Happy 2014!

Happy 2014! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I think this December was one of my best. I’m so glad I was able to spend time with the important people in my life, especially those that live far away. A few highlights:

  • Took a cooking class at Faire La Cuisine and ate so much I could barely move.
  • Made Christmas cookies with my mom. These included my grandma’s peanut butter cookie recipe and trying out a new marzipan bar recipe. Oh, and sugar cookies, of course!

xmascookies

  • Spent several days in a row laughing with friends over snacks and wine. Oh, and discovered Heads Up!
  • Created a recipe for Peppermint Mocha No Bake Cookies! If you’re like me, you’re surrounded by snow and cold weather, so enjoy these as a treat this week.

Peppermint Mocha No-Bake Cookies

DSCN2705

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1. Combine sugar, milk, cocoa and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil for 90 seconds, constantly stirring.

2. Remove from heat and quickly add the remaining ingredients.

3. Drop by spoonfuls on wax or parchment paper.

Do you have any New Year resolutions?
I don’t typically make resolutions, but I have few goals for the month. Since Thanksgiving I haven’t been sticking to my five day vegetarian plan so I’m planning to jump back on the wagon. Last year I took part in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure and really enjoyed it so I’ll be taking part again. Apparently, I tend to get sloppy in the last months of the year. I’m excited to have some free weekends this month so I’m planning to tackle some Pinterest crafts. Here’s a start:

photo 2

Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Or as I named them, KYP Crunchies! These cookies kicked off my holiday baking for a cookie exchange with Columbus Komen Young Professionals. Breast cancer has been a cause close to me since high school and I’ve been volunteering with this group for a few years. To jazz up our usual meeting we decided to include a cookie exchange, but with a twist. The cookies had to include an ingredient recommend for a healthy diet to prevent cancer.

Here were some of the possible ingredients:

Green Tea (epigallocatechin gallate, polyphenols and catechins)
Berries (ellagic acid, vitamin C, fiber and polyphenol antioxidants)
Spinach (powerful antioxidants)
Beets (powerful antioxidants)
Ginger and Turmeric (anti-inflammatory properties)
Dark Chocolate (antioxidants and catechins)
Grapes (resveratrol)
Walnuts (polyphenols)
Winter Squash (carotenoids, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin C)
Flaxseed (magnesium and fiber)
Cherries (vitamin C, fiber, potassium)

…but we all made oatmeal cookies with cranberries or cherries. Great minds! These cookies are crunchy and are a great companion with a cup of tea.

Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and mist baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and egg until smooth and creamy.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients–cinnamon, flour, oats and baking soda until well-combined.

4. Gradually add ingredients in with the butter mixture (may look dry).  Stir in cranberries and chocolate.

5. Drop on cookie sheet by teaspoonfuls and bake 10-12 minutes.

If you’re in Columbus and interested in becoming involved with Komen Columbus, please let me know!

Holiday Baking Playlist

When December 1 hits you can be sure that I start listening to holiday music. Nothing feels more festive than baking in my kitchen with great tunes, the tree lit and snow falling outside. To help you feel festive while you do your holiday tasks, enjoy a few of my favorite seasonal tunes!


Do you have a favorite holiday song or one that you dread? I’m partial to a little Ella Fitzgerald with “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” I’ve been known to leave a store trying to escape Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” Sorry, Sir Paul, it makes me cringe!

Raspberry Chocolate Bars

I have a tried and true brownie recipe that calls for raspberry preserves (post coming soon for that one). On Sunday night I had planned to make the tried and true for a birthday dessert for my co-workers. After realizing I was lacking the supplies I scrambled to come up with a new treat. Much to my delight, I think I stumbled upon a keeper with these Raspberry Chocolate Bars.

For me, raspberry is also perfect for Valentine’s Day. So if you’re looking to bake for your sweetie, this is pretty easy and sure to impress. Dealbreaker: Not being impressed when someone bakes for you.

Chocolate and Raspberry Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Heat oven to 400. Spray 8 x 8 inch dish with cooking spray.
  2. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in large bowl. Mix in butter until mixture becomes like coarse crumbs.
  3. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Beat until well blended.
  4. Save 1/2 cup of dough for topping. Spread remaining into the prepared pad. Evenly spread the preserves over the dough and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
  5. Drop saved dough by teaspoons over chips.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes (until golden). Cool completely, cut and enjoy!

These bars love the camera

This recipe was adapted from Hershey’s Classic Recipes

Last Minute Gift Guide for Bakers

As I type I’m enjoying Christmas cookies and listening to Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Silver & Gold.’ If only there were a few snowflakes outside my window, then I would really be ready for the holiday. Okay, so I have a few more things to pick up so I’m not really ready. This is totally unlike me. Normally, the shopping is done and I’m laughing at those last minute shoppers, my apologies. If you still have some holiday shopping and have a baker in your life, here a few suggestions:

Image

1. Chalkboard Spice Jars from Anthropologie – I’m a sucker for anything with a chalkboard. These would look great displayed in any kitchen and are perfect for the baker in your life that is always experimenting with new ingredients.

2. Heritage Hill Glass Jars from Crate & Barrel – Your favorite baker spends hours slaving over the mixer only to put the creations in tupperware. They deserve better, imagine how amazing cookies would look in these jars.

3. Odd-Measure Stainless Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons from Williams-Sonoma – Every baker knows how important the right measurements are. Make life a little easier with these odd-measure tools that come in 2/3-, 3/4- and 1 1/2-cup sizes or 2-tsp., 1 1/2-Tbs. and 2-Tbs. sizes.

4. Bouchon Bakery Cookbook – Yes, I was the girl in the bookstore drooling over these pages. The author Thomas Keller says it all, “Baking is a unifying force. The smell of baking bread is the smell of sustenance and security. A bakery is an anchor – it draws a community around it. And that is one source of my desire to offer baked goods to as many people as possible, and why I’m so excited to be sharing the craft in this book.”

Most importantly, don’t stress about finishing that holiday to-do list. Just enjoy being with those you care about!

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Happy Holidays! What are you baking this holiday season? So far I’ve made sugar cookies and whipped up my own recipe to pay homage to one of my favorite holiday traditions, the Peppermint Mocha.

Today you can find my guest post with a recipe for Peppermint Mocha Cookies over at A Myriad Life. I really had fun putting this recipe together and was so happy it came out successfully on my first try. Thanks to Heather for letting me share the joy. Make you sure you visit A Myriad Life for more Peppermint Mocha Chronicles! Cheers!