2015 New Years Resolutions


I'm not very big on making new years resolutions because like most people, I typically don't end up following them. However, I've decided that I'm going to share my plans for the new year here in hopes that you'll want to hold me accountable.

Last spring I participated in a Whole30 and lost a decent amount of weight. Being busy at work and general laziness led me to not keep up that lifestyle and to gain back most of the weight I have lost.

I used to like clothes shopping and now I hate it. When you're only 5'1 and you gain weight there isn't a lot of places for it to go. However, I've found somewhere for it to go. AWAY!

My plans for this year are to lose up to 30 pounds by June 11th. Why not June 1st? Because I want to give myself exactly 6 months. Let me explain.

I had initially planned to start a Whole30 on January 1 with a ton of other people until I realized that I'd be going out on January 10th for my friends birthday. In most cases I could easily go out to dinner and not drink any alcohol and make good food choices. However, this is the year that we all turn 30. And if there is anything that I think we all deserve, it is a bit of indulgence on the beginning of our third decades.

Here is the schedule I am planning to follow:

January 1 - January 9: mainly Paleo lifestyle
January 10th: day of indulgences

January 11 - February 11: Whole30

February 12 - 20th: The Whole30 follow up where you slowly add things back into your diet to see how they affect you. Regardless of the schedule Whole30 suggests you follow to add things back in, alcohol will return to my diet on the 17th as it is another friends 30th birthday.

February 21 - 28th: We're going to Universal Studios for 3 days and to visit family in Florida for another 4 days. My only goal for this week is not to gain more than I've lost.

March 1 - March 30: Whole30 #2

April: Follow up of adding things back into diet. Alcohol and carbs will return on Easter (April 5th) and my birthday (April 10th). The rest of the month will consist of Paleo foods.

May: Full Paleo lifestyle with alcohol on Tom's birthday (May 8th) and maybe either alcohol or carbs for any Memorial Day celebrations we attend

June 1 - June 11: Paleo, with a final weigh in on that morning.

If you would like to join me on either Whole30 adventure, please read the post I wrote entitled Preparing for a Whole30. There is a bit of work to it, but from previous experience, I can guarantee you results.

Although I am not starting the Whole30 tomorrow, I will share my 30 day meal plan with you tomorrow in case you'd like to see it for reference. And remember, if you'd like to check in with me (I'm awesome at talking people out of things they need, seriously!), connect with me on Facebook or Twitter!

Other goals for 2015 are as follows:
* put a decent amount of money into savings
* do better at work
* have an amazing time at Universal Studios
* Continue writing fanfiction - find me on fanfiction.net and Tumblr
* Update Recipe Index on a weekly basis
* Pin my recipes to Pinterest on a weekly basis 
* Do more promotional blog work (like I did with Wholly Guacamole, Raise.com, Man Crates and Chobani)

I can't believe it, but the Recipe Index got away from me for over a years worth of recipes and was extremely time consuming to update! Are you following me on Pinterest? I'll follow you back (this goes for Facebook and Twitter as well) although possibly not immediately because I'm terrible at actually looking at notifications and emails!

What goals do you have?

Most Popular Recipes of 2014


I can't believe how many of these posts I've done. I started blogging way back in 2009 which feels like a lifetime ago. The food blogging world has changed quite a bit since then and it's been really interesting to watch it grow and change, to see which bloggers become 'famous', which recipes are deemed amazing, how social media plays into blogging... It's really just incredible to watch and be a part of. 

Look at you all keeping with new years resolutions and liking the skinny recipe in January! Good job! I am not a huge fan of lasagna, but I absolutely loved this recipe. I wish I wasn't the only one in the house who did. I should figure out how to make this using zucchini instead of lasagna noodles and then I'll still be able to enjoy it! 
Scallops have quickly become one of my favorite seafood varieties. I hate how difficult it is to get good ones here, but I found out that my aunt and uncle in Delaware have made friends with the seafood distributor for a restaurant there and order scallops by the pound from him. I am totally getting in on this for next summer! 

In my world you can never go wrong with a cheese steak, especially in dip form!

The title says it all, what more could you possibly need? 
Honorable Mention: Egg's Nest Rice Krispie Treats

I still can't get over how adorable these are. I mean really, wouldn't you want something so cute on your Easter dinner table? 

