Archive | December, 2012

Cookie Exchange Fun

11 Dec

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Don’t you just love cookie exchanges!!! I love everything about them. The fun and creative cookies you can make for your friends and family is amazing. There are just so many type of cookies out there, and then there is the curiosity of what you get in return. Eekk, I can’t wait!!! It doesn’t take much to make me happy as you can tell. Not many people I know get excited over Christmas Cookie Exchange. My husband loves it..only due to the fact that I leave with these cookies and come home with a ton more. More for him to enjoy I guess.

I love that this year our office decided to do this, and not some sort of gift exchange. Don’t you just hate buying gifts for people that you’re not sure if they will take your joke gift seriously or not. Or the minute you open up your gift, you know it’s either going to be a regift or put in the closet till you forget about it, collecting dust. So cookie exchange just seemed like the perfect fit for our office. The only deal was you had to bake the cookies, no ifs and or buts..I especially like the fact that are a few non-bakers in our office that are pushing their limits and baking something. Whether they turn out or not (and I am sure they will all turn out), it’s really the effort they put in that pleases me.

I had decided to make Candy Cane Cookies. These were very easy to make and so much fun. I love having colour in my cookies. They are just prefect for the holiday, so festive and cute. The more festive the cookie, the less guilty I feel for eating so many. What makes these cookies so special you ask? It’s the candy cane kiss right in the middle. Makes them so scrumptious and magical. If you’re leaving cookies out for Santa, these would be the kind he wants to munch on…just make sure everyone else in bed first, or else there wont be any left for him.

How can you say no to cookies like these…Here is the recipe for these wonderful cookies.

Candy Cane Cookies

1 bag Hershey’s Kisses brand Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
Red and Green colored sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrappers from candies (approx. 35)

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternatively with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in red and/or green colored sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 – 1o minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookies is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yields approximately 35 cookies.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Christmas Cookies Galore

9 Dec

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This weekend was all about the baking. With Christmas only a few weeks away, I had to finally buckle down and get baking. I managed to bake three types of cookies this weekend. Started Saturday afternoon and finally finished Sunday afternoon. I think of all the cookies I made this weekend, my favourite has to be the Christmas Crinkles. Who doesn’t love chocolate cookies.

The first batch of cookies I made were Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies. Lets think about this..Chocolate and Shortbread together….how can you go wrong on this? It just scream YUM!!
I found these the easiest to make. I love that you can be creative with these and put anything in the middle, jam, Nutella, chocolate, peanut butter..whatever your heart (or sweet tooth) desires. I find there are a few different types of recipes out there, but these are the easiest to make. This is a Martha Stewart recipe. I swear, what doesn’t this woman do??

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The second batch I made were Gingerbread Cookies. I’m not a big fan of these cookies, but I know my husband and his family enjoys them, so I made a small batch for them to enjoy as well. I’m pretty sure they will be the first ones gone. These were really quick to make, took about 10 min. for prep and 10 min for bake time. By the time I was done with these I was spent. I was done baking for the day.

This morning was a struggle getting out of bed. Who wants to leave the house when it’s -19C, -27 with the wind chill. But the Christmas shopping had to get done, or in my case, start it. Two weeks left and I just started my Christmas shopping. Yes, you can call me crazy. Now I have to deal with crabby mall shoppers who have all left their Christmas shopping to the end. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more men I see frantic on what to get their better half. It’s really funny to watch them. Asking random woman for advice, trying to figure out what perfume smells good and the best is when you see them trying to figure out sizes. I wonder if men have given up on all that and just go for the safety net…JEWELRY!! What girl doesn’t want that Christmas? Plus it’s the easiest thing for a guy to give as a gift. That’s probably why every store in the mall today that sold any type of jewelry was full of men. HA!!

After making my quick round through the mall, I came home and quickly started making one of my favourite cookies. Christmas Crinkles. These are so much fun to make and the chocolate cookies covered in powdered sugar makes them so decedent. To add a little fun to these, I added Hershey’s Cookies & Cream Chocolate in the centre. Seriously, you just can’t get enough of these cookies.

Here is a shot of my weekend baking. I love how my place just smells like a bakery.

