Sunday, December 26, 2010


Christmas has come and gone. Now, I can settle down and try to come up with a few things for the first month of recipes here!

Until then, here are some photos and such from Christmas 2010.

Before Christmas even really began, I knew I wanted to make mint chocolate chip cookies. I had never ever made them before and didn't even know if I'd like them. So, I went out and bought a small packet of Toll House Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough as a test. They were amazing so...we made some!

We used mint and chocolate chips to make them instead. I have to admit, I loved eating the chips in pairs, without actually being IN the dough. Thankfully, other people liked them as well. They'll now be a part of every Christmas from now on.

M&M cookies are a traditional staple at my house. My grandma used to make them when I was a kid and we haven't adapted the recipe at all since she passed away in 2001. My mom, however, wanted to add nuts to the dough this year. I flat out refused. Why mess with something that is already great?

This may look like a jumble of things put together in a bowl but, really, it's the start of the most luscious peanut butter cookie dough you can imagine! We use it to make Peanut Butter Kisses, which, secretly, I love making because mom is still dumb enough to put me in charge of peeling the foil off the Hershey Kisses. I sneak a few each time simply because I can.

As you can imagine, with so many cookies alone, we had to make sure the right ones got where they needed to go. Mom and I stalked Wal-Mart for cute containers and then I applied some regular masking tape to the lips, marking them with Sharpie. It makes things a lot easier than taking a bite out of a cookie when you can't possibly guess what it is.

Making fudge was something I didn't take part in. After a burn I received the day before, my mother kind of put me on the sidelines. I kept the marshmallow fluff jar though (it's plastic) so I can use it for crafting materials. Anyway, I have no idea if the fudge came out well. It's not something I eat a lot of, or honestly, eat at all, but people seemed to enjoy it yesterday after Christmas lunch.

My mom just had to have these. I have no idea what they're called (and no, they aren't Mexican Wedding Cookies) but they're extremely soft and break apart easily. They aren't something I am likely to make but they sure do look pretty!

The pumpkin cheesecake. I should have known the batter (which called for two pounds of cream cheese) would be enough to make two very large cheesecakes. My mom didn't seem to think so. Guess who was right? Because of the long bake time, she ended up throwing half of the batter out. Such a waste but, really, the filling doesn't keep well in her fridge and I'm not into pumpkin myself. I ended up topping it with some home-made whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon.

But, really, Christmas morning was the time I got to really relax and enjoy a simple cup of coffee while sitting at the table at mom's while she packed things up to bring to my house for Christmas lunch. It was a pretty nice year though, I have to admit, it didn't feel much like Christmas to me.

Maybe I shouldn't make so many things next year. That may help.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Taking It and Making It Your Own

Why people decide to make baking things difficult is beyond me. They see a photo of something and automatically make themselves believe it's beyond their grasp to make it simply because it looks complicated.

I will now admit that, once, I was the same way. Changing my way of thinking was the best thing I have ever done where food is concerned. You can't look at something, decide it's too "hard" to make and then walk away from it wishing you could do it. Instead, you have to find a way to make IT work for YOU.

That is what I did today with these brownies.

People complain about boxed mixes way too much. What they don't understand is that, for the most part, everything in a mix is what you'd put into it yourself when you're baking from scratch. All the "added" things, well, have you looked at what's really in your all-purpose flour or even your confectioner's sugar? Yeah. The fact that there is a list of things in them isn't all that different, is it?

You have your basic Triple Chunk Brownie Mix.

You can get this at pretty much any grocery store in America and they are amazing on their own. But, what if you want to spruce things up a bit, make them more special?

Adding candy is a good way to do that. But, don't put it IN the mix, put it on TOP of it.

After a bit of debate over plain chocolate or something else, I picked up a bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate caramel filled squares. Again, something you can find just about anywhere that sells candy. Don't believe me? I bought my bag at Dollar General for $3.50. The price might sound steep for a bag of only a few squares but they're worth it. An affordable luxury, if you will.

All I did was make the brownies according to the directions on the box and, as soon as they were out of the oven and still piping hot, placed rows of the unwrapped squares along the top so the chocolate would melt to the brownie, making sticking a fork through it much easier when you're ready to eat it.

With brownies, anything is possible! Just use your imagination. But, in case your imagination is lacking, here are a few ideas of the candies and such you can use to top your favorite brownies:
  • Hershey's Cookies N Cream bars
  • Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark
  • Heath Bars
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  • Crushed chocolate Pocky sticks
  • Flavored marshmallows (such as gingerbread)
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk bars
  • Almond Joy bars
(All photos used here are my own and have been watermarked as such.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Obligatory Welcome Post

The idea to create a blog about the food and dessert I make has been swimming in my head for many months. I love sharing what I have made with the world so, really, it only makes sense that I would drag my mother into the whole thing.

With Christmas fast approaching, I was hoping to be able to "de-stress" by blogging about all the lovely cookies, pie and cake we've made for the holiday. Unfortunately, a few things have hindered me from really enjoying the idea as of late but it hasn't deterred me at all from continuing to, and going through with, it.

After talking with my mother about it, it was decided that we'd start really putting things together for the blog in January. Updates will come at least once a week and feature not only the recipes but amazing photos and stories. You know, all the stuff that makes even a mediocre food blog fun to look at.

So, here's to hoping the first "real" update is sooner rather than later.