Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Individual winter vegetable pot pies

In case you've just joined me, I'm sharing super comforting and hearty recipes that aren't going to break the bank... or the waistband in your pants.  There was the velvety baked potato soup.  And don't forget the penne with goat cheese and butternut squash.  Today I've got something that will even jive with your busy party schedule.  Hear me out.

We've all done it.  Skipped dinner before a holiday party knowing that we'll indulge in many treats once we see the buffet of choices.  But then, after some grazing, it hits you around 10 o'clock -- intense hunger!?!?!   The kind that hits you like a ton of bricks that you can't ignore.  The kind that reminds you that you haven't had anything substantial in way too many hours. 

Instead of skipping dinner so you can try that totally sinful chocolate pecan pie (ahem, this one) without guilt, why not have something packed full of vegetables that will keep you full for hours on end so you don't overeat at the party and can focus on the delightful jolly makers you only get to see a few times a year (and hey, those slightly-annoying-but-worth-paying-attention-to-for-a story-to-share-with-friends-later guests, too).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Penne with butternut squash and goat cheese

I've had this recipe waiting for a while.  Why the delay?  I wish I had a better reason than "I got married" but that's it.  I've already let myself go.  (Sorry, Matt.)

But really, it's a funny story.  Working ahead and writing up posts to share with you while I'm at sea, I saw this, and thought, "Whoh!  I remember that!  I thought I'd posted that already.  Oops, guess not.  Huh... I could go for that again."  So, I indulged my id and made it again, without photography this time.  

You'll have to forgive me for the Thanksgiving napkin that snuck its way into the picture.  Along with myself, I've apparently let my napkins go, too.

Tsk tsk.

Anyway, I give you penne with butternut squash, goat cheese, and walnuts.  Loaded with flava!

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas!  :)  (Even though I'm writing this ahead of time, I'm going to bet there is no snow in the Caribbean.  Yep, we left this morning for our honeymoon cruise!)

At any rate, wishing you a very merry holiday with family, friends, and, as always, delicious food!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baked potato soup with bacon & cheese

Fact #1: It is very much winter here in Pittsburgh.  A snowy weekend, brisk windy days and chilly nights, and the malls are packed to the max with eager shoppers.  

Opinion #1: Kind of makes you want to stay inside, curl up on the couch with a holiday movie (ahem Elf), and savor a big bowl of hot soup.  

Fact #2: Tomorrow, Matt and I depart cold, snowy Pittsburgh and head to Florida, where we'll board a cruise ship bound for the Caribbean for our honeymoon!  Over the next seven days, we'll be visiting St. Martin, St. Thomas, and Nassau and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.  I can barely contain my excitement!

Opinion #2: While I'll be basking in the glow of the islands (and hopefully not being abused by the sun's rays), I bet you'll be relaxing inside with your very favorite people, enjoying the break from work and school, and looking for ways to stay warm.  

That's why I've decided to save a few of the most hearty, comforting recipes I know to share with you while I'm away.  If I were home, I'd totally be making these.  But, I'll probably just save them for when we return to catch up on the week of winter that we've missed.

First up is the creamiest, steamiest bowl of potato soup that I've ever tried!  Not just any potato soup, but baked potato soup.  Loaded with all the usual suspects: sour cream, cheddar cheese, and bacon bacon bacon!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 13 - Chocolate crinkle cookie

Whilst you're still scratching your head in confusion, asking yourself how there are 13 days in the 12 days of cookies (haven't you heard of a baker's dozen?), I'll go right ahead and share the final recipe in this series.  It's a special one, a newbie just for you.

Chocolate crinkle cookies! 

Sometimes the universe tries to give us subtle hints that evolve into a slap across the face until we finally get the message.  That's what happened with these cookies.

First, I saw them flipping through my Betty Crocker Cooky Book a few weeks ago but was in the final days of wedding planning.  Then, I noticed that Iowa Girl Eats posted about them last week but became distracted with work and writing thank you notes.  Finally, the universe had had enough and pulled out all the stops.  There, on a gorgeous platter at coffee hour after church on Sunday were chocolate crinkle cookies.  [muffled mumbling amidst chewing]  "These are amaaaaaaaaazing!" I proclaimed.

I finally stopped fighting nature and got to work playing in the kitchen.  Best. Decision. Ever!

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 12 - Chewy chocolate chip

On the 12th day of cookies, my oven baked for me... the best chocolate chip cook-ieeeeee!  And, O.M.G., the best damn dough ever.  Raw eggs, you don't scare me :)

Listen, I know we're all very comfortable with the classic Toll House recipe, and it's certainly a worthy one.  But have you ever just wanted a little more out of the quintessential cookie?  A few years ago, encouraged by my then-boyfriend (now husband... so cah-razy!), I went on a search to find a recipe for super chewy chocolate chip cookies.  You know, similar in texture to the Keebler Soft Batch cookies but with less chemicals and more home-cooked flavor.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 11 - Chewy sugar cookies

11 days of cookies!  I can't think of a better way to spend that many days, other than a tropical vacation... which I'll be enjoying a week from tomorrow as Matt and I embark on our honeymoon.  But, until then, there are cookies to be shared, folks.

This next recipe is a real showstopper.  Since I first posted it almost two years ago, it has been the most searched for recipe on my blog.  Who knew something so simple could be such a showstopper?   Giant sugar cookies!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 10 - Homemade Oreos

On the tenth day of cookies, my husband (!!!) gave to me... homemade chocolate wafer sandwiches a.k.a. Oreos. 

