Friday, December 27, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey Hey and Happy Friday to ya! Did you have a wonderful Christmas? I hope so! Mine was full of fun, food and family traditions. My Hubby's family has the cutest ones we continue every year. We all draw numbers and act out the 12 Days Of Christmas...there's 15 of us now so we've made up some of our own days :). We sing Christmas songs and take turns reading the story of the birth of Jesus from Grandpa's bible. And there's food. Everywhere. Everyone brings food. Not only that, but neighbors come and bring treats throughout the day, too. It's so amazing. Obviously I had to be a part of bringing something yummy...but what to bring?

I thought I was completely cookied out. I mean how many more different cookies could I make this season?! I've never made so many cookies during the holidays before in my life! I thought if I saw one more cookie I was going to lose it...but then we went to the movies the other day and I got raisinets and Catching Fire was so good I forgot about them and didn't eat many. I'm so not big on wasting when it comes to buying something that should cost a dollar but ended up costing me $5, so I brought the box home with me. It took all of five minutes for me to decide I wanted to make Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip cookies with them for Christmas at Grandpa's.

And so I did. They were so moist and chewy in the middle and still crunchy on the edges. A perfect combination. I thought I had a lot of raisinets left in that little box, but when I measured it out it was a little over a 1/4 cup. I wanted a whole cup so I used actual raisins and chocolate chips to fill it up. Here's what you do:

First combine your dry ingredients and set aside. Mix the butter and sugar in the mixer, then add the rest in except the chocolate chips and raisins, or raisinets. You'll want to mix those in with a wooden spoon. Then plop down the dough in about tablespoon size balls onto your sheet.

This recipe made about 3 1/2 dozen for me. It was great to be able to bring a popular old recipe with a twist to Christmas.

2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup Raisinets or 1/2 cup raisins 1/2 cup chocolate chips of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine in a bowl the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a mixer combine the butter and sugar until blended together. Add in the vanilla and egg until well combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until everything is mixed together. 
Using a wooden spoon stir in the raisinets or raisin/chocolate mix. Once they're completely incorporated throughout the dough drop tablespoon size balls onto a baking sheet.
Cook for 10-12 minutes. My first two batches cooked for 12 min, the last two for 10. Remove and let cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack. Pour a tall glass of milk and enjoy!

Did you get everything you hoped for and more so far this holiday season? I'll be sharing with you a fun New Years punch to help keep the excitement of the holiday season going soon. See you then.

Recipe adapted from here

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Make sure to take time and remember the true meaning of Christmas and to treasure all the blessings you've been given. Merry Christmas to you and all the ones you love!

Sincerely, Elie and Hubby :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites Stuffed with Caramel

It's here! It's here! Christmas is here!! The most wonderful time of the year is upon us!! We have Christmas tonight with my family, Christmas tomorrow night at Hub's Grandpa's house, Christmas on Christmas with my sister and Christmas at home, followed finally by Christmas with my in-laws next weekend. While dividing up the presents today into which pile goes where, I realized I have a lot of piles. It quickly reminded me how blessed we are and to remember to be truly thankful not just this time of year, but everyday.

What comes after Christmas?!?! Returns New Years!! Yay for New Years parties! This year we're heading up north to see some of my favorite people/best friends in the world! Since I don't have to host this year, my schedule is a tad more open. Score! So to fill my time I decided to come up with a perfect treat to bring to my girlfriend's New Year's Eve party:

Trust me when I say these things are amazing! I just hope my friend's party guests love them as much as I do. Check it out, it's a pajama New Years party! Meaning we get to sit around in our sweats all night long and stuff our faces with champagne and these! My best friend is actually my roommate from college. We met in the first month of our freshman year and have been as thick as thieves ever since. We only live about two hours from each other and talk and text and facetime regularly. One of the things that makes this lady so amazing, besides her love for animals, her huge giving heart and her insanely addictive laugh, is every time we see each other it's as if no time has passed at all. I love her so much and can't wait to ring in the new year with her! Love you Barton!
So the process to make these is very easy! Only problem I have is I only have one mini muffin pan so to make a lot is a little time consuming. Other than that, these are a no-bake delight! First thing to do is melt some butter and mix it in with not-so-finely chopped pretzels and put some in the bottom of the tray to create a "crust".
Then mix together peanut butter, a couple kinds of sugar, some vanilla and a little bit more butter together and roll the dough into balls. Then place the peanut butter balls on top of the pretzels and make a hole in the middle with your finger.
Pour in some caramel:
And top with melted chocolate. Tap the tray on the table a few times to get out all the air bubbles.
Pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes and Ta-Da! Awesomeness!
Pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
2 T butter, melted
1/2 Cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 Cup powdered sugar
1/3 Cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
1 Cup milk chocolate chips
Caramel sauce

Break the pretzels apart in a small bag until each one is about a 1/2 inch in size. There's no right or wrong way to do this part, I just found bigger pieces were easier to work with. Here's what mine looked like:
Once they are broken up, mix them with the melted butter and add to the bottom of the pan. Mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, butter and vanilla together in a bowl (I used a small bowl and a big spoon). Roll the "dough" into small balls that fit into the muffin tin. Poke a small hole in the middle and fill with caramel sauce.

