Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes2

Remember my post last year for when I made Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, where I mentioned that I bought myself a Ninja Blender?

Well, my Ninja went to Ninja Blender Heaven guys. At least, the pitcher and the lid did. Fortunately the actual base/machine part is fine.

Yeah, there’s a story to this one too.

We had ourselves a regular homicide here. Murder in the first degree…. by a dish washer.

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Before you guys call me an idiot, in my defense let me just say that I’d always been able to wash the pitcher and lid of my Ninja in our previous dish washer without any issues whatsoever. I wouldn’t say that they’re made of plastic, it felt much thicker than that and not the kind of thing that would easily melt or be destroyed in a dish washer.

But  the dish washer in our new place is much newer than the old one and I guess that means that they get a LOT more hotter.

You can tell where this story is going. I washed the pitcher and the lid in the dish washer and when I opened the door to take them out and put them away, I saw the ridge of the pitcher and the grooves of the lid had been melted so that they were…wavy.  Also, unusable.

I wasn’t a very happy camper.

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The good thing about these kinds of appliances is that it’s actually possible to purchase separate pieces of the whole thing. I went on the Ninja website and it turns out another pitcher won’t put be back anymore than about 40-50 bucks (plus shipping). This was significantly less than what I paid for the machine as a whole, so that was a huge relief to me.

Still, it didn’t solve a new problem that I had. I wanted to make scratch sweet potatoes and for the particular recipe I wanted to use, I had planned on using my blender. Yet another setback. But as with my Chicken and Biscuits snafu, I just diverted to plan B and decided to use my hand mixer. The potatoes probably wouldn’t be quite as smooth as they could be if they’d been pureed in a Ninja, but whatevs. Personally, I’m fine with a few lumps in my spuds.

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Okay, so I know this one may sound….weird.

Vanilla bean with sweet potato; at the least it sounds like something you’d eat with dessert, right?

Except, no. It isn’t really. I was even somewhat surprised myself at how well the vanilla works with the sparse other seasonings here to make this really work well for a savory side dish. There IS an obvious sweetness, but there’s still a pretty good balance with the salt, pepper and onion powder. This dish was RIDICULOUSLY easy to do, it just required a little bit more time for me to get the sweet potatoes to the consistency I wanted them at using my hand mixer. If you guys have a heavy duty blender like a Ninja or a food processor, I’d definitely recommend using it in lieu of the hand mixer if for nothing else, to be able to spar the strain on your wrists.

But regardless of whatever way you prepare them, I think you’ll like how these turn out.

Happy Fiesta Friday #105 where I’ll be linking this post up to. The party this week is co-hosted by Lily @ Little Sweet Baker andJulianna @ Foodie On Board.

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Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes


Recipe Adapted from Food and Wine

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • Onion powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly, then peel and transfer them to a standing mixer or to a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the butter and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean.

With the stand mixer (or hand held mixer) running, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and beat with the paddle attachment (or the beaters on the handheld mixer) until smooth. Season the sweet potatoes with onion powder, salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

Improv Chicken and Biscuits

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I think I should start this post off by being completely honest about something:

This was supposed to be a different dish.

Not a HUGELY different one, but a different one all the same.

It just didn’t happen that way. Because…stupid stuff.

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I originally set out to use my new springform pan to bake a deep dish chicken pot pie that I’ve had my cooking eye on for a while. I had a spare pie crust in my freezer that’s been there since I made my Deep Dish Apple pie a few months back. I thought that since it’d been in the freezer all this time, and since I could still see the chunks of butter in the dough that it would be okay to just thaw in the fridge and use, thus sparing me the necessity of making another pie crust from scratch.

I thought.

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So what had happened was, I rolled out the thawed pie crust and lined it in my springform pan. I thought it felt and looked fine. There waaaaaas a tiny little problem though: I didn’t have parchment paper and/or pie weights or beans to place on top of the crust while it pre-baked in the oven. All I had was aluminum foil.

So I knocked on wood,placed a layer of foil on top of crust and put it in the oven and waited for something to happen.

