These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Both food and non-food related, there are some things I have fallen in love with this year. Some are things I have loved before while some are new. As we get closer to Christmas, I decided it’s time to share the things I love this year!

Nutella! I have loved Nutella since I was introduced to it in college. Actually, I first learned of Nutella back in elementary school, but I don’t think I liked it for whatever reason. Maybe it was because my friend used to eat it on white bread and I thought that was weird – I don’t know. Frankly, it isn’t any weirder than eating it off a spoon, which I do catch myself doing sometime…. Shh! Anyway, Nutella is a delicious hazelenut spread that can be enjoyed in many ways – I particularly like it on pretzels. But it’s also a great food to bake with! Be looking for my upcoming Pumpkin Cookies Stuffed with Nutella!

Colorful socks! There’s not a particular brand that I’m crazy about or even a particular pattern, but I love colorful and fun socks that come up to my knee or mid-calf. I go through stages. Last year I loved plain black socks. But lately, I don’t wear socks very much. I don’t wear them to work, because I’m wearing dress shoes. I pretty much just wear them around the house. But if you’re wearing socks at home to keep your feet warm, they better look adorable!

 

Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette! I’ve never been huge into makeup. But when I had to start interviewing and had to look less like a 15 year old and more like an attorney, I started learning to wear makeup. That’s funny – most high school kids play with makeup. I never was into it. And I’m still not huge into it. I love my face. I love my freckles and my imperfections. But at the same time, to look more put together for court I’ve had to learn some makeup techniques. I bought the Naked3 palette and it matches my tone perfectly. The shadows all have pink undertones and can be used to create both daytime and nighttime looks. It’s pricey though, but great quality. I actually bought mine on ebay discounted because the box was damaged.

Kettle Brand Chips – Sea Salt and Vinegar! I love sea salt and vinegar flavored potato chips. I love Kettle Brand chips also. So, the combination of the two is perfect. I probably eat these at lunch far more than I should. But I love the sour taste of the vinegar with the saltiness of the salt. A perfect addition to a sandwich!

 

EOS Lip Balm! I first learned of EOS through another blog, but I can’t remember which one. I was so fascinated by the shape of the chapstick – a ball instead of a tube. I bought it because I thought it was cute. After I bought it though, I realized how perfect this chapstick design is. The ball is designed NOT to roll of your desk! So if it gets knocked at work, it’s not on the floor. On top of that, the flavors I’ve used are wonderful and it’s a great balm that doesn’t need to be reapplied constantly.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet! My favorite kitchen tool of the year is the Lodge cast iron skillet. My mom got this for me a few years ago for Christmas and it has continued to be one of the most loved and most used things in my kitchen. I really want to replace all my pots and pans with cast iron. I love that stuff doesn’t stick to them! And the clean up of cast iron is wonderfully easy. I also have a cast iron wok, but this skillet still is my most used!

 

In other news – stay tuned for more cookie recipes!

weekend cooking

Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread

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The next cookie on the agenda was a shortbread. My cookie cutter selection is small, so I made shortbread men. Gingerbread men is a thing. We all know of the traditional gingerbread man, that we decorate with frosting and candies – so why can’t shortbread men be a thing?

The shortbread men I made had rosemary in them and then were dipped in chocolate. My boyfriend wasn’t quite sure what to think about the rosemary in the cookie, because he loves rosemary on chicken. I thought it was a perfect addition. It added this element that wasn’t entirely expected, but also, entirely welcome.

Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread

Ingredients
1 cups flour
1/2 tbsp rosemary, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine the flour, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process together until well mixed.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the flour mixture. Beat until the dough starts to come together.

4. Remove from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thickness. Place between two sheets of plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Using a cookie cutter, cut cookies out of the dough. Place on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 20 more minutes.

6. Bake for 20-24 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

7. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Don’t let it burn. Dip your cookies in the chocolate. Let chocolate set.

* makes 1 dozen cookies

Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies

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My all-time favorite cookie is chocolate chip. I cannot properly partake in a cookie baking binge without making chocolate chip cookies.

The thing is, I never had a favorite chocolate chip recipe. I just like all chocolate chip cookies. Every single one.

Until right now. I found a favorite! I found a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and I am in heaven! There’s so much chocolate in them! And the texture has a chew to it, which I like.

On top of being the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve had, they were easy to make.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(source)

Ingredients
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put parchment paper on 2 baking sheets.

2. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugars, butter, egg, and vanilla extract.

3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda.

4. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.

5. Fold the chocolate chips into the cookie dough.

6. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place rolled balls on your baking sheets, leaving 2 to 3 inches between each cookie.

7. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

* makes 15 cookies
* shared with Wednesday Whatsits

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

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My favorite blog event of the year has arrived! It is the 3rd Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange, hosted by White Lights on Wednesday, Real Housemoms, {i love} my disorganized life, Around My Family Table, Pink Cake Plate, The Cards We Drew, Miss Information, and Dimple Prints! This is the 3rd year where bloggers are paired up and share cookie recipes with each other for the other to make. Last year I made chocolate on chocolate cookies. This year is the polar opposite!

Melissa from Persnickety Plates shared two oatmeal cookies with me that she’s made. I chose the iced variety, though my icing was a lot thinner than hers was. Actually, my entire cookie looks very different than hers despite following the directions. It goes to show how much altitude as well as weather can affect the results of baking. I moved in July to a place that is 3,300 feet above sea level. I have never lived above sea level at all in the past – everywhere I’ve lived has always been either on the coast itself or sea level. I never realized how much of a difference this actually could make – but it does! I’m sure the glaze wasn’t affected by the sea level though – it could have been affected by the heat here.

Regardless, my cookies still tasted delightful. Having these with a cup of tea or a cup of coffee was a great way to enjoy them.

I don’t usually make oatmeal cookies. I especially don’t usually make cookies that don’t have chocolate in them. I am quite the chocolate fiend. But I did find an appreciation for these! My boyfriend loved them also and they disappeared around here very quickly.

I need to make some more cookies this holiday season. I’ve been slacking off and been busy with work. In other news, I finally got my mantel decorated!

Hopefully I post some more cookie posts this season. Everyone needs some cookies in their lives!

And hopefully we do this again next year!

Cookie-Swap-Vert

Iced Oatmeal Cookies
makes 3 dozen cookies
Original Recipe Post

Ingredients
For the cookies
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup butter (2 sticks), I used salted
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons milk

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Process rolled oats in a food processor for 10 seconds.

3. In a large bowl, add the ground oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together.

4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and sugars and cream together.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix.

6. Pour in the flour mixture, gradually, until well combined.

7. Use a cookie scoop to place 12 per baking sheet.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown.

9. Cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

10. Meanwhile, make the glaze in a shallow bowl. Add the powdered sugar and milk and whisk until smooth.

11. Take a cooled cookie and quickly dip the top into the glaze and let the excess drip off. Place back onto the wire rack until the glaze sets.

Because wordpress hates me since I haven’t purchased a domain, I can’t link the linksys directly. Click here to see everyone else’s cookies!

Pumpkin Butter Snickerdoodles

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The second cookie that I need to share with you is this spin on the snickerdoodle, using the Pumpkin Butter that I received in my most recent Foodie Pen Pal box! On my list of to-make cookies, I had a recipe bookmarked from Crazy For Crust – Apple Butter Snickerdoodles. Those sound delicious and I wanted to make them, but I also wanted to buy as few ingredients as possible. I swept through my pantry and came across the pumpkin butter Cleda sent me back in October.

OK OK – pumpkins might not be the most Christmasy of flavors. But I say, if pumpkin is okay in November (and it is,) pumpkin is definitely okay in December.

Or all year. Pumpkin is really welcome in my life all year long.

These cookies are delicious. I could eat them all myself if I didn’t think that much sugar would make me nauseous.

Pumpkin Butter Snickerdoodles
(source)

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar AND 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon AND 1 tsp, divided

Directions

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the 1 1/4 cup sugar and the butter. Cream together until fluffy. Mix in the eggs, vanilla, pumpkin butter, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.

3. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until blended together. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Place 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and the 1/3 cup of sugar in a shallow dish. Mix together.

6. Scoop the cookie dough out in 2 tbsp scoops. Roll into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place on the baking sheet.

7. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool.