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In between the baking and the cleaning, we did manager to sneak in a visit with some friends Diana, Jason and their adorable little boy Camilo. They have such a happy baby, just being around him melts my heart. For Christmas I wanted to get something that he could have with him on the plane as they are flying to Chile, so we got him a build a bear. Boy, the look on his face when he opened it up, reminded me of why I love Christmas so much. His eyes lit up as he smiled with delight, he couldn’t have been more happier to feel something so soft. Oh, how I love this time of year!!
Here is a little shot of baby Camilo…

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Yesterday was also my dads birthday. I called home ( or should I say Face Timed home) to wish him a happy birthday. My mom was as usual in the kitchen, and my dad was busy cleaning. The one thing that caught my eye when I talked to him, was seeing him so happy. I’m not sure if it was because he was enjoying the vacuuming or he was just in a happy mood. But I called at the right time! When you live far from home and don’t get to see your family often, knowing they’re happy puts a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. I know I couldn’t be there to help celebrate, but I was there in spirit!! Love ya dad!!! You truly are a wonderful father!! I’m so blessed to have a wonderful family, even if I don’t get to see them often.

Wicked Chicken Thursday

6 Dec

It’s been a long week and I feel like Friday should have been two days ago. Don’t you just hate weeks like this, where the days just drag on and on. Thankfully it’s almost Christmas and who doesn’t love this time of year. With the amount of goodies we get in our office, it just makes this time of year so much better. Don’t judge, but I have this profound love for chocolate in the morning. I look forward to getting into the office every morning as my breakfast is either, lady fingers, choice of cookies, chocolate or whatever other type of goodies is on our desk. If it contains chocolate, I’m eating it! It really is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s really the only time of the year you can get away with eating chocolate for breakfast.

My hubby is at a concert tonight, so I have the apt to myself. I had my whole night planned out tonight, I was going to come home and bake snickerdoodle, have dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. But damn is it ever hard to find cinnamon chips in this city. I have searched high and low, either they are always out, or they don’t sell them. So if anyone knows where to get some, please, please, please let me know. Cause I am on a mission to make these!!!

I decided to make a dinner that he wouldn’t normally eat, and that is pretty hard, cause this man eats pretty much anything. So I decided to make balsamic chicken, with a side of asparagus and quinoa. I have to say, I have a new found love for quinoa..I have no idea why I am only discovering this now. I feel like I can eat it with anything. It is just that good!! If you haven’t tried yet, I highly recommend it. Go ahead try it, you will love it. TRUST ME!!! This dish turned out to be a great combo. The flavours combined made this the ultimate dish. I marinated the chicken in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic for 30 minutes as I was in a hurry to make dinner. Even though it was only 30 minutes, the chicken turned out so tender, it just fell off the bone. Next time I make this dish I will probably marinate it overnight.

Here is how my dinner turned out. This is why I called tonight, Wicked Chicken Thursday. For full details of this recipe click here.

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Hot Chocolate Heaven

4 Dec

Boy have I gone to hot chocolate heaven!! Today was one of those days that all I wanted to do was come home have dinner and watch my favourite show, The Voice, fall into a coma on the couch and get ride of this lingering cold. I mean come on, who doesn’t love that show, watching a few bad boys and some great singers… I just had zero motivation to do anything. Thank god, my husband made dinner, as much as I wanted to cook, I would have probably used sugar instead of salt, or milk instead of cream. Yes, I am that tired and yes I have done that before. Every time I do something like this it takes me back to the story my parents told us years ago, that one day my grandmother used some type soothing muscle cream instead of toothpaste to brush her teeth. She must have had one heck of a brushing experience.
I’m sure everyone has one of those days where you have no desire to do anything but just relax. And today was one of those for me. However, while I was at work, I was craving soup and hot chocolate. Weird as I don’t like soup and I don’t like milk, so to me this was a weird combo!!! But I guess they are both comforting when you have a cold.
I found this amazing hot chocolate mix called Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. First of all the red velvet caught my eye, I am a lover of anything red velvet. I mean who is’t?? Red Velvet Trifle, Red Velvet Cup Cakes, oh I could just go on and on. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. It’s pretty simple and so good, I swear my tastebuds were doing the gangman dance. That’s how yummy this drink is!!
Top this tasty drink with a spoon full of cream cheese whipped cream and bang!! You have yourself a delicious hot chocolate, that makes any plain hot chocolate seem boring. This drink is the prefect drink to get you in the mood for Christmas season. I can’t wait to get to the ski hill this Christmas and sit by the fire and with a cup of this hot coco. Life just seems so perfect when you’re sitting by the fire.