And turns out, something DID happen…it just wasn’t a very good something.

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About ten minutes into the bake, (just to be on the safe side) I looked in the oven and lifted the foil.

Yeah so….the crust was collapsing in the pan in a gelatinous, greasy pile. It was a hot mess.

No WAY was this gonna work.

To be perfectly honest, I have NO idea what I did wrong, guys.

Maybe I really did need the parchment paper and pie weights. Like, maybe they were the “heart and soul” of the recipe. (Doubt it, but hey, could be.)

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It’s very possible and likely that the fats in the butter of the frozen pie crust over the long period of time had in the freezer, I don’t know….evaporated? Maybe there’s an expiration date on frozen pie crust. I didn’t think so, but maybe there is. If one of you out there happens to be a food scientist, maybe you can explain it to me.

But then, I’m also half convinced that the oven in our new apartment hasn’t been properly calibrated. Despite being an electric range like our last one was,  it takes longer to bake things in this oven than the allotted time for recipes–sometimes much longer. I’m planning on going out and buying an oven thermometer this weekend and testing the temps to confirm my suspicions. I’m hoping I’m wrong about that though.

Regardless, my plans for a deep dish chicken pot pie were screwed.

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The problem was, I couldn’t just walk away. I’d already started making the filling. I’d involved myself. I was committed to this now.

After promptly shoving the misshapen blob of deceased, failed pie crust into the trash can, I took a step back and thought: How was I going to salvage this dish to my satisfaction? Technically, I could’ve just made the filling and served it all on its own. I just didn’t want to do that.

I had started cooking with the expectation that we were going to have chicken pot pie for dinner, not just chicken pot pie filling. I wanted the carbohydrate-stick to your-ribs-chicken pot pie-experience. You can’t get that with filling all on its own: that’s just called a chicken stew.

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As a general habit, I try to always have a box or two of frozen butter in my freezer at all times. That way, I always have butter that’s cold enough to make two things whenever I want: pie crust, and biscuits. After the embarrassing defeat of my other failed pie crust, I wasn’t up for making another one of those just then. Biscuits were an easier and quicker alternative (especially considering I only had a few more hours left until it would too dark outside for me to take pictures.)

I still had quite a bit of fresh rosemary left from making the filling that was meant to go in my pie. So I  called an audible and decided that I was going to make rosemary scented buttermilk biscuits to serve with the chicken filling.

Fortunately, the biscuits came together VERY quickly and easily. I was in a frustrated, frenzied hurry so I actually handled and kneaded at the dough much more than I’m usually comfortable with when I make biscuits, and they STILL came out flaky and tender on the inside. With some chicken filling spooned on top of these babies, you really are in for what I like to think of as the quintessential winter comfort food that makes you want to take a nap as soon as it’s gone. So despite my snafu with the failed pie crust, I still feel pretty good about how I rocked this out. It turned out well.

Y’know, thanks to improvisation and stuff. Thus the name of the recipe.

(I’ll be taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #104, co-hosted this week by Mila @ milkandbun and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.)

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Improv Chicken and Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Food 52 & Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • cups chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • sprigs rosemary
  • sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp. honey mustard (depending on taste preference)
  • cups chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 large rotisserie chicken)

For the Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs, 1 whole, 1 beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups (13 ounces) all-purpose or low-protein biscuit flour, such as White Lily or Adluh
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) frozen unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

For the Chicken:

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the bag of frozen veggies, cook for further 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more. Remove the vegetables from the pot.

Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is just starting to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the vegetables back to the pot, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Season with salt, black pepper, onion powder and the honey mustard. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cream, and chicken and return to a simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the mixture from the heat.

For the Biscuits:

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, cream, and whole egg.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and chopped rosemary. Using the large grates on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the flour mixture and toss gently with a spatula until fully coated. Working quickly and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until butter forms marble-sized pieces. Alternatively, add flour mixture and butter to food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times to form marble-sized pieces; transfer to a large bowl.