I wasn't expecting this recipe to be as popular as it was considering practically every healthy blogger out there has a zoodle (zucchini noodle) recipe on this blog, but I totally appreciate it. I wish I could convince Tom to eat these because then I could finally throw out all of the pasta in the pantry. 

I won't lie, I was hoping it would be this recipe. My friend had a Despicable Me themed party for her daughter and these were so much fun to make. And they're so cute. Who is going to see the minion movie when it comes out this summer? We are! 


Such a simple salad packs such great flavors and is so easy to make. You really can't ask for much more than that in side dish. 
Note: while this was the most popular recipe, the most popular post for July was actually my review of Ouri's Fruit Juice. 

I can't tell you how much it means to me that people liked this recipe as much as I did. I've even seen quite a bit of recipes out there now from famous bloggers and food websites suggesting to put bacon on s'mores. I'm sure I'm not the reason for it, but even if I had a minuscule part in starting a new trend, I think that's the coolest thing ever. 

There was a tie this month!
There were actually a lot of recipes this month with page views very close in numbers. Apparently September was a really good month for me. :) I loved both of these recipes and have made them a few times since then. And hey, the corn fritters even got Tom to eat them as is, with a fresh tomato slice. 

It makes me really happy that a Paleo recipe was the most popular for this month. And it surely doesn't hurt that this is a super easy dish with very minimal prep work that results in outstanding flavors! 

Working with the nice people at Wholly Guacamole was totally the highlight of my blogging year. I never expected to be contacted by a large company and asked to do not one, but two recipes with them! 

This was such a fun recipe to make. I had a great time going through recipes where I could substitute in Greek Yogurt for a healthier variety. I had a few ideas, but I really couldn't pass up a holiday classic like eggnog! 

I hope you can find a new recipe to enjoy from this list, and as always thank you again and again to my readers, new and old, who make posts like this possible. I don't know if I've ever properly thanked you before and if not, I'm sorry, but all of this really is because of you and I am more than grateful! 

Here's to a wonderful 2015 with hopefully more and more very popular recipes! 

Preparing for a Whole30


This January I'm going to participate in another Whole30. Dare to join me? I really think you should because I can almost guarantee you that after 30 days of this lifestyle, you're going to feel better. Physically and mentally. And you might even look better too.

No, I'm not just talking about losing weight, although if that is enough of a motivator for you, go for it! But I meant your skin. You drink a lot of water on a Whole 30 and one thing I definitely noticed was how much clearer and brighter my skin looked.

Now the reason why I'm sharing this post with you today and not on January 1 is for two reasons. One because you need to prepare and two, because I am not starting it on January first. (I'll explain why on new years eve.)

Don't let the idea of preparing for a new lifestyle discourage you. It really isn't that difficult at all. There are just a few simple (but possibly time consuming) things you'll want to accomplish first.

Read: It Starts with Food 
Do you have a Kindle? Did you get an Amazon gift card for the Christmas? The Kindle version of this book is only $9.99. If you really don't want to read the book, you can find just as much information on their website, Whole30. Make sure to read the rules, print out the shopping lists and maybe even sign up for their emails. Accountability, even in email form helps.

Meal Planning
I won't lie to you. A Whole30 takes work. To give yourself your best chance, you really should take the time to meal plan in advance. Now, how far in advance you want to plan is entirely up to you. I tend to plan out the entire month but that might be too much for some people. As long as you have a plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner for at least one week at a time and the knowledge that you'll need to do this weekly, you'll be just fine. Now there are a lot of great blogs out there with tons of Paleo and Whole30 friendly recipes. I am huge fan of the website, stalkerville.net which allows you to search for recipes based off your dietary restrictions and then to narrow down by breakfast, lunch, etc.

Removing Temptation
If you don't have it, you won't eat it. Clean out the pantry and fridge of any items you think could cause you to stray from the Whole30 lifestyle. This includes alcohol, candies, snacks, pasta, etc.

Find Friends 
As I mentioned above, accountability is key. Do you have a spouse, friend, coworker or family member that might want to join you on this journey? Invite them along! Check in with each other daily or just when you need someone to talk you down from that candy bar laden ledge.

For internet friends, start following PrimalPalate, Whole30Recipes and PaleoCupboard on Instagram.