Push the sides of the peanut butter bowl up and slightly away from the edge of the pan. This will help the chocolate fall down the sides a bit. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second increments until the chocolate is easy to pour. Add to the top of the peanut butter and place the tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until completely hardened. Run a knife along the side of the cup to loosen the chocolate. They should come up easily. Hope you enjoy!

Merry Christmas to you all! I will see you again later this week!
*I ended up not bringing these to the party, but some other great snacks instead.
Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to the dedicated house, between naps on the porch, amaze me monday, rain on a tin roof, carrie this house, huckleberry love, craft o maniac, a pinch of joy, serenity now, 504 main, simple living and eating, the jenny evolution, miz helens country cottage, fireflies and jellybeans, coastal charm, hope studios, the winthrop chronicles, naptime creations, future expat, cedar hill farmhouse

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just like Olive Garden Bread Sticks

It's that time of year where all I want is a hot cup of cocoa, a big comfy blanket and a bowl of soup with some soft, warm bread. Since I already had the soup, I decided to make some bread.
I'm always a little nervous when it comes to recipes that require yeast. I have a digital food thermometer on my Christmas list, but until then it's hard to gauge how hot 110-115 degrees is when it comes to the water. See yeast can be very temperamental. If the water you add to the yeast and sugar is too hot you'll "kill" the yeast and it won't rise because it can't grow because again you "killed" it. Make sense? I've made batches of soft pretzels that are as chewy as a piece of gum (not really but you know what I mean :) because my water was too hot. I still consider myself a novice cook which means my kitchen is still growing. If Santa brings me what I'm hoping to get, I see a lot more bread recipes in my future!

So when I came across a recipe for bread sticks that were just like the amazing ones I get at Olive Garden with a big fat side of Alfredo sauce I knew I had to try them! There aren't a ton of ingredients, but there are several steps...totally worth it! These were amazing!

First you want to whisk the sugar, yeast and warm water in your mixer bowl until everything is well combined. Wait about 10-15 min or until the top is foamy-like. Add in half the flour, more sugar, salt and vegetable oil and mix it all together with the paddle. Once combined, switch to the hook and knead until the dough easily pulls away from the dough. If you don't already have a KitchenAid you can get one at Amazon from the link on the right. Place the dough ball into a buttered bowl and cover in plastic wrap until it's doubled in size. I waited an hour and 45 minutes.
Punch dough down and divide into 12 even parts. Roll out and let rise another hour.
Bake then rub over with butter and top with garlic salt. These went fast with my leftover Potato Bacon soup the other night.
1 cup and 2 Tbsp warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp granulated sugar, divided

3 cups all-purpose flour (divided in half) (plus some more for rolling out the breadsticks)
1 Tbsp and 2 1/2 tsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vegetable oil 
Butter for topping
Garlic salt to sprinkle on top

Combine together the warm water, yeast and sugar with a whisk in your mixer bowl. Let it sit 10-15 min. You'll notice a foamy layer on the surface. Add in the flour, more sugar, salt and oil and stir using the paddle attachment until everything is fully combined. Add in the remaining flour and switch to the hook setting. Once the dough is coming away from the sides of the mxer bowl, move the dough to a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a room temperature area for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until it's doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and start grabbing out chunks of it, about 2oz worth. My recipe made 14 sticks. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, while keeping the rest of the dough covered in the bowl. Roll out to your desired length and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and let them rise an additional hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 11 minutes. Then broil them for an additional minute. As soon as they're out of the oven, run a butter stick across them. Top with the garlic salt and devour enjoy! These did not last long!

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to 504 main, simple living and eating, the jenny evolution, coastal charm, the winthrop chronicles, cedar hill farmhouse, mad in crafts, dwellings-the heart of your home, rain on a tin roof, by stephanie lynn, diy hshp, craft o maniac, a pinch of joy, carrie this home, flamingo toes, made from pinterest, tatertots and jello

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chewy Molasses Cookies

It's that time of year! The time where women are happily sitting at home while their husband's run around at the last minute to buy their least that's how my husband does it :) Around December 24th he comes running in the door frantically telling me to go upstairs until it's "safe" to come down. Then I giggle as I listen to him from the upstairs while he grunts and curses at the wrapping paper and tape because none of it is working for him. Finally he hollers "Coast is clear!" and I walk down to see all my gifts have ended up in bags. It's the thought that counts right?!?!

