Friday, December 28, 2012

I Did It! Well, Sort Of...

Wow. Christmas went by fast. I had a goal. 15 different kinds of cookies. And I met that goal, almost. Here's the story.

Last time I posted, I had created four kinds of cookies: peanut butter and jelly, white chocolate pistachio, sugar, and cake batter chocolate chip.

Between work, making a cake for Sam's dad (for a later post), making a cake for Christmas Eve dinner (my aunt Donna had made a request), and getting ready to go to Italy in January, I had my work cut out for me.

So I made 13 different kinds of cookies. And a cake. And a pie. I'm gonna count that as 15. Is that fair?

We have Brown Butter, Toasted Pepita, & Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies.

I LOVE these. Well, I pretty much love anything with brown butter. I wasn't super happy with their shelf life though--they didn't stay soft for very long (and I very much prefer soft cookies).

Next, PB&J Blondies by Jeff Mauro.

We think Jeff is pretty great. And these blondies are too. I'm a sucker for peanut butter and jelly and I liked that this recipe doesn't hit you over the head with the peanut butter. You get a nice balance of flavors.

Thinnest Oatmeal Cookies.

I saw this recipe for the first time and HAD to try it. It didn't disappoint. The fennel gives it a really interesting flavor--it was a hit. And the recipe mentions that the texture gets worse after a day or so, but we are still enjoying them.

Chewy Flourless Chocolate Cookies.

I've made these before. I really like them because they're gluten free but don't require any strange ingredients (and they taste good).

Brown Butter Blondies with Peanut Pretzel Caramel.

My absolute favorite this year. I love brown butter. I love caramel. I love pretzels. I love peanuts. This bar is amazing. The contrast in textures is fantastic as is the flavor. This one was a major hit.


The family favorite and a must-have on the Christmas-cookie plate.

Then I made a cake for Christmas Eve dinner.

Plane vanilla cake (a Betty Crocker recipe) with a chocolate buttercream. I added melted semisweet chocolate and ovaltine powder to the frosting. Yummy. And I forgot to take a picture of the finished product...

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies.

My cousin was in love with these cookies. They're like little dough balls. The perfect kind of cookies in my opinion.

Chocolate Crackletops.

The peppermint flavor in these cookies is always a nice surprise. I asked my mom for mini red and green m&ms. She brought back regular size regular color m&ms. Minis are getting harder to find. This size worked fine in the cookie though.

And finally, Grandma Dorie's Italian Ricotta Cookies.

I made these last minute and they were an instant success. They were swept from the cookies tray in seconds! I left some without frosting though because I wasn't a huge fan. Most people liked it though.

But wait, there's more!

Christmas Eve night I made a demonstration pie crust. I wasn't planning on making a pie. Or at least I wasn't until my mom insisted that I make one. So, I threw some sliced apples together with sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then I made a crumb topping with butter, oats, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of salt.

It turned out well for a last minute project.

So there you go. In my head I met my goal of 15 cookies.

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yup. It's that time of the year. Holiday time. AKA cookie time.

Every year since I can remember--and I'm sure for many years beforehand--my household has been cranking out dozens of Christmas cookies for the holidays. And I'm not about to break tradition.

Last year I made my own record: 14 different kinds of cookies (that were then supplemented with cookies made by my mom and sister).

This year I want to make at least 15 different kinds. This might be difficult seeing as last year I didn't have a job and now I do. I work at least five days a week and usually for about 12 hours. And I have to get ready to go abroad to Italy in a few weeks. And I'm making a birthday cake for Sam's dad. So the odds are against me, but I'm up for it.

Friday night, the night I got home from school, I got started. I made these peanut butter and jelly cookies because they were easy and the dough didn't need to be refrigerated or anything like that. They were super simple and super delicious. Definitely a good cookie for any pb&j fan.

Yesterday, I made three batches.

First, sugar cookies. The recipe comes from a horse cookie cutter that my mom got for me. I love the recipe. Lots of butter and lots of sugar. A classic sugar cookie. Yum.

Amanda kept me company while I banged out 12 dozen cookies

Next, pistachio white chocolate chip cookies--a family favorite. These guys always go really quickly.

I love the pistachio/chip to batter ratio. No skimping on the add-ins.

And finally, cake batter chocolate chip cookies. These are a new addition. I knew that we happened to have some left over funfetti cake mix in our cabinet so I figured I'd find a way to use it.

I really liked the flavor the cake mix gave the cookies. And the sprinkles were a cute addition.

Four down. Eleven to go.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PB&J... and Potato Chips... and Cinnamon Toast Crunch... and...

You may well remember that Sam received a re-tweet from our favorite Food Network personality, Jeff Mauro, just a couple of days ago.

Luckily, she didn't die from shock, she just suffered a little from extreme and prolonged hyperventilation.

To honor that moment, I figured we'd celebrate the event by eating one of the sandwiches he created during the episode we were watching when the infamous re-tweet occurred. I chose to make the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Here's everything that goes into these beauties. Obviously, these aren't just your usual PB&Js. They start out pretty normal though.

We had sourdough sandwich bread, so that served as the base. It gets spread like usual with chunky peanut butter and some strawberry preserves.

Next you add banana slices. Not to crazy--I've been known to throw banana in my PB&Js.

And then comes the potato chips. Starting to get weird.

Put it together.

And now...the cinnamon toast crunch crust.

Yep. Dredge the bread in egg wash and dunk in the cereal crumbs that you make by smashing the stuff up in a plastic bag.

Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat and fry those babies up!

These guys were so delicious! And super filling (surprising, right?).

If I made them again, I'd change the bread and chips. I didn't follow Jeff's recipe exactly because I wanted to use what we had on hand, but I would recommend following it. He calls for thicker, sturdier bread and chips. Those changes would work perfectly. Our bread was a little too flimsy and our chips were too thin so they got slightly mushy in the sandwich.

Doesn't mean we didn't eat every last crumb!

We love you Jeff!


Sunday, December 9, 2012


My life is incredible right now. I know what you may be thinking: But Sam, it’s finals week. How could anything be good in the world at this point? I’ll tell you: JEFF MAURO, AKA the cutest man in the whole wide world and host of Sandwich King on the Food Network, retweeted me!!

Meredith and I were watching Sandwich King this morning, and we were treated to Jeff Mauro’s “Cereal Crunching” song, one of the many songs that he makes up while cooking, and I decided to tweet him about how I couldn’t decide which one I loved more: the “Cereal Crunching” song, or a song about his tiny whisk that he sang last week (entitled “Baby Whisk”).

So 10 minutes later, I hear my phone make a noise I’d never heard before, and it is a notification that JEFF MAURO HAD RESPONDED TO MY TWEET!! He informed me that both songs were currently rocketing up the charts.

Well, Meredith and I started jumping and screaming and hyperventilating, which brought a very concerned Michelle and Amelia over to make sure we weren’t being murdered. But I still maintain that we did not overreact.

Society may still expect me to study for finals for the rest of the day, but I’ve declared it a national holiday: The Day Jeff Mauro Retweeted Me, and I think I’ll be taking the rest of the day off.