Recipe For a Great Weekend

Take one part Gingerbread House making,

Combine with Madeline baking,

Add in Peppermint Bark,

Mix with gift wrapping,

Sprinkle with adorable baby,

And add a dash of determined boyfriend.

And you’ve got the recipe for one great weekend!

What did you do this weekend?

Peanut Butter Blossoms for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

This year to get in the Christmas spirit, I took part in the First Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. The premise behind the swap was they you would get sent the addresses of three bloggers and you would bake up some yummy cookies to send their way while checking the mailbox constantly patiently waiting for your cookies to arrive from three other bloggers. If you’d like to join in on the fun next year, click here to add yourself to the mailing list for next year’s swap.

For my cookies, I decided to make Peanut Butter Blossoms, with a twist. I got the original recipe from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough [I used red and green colored sugar]
  • 25 Hershey’s caramel kisses

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.
  3. Scoop off dough by the tablespoon; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet.
  4. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven. Press one kiss in center of each cookie. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely.

I love using caramel kisses instead of regular ones, because they melt up and get all gooey in the center. And who doesn’t like some caramel in their life, right?

I also got some wonderful cookies from some great bakers.

Head over to Cake FYI for her Coconutty Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies, Meandering Eats for her Meyer Lemon Sables and Urban Sacred Garden for her Grandmother’s Mexican Wedding Cookies.  All three recipes are seriously delicious and deserve some recognition!

Now to wait patiently until next year for the new swap!

Apple Cinnamon PB Crescents

In Poland, December 6th is Mikolajki, better known as St. Nicholas Day. St. Nicholas Day is the Catholic feast day of St. Nicholas that lived in the 4th century. St. Nicholas is basically the inspiration for our present day Santa Clause, and that means that we celebrate St. Nicholas Day with what else, but gifts and goodies. It’s the unofficial start of the holiday season in Poland.

Traditionally in Poland, kids put out their clean shoes and wake up on the morning of December 6th to find them full of candy and small gift.  I wanted to commemorate this Polish tradition with my two guys, so I baked up a yummy treat. I won’t be putting them in their shoes though, especially not Tommy’s work boots. If your shoes are clean on a job site, the workers don’t take you seriously because they think you’re the new guy. Needless to say, those shoes would not be cleaned.

I wanted to make something quick and easy because I’m spending most of my time studying, so I make Apple Cinnamon Peanut Butter Crescents. I used refrigerated crescent dough, PB & Co.’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter and some apples that I sprinkled with Apple Pie Spice and microwaved to soften.

All you do it unroll the dough, put down a teaspoon of PB and some apple mixture, roll up and bake for 12 minutes.

After they came out of the oven, I swirled some melted chocolate over the top.

A simple and yummy treat!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Do you have any holiday traditions that you follow?

Sushi, Shopping and Studying

Even though most of my weekend looked like this…

I still managed to have some fun in between study sessions.

On Friday, I finally baked my Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap cookies. I’ll share a sneak peak, but a whole post about the swap is coming up, so I don’t want to give too much away.

For din din, Tommy and I did the usual, sushi. We went to Sushi Village and chowed down.  I tried a Tempura Fried Banana for dessert after reading good reviews about it on Yelp, but I wasn’t too impressed by it.  I do love tempura ice cream though!

After dinner, we watched Crazy, Stupid Love and I loved it! On the surface the movie may look like just another chick flick, but it has a huge twist at the end.  I highly recommend it, especially since we both stayed up for the whole movie which we didn’t finish watching until after 1 AM.

On Saturday morning, I headed to the post office to send out the cookies.  I was kind of unprepared and didn’t have any bubble wrap or anything to protect the cookies with, so we got some free newspapers from in front of the post office.  So if you’re expecting a package from me, you’ll also get a really bad, local newspaper to go with your cookies.

On Saturday night, we did a little shopping. First, we went to Game Stop to trade in some games and pick up two new ones. Tommy got himself a Playstation 3 on Black Friday and I am well on my way to becoming a gamer. Just kidding, but it is fun to play and watch since the games are so much more intricate than they were the last time I played video games like 10 years ago.

We also stopped at Bath and Body Works since I had some coupons. I found the best smelling candle in the world, Cranberry Pear Bellini. It was the last one in the whole store, and they had sold out of the Wallflowers and Car Fresheners in the scent already.

I also got a cute penguin car freshener in the Twisted Peppermint scent.  My car now smells like a Peppermint Mocha a.k.a heavenly. I also picked up a Vanilla Bean Noel Triple Moisture Body Cream, it’s my favorite lotion from BBW and I always stock up because it’s only available around the holidays. Tommy got a candle and wallflower in his favorite scent, Eucalyptus Spearmint.