* makes approximately 30 cookies
* shared with Mix It Up Monday

Blackberry Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I intended to start my Christmas baking at the beginning of the month (and I sort of did, I made the cookies that will be featured on the 16th in the Annual Cookie Swap way at the beginning of the month.) And then.. I stopped. I got busy with work. Busy with trials. And then I got sick. I’m finally getting over this cold and I’m still in the middle of trial, but today I was having one of those days where I just didn’t want to think about work too much. I did what I needed to stay on top of my business, but I didn’t focus on it all day – which I could have. But I’m low on energy lately and I needed some Christmas in the house. Yesterday I spent the day decorating. I made the first wreath I’ve ever made in my whole life, I decorated the mantle, I finished buying Christmas presents, and we hung lights outside the house. As I’m sitting here though, I realize there’s more I should have done. For instance, my Halloween Scentsy warmer is still out. Ghosts for Christmas? Unless we’re talking about the Ghost of Christmas Past, I think not. That needs to get switched.

Anyway, I decided to start my cookie baking today. I don’t know what I’m actually going to do with them, because I don’t have really anyone to hand them out to this year … I guess I’ll bring some to work.

I made four cookies today and I intend to try to make a cookie everyday from now until Christmas.

Can I do it?

Probably not. Given my inability to even update with dinners I am actually cooking, who knows. It seems the cookbook of this lawyer is pretty sparse as of late.

But without further ado, let’s talk about THESE COOKIES! This recipe was actually one that used blueberries in it. I had blackberries in the freezer, so that’s what I went with. The cookies were flavorful and very colorful – without the use of any food coloring!

Blackberry Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies
(source)

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup blackberries, chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add the egg and beat until well combined.

3. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in the stand mixture.

4. Fold the lemon juice, blackberries, and white chocolate chips into the cookie dough.

5. Scoop 2 tbsp scoops of the cooke dough onto the baking sheet, leaving enough room between each cookie. I fit 12 cookies on each cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 11-14 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

* makes about 2 dozen cookies
* shared with See Ya In The Gumbo

Cookbook Review: Indian Cooking Unfolded by Raghavan Iyer

unfolded

Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less

PROS: The book is written to give easy directions to teach not only recipes, but also techniques that can be carried over to all types of cooking. The flavors are daring, but easily accessible at the same time.

CONS: If you want to make truly authentic Indian recipes, this might not be the book for you. This book has Indian flavors and Indian dishes, but it is not a cookbook to teach you to cook as if you would in an Indian kitchen.

Continue reading

Foodie Pen Pals: October

FPP-post

I’ve been busy with work and life and whatnot and as such, I’ve been horribly awful at updating this. So without further ado, here’s a post. Happy Halloween by the way! What are you going to be today? I’m dressing as the Morton Salt Girl, but I can’t wear costumes to work (I work in a courthouse and everyone’s all professional and stuffy heheh) but I will be wearing my yellow dress with a blazer on top. I just can’t really tote the umbrella around because it isn’t raining out.

Anyway, this month I participated in Foodie Pen Pals again and was matched up with Cleda from Illinois. Based on my snippet of information, telling her what I like, she made me a wonderful box of goodies.

If you want to participate in FPP in the future, here’s some info:

  • On the 5th of the month you receive an email pairing you with information about who you’re paired with. You email that person to get information pertaining to allergies and dietary restriction.
  • By the 15th you put together a box of treats and mail them to your partner.
  • On the last day of the month you post a blog post about your box of treatsIMG_9571

I had given Cleda some ideas on what I liked, including breakfasts, pumpkin flavors, and chocolate. She pretty much hit this box out of the ballpark.IMG_9573

These granola bars are already gone. I love having bars like this in my house. My mornings are rather hectic most days, so grabbing something to eat while I’m throwing my clothes on makes my life a lot easier. I’d never heard of this brand before, but I will be seeking them out again in the future.IMG_9574
We had guests this week, so I felt it was a good idea to have some snacks available. I had cheese, crackers, and these brandy pralines. Honestly, I’m not sure if the guests ate them or if Matt and I ate all of them – but either way these babies are gone. They were delicious.

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When I said breakfast foods, Cleda followed through! She got e this Hot & Fit Cereal made with oats, quinoa, almonds, flax, and cranberries. I haven’t made myself a bowl of it yet because I keep sleeping too late to actually do breakfast and I’ve been eating the granola bars, but this weekend I’ll make myself a bowl. I’m sure it’s delicious.
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With Halloween in mind, I love anything and everything pumpkin. As such, I was given this pumpkin fruit butter! I Haven’t used it yet. Does anyone have an idea on what I should with it that would be interesting?
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A bag of coffee is up next! This pumpkin spice coffee smells wonderful. I haven’t opened it yet because I want to finish off the other coffee I’ve been drinking first, but I’m excited for this coffee for the fall!
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These Guylian chocolates look divine. I haven’t opened them yet because I know they’ll all be gone in a second, so I need to be sure I open them at the right second. I’m excited though, especially because I love love love hazelnut fillings.