Add buttermilk mixture and gently mix with a fork until just combined; the dough should look somewhat dry and shaggy. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Form dough into a rectangle, lightly pressing and folding to bring it together; avoid squeezing or kneading the dough.

Fold dough into thirds like a letter. Using rolling pin, roll out dough and repeat folding once more. Roll out dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic and transfer to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Return dough to work surface, and, using a 3-inch round cookie-cutter and pressing down without a twisting motion, cut out biscuits as closely together as possible. Gather together scraps, pat down, and cut out more biscuits; discard any remaining scraps. Brush the top of each biscuit with egg-wash.

Bake the biscuits in a 400°F oven until risen and golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with the smothered chicken.

Fluffy Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

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Is it too late to wish all you guys a Happy New Year? No?

Ok then, well… Happy New Year!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but the 12 Days of Christmas series always does sap a lot of energy out of me, and this year I was also doing it while we were in the process of moving to a new place. By the time I put up my most recent post on Christmas Eve, I was pretty exhausted and in much need of a break. So I took one.

I hope your year’s been off to a promising start. Mine certainly has.

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Apart from the fact that the new (and sadly, the last) season of Downton Abbey always comes to America the first week in the new year, the beginning of January also marks the birthdays of several people in my family that are clustered together. This includes one particularly important person to me that I’d like to share a few words about in brief snapshots of my memory.

(This is going to get sentimental. Very sentimental. You’ve been warned.)

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To the woman who let me and my sisters crowd around her on a bed while she read aloud from “Great Expectations” as our ‘bedtime’ story and made me discover my great and all-consuming love of books and subsequently, writing.

To the woman who would wake us up for school with a chipper rendition of “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bobbin Along” until we all laughed and forgot how sleepy we were.

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To the woman who would pile us all into the backseat of our car and drive to chase sunsets (back in the days when gas was cheap as dirt, of course).

To the woman who when I cried and was sad, was always willing to rock and hold me and sing “You Are My Sunshine” until I felt better.

To the woman/wonderful cook who was nothing but completely encouraging and supportive when I made the hefty decision to start learning to cook for myself.

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AND, to the woman who shares my opinion that yellow cake with chocolatey fudge frosting is the BEST type of cake there is.

It was your *bleep*th birthday: so I made you one.

And we both of us thought it tasted pretty awesome.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

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Yellow cake is usually something that people don’t get unless it comes out of a box of cake mix. I’m not gonna knock yellow cake mix too hard; so long as you’re eating it in the first two days after it was made, then it’s actually pretty tasty.

But after making this recipe twice, I really must insist…there’s still NO substitute for yellow cake and chocolate frosting made from scratch. There just isn’t.

Even after running into a momentary setback with the new oven temperature in our new place, this cake recipe proved very forgiving and STILL came out great. The buttery richness that we all love to see in yellow cake really comes through with the 6 egg yolks, while the whites made it plenty moist and fluffy. And the milky, chocolate fudgey frosting…wow. I had to resist the urge to just eat it clear off of a spoon. The folks at ATK prove time and time again that they know what they’re doing.

I’ll be sharing my mom’s birthday cake with you wonderful people at the Fiesta Friday #102 party, co-hosted this week by Elaine @ foodbod and Julie @ Hostess at Heart– both GREAT ladies, with great blogs.

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Fluffy Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting


Recipe Courtesy of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

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Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour, plus extra for the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Frosting

  • 20 tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • Pinch table salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

For the Cake:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9-inch wide by 2-inch high round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, 1 1/2 cups of the granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla and egg yolks.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 30 to 60 seconds (the whites should hold a peak but the mixture should still appear moist). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the flour mixture to the now empty mixing bowl. With the mixer till fitted with the whisk attachment and running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir one third of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula. Lightly tap the pans against the countertop two or three times to settle the batter. Bake until the cake layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and cool before frosting, about 2 hours.

For the Frosting:

Using a standing or hand held mixer, cream the butter, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and salt together until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix until just combined, about 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the chocolate and mix together until smooth and creamy, about 10-15-seconds.

Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one (evenly leveled) cake layer on the platter. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the frosting evenly across the top of the cake with a spatula. Place the second cake layer on top, then spread with the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.

Merry Christmas to All (and a Happy New Santa Bread)!

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Hey guys!

I know that we officially closed out the 12 Days of Christmas series a few days ago but I still wanted to take one last opportunity to throw out a great big Happy Holidays to all of you and your families whatever it is that you’re celebrating. Please rest up, cook lots, eat more, give a bunch, and above all, have fun.

Thanks for tuning in with me for the Christmas goodies series. I hope you got a chance to try some of them out, or at least get to bake up some of your own. And as an added bonus, I thought that I would throw out one extra recipe for ya. I initially was going to just discard this post as an unnecessary extra on the “cutting room floor”, but then I thought, “Hey, it’s Christmas, I can’t cut Santa!” and decided to just make it a bonus recipe instead.

Would you be surprised to know that this entire beautiful thing is made of  a delicious, slightly sweet golden egg bread? Not only that, it really isn’t as hard to make as it looks. It’s a great way to show off to all the family when you bring it out to the table and who doesn’t love to do that?

Well, that’s a wrap for me. I’m off to chill and listen to Christmas carols.

Have an AWESOME holiday you guys :-)

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Golden Santa Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Taste of Home

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Ingredients

  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 raisins
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring

Directions

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Beat in eggs until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.

Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa’s head and hat.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa’s face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat.

With a scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins into slits. Let rise lightly covered with plastic wrap in a warm place for a further 30-40 minutes.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk; carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks. Brush plain yolk over remaining dough.

Cover loosely with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

(I’m also linking this post up with the 100th Fiesta Friday party, co-hosted this week by Judi, Molly, Steffi, and Suzanne. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays ladies ;-))

Sugar Cookie Cake

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You know the only thing I love more than Christmas?

The build up to the actual day.

I love the period from November 1st to December 24th MUCH more than I love December 25th.

It’s not because I don’t love Christmas. I do. It’s just something about the anticipation to Christmas that I actually love a lot more.

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During that period of roughly 50 or so days, I get to listen to all the Christmas music, watch all the Christmas movies and do all the Christmas baking I want. I get to walk through bustling malls and department stores that are decorated in holiday apparel and shop or just soak up the commercial atmosphere (I am into that kind of thing sometimes, guilty)

I can stretch it out  and milk it for all it’s worth.

And I DO milk it for all it’s worth.

Christmas Day itself is often to me, too busy and sometimes chaotic to really be able to “stop and enjoy”.

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You wake up (sometimes early, but sometimes late). You open presents. You congregate and socialize with family. You cook. You eat Christmas dinner. You clean up the kitchen You go to a movie (or watch football). You come home. You go to bed.

Boom. It’s over. Just like that.

And then, THEN you have nothing but the long, dreary doom and gloom of January/February/March to look forward to until Spring starts to creep back around.

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Every year without fail, I always wake up on Christmas morning wishing that it was November 1st all over again. With-out-fail.

It comes too fast. It leaves too fast. That’s my feeling about Christmas…and, about this series.

Because guess what?

We made it to the end. This post marks the 12 recipe in our 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport. We made it to the end.

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Just as it has been for the past two years, when the series is over I really do get a strong sense of nostalgia to go right when it first started. As much work as I have to put into it, I really do enjoy baking. And baking at Christmas for me just somehow feels even better and is even more enjoyable. Yes, even when I have to do it in these great big spurts where I churn out three or four recipes at a time then scramble to photograph/edit/and write posts for them.

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Am I saying that I’m gunning to crank out another twelve of these babies anytime soon? Nahhhhh, I wouldn’t go that far. I’m DEFINITELY going to enjoy a break from the constant baking/photographing grind. As will my feet, I can assure you.

But I do miss the experience already. It’s a blast, and I honestly can’t wait until I get to start it all over again next year.

I thought I make our last recipe go out with a bang.