Lifestyle Changes
I will be 100% honest with you, it is not easy to eat meals out when you are participating in a Whole30. If this is not a good month for you, chose a month where you know you can prepare the bulk of your meals at home. I'll be doing another one of these in March if you want to join me then. If you know you'll need to pick up dinner on the way home or you have a business lunch one day, look at the menu for the location ahead of time. Knowing what you'll have in advance helps you make better decisions.

You Are Only Human
By no means am I giving you an excuse to cheat. I am simply telling you that we are all human and we all slip up sometimes. However, if this happens to you, you need not fret over it. Accept defeat for that moment and move on. Do not think that you need to give up entirely or wait until the next week to try again. That's how you'll stop completely. Believe me, I know. Immediately return to your previous Whole30 eating habits and continue on as nothing happened.

So who is in? Leave me a comment and let me know? Or ask me any questions you might have. I'll try my best to answer them.

Even though I am not starting the Whole30 on January 1, I have no problems with being morale support for others. Contact me on Facebook or Twitter!

Merry Christmas 2014


Merry Christmas! 

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday today. Here are some Christmas pictures I've taken. 

It's fun to add in presents and Santa's friends with the help of PicMonkey!

Our ever-growing Grinch village. Almost time for a bigger table!

Gidget, the cranky Christmas cat, wishes you a Merry Christmas!
(Actually, she probably wants to pee on your tree skirt because she's an asshole like that)

I love participating in card swaps because then we can decorate the entire door. Plus it's like the only time during the year where we get more fun mail than bills and junk. 

Itty wishes you a Happy Holiday, but only if you tell her how pretty and/or fluffy she is first.

Merry Christmas! 

Cranberry Apple Galette


If you are in need of a last minute dessert to make for your Christmas celebration, you've come to the right place. I made this galette simply because I had some leftover ingredients in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up. The prep work for this dish is minimal but it does need to spend 35-40 minutes in the oven so make sure you at least plan ahead for that!

 Galettes are one of my favorite dishes to make because they are incredibly simple, incredibly versatile and are meant to look rustic, meaning you don't need to worry about perfectly crimped pie edges or lattice tops or uncracked cheesecakes.

The combination of apples and cranberries is definitely a festive one, but you could also use apples and pears, pears and cranberries, peaches, or just about any fruit that you can easily slice up and that would bake well in a pie.

Cranberry Apple Galette
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 6-8
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    • 1 refrigerated pie crust
    • 2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup cranberries
    • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp. water
    • 1 tbsp. sanding sugar, optional
1. Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl and allow to sit. In another bowl, combined sliced apples with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon.
2. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Unroll the pie crust in the center of the baking sheet. Arrange the apples on the pie crust in a circular fashion, leaving a 1-2 inch border to fold in. Place the sugared cranberries in the center of the apples.
4. Gently fold in the pie crust, allowing it to fold over and crimp naturally. Whisk together the egg with 1 tbsp. of water and brush over the crust.
5. Sprinkle the crust with the sanding sugar. Regular sugar or turbinado sugar can also be used.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

What's Baking: Gingerbread Cookies


The theme for What's Baking this month is Gingerbread. I immediately decided to go with the easiest choice and make gingerbread cookies. Not because I wanted to take the easy way out, but because I racked my brain trying to remember if I had ever actually had a gingerbread cookie and I could not think of one instance where I had.

While choosing what cookies to bake every year, gingerbread never made the list and I have absolutely no idea why. So that needed to be righted rather quickly.

Since I've never made gingerbread cookies before, I opted to go with a recipe that I knew wouldn't fail. Usually I am always up for trying an unknown recipe from another blogger and seeing how it turns out, but this time it just made sense to follow what the spice experts at McCormick use.

Slightly related, did you know McCormick has been in business for over 100 years? I've always known they were a Maryland company and I work minutes from their headquarters, but I didn't know how long they'd been around. Side note: it's always fun to drive by their manufacturing plants and try to figure out what they're mixing up for the day by the smells in the air. There is almost always the scent of garlic powder wafting about.

Gingerbread Cookies
Source: McCormick
Yield: 2-4 dozen
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    • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup molasses
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp. salt 
1. Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of your mixer on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Add in the molasses, egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined.
2. Meanwhile in a large bowl, stir together flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add in the flour mixture until a dough forms.
4. Turn out dough onto wax paper and form into a disc. Wrap up and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but up to overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Lightly flour a surface. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out with cookie cutters.
7. Place on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to continue cooling.
8. Once cool, decorate as desired.