Recently I tried my first recipe with molasses and it was a huge success! Since my gingerbread men were so delicious, I decided to try another sweet Christmas treat using more of the gooey good stuff. This time I went with a good ol' fashion Chewy Molasses Cookie!
This recipe has a ton of ingredients, so I opted not to take an "ingredients" picture because it looked kind of silly. I decided to add on some royal icing to these, mostly because I've been wanting to try it and thought these were good cookies to try it out on. To bake these you'll want to plop big spoonfuls of the dough onto parchment paper. I didn't even form mine, just plopped and baked!
Some cookies received the cute squiggle lines, while others got more of a Christmas touch.

 The snowman is my favorite!
It's been two days since I made them and they are still so moist and chewy. They go down great with a tall glass of milk!

For cookies:
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup sour cream
1/2 Cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 Cup shortening
1/2 Cup molasses
1 egg
3 Cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

For icing:
1 Cup powdered sugar
1 egg white
1/4 tsp cream of tartar or lemon juice (whichever you have on hand...tartar makes it shinier)

Directions for cookies:

Combine together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In your mixer combine the sugar, sour cream, butter, shortening, molasses and egg on medium speed until everything is mixed together.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Let cool before adding the icing.

Directions for icing:
Combine all ingredients in the electric mixer and whip for about 5-7 minutes or until the dough creates little peaks. What I mean is if you lift some of the icing up, the remainder in the bowl will stand up on it's own. Just take your finger and pull some up. If there's a "mountain" peak left behind, it's ready. Spread on a cookie and enjoy!

Has anyone tried the royal icing? It's so cool that it's so easy to work with and then hardens up. Love it!

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to future expat, smiling sally, made from pinterest, serenity now, the child at heart, the country cook, 504 main, the pin junkie, simple living eating, the jenny evolution, wait til your father gets home, kitchen fun with my 3 sons, the chicken chick

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas around here!

Can you believe that one week from today there will be children all over the world screaming and ripping paper and laughing and crying and all the emotions a child can have?! This is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Most days I am finding myself sitting on the couch and staring at the tree eating my mini wheats looking at our beautiful tree twinkle away.

It's so fluffy! There's so many memories that come up this time of year, especially when I look at our tree and see all the ornaments that hold so much meaning to us.
(Top Left) A beautiful hand-made ornament my mom-in-law brought back from El Salvador last year. (top right) A handkerchief of my Grandfathers who passed away 10 years ago. I still think about him and Grandma every day of my life. (bottom left) A reindeer ornament I bought with my roommates the first year we had a tree in college. It's from 2005. (bottom right) The ornament Hubby and I picked out the first year we moved into our home. Reindeer ornaments are our "thing". Every year we buy a new ornament that has a reindeer theme; our tree is covered in deer!
 My sister bought us this one last year for our first ornament as a married couple. I love it so much.
 This little San Francisco train has been MY ornament as long as I can remember. I don't even remember where it came from or if it was even for me in the first place. But it was always my favorite growing up and when I moved to college, Dad let me take it. It used to play the sweetest song, but has long since stopped. I don't know why I love it so much, but I can't remember a time in my life I didn't have it, so it will stay with me forever.

Moving on to other parts of our home:
This is our cute and simple nativity scene also from El Salvador. I love the little star at the top! This was handmade too.
Our Advent Calendar is actually an Ark. As a kid, Hubby had a Noah's Ark themed room so this piece is especially important to him. The little characters are so adorable.

One thing that makes my Hubby's heart a little bigger and his smile a little wider is our Christmas town. He always had it growing up and loves that it's now in our home:
It has a bakery, a school, two churches, a bank, a park and a barber shop. It's just so precious! No Christmas Town is complete without Santa!
Our stockings are hung on the wall with care. We don't have a fireplace :)
A few years ago I made our own Christmas countdown and we still use it. I get so excited to see what each day will say. And Hubby is such a sport; he always participates with me in doing whatever it says.

 We have literally decked our halls:
Besides the family and love and joy of giving and food, my favorite part of Christmas is the tree...or trees in our house. Here's some of the beautiful green ladies (not sure why my trees are ladies but just go with it) in our house!

 This tree is our "pretty" tree. All the ornaments match, all the lights are the same, and it is just beautiful at night. The ornaments really make the tree. Simple and sparkly.

This little one hangs out in our bathroom. It's not a very big tree, but it makes me smile. So there's a look at our home this time of year. I left out half of our decorations because I didn't want to overwhelm you :) Hope your home is full of red and green and warm lights and countdowns and cookies and health and happiness this time of year. Happy Holidays!
Come back soon for another holiday treat!

Thanks for stopping by!