As you guys already know about me, sugar cookies are my favorite type of cookie to eat, no matter what the season. Give me a sugar cookie over anything. Amen.

And for all the rest of you sugar cookie lovers out there, I think you ought to give this baby a try.

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It’s like, the sugar cookie of our dreams. It’s stupid easy. There’s no chilling or rolling out or cutting out of any dough. It’s thick. It’s soft. It’s chewy.

AND IT’S FRIGGIN’ ICED.

For a simple holiday dessert that looks every bit as good as she tastes, do try a Sugar Cookie Cake.

I’d like to once again thank everybody who followed along, liked or commented on the posts for this years’ 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog. You guys really are the best. Don’t worry: I AM going to reply to every single comment left on the posts. It’s just something that with the hectic process of baking/posting AND our move to a new place that I haven’t gotten to be as diligent at as I want to be. But I’ll get to it. Pinky Promise.

 

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti

Day 12: Sugar Cookie Cake

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Sugar Cookie Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups (14 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring (I used Wilton Juniper Green)
  • Red & Green festive nonpareils

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture, bit by bit, to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared cake pan, using your fingers to smooth the surface. Bake the cake until the edges just begin to turn golden, 26 to 28 minutes. (The center should still be soft.) Allow to cool completely. Run a knife along the edges of the pan before turning out and frosting. Store the cookie cake in an airtight container until ready to frost and serve; the cake is best served within 2 to 3 days.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Scoop out half of the frosting and set aside. Add a dollop of green food coloring to the remaining frosting and continue beating, adding more color as necessary, until desired shade of green is reached.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the white frosting over the top of the cookie cake. Transfer the green frosting to a piping bag fitted with a leaf tip. Hold the piping bag so the points of the tip are horizontal, like a bird’s beak, and position just over the edge of the cake. Squeeze hard to create the base against the cake, then quickly raise the tip, releasing pressure at the same time.

Pipe a row of leaves around the perimeter of the cake, then sprinkle nonpareils around the border. Refrigerate cake for about 15-30 minutes, just to let the icing set.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

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One of the most important things I try to remember about life and people in general is that sooner or later, at some point or other, everybody makes mistakes.

Nobody’s perfect.

Stuff happens.

Sometimes, you just mess up.

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For example: I remember being in the fourth grade and being in a class play of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I had one of the lines Lucy says. I can even remember it now: “Now Linus, I want you to take a good look at Charlie Brown’s face. Would you please hold still Charlie Brown? This is what you call a failure face.”

It’s actually a pretty cruel thing to say, but for some reason, when my cue came, I got a MAD case of the giggles. For about 10-15 seconds, I just couldn’t stop laughing. I got the line out eventually, but it was definitely not one of my finer moments on the stage.

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I watched an episode of the Price is Right where one of the models accidentally gave the contestant playing a game the correct answer in a price guessing game. She literally turned beet red and hid behind the sign in embarrassment. I hoped she got to keep her job.

Every Windows update since Vista has been a mistake. They should really get to work on fixing it.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti6

I’m sure all of us by now have heard about the Miss Universe pageant last night, where the host Steve Harvey accidentally crowned the runner up as the winner instead of the actual one. I have several personal issues/dissensions of opinion with some of Steve Harvey’s perspectives about women and relationships, but even I kinda felt bad for him for making that mistake.

I think I feel even worse for both Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia.  Miss Colombia must have been humiliated and devastated to think that she won the crown at first, then have to lose it in front of millions of people. Even though she won, Miss Philippines probably felt as though her moment of victory was spoiled by the gaffe that will likely follow her everywhere now.

But like I said, people make mistakes. Stuff happens.

Kinda like with this recipe.

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To be perfectly honest, I had one of those moments when first setting out to make it a few days ago. As easy as it is to put together biscotti, I still actually managed to mess up my first batch. What had happened was, after I put together the dough I was supposed to pat it into 2 separate logs measuring about 6-8 inches long, arranging them vertically on a sheet pan.