* I used white royal icing and sanding sugar to decorate my cookies. The royal icing recipe I used can be found here.
** McCormick suggests 2 dozen cookies if you use 5-inch cookie cutters. My snowflake cutters were around 2 1/2 inches and I ended up with around 3 dozen cookies. Smaller cutters will yield more cookies, hence the 2-4 dozen listed under "Yield".

The hostess for this months What's Baking is Catherine of Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness. Check out her blog at the end of the month to see what other gingerbread creations were shared. 

Weekly Menu 12/21 - 12/25


How do you know you need a break? When you sit down to meal plan for the week and what items you still need for Christmas dinner, then realize 2 days later when you're at the store that you only actually wrote down what you'll need for Christmas dinner. Oops?

So instead of sitting back down to do my usual planning I decided to shop my own freezer and pantry to come up with meals for the week.

Sunday: banana nutella french toast, bacon, fruit 

Monday: cranberry turkey meatballs, baked potatoes, corn

Tuesday: pizza

Wednesday: crock pot honey spare ribs, baked beans, green beans 

Thursday: Christmas menu 

Friday: leftovers

For breakfast I'm making cranberry cream cheese muffins and lunch will be spicy basil chicken bowls. 

Chocolate Butterscotch Pretzels


In my holiday baking frenzy, I've ended up with odd amounts of leftover items here and there. A few square marshmallows from a dish, a handful or two of holiday shaped pretzels, half a cup pf butterscotch chips, etc. Not wanting to hold onto these ingredients for an undetermined amount of time, I headed on over to the lifesaver of leftover ingredients, otherwise known as Pinterest. A quick search for butterscotch and pretzels led me to this recipe and I decided to change it up from a truffle or a bite and not do a complete coating of the chocolate on top.

Chocolate Butterscotch Pretzels
Slightly Adapted from: Lemons for Lulu
Servings: 15
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    • 15 round or holiday-shaped pretzels 
    • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
    • 1/2 tbsp. shortening
    • 15 marshmallows (if regular marshmallows, cut in half)
    • 1/2 cup chocolate almond bark 
    • sprinkles
1. Arrange pretzels in a single layer on a parchment or wax lined baking sheet.
2. Combine butterscotch chips and shortening together in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until the mixture is smooth.
3. Using two forks, dip each marshmallow into the melted butterscotch, toss to coat and then place on top of the pretzel.
4. Repeat with remaining marshmallows, then let set for 20 minutes.
5. Microwave the almond bar in 30 second intervals until smooth, then pick up the marshmallow by its pretzel bottom, flip over and dip the marshmallow part into the chocolate. Arrange sprinkles on top. Repeat with remaining marshmallow topped pretzels.


Improv Challenge: Who Pudding


The theme for the Improv Challenge this month is red and green. I had thought about making red and green decorated cookies or a red punch with frozen green grapes floating in it or even a fruit salad, but when it came down to it, I wanted to share a holiday recipe that made me happy.

Tom and I are obsessed with all things Grinch. How The Grinch Stole Christmas is both of our favorite holiday movies (cartoon or Jim Carrey version, it doesn't matter) and our Christmas tree is almost entirely decorated with Grinch ornaments.

If they come out with a new ornament of the Grinch, we buy it. We frequently have to set budgets for ourselves when standing in front of Grinch items otherwise I can say with some degree of certainty we'd buy absolutely everything and spend every penny we had. I'm not even joking.

For the most part we're responsible adults when it comes to money but when standing in front of Grinch decor, its like we're taken over by some type of Grinch magic and all logic flies out the door. You know that part in the Jim Carrey movie where the alarm sounds because Lou Who has maxed out another credit card? Yeah, that could totally be us without that budget.

This year we actually went as far as to discuss that next year we wouldn't buy each other gifts and instead spend all of that money on new Grinch stuff. So if you ever hear about two people winning the lottery in Maryland then spending a large fraction of their winnings on Grinch items, you'll know it was us.

