Friday, December 18, 2009

Serena's Cookie Exchange many to choose from!

Peppermint-White Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookies

Razzmatazz Bars

Every year it seems I make massive amounts of cookies. This year I had a list of seven, but the hours went too fast yesterday (yes, I'm crazy, I do them all in one day) and only made five different kinds.These included, Razzmatazz Bars, Peppermint-White Chocolate Covered Oreos, Russian Teacakes, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and Apricot Jam Thumbprints. 

While visiting Serena's blog, The Farm Chicks , I saw she is hosting a  cookie exchange. I thought this would be so fun to take part in. I have been browsing through some of the other blogger's recipes and they all sound so good!!

It was a tough decision for me as what cookie to place in the cookie exchange, but I narrowed it down to two. I hope that is okay because they are both so good and I think everyone should make them! And the winners are....Peppermint-White Chocolate Covered Oreos and
Razzmatazz Bars (as if you couldn't tell from the images above)!

Here are the recipes:

Peppermint-White Chocolate Covered Oreos
(I didn't use a recipe for this, so the amounts will most likely vary for you)

1 12 oz. Bag White Chocolate Chips ( I used 1 1/2 bags to finish the whole package of oreos)
1/2 tsp. Peppermint extract (this is a must)
1 Package of Oreo Cookies
Crushed Candy Canes of peppermints

Place white chocolate chips and peppermint extract in a double boiler and melt slowly. When the Chocolate starts to get good and "melty", take of the heat and stir until completely melted. Place the bowl of chocolate back on the warm water, but make sure the burner is off. Dip the Oreos in the white chocolate and with a fork scoop up the oreo from the bottom. Tap the fork on the side of the bowl to let the excess chocolate drip off. Place on wax or parchment paper and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Do this until you have your desired amount of oreos. If you run out of chocolate, but have more oreos, you will have to use a new bowl for melting or clean the one you were using. 

Razzmatazz Bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and sugar 9-inch-square baking pan.

Melt butter in medium, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH power for 1 minute; stir. Add 1 cup morsels; let stand. Do not stir.

Beat eggs in large mixer bowl until foamy. Add sugar; beat until light lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in morsel-butter mixture. Add flour, salt and almond extract; mix at low speed until combined. Spread 2/3 of batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Remove from oven to wire rack.

Heat jam in small, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 30 seconds; stir. Spread jam over warm crust. Stir remaining morsels into remaining batter. Drop spoonfuls of batter over jam. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

  • (This is not my picture, but I forgot to take one of mine. 
  • It is pretty close, but my frosting was a lighter color)

  • I made these incredible Chocolate Cupcakes (with chocolate peppermint frosting) yesterday for one of my clients that turned 18. I was short on time so had to use a recipe that included ingredients I already had on hand. I'm glad I went to the Hershey's website and found this recipe. It was so moist and delicious! I saved two cupcakes in the refrigerator for Joe and I to eat. I swear this always makes cakes seem more moist. I did not use their frosting recipe, but I will tell you how I made mine.

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. 

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 

Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes. 

Chocolate-Peppermint Frosting
1/2 stick of butter
2 C of confectioner's sugar ( just used all I had left, but I think it was about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 tsp peppermint extract (depending how strong you want the peppermint)
half n half (you will have to decided when it is the right consistency, about 1/3 cup)
1/4 C to 1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips (I ran out of cocoa powder, but I think this worked well)
1/4 cup heavy cream

I apologize for not having exact measurements. I was choosing from the bare minimum ingredients I had in my home. I just dumped in the rest of everything I had. If it seems he frosting it too runny, add confectioners sugar. If too thick, add some half n half.

Using a mixer, blend softened butter, sugar, vanilla, peppermint, and half n half. In a microwave safe bowl, add chocolate chips and heavy cream. Cook on high until cream is hot and chocolate is starting to melt. Take out and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add this to the rest of the ingredients and blend until fully incorporated. Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled and top with crushed peppermint candy canes. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I know it's not Christmas quite yet, but it is just around the corner...

I received this image in a Christmas email that my Aunt sent me and I thought this is exactly what a perfect Christmas Eve or Christmas Day would look like. It looks so warm and cozy. I can just imagine what would be going on in these homes. Hopefully lots of laughter, love, appreciation, and full bellies. Don't forget to think about the true meaning of CHRISTmas! Remember who gives us the ability to have family, friends, and gifts to give and receive! And also, if you know someone in need, it is much better to give than receive. So find someone that is less fortunate and do something to make their holiday season brighter. With that said, I hope everyone has a Very Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Potluck

Italian Crescent Strudel

Veggie Cream Cheese Pizza 

Buffalo Balls

The Spread

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel

This past weekend, I hosted a Christmas Potluck. It was a success! My friends are such good cooks. As always, there was too much food for our own good. The dishes I made included, oven roasted pulled pork (recipe below), O'Briens hash browns, and a Buche de Noel (Yule log). Joe made a crescent roll strudel with ham, pepperoni, salami, roasted peppers, and swiss. Kelly and Chad brought Buffalo Balls. They are turkey meatballs cooked in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese and celery. Kirsten and Julien brought Pillsbury veggie-cream cheese pizza, and crab and cream cheese in crescents. Heidi made brownies and Sam brought beverages. YUMMM! As you can probably tell, the weight watchers got put on pause for that day! It was spectacular. Potlucks are my favorite because I don't have any family around and I love to have a house full of friends. Plus, it gives me an excuse to cook. 

