Monday, December 31, 2012

december cookie: peanut butter nutella cookie

peanut butter + nutella are like the best combination ever. I was skeptical about this recipe, because I've baked with nutella before & then felt like it was a waste of the precious condiment. it tasted better just sitting on the couch eating it out of the jar with a spoon (err, not that I've ever done that... recently). but these cookies are definitely an exception. they were very easy to make & turned out perfectly. you can find the recipe here.

november cookie: lemon snowdrop cookies

our neighbor brought us the most beautiful meyer lemons from her tree in november. not sure what to do with all of them, I juiced some & then decided to make some lemon cookies with the rest. bad idea. this recipe looked great & I'm really not sure what I did wrong, but these cookies totally sucked. they finally got crispy around the outsides but were still too wet on the inside. in reading the comments on the blog, they turned out fine for other people, so don't let me hinder you from attempting them. maybe I should dedicate 2013 to re-making all the recipes that I screwed up along the way. 

october cookie: flourless rocky road chocolate chip cookies

we had a cool day in october so I was looking for a meringue-like cookie that would go well with hot chocolate. I adapted this recipe slightly from here & added marshmallows, which was a great addition. 

flourless rocky road chocolate chip cookies
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (dutch if you have it)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows 
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or heck, just dump the whole bag in if you're feeling crazy)
  1. preheat oven to 350.
  2. in a large bowl, mix together powdered sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt. add in vanilla. whisk in egg whites until just moistened. add in marshmallows & chocolate chips. pop in the fridge for about 20 minute so that the dough becomes cool (this will keep them from spreading when they bake). 
  3. spoon batter onto cookie sheets in small mounds.
  4. bake for 12 minutes or until tops are glossy and lightly cracked.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

goat cheese & pistachio filled dates

I feel like I'm always looking for easy appetizers to take to get togethers, especially around the holidays. I want something easy to make, that I can assemble ahead of time, without a lot of ingredients that still tastes really delicious. these goat cheese filled dates fulfill all my requirements. I had these dates at my friend heather's baby shower & the hostess was kind enough to give me the recipe. they are so delicious I could sit down & eat the entire plate. I promise, your guests will love them! 

goat cheese & pistachio filled dates

4 oz soft goat cheese (I used the kind with honey!)
3 tbsp shelled, salted pistachios, lightly toasted & chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
fresh ground pepper
10 medjool dates, pitted & halved lengthwise

in a small bowl, combine cheese, 2 tbsp pistachios & 1 tbsp chives until smooth. season with a little pepper. spoon cheese mixture into each date half to cover. garnish dates with remaining pistachios & more chives. cover in the refrigerator until ready to serve (I usually pull them out about 15 minutes before my guests arrive so they aren't too cold). 

Friday, December 28, 2012

christmas morning

here are a few photos from our christmas morning, if you'd like to see. my mom totally outdid herself like she does every year, making an amazing breakfast, lunch & dinner (not to mention the big christmas eve dinner she made the night before)! I don't know how she does it- we are certainly a spoiled bunch. 

 {santa came!}
 {my mom got robert the donna hay cookbook & it's beautiful}
 {dad's getting hip with his non-pleated pants}
 {grammie made us these sweet christmas angels using some lace from our mom's wedding dress}
 {mom's getting high tech with her new kindle fire}
 {good thing we're over the "everything my parent's do embarrass me" stage}

Thursday, December 27, 2012

happy birthday jesus cake

every christmas eve I make a happy birthday jesus cake. this year I decided to make a salted caramel cappuccino cheesecake. it got rave reviews & wasn't difficult to make, so I would definitely recommend trying it out. I used this recipe for the cake, but instead of using canned caramel topping (this is a sin in the baking world, by the way), I used this salted caramel recipe. and there was enough caramel sauce leftover to put a dollop on everyone's plate, which made it even better! I think jesus would approve.

christmas eve

we had a really nice christmas eve with my family on monday. as has been the tradition for the past few years, we go to a different church for the christmas eve service (the church we are members of does a later service which conflicts with dinner time). it's always fun visiting a new place & seeing how different denominations worship & celebrate the birth of jesus (this year will live down in history as my fave). we also had family over for dinner where my mom made an amazing meal & we played some pretty funny games. there was lots of laughter, full bellies & feelings of gratitude for all that we have been blessed with. 

 {poor mom was slaving away in the kitchen}

Sunday, December 23, 2012

peonies in december

did anyone else know that peonies grew in december?? I was shocked when I saw them in whole foods this week. I mean, one of the main reasons I got married in the month of may was so that I could a carry a bouquet full of peonies (ok, not really the main reason, but it was a big plus). I was so delighted to see them & snatched up a handful for the house ($10 for five!). they go perfectly with my non red & green christmas colors around the house this year. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

black + gold wrapping

one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is wrapping gifts. I love having a theme (see 2011 theme & 2010 theme) & this year I decided to go with black & gold. I found the gold wrapping paper at target on clearance last year after christmas. I decorated the packages with gold tassels I made from a plastic tablecloth (like I did here), some pom poms (like I made in this post) & then cut out feathers as the gift tags (using this template). this sounds ridiculous & very unlike me, but I think I actually enjoy giving gifts even more than opening them. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

costa rica

we planned a somewhat last minute vacation with our friends because we found some inexpensive tickets to costa rica. robert then found this amazing house & somehow talked the guy into giving renting it to us for the week for a steal. so while it may look an extremely luxurious vacation, we did it on a budget. we did some grocery shopping & made most of our meals at home. and we did do a few excursions, but to be honest, we really didn't want to leave our casa. it was located in the city of dominical & was way up in the clouds. we had the most amazing view of both the rainforest & the ocean. it was paradise (and it's for sale! it can be yours for a mere $1.4 million. yea.). 

{horseback riding to the nauyaca waterfall}
{bob's perfect swan dive}


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