But for some reason, I missed that part of the recipe. What I ended up doing instead was making two logs that were actually more like 10-12 inches long and arranging them  horizontally on the sheet pan. About ten minutes after I put it in the oven and I saw how much the dough was spreading, I realized I had DEFINITELY done something wrong. I took a second look at the recipe and heaved a great big sigh. Then, I took out the sheet pan and promptly shoved the whole shebang into the garbage bin, and started again.

As you can see…I got it right the second time. These REALLY do taste like regular snickerdoodle cookies.

If at first you don’t succeed: try, try again.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti

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Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Recipe Courtesy of Food.com

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Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white

Directions

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure flour into a large bowl using the scoop and level method. Add 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.

Mix oil, vanilla and whole eggs in a small bowl, and add to the large bowl (your dough will be dry and quite crumbly).

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 7 or 8 times.Divide in half. Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them six or so inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick.

Combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes.

Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again.Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees F and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more. They’ll be soft in the middle but will harden as they cool.

While biscotti are in their final bake, combine the remining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small, shallow dish with a fork. When the biscotti are done, dip both flat sides into the cinnamon sugar mixture, then set on a wire rack to cool.

Café Coffee Cookies

Cafe Coffee Cookies1

Baking twelve batches of Christmas goodie recipes is no small task, guys,

It’s a whole lot of butter, sugar, flour.

A.WHOLE.LOT.

Like, I don’t think you understand how much of those three things you’re going to end up using.

And spilling. And cleaning up.

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Eventually stuff just starts blurring together; the sound of the mixer, the stray sprinkles that fall on the kitchen floor, the empty eggshells and used butter wrappers, the measuring cups and measuring spoons that you continually have to rinse out and dry between recipes, the sound of the oven buzzer going off telling you to take the next ‘batch’ out. You run out of counter space and end up having to get ‘creative’ to find spaces to let your bakes cool off and or set up. You go through countless rolls of paper towel, parchment paper and aluminum foil.

Cafe Coffee Cookies3

Also, your feet swell and ache from standing up for hours.

I pretty much turn into a mixing, measuring, baking Elf for this series.

But somehow, I still end up loving it.

Cafe Coffee Cookies6

Spoiler Alert, guys: as much as I love doing the series, I actually don’t end up keeping/eating most of the food I bake.

I mean, come on: it would just be a bad idea for me to keep 12 batches of baked goods in my house. I probably wouldn’t be able to fit out the door of my house if I did that. Plus, Christmas is the season of giving, right?

So, what I usually try and do is give away as much of the treats as possible to people I know; neighbors, family, friends. I send it to Christmas parties and potlucks. There’s a lady in my grandparents church who gets the bulk of them to pass out to kids in her neighborhood.

In short, when you do this much baking at a time, it’s just best for you to share the wealth…most of the time.

Cafe Coffee Cookies2

Except, that’s not exactly what happened with these. This time around, I didn’t want to “share the wealth”, I wanted to hoard it. So I did.

These cookies, I kept. All for myself. That’s how yummy they are.

It may have something to do with my being somewhat of a coffee addict, but I seriously loved these cookies. They’re soft, fudgy and rich. The combination of chocolate and coffee works SO well here. The flavor really is reminiscent of  your favorite latté at a coffee shop. Because I’m such a huge coffee fan, I did bump up the amount of instant coffee in my dough to 4 tbsp. However, because I know that not everyone is as fond of coffee as I am, I kept the printed recipe as I originally found it. (But if you love coffee as much as I do, I recommend bumping it up).

There’s only two more days left of our series, guys. Whoop whoop.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

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Cafe Coffee Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Betty Crocker

Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso coffee (dry)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 bag (11.5 or 12 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks (2 cups)

 For Coffee Drizzle

  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso coffee (dry)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

In large bowl, beat granulated and brown sugars, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until creamy. Stir in flour, 1 tablespoon coffee granules, the baking soda and salt. Stir in pecans and chocolate chunks. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 350°F. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased large cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Cool 4 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon coffee granules in water. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle cooled cookies with Coffee Drizzle.