Who Pudding
Source: Seussville.com
Servings: 4-6
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    • 2/3 cup long-grain rice
    • 3 cups milk
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1/8 cup red and green M&M's
1. Fill the bottom saucepan of a double boiler with one inch of water and bring to a simmer.
2. In the top saucepan of the double boiler, combine rice and milk and cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
3. Preheat the oven to 325. Grease an 8x8 baking dish.
4. Beat egg yolks with a whisk until frothy, then stir into the milk mixture, along with the sugar, vanilla, butter and salt.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes or until set.
6. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
7. Before serving, decorate with red and green m&m candies.

Microwave Sugar Cookie Fudge


If you are scared of making fudge because of candy thermometers and temperamental ovens, you should totally try making fudge in the microwave first.

I was skeptical to begin with. How in the world could you possibly make a tasty fudge in the microwave of all places? Well, I was quickly proven wrong and I'm happy to say so. With just a few ingredients, a large microwave-safe bowl, a foil or parchment lined pan and some time in the fridge, you have fudge worthy of sharing with your friends and family. 

And I bet none of them will know you didn't even break out the candy thermometer! 

Microwave Sugar Cookie Fudge
Servings: 24

    • 2 cups sugar cookie mix 
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
    • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 1/4 cup sugar cookie coffee creamer*
    • sprinkles 
1. Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil or parchment paper. 
2. Combine sugar cookie mix, powdered sugar, butter, white chocolate chips and vanilla together in a large microwave safe bowl. Pour coffee creamer on top. Microwave for 2 minutes then stir until combined. Microwave in additional 30 second intervals until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. 
3. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread flat with a spatula. Cover with sprinkles. 
4. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to chill until fully set, at least 2 hours. 
5. Remove from the refrigerator and use the foil or parchment paper to lift the fudge out of the pan. Cut into 24 pieces.

* If you can't find sugar cookie flavored coffee creamer; french vanilla or sweet cream varieties will work.

This is so good and so pretty with the Christmas sprinkles on it! 

Funfetti Cookie Sandwiches


My goal for this year was to make as many cookies unlike ones I have previously made before. I didn't think this would be all that difficult of a task since gazillions of cookie recipes are out there.

When I found these, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to show off their pretty holiday colors.

Funfetti Cookie Sandwiches
Source: Crazy for Crust
Servings: 2 dozen
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for the cookies:
    • 1 box yellow cake mix 
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 tbsp. oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • sprinkles 
    for the filling:
    • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the box of your stand mixer, combine cake mix, butter, oil, eggs and vanilla until dough has formed.
3. Turn out dough onto a piece of wax paper and shape into a log.
4. Pour sprinkles on a shallow plate. Roll the dough log through the sprinkles until all sides are coated.
5. Slice 1/2 inch thick pieces from the log and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until just golden brown on the bottoms. Allow to cool completely before filling.
6. Make the filling by beating the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer on medium high speed until creamy. Add in the marshmallow fluff and beat until combined.
7. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, then vanilla and heavy whipping cream until a thick frosting forms.
8. Flip half of the cookies over and spread frosting on each. Top with the remaining cookies.

SRC Cookie Carnival: Boozy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies


A few weeks ago I was reorganizing the pantry and I found a tiny bottle of Buttershots. I'm not even quite sure when or why I bought it, but I can only assume it was for a recipe since that's what 90% of my purchases are based around. (The other 10% are clothing related, in case you were curious.) I filed away a note in the back of my mind to look for a recipe where I could use this up, especially with the holidays coming.

Then I received the email for the SRC Cookie Carnival. While many of us typically share a holiday recipe in our usual reveals, the great idea to swap blogs and make only cookie recipes was shared and lots of people were on board. As a fellow cookie addict myself, I quickly signed up.

Our assignments went out and I received The Vanderbilt Wife which is written by Jessie. I've had her blog before and there are lots and lots of tasty things you should try of hers and not just cookies either. She even has a gluten-free tag which is super helpful when coming off a Whole 30 without introducing gluten and starches again. Jessie also contacted me a few months back and asked if I would mind one of my recipes being shared in a magazine. Definitely not! (My smoky corn salad recipe will be in the February 2015 issue of HomeLife magazine!)

Now that I've rambled, I'll get to the point where I tell you that I found a cookie recipe on Jessie's blog called A Bit Boozy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies and without even clicking on the link I immediately wondered if they included Buttershots. As luck would have it, they did! How awesome was that!?