On Sunday morning, Tommy took me for breakfast at a place he’s been raving about for over a year now.  Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company is located in Astoria, right near where Tommy used to work last year. Lucky for him, at least once a week, one of the guys would stop by in the morning and pick up bagels for everyone.

I opted for a Cinnamon Raisin bagel with Cinnamon Walnut Raisin Cream Cheese.  They make bagels in every flavor imaginable and they have a ton of cream cheese flavors, like bacon scallion, jalapeno asiago and German chocolate. The line was pretty long when we got there, but we managed to get a table. By the time we were done eating, the line stretched out the door and past the store front on the sidewalk.  New Yorkers know good bagels and if the line is out the door, you know it’s good stuff.

Once the sun went down, we went on a search for houses decorated for Christmas.  A lot of people go all out in our neighborhood, but I found a place online that blows anything I’ve ever seen before out of the water.

The house is located in Whitestone, Queens and it takes 6 weeks for the owner to set up all the decorations.  He literally has every kind of Christmas decoration I’ve ever seen and he lets people walk all over his lawn to get a closer look.  Munchkin had a total blast and didn’t want to leave.

Now I must return to my studying. Only 10 days left until I am done for a whole month!

Have a great Monday!

What did you do this weekend? Do you go all out with your holiday decorations?

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and Other Good Eats

I promised good eats yesterday and I am delivering. Don’t you just love What I Ate Wednesdays, because I know I do. Without further ado, here’s what I made and ate.

1. Started the day off with an egg scramble with yellow peppers and tomatoes. Topped, of course, with ketchup and a side of lightly buttered toast. Breakfast of champions my friends.

2. Coffee. My fuel. Self-explanatory.

3. I baked some delicious cupcakes [see below] and managed to only eat half of one. So proud of myself. :)

4. Din-din was Chicken Pad See Ew, one of my favorite Thai dishes which I’ve gotten pretty darn good at making myself.

5. Honest Tea and Green Tea Mints while waiting for my conference with my writing professor.

6. Tommy’s leftover sandwich from lunch. Ham and cheese on a yummy roll with Boar’s Head Horseradish Sauce.

7. A Dirty Ho and some chips with Con Queso Dip during the Rangers game.

I also drank a ton of water during the day, but who wants to see 10 pictures of water, am I right?

***************************

The cupcakes deserve a little more explaining. Thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, Duncan Hines, and Comstock, Tommy’s coworkers are enjoying some Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes.

As much as I enjoy baking from scratch, Duncan Hines’ Decadent cake mixes take the box mix to a different level. The mix comes not only with the regular cake mix, but with a pouch of fudge with chocolate chunks in it.  Once you make the actual cake batter, you swirl the fudge into it and the results are pretty amazing.

Once the cupcakes baked and cooled, I scooped out the centers and filled them with Comstock Country Cherry filling and frosted them with chocolate frosting.

I also topped them with a sprinkle of colored sugar for a bit of prettiness.

I know you wish you could reach through the screen right about now. ;) I know I should’ve saved myself another one!

Have a great Tuesday!

What’s the best thing you ate today? Do you like baking from scratch or do you use cake mixes?

A Jam Packed Thanksgiving Weekend

Is it just me, or do long weekends fly by faster than regular ones? I can’t believe Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I am excited because I can finally go Christmas crazy without looking like a total nut.

On Wednesday, we hit up the supermarket early to avoid the crowds and so I could get started on my baking. When we got home, Munchkin napped and I managed to get both my Pumpkin Cheesecake and Carrot Cake done while he slept. I also ripped up the bread for my stuffing. I have to share the recipe with you guys, because it is so good and was the only thing that did not leave leftovers. After Tommy got home, we went to Toys R Us to buy birthday gifts for Arianna, Tommy’s goddaughter, who turned one on Turkey Day!

We woke up on Thursday ready to cook.  I brined my turkey on Wednesday morning in a mixture of water and apple cider with spices, fresh garlic and bay leaves.

Before the bird went into the oven, I spread a mixture of butter and spices under the skin to make sure it didn’t dry out during baking. I also basted the crap out of the bird and I have to say, that I think it paid off becuase the meat was juicy and delicious. We also had mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, green beans with pumpkin seeds, pearl onions with peas and carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash with spinach, craisins and mandarins, mushroom stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce with ginger and a pinapple glazed ham.  Basically all the foods that will lead you to laying down on the couch with a food coma shortly after. For dessert we had my Pumpkin Cheesecake and Carrot Cake along with some cakes that my cousin brought from the bakery she works at.