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And last, but certainly not least is this chocolate bar that I have not eaten yet. Actually, I had every intention of eating it yesterday with my lunch. And then… I left my lunch at home on the counter. Instead of eating it for desert, I decided to try it today. I’ll edit later today telling you how it was!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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I ordered Wild Friends Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter recently and have been using it on many things – especially toast at breakfast. And it looks like now they have a Pumpkin Spice variety that I have to try. I’m a sucker for seasonal treats, so obviously I need to get myself that flavor.. On payday it looks like I’m placing an order. Anyway – the chocolate coconut peanut butter snuck its way into my ice cream!

This month Random Recipe did something a little different than usual. Rather than pick a random cookbook from our collections, Dom challenged us to search the internet to search for a recipe with the theme “something sweet.” I’ll never get over this ice cream phase it seems, so I googled “ice cream recipe” and found this gem from the Brown Eyed Baker. My ice cream turned out a little different than the original. For one, I used the flavored peanut butter (that you need in your life, I promise.) And secondly, that flavored peanut butter didn’t quite melt the same as traditional peanut butter, so I didn’t get a peanut butter swirl throughout – but rather.. these chunks of peanut butter that are delicious. I’m guessing it’s because the coconut oil doesn’t melt down the same way as the peanut oil used in the other flavors – but I don’t know. It didn’t melt very well.

But this ice cream is divine. In other news, Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream is having a free for all submission this month. So I’ll be sharing this ice cream there too.

randomIceCreamChallenge

Peanut Butter Ice Cream
(source)

Ingredients
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup your favorite peanut butter, divided
2 cups heavy cream, divided
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Warm the milk, sugar, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of heavy cream, and the salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and peanut butter has melted. Continue cooking the mixture until it comes to a slight simmer.

2. Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a bowl and place a strainer on top.

3. In another bowl whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the eggs, making sure you stir constantly so the eggs do not cook. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

4. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape the pan as you stir. Do this until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula. This will take several minutes.

5. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the cold cream. Stir in the vanilla extract and place the bowl over an ice bath. Allow to cool. Then cover and place in the refrigerator until the mixture has completely cooled.

6. Freeze your ice cream per the instructions for your ice cream maker.

7. Melt the 1/2 cup of remaining peanut butter. Pour it over your newly frozen ice cream. Using a butter knife, gently whirl it into the mixture.

8. Place in the freezer and freeze overnight.

* makes 1 quart
* this recipe is also shared with Mix It Up Monday

Vegetable Fideua (but not really)

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Where did this recipe go wrong?

- I should have used thinner noodles.
– I misunderstood what it meant to break the noodles – I didn’t interpret that as smaller pieces than how I broke it up. But afterwards, when I looked at other recipes for this dish, it’s obvious the noodles are supposed to be substantially smaller than I had them here.

The dish wasn’t bad, but I’m sure it’s nothing like what fideua is supposed to be like. For what it was though, it wasn’t bad. Nothing like a standard noodle dish.

And truly, that was the point. Rachel of Rachel Cotterill is hosting this month’s Pasta Please, a monthly blog round up of pasta dishes based around a certain theme. Rachel set the theme this month as fusion. She challenged us to make a vegetarian pasta dish that steps away from the Italian influences.

So what did I do? I googled “Spanish noodles” and I got this dish. I followed this recipe loosely in making the dish that wasn’t very Spanish nor like fideua, but still tasty.

So here’s my tips for you, future fideua makers: break your noodles A LOT smaller than mine are. And maybe use angel hair pasta instead or something thinner than a spaghetti noodle.

pasta please

Vegetable Fideua

Ingredients
8 oz thin noodles
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 oz frozen green peas
3 tomatoes, diced
1 1/3 cup vegetable broth
salt, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400. Lay the noodles on a baking dish. Bake the noodles for 5 minutes, or until they start to brown. (mine got too brown)

2. In a large oven safe pan heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the green bell pepper and cook until it softens. Add the green peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for several more minutes.

3. Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Crush the noodles and sprinkle them over the vegetables. Stir the noodles into the dish. Simmer until the noodles are tender.

4. Place the pan in the oven set at 400 for a few minutes, so the remaining liquid can be cooked off.

* serves 4