk away, I’d begin having problems. This little spectacle was extremely amusing to my daughter and her friend that was visiting for the day. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t drop a few “F bombs” was because there was an underage visitor in the house.☺ Anyway, the cookies came out great. I used two different discs to make the cookies. I used the tree disc, and dyed a portion of the dough green to look like Christmas trees. I also used the sparkler disc as it reminded me of a poinsettia. I added a few tablespoons of cocoa powder to the remaining dough to make it chocolatey, and added a few chocolate chips in the center. I would definitely make these cookies again. They really tasted good and my family loved them. The tree cookies went first so I’d say that they preferred that dough to the dough that I added cocoa to. Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/super-shooter-basic-spritz-cookies-107483
The next two treats I made serve two purposes. First, they hold food as one is a plate and one is a bowl. That said they are both edible!!! Yep, I made an edible cookie plate, and an edible candy dish!!! So you can serve food on or in them, and then if you are so inclined you can actually eat your plate! I saw this on Pinterest a few months ago, but just recently got around to purchasing the candy required. They are super simple to make, and I absolutely LOVE them. Next year, I may make enough to gift them, but this year, I only made a couple. Here is a link to how to make this festive and yummy plate: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/d7/06/dc/d706dcd880ee75284d56d86b424f0074.jpg In addition to the plate, I made a bowl. I followed the same procedure, but whilst the mints were still hot and pliable, I inverted the plate over a small bowl and molded it. BE CAREFUL…I did burn my fingers the first time. My oven only took 7 minutes, so I’d watch the time closely if you attempt these.
The last treat that I made was candy cane biscotti. I usually make peppermint bark to go with my fudge at Christmastime, but this year I decided to change it up. I LOVE LOVE LOVE biscotti, but I’ve only ever used two recipes. Well that changed on Sunday when I made this biscotti recipe. I am happy to report that it is delicious, and I totally LOVE it. Even Dan who doesn’t care for biscotti thought it was good. The recipe is super simple, and I will definitely make it again. Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://www.eatcakefordinner.net/2012/12/candy-cane-biscotti.html?m=1 I made one change to the recipe. I divided the batch in half and dipped half in melted white chocolate. The other half I dipped in melted dark chocolate. YUM!
Sunday was a marathon baking day for me. I began on Sunday afternoon, and I finished about 10:30 p.m. I made the edible plate and bowl, the fudge, the spritz cookies, the biscotti as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family. The Lions weren’t playing so what the heck…why not spend a day in the kitchen. Ryan had a birthday to go to, and Victoria had a friend over, so the kids were occupied. Dan was also occupied installing, and then using his early birthday present…an Everlast heavy bag. He has wanted one since he was a kid, and we got it for him on Saturday. We had breakfast with Santa at TRW(where Dan works), and then we had some errands and shopping to do. Part of the shopping was a stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods. We all needed running shoes…okay so I don’t use mine for running, but the rest of the family does.☺ Even Victoria has been recently bitten by the running bug. Anyway, whilst we were there, we got Dan the heavy bag. I still think the juxtaposition of our activities on Sunday is hysterical. Picture this…Dan is in the basement installing and then kicking the crap out of his new heavy bag…looking very “Rocky-esque.” Meanwhile, I am in the kitchen making dozens of cookies and edible plates…looking very Mrs. Claus! It totally cracks me up.
With the Christmas holiday next week, I have totally kicked into high gear. In the last week, I have completed all the Christmas shopping, shopping for Dan’s birthday, the Christmas cards, most of the food shopping for Christmas eve (we host for the family), and baked and delivered all the office staff goodie bags. We’ve had several Christmas movie nights, the kids went sledding, and then completed all their “snowman soup” for passing out to friends, and all the teacher gifts are delivered. Now I will literally white knuckle it until December 26th that we make it through the holiday untouched by sickness. I realize that’s a tall order, but that’s my Christmas wish. Speaking of Christmas wishes, I saw this post on Facebook and it said, “I think as you grow older your Christmas list gets smaller, and things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought.” I agree one hundred percent, because this year I don’t really want anything you can buy in a store or on line. My Christmas list is very different this year. My “wish list” includes: good health for myself and all “my people,” peace and solace for every troubled soul, rest and comfort for every hardworking individual, and freedom and equal treatment for everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age. I wish ALL people would speak kinder, hug longer, smile more, and really count their blessings. Most of all, I wish heaven had a phone line so we could all speak to our loved ones that are celebrating Christmas in heaven. I know this is unrealistic, but Christmas is a time of hope, and that is mine. I wish you all a very merry holiday season, and a happy, healthy 2014. Cheers! ♥♥