My favorite thing on Thanksgiving it the stuffing, so I’m going to share my recipe that I’ve used for the past few years.

Mushroom Stuffing (adapted from Rachael Ray)

  • One and a half 1-pound loaves white bread, cut into cubes
  • 1  bunch of celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 8 oz. packages white mushrooms, sliced.
  • 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water.
  • grated Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 250°. Scatter the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until dried but not browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350°.  In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Mix in the celery and mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper and poultry seasoning until thoroughly combined. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the beaten egg mixture. Add the vegetable mixture and toss until well combined. Spoon the stuffing into 2 buttered 3-quart casserole dishes, top with Parmesan cheese and bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

****************

Friday was Black Friday, so of course we had to do some shopping. We didn’t stay up all night or get up at the crack of dawn, but we did manage to get some awesome deals anyway. We started off at Kohl’s and hit up Toys R Us, Sears and Burlington before calling it a day. I got a Rachael Ray Casserround, some towels, gifts for the kids from next door and Alex’s babysitter, and a pair of new flats for myself. I also left with $60 in Kohl’s cash, so I’m planning on going back to get a new coffee maker.

After shopping, we got home and rested a bit because we had a big party to go to on Friday night, Arianna’s first birthday! They had the party at an Italian Restaurant and the food was amazing. Munchkin also discovered a love for calamari. I put some on my plate and went to get him a mozzarella stick, only to find him chowing down on the calamari on my plate. His food choices never cease to amaze me. He couldn’t wait for the cake to come out and almost died when he had to wait for them to take pictures and cut the cake.

Saturday and Sunday were relaxing days. Since the weather was gorgeous, we went to the Long Island City peirs on Saturday night so Munchkin could run around and play at the playground. We also found a great Mexican place, which I think may just become our go to Mexican restaurant.  Vamos al Tequila is a traditional, family run, little hole in the wall place in Greenpoint.

The portions are huge too, so we had enough to take home and have for lunch on Sunday.

We finished off our Sunday watching Pretty Woman and eating edamame and Coldstone Ice Cream, but not together. It was a great break from real life, but now I have to get into lockdown mode and start studying. Finals are less than two weeks away and I need to kick some butt.

Have a great Monday!

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you get any good Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals?

 

 

Frankenbaby does Halloween

Happy November! Can you believe it’s already November? Halloween was a huge success. Munchkin loved his costume and trick or treating.

We started off the morning with some special Halloween pancakes, which were just my pumpkin pancakes with a candy corn smiley face on them. Big hit with Munchkin, but pancakes always are.

During naptime, I got to cookie making. I had my eye on these cookies for weeks, and I’m happy I found the time to make them. They’re basically sugar cookies with a piece of candy corn pressed into them when they come out of the oven. Very simple, very yummy and cute and festive.

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour*
  • About 18 pieces of candy corn

*For chocolate cookies, reduce the flour to 1/2 cup and add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl; beat until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour, and mix until a dough forms. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly if it becomes too soft). Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

We started out our trick-or-treating adventure in our neighborhood. Since Munchkin was little Fankenstein, I decided to be Frankenmommy for trick-or-treating.

My friend Paul, Munchkin’s godfather, came along with us and was dressed like a Psych professor, AKA his future self.

Munchkin was a trick-or-treating champ. He climbed the stairs, rang the bells which he could reach and waited patiently for people to come out with candy. He especially liked when he was able to chose his own candy out of the bowl.  We got a ton of great candy and one house was even giving out bubbles which Munchkin was super excited for.

After Tommy got home from work, we headed out to Long Island to do some trick or treating with Arianna.  By that time, Munchkin was getting cranky and coming off his sugar high, so we cut the trick-or-treating short and got some dinner at Houlihan’s. I had the Corriander Grilled Salmon, which was amazing.  It was grilled Salmon with delicious mashed red potatoes and grean beans in a Chili butter sauce. Tommy had the Pot Roast which was also delish.

After dinner we headed home. We were all so tired that we pretty much passed out as soon as we got home. For me that means I fell asleep with all that Frankenmommy makeup on.  My skin will be thanking me for it later.

Now it’s time to get back to reality and start getting ready for school tonight. I’m bringing in Munchkin’s candy to share with my class because we don’t need any more sugar in our diets.

Did you go/have trick-or-treaters? What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

 

Shopping and Cinnamon Buns

Yesterday I decided it was time to get back to running. Between the unbearable weather this summer and my chest cold, which made me cough up my lungs for weeks anytime I broke a sweat, I slacked off, big time. It felt really nice to get out into the crisp, fall air and do some running. I took it slow since it was my first time running in a few weeks, but I did 2.5 miles in a little over a half hour.

