learning to eat, cook, and live healthier one day at a time.

Monthly Archives: December 2012

Another double post! I actually started writing this post last night, but fell asleep in the process with my computer on my chest. I always get nervous when that happens since there is about a 3-foot drop from my bed to the floor. The two recipes I’m sharing tonight are not necessarily your traditional, festive Christmas cookies.

Apple Cake & Honey Walnut Cookies

Apple Cake & Honey Walnut Cookies

Apple Cake & Honey Walnut Cookies

If you’ve ever had apple cake before, you know it’s more like bread than cake. Either way, it’s delicious. The woman I babysit for gave me her recipe which is called “light apple cake.” We can pretend that makes it healthy. Whatever makes you feel better, right?

Apple Cake

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbls orange juice
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, cored, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  • Butter and flour 10-inch tube pan, bundt pan, or any similar sized pan (I experimented with mine)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • With an electric mixer, beat vegetable oil and sugar until combined. Add eggs, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla, and orange juice. Mix well.
  • Stir in apples and raisins, gently. Be careful not to break up the apple slices.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.

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I love apple cake! It’s so warm and festive. This recipe is spot on.

Honey Walnut Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  • In a small bowl, combine oil, honey and vanilla. Add oil mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined.
  • Fold in chopped walnuts. Since the dough is eggless, it will have a slightly different texture than most cookie dough.
  • Roll into 12, 1-inch balls, place onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven and pat down slightly with hand while cookies are hot. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Yield: 1 dozen

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Enjoy!

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Good Morning!

It truly is a great morning. I had the luxury of sleeping in until 8:30 and fixed myself a nice breakfast that I enjoyed in bed. The Christmas cookie recipe I have to share with you today is not necessarily a cookie, but it is festive!

Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark

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I pulled this recipe out of the December issue of Food Magazine. Williams-Sonoma has been selling their famous peppermint bark since the nineties, and it is so easy to make on your own.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2- inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1 1/2 pieces
  • 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed (or 3 candy canes, crushed)

Directions:

  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and smooth out all wrinkles. Heat 1 inch of water in a small saucepan over low heat until steaming.
  • Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Put over steaming water to melt chocolate. Slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate to the bowl until all is melted, stirring occasionally.

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  • Stir 3/4 tsp peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Set aside at room temperature until set, about 15 minutes.

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  • Put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Put over steaming water to melt the white chocolate. Repeat the same melting process with the white chocolate. When melted, add 3/4 tsp peppermint extract and pour over the set semisweet chocolate. Spread in an even layer.

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  • Immediate sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Once set, lift bark out of the pan using the tinfoil and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 2 pounds

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This stuff is addicting. I’m planning on finding a really pretty way to package most of it and give it to my supervisors for Christmas. I will definitely be checking out Pinterest for ideas!

Glenn’s Diner

This past Friday, Mike and I went on a fun little date to a hidden gem called Glenn’s Diner. Glenn’s is known for it’s fresh seafood, which can be hard to come by in landlocked Chicago. While I am a seafood lover, the same cannot be said for Mike. However, we were both blown away by our meals.

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Glenn’s Diner features a mix of seafood and classic diner food. I loved how the menu was displayed chalkboard style. After staring, awestruck at the many delicious sounding options, we decided to start with some gorgonzola garlic bread.

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This stuff was RICH! Can’t go wrong with garlic, cheese and bread. For my meal I ordered the Mahi Mahi, which came with a soy glaze, roasted asparagus and potatoes. Mike had the salmon, which was also delicious.

Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi

Salmon

Salmon

While the portions were nothing to write home about, the flavor definitely was. Everything was so rich and filling, it almost made me forget about dessert…almost. While we were contemplating dessert options as we left the restaurant, as soon as we stepped out on the street this little dessert shop appeared out of nowhere!

Margie's Candies

Margie’s Candies

It was meant to be! The place was adorable inside. Christmas spirit was oozing everywhere.

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With so many amazing options, it was the german chocolate cake that caught my eye. We ordered a piece to share and absolutely devoured it. Hit the spot!

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If you’re ever in the Chicago area and are craving good seafood, I highly recommend checking out Glenn’s Diner!

 


Good evening! When I had the relatively unoriginal idea of posting 12 christmas cookie recipes on this blog, I overlooked the fact that baking and blogging both take time. Time that I rarely have. What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry I have been seriously slacking on the cookie front. However, I am pleased to bring you two delicious recipes tonight!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies & German Chocolate Cookies!

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I copied the recipe for the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies out of a Christmas Cookie magazine I found lying around my house while I was home over Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I cannot recall which particular magazine it was.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 tbls milk
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks or chips (double if not using nuts)

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in egg, cocoa and milk.
  • Combine flour and baking powder, fold into creamed mixture.
  • Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips
  • Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Yield: 3 dozen

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These cookies were a hit! They almost tasted like hot cocoa. I highly recommend using chocolate chunks over chips. The extra crunch they give is much more pleasing, if you ask me!

German Chocolate Cookies:

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Luckily, I CAN direct you to the source of this recipe! While searching for new holiday baking ideas, I came across these dangerous little devils . I am a huge fan of just about anything german chocolate. Cake, cookies, bars, ice cream (do they make that?)…Can’t go wrong with german chocolate anything!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbls light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate finely chopped, or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

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Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans and coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven for 7-10 minutes, or until fragrant.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  • Cream brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg, corn syrup, vanilla and almond extract.
  • Gradually beat in flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in pecans, coconut, and chocolate.
  • Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on baking sheets lined with silpats of parchment paper a few inches apart. Pat them down slightly using a knife.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

Yield: About 30 cookies

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Again, I absolutely loved these cookies. And so did everyone else judging by the fact that they were gone from the cookie jar in a couple days.

Happy Baking!


I’m pleased to present what is quite possibly not only one of my favorite holiday recipes, but one of my favorite all-time dessert recipes.

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I made these little guys last Christmas and was instantly obsessed. Blondies are one of my favorite treats, so the addition of peanuts, caramel and pretzels definitely doesn’t hurt! The original recipe can be found here. I follow the recipe exactly, therefore I will not go step by step in this post. However, I do advise cutting back on the amount of peanuts used. The recipe calls for 4 cups, but you really don’t need more than 2-3 cups. The added weight from the nuts and caramel really presses down on the bars themselves, making them thinner than they would be normally.

I used tinfoil since I am fresh out of parchment paper! Worked like a charm.

Pre-Peanut/Pretzel/Caramel Topping. Nice and dense!

After the addition of the topping!

After the addition of the topping!

These puppies are so dangerous. Despite their density, I seriously think I could eat 10 of these in one sitting. SO GOOD! And, since they’re not particularly “holiday-themed” you can make them year round!

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Did you know there are only 12 days left before Christmas? This means I only have 12 days to post NINE cookie recipes! I’m going to be one busy bee. I’d also love to get a chance to share my current workout plan. I’m taking it easy this week due to the fact that I’ve been feeling pretty under the weather, but this program has been kicking my butt!

Mike and I have plans to see The Hobbit tonight at midnight! More like I have plans to drag Mike to see The Hobbit with me tonight. I’m a pretty big Lord of the Rings nerd and have been itching with anticipation all week for the prequel. Since Mike has been so nice to agree to join me, I’ve promised him a quick bite to eat before and maaaybe a popcorn for the movie? Decisions, decisions!


Greetings!

On this evening I am glad to present a holiday classic: Sugar Cookies!

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I followed a new recipe this year for my sugar cookies that can be found here. My recipe was slightly less precise due to the fact that I do not have a stand mixer, and have to settle for my handy dandy hand mixer. I also did not measure the thickness of my cookies in such a precise manner. Nevertheless, these cookies came out perfect!

Ingredients:

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Mix flour and baking powder in medium bowl.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (hand mixers will work just fine!)
  • Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture. Mix for another minute.
  • Slowly add flour mixture.
  • Mix until well combined.
  • Take dough out of bowl and knead a few times on a flat surface, covered with parchment paper.
  • Put dough in a large plastic ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 just before it is time to remove the dough from the refrigerator.
  • Roll out about half the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Cover dough with a piece of parchment paper to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin. (This was a new tip I just learned this year!)
  • Roll the dough until it is about 1/3 of an inch thick.
  • Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut the dough and place cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper of a Silpat.
  • Bake cookies 8-10 minutes (I did 9) or until they just begin to turn golden.
  • Remove cookies from oven and let cool for about a minute before moving to a cooling rack.

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Once the cookies are completely cooled, whip up your favorite powder sugar frosting and get decorating! The frosting recipe I used this year is excellent. I found it on Annie’s Eats. I love nice and simple recipes, nothing fancy for this girl!

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After frosting the cookies, I topped them off with some simple sprinkles. Mike actually helped me out on this step which made it go by much faster.

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Look at that bad boy! I have to say these are some of the best sugar cookies I’ve had in the past couple Christmases. Thank you so much to the bloggers who helped me out with the recipes! I will definitely be recreating these later this month and may even use the same recipe for another holiday. Valentine’s cookies, perhaps?

Happy baking!


I’m known for getting in the Christmas spirit a little too early. Like months too early. I’m not opposed to listening to Christmas music before Halloween hits. When December rolls around, and it is officially acceptable to become immersed in all things Christmas, my enthusiasm for my favorite holiday peaks.

While I love Christmas shopping, Christmas movies and Christmas decorations, my favorite thing of all is Christmas baking! The Christmas weather has not hit Chicago just yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from diving into some delicious treats. Over the next three weeks, I will be posting 12 Christmas cookie recipes. Some new, some old, some classic, and some experimental. I’d like to call this little segment:

The 12 Days of Christmas Cookies

Now, since I am one of the top ten busiest college students ever (totally not exaggerating), it’s going to take me until right up until Christmas to post 12 different cookies. To kick things off, I’m going to share a cookie recipe that is new to me this season: Betty Crocker’s Reindeer Tracks

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I picked this gem out of a Christmas Cookie recipe book that I picked up at Dominick’s last week.

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Reindeer Tracks Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all purpose and substituted whole wheat for the rest. My feeble attempt to add nutrition)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 (12 oz) package white vanilla baking chips
  • 1 (8 0z) package mini peanut butter cup candies
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pretzel twists

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees, lightly spray cookie sheets or use a silpat.
  • In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs and vanilla until blended.
  • Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture until blended.
  • Stir in baking chips, peanut butter cup candies and pretzels

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until lightly browned. Immediately remove cookies onto cooling racks.

The ingredient that absolutely made these cookies was the peanut butter cups.

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These cookies were a huge hit. Mike actually ate SIX of them in a row. Yes, that’s a true story. Remember how I said he’s slightly apprehensive about trying healthy recipes? The same does not hold true when it comes to cookies. These cookies are so good, they get a special little spot in my apartment.

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Behold, the Nutcracker cookie jar!

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My mom got me this little guy last time I was home. He’s awesome! In addition to sharing cookie recipes over the next few weeks, I have a lot of fitness related things going on. I just started a new workout plan that is absolutely kicking my butt. I was planning on sharing it in this post, but somehow cookies and exercise just don’t go together in my head. Hopefully I will get a chance to share it this week!

Happy Holidays!

 



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