And, let's be honest, while Matt has done a wonderful job in his new role, there is no way that he'd be giving me homemade Oreos... unless I baked them, and he physically brought them to me.  :)

Monday, December 12, 2011


...that Saturday wasn't just a dream :)

(Thanks, Becca!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How 'bout them apples

Hey, guess what?
I'm getting married today! :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 9 - Chocolate hazelnut smooches

(Phoning it in just a bit today... kiiiiinda preoccupied with last minute wedding details, folks!)

This particular cookie has been a favorite of mine for at least three years.  Three!  That's a lifetime in culinary years.  So, it's fitting that you only need three words to convince you that these oh so festive and yummy numbers are a must-bake this holiday season:

1. Nutella

2. kiss


3. cookie

Here's the recipe.  Just do it!

Previous posts in the 12 Days of Cookies feature:

Day 1 - Oatmeal raisin cookie
Day 2 - Orange creamsicle cookie
Day 3 - Black and white cookie 
Day 4 - Mom's molasses crinkles

Day 5 - Monster cookies
Day 6 - Snickerdoodles
Day 7 - Cloud cookies
Day 8 - Caramel stuffed apple cider cookies

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 8 - Caramel stuffed apple cider cookie

Today is my first day off work before the wedding... that's in 4 days!!!  Totally fitting that I'll be spending my day doing what I love the most -- running and baking!  So, without further ado, let's get to the real reason you're here... for the latest installment in the 12 days of cookies feature. 


That's the word my coworker's teenage son used to describe these cookies.  Right after that, he asked his mom if he could hire me to bake a few dozen of these.  If these cookies can tame an adolescent boy, imagine what they can do for you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 7 - Meringue (cloud) cookies

Light as a feather... sweet as a cookie!  That's how the saying goes, right? :)

In a sea of delicious drop cookies loaded with the fixin's (and, ahem, calories), this delicate and crisp melt-in-your-mouth cookie will shine and pleasantly surprise eaters everywhere.  With just six ingredients (five, if you omit the chocolate), they are practically calorie free at 35 whoppers a cookie.  In other words, make your own cloud cookies and chow down!

Want to make them extra festive?  Throw in a few drops of food coloring.  Here's the recipe to make your own batch of meringue cookies... be sure to double it because they disappear quickly!

Previous posts in the 12 Days of Cookies feature:

Day 1 - Oatmeal raisin cookie
Day 2 - Orange creamsicle cookie
Day 3 - Black and white cookie 
Day 4 - Mom's molasses crinkles

Day 5 - Monster cookies
Day 6 - Snickerdoodles

Monday, December 5, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 6 - Snickerdoodles

On a rainy (!) Monday, there are very few things that can convince me to leave my bed.  One is the fact that I have a full-time job and kiiiiiinda want to keep it.  But, an even better case is knowing I can whip up a hot bowl of cinnamon brown sugar oatmeal to stave off that "Oh my gosh why does air outside of my covers feel so freakin' freezing" chill.

There's just something about the smell of cinnamon that's so totally comforting and warming.  And, truth be told, there is something slightly better than aforementioned oatmeal for an all-over bundled up feeling: snickerdoodle cookies!

Toasty warm for the soul and apartment/home.  Think about all of the foods that you love to smell cooking so much, such as apple pie.  It's the cinnamon, yo!  Forget about those fruity tooty candles that will set you back $20 for a small-ish jar (Ridic, I know).  Instead, spend a fraction of that on a few ingredients and make your own snickerdoodle cookies!  Chewy, sweet, and a perfect candidate for dunking in both milk and hot cho.   Click here for the recipe.

Previous posts in the 12 Days of Cookies feature:

Day 1 - Oatmeal raisin cookie
Day 2 - Orange creamsicle cookie
Day 3 - Black and white cookie 
Day 4 - Mom's molasses crinkles

Day 5 - Monster cookies

Friday, December 2, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 5 - Monster cookies

I declare today fun cookie Friday!  If you're in the kind of mood that has you craving sweets but unable to decide what kind of sweet, these cookies are totes (that's how the kids say "totally" these days) what the doctor ordered!  And, by doctor, I mean the exact opposite -- the queen of saturated fat, bless her heart, Paula Dean.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 4 - Mom's molasses crinkles

As an adult, there are so many signs in the outside world that it's the holiday season.  Festive department store displays, serious discounts on butter at the grocery store (!!!), and a plethora of terrible jewelry commercials on TV, just to name a few.  I've realized that the best things, however, are a little less flashy and easily found at home.

My favorite tell-tale sign that Christmas lingered just around the corner, both growing up and now, has always been my mom's baking.  She'll be the first to admit that she's not crazy about cooking, but she is a an expert baker and I get my passion from her (remember what she was doing the night I was born?).

There was nothing better than coming home from school to discover that Mom's sweet shop had invaded the kitchen and filled the house with smells of butter and sugar.  Gone were the little tree centerpiece on the island and the holly tablecloth on the kitchen table.  In their place were dozens upon dozens of cookies on every cooling rack we owned of every shape and flavor.  Most people, okay including my dad, sister, and I, would've been slightly overwhelmed by the selection, not knowing what to eat first.  But there was always one that simply had to be my first taste of Christmas...