Here is the recipe to this cup of heaven. When I make this again I will probably use a little less chocolate chips or use semi sweet squares instead.

4 cups whole milk
1 dash water
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. red food coloring
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 – 4 tbsn. whipped cream cheese, room temperature

In a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream and sugar. Whip on medium speed with the whisk attachment for 2 – 3 minutes. Just before peaks form, add the cream cheese and whisk for another 2 minutes. Taste and add more cream cheese to taste. Be careful not to over whip though, or else you’ll have butter! In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat. Add a splash of water and the chocolate chips, constantly stirring gently. When almost melted, add the red food coloring and stir. When the chocolate chips are thoroughly melted, pour the hot chocolate into mugs and top with the whipped cream.

For full details click here
(source: une-deuxsenses blog spot)

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Sunday Funday in the Kitchen

2 Dec

Today is a good day to stay inside. The weather outside is a gloomy winters day. Cold, wet and miserable. It pretty much reminds me of the winter days in Toronto, and those days suck. As much as I miss home, I don’t miss the winters there. So what better way to spend a gloomy day indoors, than to spend it in the kitchen.
Despite, my cold that I managed to get from my husband and a late night from a work Christmas party, I was able to spend sometime in the kitchen trying out some new lunch and dinner recipes. I maybe tired, but sometimes you are just never to tired to cook, especially when what you are making is just so yummy.
For lunch, I found this awesome sandwich through my favourite website Pinterest. Thank god for this site!! My husband loves sandwiches, it’s his favourite meal. So when I saw this sandwich I immediately thought of him. It looked really good, however, I was hesitant to make it when I saw that you needed yogurt for it. Frankly I cant stand yogurt. The taste, the smell, yes I know there are kinds that don’t have a smell to them, but still the thought of it being in my food just doesn’t sit right with me. And after watching my sister try yogurt for the first time, I don’t think I will ever try it. But I figured I could just replace the yogurt with ricotta cheese and make it taste even better, I also replaced the basil pesto with sundreid tomato pesto and mixed it together. This created what has to be the best mix ever!! Not sure why I never thought of putting these two together, what a a great combination to put in your panini. Together with arugula salad, tomatoes, chicken and mozzarella, this creates a full of flavour sandwich. I’m not a big sandwich fan, but this definitely gets my husband and mines approval.

Here’s the recipe. I had a few substitutes, but if you like yogurt, you may want to try it with yogurt instead of ricotta.

Chicken Pesto Sandwich
INGREDIENTS:

2 cups shredded chicken breast
1/2 cup basil pesto, or more to taste
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 baguette, cut into 3-4 equal pieces, toasted, for serving
Arugula, for serving
Sliced tomatoes, for serving
4 ounces mozzarella, thickly sliced

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Dinner

Sunday dinner in our house has always been the usual. One week pasta, the next roast, then chicken, and repeat. It’s not that I don’t like all of those things, it was just becoming a little boring. I needed to put a little creativeness into our dinner and try something new every once in awhile. We came up with a great idea that every Sunday one of us would come up with a new recipe and create something we have never tried before. It may not always be a keeper, an trust me I have made some horrible dinners. They look so good in the picture, but it taste so bad you cant even eat it. But at least way we are discovering some new recipes and exploring our food options since we are both foodies.
This Sunday happens to be my turn to cook, and I was very much looking forward to making my chicken picata. Thank god I did, cause this turned out to be such a delicious meal. The meat was tender and the lemon caper sauce turned out incredible. The fact that it was so simple to make and only took 30 minutes, makes this dish even better.
The great thing about this dish is that it’s best of both worlds, pasta and meat and I love my pasta. I added asparagus to go with it as a side, but you could pretty much use any type of veggies with this meal.

Here is the recipe taken from Pinterest. Happy cooking!!

2 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise, to form 4 thin cutlets
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
8 ounces Angel hair pasta
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the full recipe and direction click here

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