After some breakfast and a quick shower, Munchkin and I headed to Target to buy some baby essentials.  I swear, Target diapers and wipes are better than Pampers and Huggies, at half the price. The brand names are not worth paying double for, especially when Huggies, in my opinion, don’t even compare to Target brand.

We also hit up the dollar section where we scored a fall/Thanksgiving plate and Sesame Street coloring book for only a dollar each. You can find the best kid’s stuff in the dollar section, and for me, it’s not a trip to Target without a stop there.

Munchkin was so in love with the coloring book that he refused to let it go. He even fell asleep with it in his grips.

On the way home, I also stopped to take some pictures of the evil pothole that dented my rim. I ended up having to purchase a new rim because the old one was unfixable. I’m going to be sending in a claim to the city so hopefully I’ll get reimbursed for my pain and suffering.  The form that you fill out to be reimbursed cracked me up because at the top it says that it can take up to  year and 90 days for the claim to be resolved. Gotta love the speedy service of the City of New York.

At school, we had a guest speaker to talk to us about legal research for the 100th time.  The only real thing I took away from it was that the United States Library of Congress database is called Thomas, and that reminded me of Tommy.  Since Mondays are my short days at school, I was home in time to catch the first dance on Dancing With the Stars.  I think the top three are going to be Ricki Lake, JR Martinez and David Arquette.  That is unless, Carson Cresley’s fanbase pulls him through to the end.  That man cannot dance for his life, but he is really entertaining and funny.

This morning I woke up with a craving for cinnamon rolls and since I had these bad boys in the freezer, I was in luck.

The mini cinnarolls baked up flaky and crispy. I topped them off with a bit of icing before we dug in.  Since my eating schedule is messed up because of school in the evenings, I try to make breakfast extra special because it’s the only real meal I get to share with Munchkin.

That and breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, so that helps.

Have a great Tuesday!

Do you buy store brand items or stick to name brands? What’s your favorite meal of the day?

Last Glimpse of Summer

Friday started off like many other Fridays with sushi for dinner. It had been a while since we went to our usual sushi place, so it was nice to get back. We were both super hungry so we got veggie dumplings to start, which were quite yummy.

Dragon Roll

After dinner, we ran some errands, and stopped by Trader Joe’s where I picked up Pumpkin Cream Cheese. The stuff is pretty amazing, especially on Pumpkin Swirl toast.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

On Saturday, we spent the day at the lake.  Since we were getting one of the last glimpses of summer, Munchkin and I took full advantage. A lot of the leaves are already changing colors making the views gorgeous.

We spent a lot of time playing in the sand and running around in the grass, trying to climb trees.

And after we were all played out, we lounged in the beach chair. Just kidding, he can’t sit still for more than 30 seconds.

When we got home, I decided it was time to get baking.  I saw a two ingredient pumpkin cookie recipe on Julie’s blog, but I decided to take it up a notch and made mine with 4 ingredients.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cookies

  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix and pumpkin puree.  Fold in carrots and raisins.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies feel a bit firm to the touch.

The cake mix I bought came with a pouch of fake carrots that you had to reconstitute with water, but I passed on delicious science and opted for real carrots.

After the cookies were baked and Munchkin was bathed, we relaxed in front of the TV to watch Something Borrowed.  I had higher expectations for the movie, but ended up being a bit unimpressed.  Then again, you can’t really expect anything profound from a romantic comedy.

Most of Sunday was spent with my nose in the books, but I’m happy to report that almost all my homework for the week is done!

I did find some time to spend outdoors with my little man and I whipped up an eggplant and zucchini parm.

Sadly, I do not get the day off like just about everyone else. But, I guess I can’t complain because I did just have a five day weekend.

Have a great Monday and Happy Columbus Day! I hope you have the day off!

Did you go anything fun this weekend? Are you one of the luckies who has the day off?

Pumpkin Carrot Bread

There are very fews things in the world that I hate more than being sick.  I woke up yesterday feeling like poop, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, the works.  I split my day between laying in bed and laying on the couch.  But, on Monday I made something so amazingly yummy that I have to share it with you. I found this recipe on Tina’s blog and knew I had to make it when I read her raving about how good it is.
Pumpkin Carrot Cake Bread
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the flours, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until evenly combined.  Fold in grated carrots, craisins and walnut.
Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour batter into pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpicks comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!
I couldn’t find my loaf pan so I baked it in a bundt, which also worked well.  This bread is soo good. I know I will be doubling this recipe next time because it was gone in one day.
Now I’m going to crawl back into bed and hope this sickness leaves me alone soon. 
Have a great Wednesday everyone!