Boozy Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies
Source: The Vanderbilt Wife
Servings: around 2 1/2 dozen
Printer Friendly

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt 
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tbsp. Buttershots
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter 
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the brown sugar, eggs, Buttershots and vanilla and mix until combined.
4. In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and butter. Microwave for 1 minute then stir. Microwave in 30 second intervals thereafter, stirring after each, until butter and chocolate combine and mixture is smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes.
5. Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and combine, then add in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Mix until just combined and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to firm up.
6. After 10 minutes it should be a batter with a pudding-like consistency, not a dough.
7. Quickly scoop 1-tablespoon sized dollops of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Space at least 2 inches apart. The batter may run. (On a 17x11 baking sheet I made 12 cookies. On a 15x11, I made 8.)
8. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until crumbly on top. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to continue cooling.

The tiny amount of baking powder in this recipe means your cookies will be flat. Be careful not to overcook them and burn the bottoms. My oven had been on for a while before making these so 9 minutes was perfect not to burn the bottoms.

While they look flaky they are very moist cookies and the butterscotch flavor comes through just enough to let you know they're not regular old chocolate cookies. Butterscotch has never been my favorite flavor by any means (butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter aside) but it's just the perfect amount in these cookies! 

Weekly Menu 12/14 - 12/18 & Holiday Printables


Sunday already? The weekends keep going by too quickly. I can't believe this coming Saturday and Sunday is the last weekend before Christmas. I'm not ready! Usually I've at least started to purchase the non-perishable stuff we need and I think I've gone as far as buying crackers.

I will tell you though, one thing I have learned in hosting holidays for this many years is to just go with the flow. I am a list-making perfectionist most of my life. I spent many a holiday completely stressed out when my food prep ran over its allotted time or the living room needed to be vacuumed again before the guests were to arrive. And now, with almost 5 years under my belt (and really this only happened in the last year or so) I've decided not to worry so much. So what if we're supposed to eat at three but the ham is still in the oven then. Surely no one is going to starve, we always have more than enough food!

Anyway, because last week I strayed from my usual perfectionist self, I totally forgot to update yesterday's Christmas Menu post with the new printables that Bound for Keeps made for you. This time she made you name cards!

Find them here: Christmas Name Cards by Bound for Keeps

Isn't that little sprig of holly adorable? I thought so too!

Moving onto the menu for this week, Tom suggested that we have breakfast for dinner once a week. This shouldn't be too difficult, seeing as for the past few weeks, when our dinner plans didn't work out, the standby became bacon and egg sandwiches.

Sunday: cranberry-rosemary stuffed pork tenderloin, roasted red potatoes, garlicky green beans 

Monday: chicken breasts with pancetta cream and peas over pasta

Tuesday: seared steak with cherry wine sauce, smashed potatoes and green beans 

Wednesday: chicken basil rice bowls 

Thursday: banana nutella french toast, bacon, fruit 

For breakfast this week, I'm trying out a bacon, egg and cheese roll up and for lunch I'm having a root vegetable minestrone.

Now I need to get my butt into the kitchen to get those items prepared as well as some cookie dough that needs to be whipped up. (You should see my counter. Paula Deen would be proud at the amount of butter I have softening on it!)

And don't forget to print out your weekly menu planner! 

Christmas 2014 Menu


One thing I have learned in trying to plan a Christmas menu each year is that I need to be prepared for it to change. Even though I host and I tell my family what I want them to make, it never fails that they decide to make other things as well and then we end up with 6 appetizers and 5 different types of dessert for less than 10 people.

I went through the previous menus I'd shared with you and found there were a decent amount of things I never actually blogged. The intent for this year is to get them blogged, finally! And possibly even update some pictures on the items I'm told I need to make every year.

Christmas 2014 Menu 

french onion puff pastry bites
cranberry turkey meatballs
cheeseball and crackers

honey ham

crock pot mashed potatoes
macaroni and cheese
brussels sprouts with bacon
thyme roasted carrots and parsnips
corn maque choux
honey pear cranberry sauce

rosemary dinner rolls

eggnog cupcakes
mini bourbon chocolate pecan pies

Christmas Punch

I'm quite sure some deviled eggs and another dessert will magically appear on the list somehow. It always seems to!

What are you making this Christmas?

Alton's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole


Green bean casserole is one of those classic holiday dishes that you either love or hate. And usually if you hate it, its because you have a serious dislike of either mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup. If you dislike mushrooms, I totally understand but I think you should still try this anyway because it doesn't taste like a mushroom and if you make it, you can be certain that your mushrooms are cleaned properly.

If you dislike green bean casserole because of cream of mushroom soup, than I totally understand. That stuff is kind of scary, coming out of the can all gelatinous in hunks with tidbits of mushrooms mushed in there...yeah I'd skip it too. But this recipe calls for fresh mushrooms and I can promise you there is a complete difference in the taste!

Actually, even the onions on the top of this dish are made from scratch and not from a can or bag, so it's even more of a reason why I think you should make this dish, regardless of if it's for the holidays or not, and see just how much tastier green bean casserole can be using fresh ingredients.

Plus, I think you'd make Alton happy if you liked his recipe since he calls it the best ever.

Alton's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
Source: Food Network
Servings: 4-6
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for the topping:
    • 2 onions, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tbsp. Panko bread crumbs
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • cooking spray
    for the casserole:
    • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and halved
    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 12 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 cup half-and-half
1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Combine the flour, panko and salt together in  a shallow dish. Toss the onions in the mixture and then place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray the onions with cooking spray.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing the onions every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside until ready to use.
4. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
5. Prepare the green beans by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander and immediately place in a bowl full of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
6. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
7. Sprinkle the mushroom mixture with flour, salt and pepper, and stir to combine until everything is coated. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 1 minute then add in the half-and-half and stir, allowing the mixture to combine. Simmer until it has thickened, approximately 6-8 minutes.
8. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer the green beans and pour the mushroom mixture on top. Stir to combine.
9. Top with the onions and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Holiday Tip: You can make the onions in advance and let them cool completely before transferring to a sealable bag. The green beans and mushrooms can be prepared and placed into the baking dish the day before and refrigerated. To cook, allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before placing in the oven.

Brownie Caramel Cheesecake


I don't usually make full cheesecakes because they are just too much for us to eat. And for as much as I love cream cheese, it is usually to sweet in cheesecake form and I find my teeth aching and myself no longer able to take a bite.

Ignoring all of that, I decided I was going to make a cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I wanted something more indulgent than just a regular cheesecake but something that also wasn't going to take forever and ever to make. Usually I'm very wary of making caramel and baking with it, because it tends to run everywhere, but I decided to take my chances and I am so glad I did!

Brownie Caramel Cheesecake
Source: I save A to Z
Servings: 12
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    • 9 oz. packaged brownie mix
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp. cold water
    • 14 oz. individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
    • 5 oz. evaporated milk
    • 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, then line with parchment paper and spray that. Make sure to spray the ring of the pan as well.
2. Whisk together the brownie mix (just the powdered part), egg and water until smooth. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Batter will just reach the sides. Tap the pan gently on the counter to even the mixture.
3. Place the springform pan on top of a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine the unwrapped caramels and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until the caramels have melted completely. Reserve 1/3 cup of the mixture.
5. Once the brownie bottom has cooked, spray the sides of the pan again with nonstick spray then pour the remaining caramel on top. Let sit.
6. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla.
7. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the caramel and spread evenly. Tap the pan on the counter again to even the mixture.
8. Return to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until set. Let cool for 10 minutes then refrigerate until fully chilled.

Twice Baked Bourbon Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel


I used to hate sweet potatoes. Even with my sweet tooth you couldn't get me anywhere near a sweet potato topped with brown sugar and pecans or even toasted mini marshmallows. The idea of something sweet on a potato just did not compute in my brain and gave me terrible mental images of pouring sugar over a red potato and eating it.

(As a young child I also refused to eat fruit salad because I was convinced there was lettuce hiding in there somewhere.)

Thankfully a few years ago, my taste buds changed and now I prefer sweet potatoes to regular potatoes any day of the week. A simple baked sweet potato with butter, salt and pepper is like a meal for me, especially with how incredibly large the sweet potatoes can be!

Even after beginning to like sweet potatoes I never attempted to include them in the traditional Thanksgiving menu because I still wasn't convinced I would like them. Last year I attempted to make savory twice baked potatoes but they just fell apart and the skins burned and I gave up.

This year, after seeing this recipe, I was determined to get them right.

Twice Baked Bourbon Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel
Source: Closet Cooking
Servings: 8
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    • 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp. bourbon
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
for the streusel:
    • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 tbsp. flour
    • 4 tbsp. roasted pecans, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1. Stab the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave for 12-15 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool enough to touch.
2. Meanwhile, combine butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
3. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving about 1/4 inch of potatoes on the bottom and sides.
4. Add the insides of the potato to the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir to combine. Spoon the mixture evenly back into the sweet potato skins.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. In a small bowl combine the streusel ingredients and divide evenly on top of the sweet potatoes.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the topping is a light golden brown.

Oh these are good. Really, really good. Unbutton your pants to shove in another bite kind of good. We had one sweet potato left over after Thanksgiving and I had it for lunch the next day. Even reheated in the microwave, this is still one tasty sweet potato combination. 

#MadewithChobani: Vitamix Eggnog Frozen Greek Yogurt


I'll be honest, when Greek yogurt became the next big thing, I was not a fan. The texture was just not something that I could get used to and it reminded me of sour cream. I love sour cream, but not when sweetened.

However, that didn't mean that I wasn't going to substitute Greek Yogurt for other items, especially when baking. Chobani has this really cool reference chart that I found on Pinterest way back when and it's hung on my fridge ever since. 

Anyway, I found out about the #MadewithChobani project and since anyone can participate, I decided to make this recipe. 

My first thought was to make a savory dish because not many people expect you to use yogurt in a savory dish, even if it is of the plain variety. I searched through a bunch of recipes and found some that looked promising, but nothing really stood out to me as amazing. So I decided to check out the sweeter side of things to see if that provided any inspiration. 

Completely unrelated to my search, an add for eggnog popped up in my browser and I quickly decided that eggnog was somehow coming into play with this recipe. For a few moments I did debate on trying to actually substitute Greek yogurt in place of cream and make eggnog from scratch but I had a gut feeling that would involve more trial and error than I currently had time for. So a bit more brainstorming and I came up with the idea of making an eggnog flavored frozen (Greek) yogurt!

For the sake of time (and freezer space), I opted to make my frozen yogurt in my Vitamix. You can also make frozen yogurt or ice cream in a Blendtec, but if you don't possess either of those blenders, I'm also going to share with you how to make it with a regular ice cream maker. 

Vitamix Eggnog Frozen Greek Yogurt
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 2+ cups 

    • 6 oz. vanilla Chobani Greek Yogurt
    • 6 oz. prepared eggnog
    • 2 cups ice cubes
1. Combine all three ingredients in your Vitamix and blend on high speed until smooth. If the frozen yogurt is not cold enough, place in the freezer and check every 30 minutes before serving. 

*If you're making this with an ice cream maker, do not include the ice cubes. Whisk together the Greek yogurt and eggnog and pour into the ice cream maker. Churn, then freeze according to manufacturer instructions. 

The tang of the yogurt cuts nicely through the sometimes overly sweetness of the eggnog. I think I'll make this again and serve it on Christmas as another dessert option! 

Also, you should totally go check out Chobani's website and look at their recipes. I had NO IDEA some of the stuff you could making using Greek yogurt and I am excited to try some of them out! The one that I think I'm going to try out first is Cheesy Peach Jalapeno Hush Puppies

Melted Snowmen Cookies


There are hundreds of varieties of melting snowmen cookies all over the internet and every year I've looked at the them around the holidays and said I would make them. For one reason or another, it never happened.

This year, it just so happened that the white chocolate bark and Reeses' cups were on sale the same week. I took it as a sign that I should FINALLY make these cookies.

Melted Snowmen Cookies
Source: My Litter
Servings: ~ 2 dozen
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    • 1/2 cup shortening
    • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 egg
    • 3 tbsp. milk
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • white chocolate bark
    • 20 mini peanut butter cups, sliced in half
    • sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat shorting and peanut butter together on high speed for 30 seconds. Then add the sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda and beat on medium speed until fully combined. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla.
3. Slowly add the cocoa powder and flour into the batter until combined.
4. Roll the dough into 2-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Once cool, melt the white chocolate bark. Spoon the white chocolate on top of the cookies to resemble a melting snowman. Top with the halved peanut butter cup (his hat) and arrange sprinkles to look like the snowman face is melting. Allow chocolate to fully set before moving.

Seriously, are they not adorable? 
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