Oven Roasted Pulled Pork
(adapted from Emeril and Tyler Florence)

Picnic pork shoulder roast (trimmed of fat, but leave the large piece of skin on)
Dry rub (recipe below)
Vinegar Mop Sauce(recipe below)
Garlic cloves, smashed
BBQ Sauce ( I used Dinosaur BBQ sauce)

Dry Rub
3 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Dry Mustard
1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2-3 Tbsp Salt
Mix all ingredients together

Vinegar Mop Sauce
1 C White Vinegar
1 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Salt
Combine ingredients and whisk well. Refrigerate and let set for a while for the flavors to blend. 

Serve with (optional):
Chopped Pickles

Preheat oven to 225. Rub dry spice blend all over the pork roast and let set for at least an hour to overnight (the longer, the deeper the flavor).  Place Garlic cloves in roasting pan and set the roast on the garlic. Place in the oven. Every hour baste the mop sauce on the roast. I hope you don't mind the smell of vinegar because it will be very strong in your home, but totally worth it.  Cooking time will depend on how many pounds your roast is. Mine was about 11 pounds and took about 11-12 hours. The longer you cook it, the more tender it will be. About 4 or 5 hours into cooking, I covered the roast in foil so it wouldn't dry out. 

I made the mistake of not starting my roast until 4 pm on Saturday. I had to set my alarm for 3 am Sunday morning to take it out of the oven. I actually didn't take it out of the oven until 6:30am, but I did turn the oven off at 3 am. I left the roast covered in foil, cracked the oven, and and left it there. I was willing to get up to turn the oven off, but not pull the pork. I waited until about 6:30 am. Believe me, the pork will be fine left in the oven. It was still very hot in the middle and who knows, it may have even made it more tender. Anyway it was delicious, and I may never do it in the crockpot again! I really recommend trying it this way!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Loving this house!

This house is from the set of the movie, The Holiday, with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. I want to live here or at least stay for an extended visit! I love the beams, the stone around the fire place, the library, and the couch covered in red ticking material! How cozy is this??

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where can I purchase these? Please help!

Not too long ago, I purchased a tin house similar to the ones shown here. I have been seeing them on many blogs and would like to purchase more. They look so nice when they are displayed together. The majority of blogs, which include this picture, are in a different language. So my question is, Does anyone know where I can find more of these tin houses?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Christmas Decor

This Christmas season I really wanted to make my home cozy and full of Christmas decor. I am sharing some pictures with you, but unfortunately pictures never do anything justice. I tried to make as many decorations as I could myself. To name a few, I bought silver metallic spray paint and painted walnuts,  pinecones, and oak leaves. I filled apothecary jars with the walnuts, used the pinecones in various places, and scattered the leaves on an end table. I bought whole cloves to decorate oranges in different patterns. This is a very easy ornament and smells really yummy too. I made burlap sacks to place the plastic plant holder of a mini tree and poinsettia. This just makes things a little more rustic looking. I used left over pine sprigs to fill little jars and added candy cane for a pop of color. I also used candy canes and peppermint sticks to fill my other apothecary jars. These jars are my new favorite accessory because they can be filled with various different items according to the season. I purchased red and white checked ribbon and tied it around various items. And in a previous post, I mentioned cranberry and dried orange strands that are easy and budget friendly. And last but not least, outdoors on my porch, I filled buckets with Pine trimmings, silver painted twigs, and pine cones.

This was definitely the most fun I have had decorating my home for Christmas yet. I look forward to relaxing at home and enjoying the holidays. I am fully in the Christmas Spirit and hope everyone else is too!!

Friday, December 4, 2009


December 2008

December 2008 

Summer 2009

I loved his eyes

Last picture I took of Eli
Thanksgiving 2009

Eli's Grave
I received a not so fun phone call from my mom today. She called to tell me Eli was put to sleep today. He was diagnosed with diabetes over the summer, and as you can see buy the pictures, he progressively was losing weight. Mom took him to the vet with intentions of just having him checked out, but decided that it was his time. The vet did not argue and agreed it was time as well. 

I got Eli in about 4th grade. He was the first cat that I called "mine." I almost lost my two best friends because I got in trouble that summer and either had to be grounded from my friends for a month or take Eli back to his previous owner. Well, as you can see, I chose Eli. I think I made the right choice, because I still have my best friends and got to keep Eli. 

Not too long after, over the winter, I had my tonsils out. Eli made a secret visit to the hospital to see me. My sister and her boyfriend at the time, snuck little tiny Eli in one of their coats. Too this day, I cant believe they got away with that. But it definitely brightened up a sick little girl's day. 

Eli traveled back and forth with me to Grandma and Grandpa's every other weekend. He would get sick in the car almost every ride. But without fail, Grandpa (who was undergoing Chemo and would get extremely nautious when Eli would get sick in the car) and Grandma would welcome him to their house. My Grandparents also had many cats of her own. We had kitty birthday parties with kitty birthday hats and wet cat food cakes with candles in them. It was a very big event.

Over the years I became busier and busier, and eventually moved out to go off to college. No matter how long I was away from home, Eli loved when I was home. I know this because he would come upstairs and lay with me. He knew I was a sucker for his cuddles and purring and would pet him for hours. If you stopped petting him, he would inch his paw little by little until it was on your hand hinting that he would like you to continue. 

Eli loved to be outside, cuddle, wait for me to get home from school, and be pet for hours. He was even my Mom's personal alarm clock. Without fail Eli would wake mom up in the morning. As the years went by, it became earlier and earlier. This last week I was home, he would wake her at 4:15 am. Toby, my mom's dog, thought Eli was his best friend. He would get running starts to jump on Eli's back. He would wait at the window and cry if Eli was locked out of the house and waiting to get back in. He was the most easy going, gentle, sweetest boy I  ever knew. I will miss him very very much. Home will not be the same without him. I really hope kitties go to heaven. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!!!

Country Home

Country Home

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Country Living

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