Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

Cookies have always been a Christmas tradition since as long as I can remember. Now that I live by myself, I'm trying to rekindle some of these traditions that I once had in hopes of preserving some of these traditions for my future family. Sugar cookies are the BEST! They're like an open cookie canvas! Blank for whatever you'd like to do with them, whatever shape, whatever flavor, whatever decoration. I got some Christmas cookie cutters this year: trees, stars, snowflakes, snowmen, and mittens. After these cooled, I frosted with a basic cream cheese frosting and decorated with Christmas sprinkles. Delicious! I will promptly be distributing these at work to avoid consuming them. Merry Christmas!

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. Cream Cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.

Best Rolled Sugar Cookies via All Recipes:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Men

I don't know who Eileen is, but I trusted her for my gingerbread men making needs. She failed me the first time. Well... I should say I failed myself the first time by not following directions. Foot note: when doubling recipes, it's most helpful to double ALL ingredients, especially the flour. :) Anyway. The second attempt was much more successful. Just make sure the dough is very cold when you roll it out. I just used a plain royal icing for the border, keeping it simple! I need to brush up on my frosting skills most definitely.  

Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Men via All Recipes:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

These cookies were actually my backup plan for a failed attempt at gingerbread men (which I will elaborate on in a later post), but they worked out nicely! My Mom used to make these cookies when I was little. I decided to add some crushed candy canes to them for some Christmas flair and took them as favors for my work Christmas party. Glad I got rid of these because I definitely would have eaten them! Let the baking begin!

Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies via my secret recipe stash:

1 1/4 cups butter softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts/chocolate chips/CANDY CANES (whatever you like!)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat til combined. In a seperate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually blend into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts/chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons on to cookie sheet. Leave plenty of room in between, cookies flatten quite a bit. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. Do not overbake! Should look slightly shiny in the center of the cookie when you take them out. Let cool a bit before transferring to cooling rack.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spinach Soup with Gruyere

I saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman blog and was instantly intrigued. It seemed simple enough and fairly quick so I gave it a try yesterday and was quite pleased. It is definitely not a light soup, don't let the spinach fool you. This would be a great cold weather type soup. I did make a couple tweaks to the recipe. I added four slices of chopped bacon & an additional 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. I also used havarti in place of the gruyere just because that is what I had on hand. I'm sure any creamy, mild cheese would work fine. I found that I needed much more salt and pepper than the recipe requested, just season at the end to taste. Now if only this weekend would have produced some soup weather. It is 80 degrees in the middle of December!   

Spinach Soup with Gruyere via the Pioneer Woman:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vanilla Peppermint Cupcakes

These are great! Subtle and delicious! I made these today for a party we are going to tonight. Hopefully they will be a hit. Definitely festive! Let me know if anyone has any candy cane crushing tips, because I had a very difficult time! The frosting recipe makes a LOT of frosting, I would probably half everything in the frosting if I make these again. Now off to the party bus! Happy dirty 30 Monique!

Vanilla Peppermint Cupcakes via Sprinkles:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

I'm really not a bread pudding fan... but anything with croissant and chocolate just couldn't be bad. I was also working with two very credible recommendations from coworkers, so I figured I would give "bread pudding" a second try in my life. The Noble Pig has yet to let me down. This recipe was SUPER simple, but still has the quality of the wow factor. There's no skimping on this recipe. Pull out your fat pants! I enjoyed a small piece of this in some good company, then divided up the rest for passing out. The temptation did not need to sit on my counter any longer. This is a great make ahead dish, just cover with foil after it comes out of the oven. It's best just a little warm!

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding via Noble Pig:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Sauce

Another addition to my endless search for satisfying, lean protein. I've had pork tenderloin many times, but this is actually the first time I've made it myself. I was pleased with the results. You can usually find them on sale for fairly reasonable. This one I got from Trader Joe's, $5 for a one pound tenderloin, pretty good I think. I had all the rest of the ingredients on hand, very convenient. Don't frown on the pig, you might surprise yourself... "PORK... the OTHER white meat!"

*Side note on the Noble Pig blog: I am really starting to appreciate this blog even more than when I first discovered it! Her recipes are so simple, with regular ingredients, and everything I've made has turned out delicious. Check it out.

Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Sauce via Noble Pig: 

Pink Lady Cake

This was the celebration cake for a work baby shower for my educator Julie's first little girl! It was definitely tasty, but I for sure need some cake making practice because it was no easy feat. This one was a triple layer, real strawberry cake, separated by a delectable cream cheese frosting. Quite pleasing to the palate! I stuck closely to the recipe, aside from the addition of even more red food coloring. Pink is a necessary hue for a girly baby shower. I probably could've actually used even more than I did to make that pink really pop. My only warning on this one is this is one TALL cake. The lid for my cake stand wouldn't even fit over the cake! It certainly wasn't easy trying to transport this cake by myself across town. One hand on the cake, one hand for the steering wheel! Congrats Julie! Can't wait to meet the little one. 

Pink Lady Cake via Smitten Kitchen: