Thursday, December 20, 2012

Andes Mint Chocolate Covered Cookies

Recently at work there was a Christmas Cookie Bake-off.  I really wanted to compete since I wasn’t able to compete in the Halloween Bake-off.  (It was on a Wednesday, and my weekdays leave NO TIME for baking!)  I wanted to make something festive & delicious.  My first thought went to the Double Ginger Crackles in my blog because I LOVE them (duh, ginger).  But, ginger can be a bit polarizing.  What if one of the judges hated ginger?  My next flavor thought was peppermint, so I turned to a cookie I bookmarked last year, these Peppermint Bark Cookies from Annie’s Eats.  So that’s what I made and entered.  Or I guess you could say Elliott & I made, because the boy did not want to be put down!  Good thing I have my trusty Ergo carrier!  Sadly I didn’t get a photo, because I started the cookies mid-Sunday (and they require 2 hours of chilling in the fridge), I finished them Sunday night, and packaged them up for the contest as soon as they completely cooled.  My mornings don’t have a moment of free time between getting myself & Elliott ready, as well as walking the dog, so I wasn’t able to snap a photo.  I was pretty busy at work, so I didn’t snap a photo there either.  Not even an iPhone photo!  You can see beautiful photos of the completed cookies on Annie’s post.  This is the closest you’ll get to a photo of them from me:

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{Elliott & I in cookie-making action.  I am wearing him in my Ergo carrier in the “hip carry” position.}

Now, you’re probably wondering why I just went on & on about Peppermint Bark cookies, when the title of this post is clearly ANDES MINT.  Well you see, while I was making the dough for the cookie base, I got the idea to do two versions.  One peppermint bark, the other as Andes mint.  A local cupcake shop I love and adore, Cupcake Collection, has been tweeting about their special Andes Mint cupcake, and I’d been craving Andes Mint for weeks because of them!  I knew if it worked so well in their cupcake, it would work well for these cookies too.  I really wished I’d had the opportunity to make both versions for the bake-off.  I just simply ran out of time & energy.

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As it would be, the Peppermint Bark Cookies & I did not win the bake-off.  Bummer…  The back of my mind kept wondering if I had of made & entered the Andes mint version, would I have won?  Of course, we’ll never know.  But I did want to satisfy my curiosity as to how the Andes Mint cookie would taste!  So, here they are.  A soft, brownie-like cookie, with melted Ghiradelli chocolate, and chopped Andes Mints.  I debated whether or not to chop the Andes Mint myself, or use the baking bits.  I bought both, but as you can see used the baking bits.  Now I wished I’d chopped them myself.  I think these baking bits are great when baked into a cookie, but as you can see they look a bit dry on top.  The freshly opened & chopped Andes Mint would have been more appealing to the eye.  But nonetheless, these cookies were SUPERB!  I even think they edged out the Peppermint version.  But that may be because I’m more of a mint fan over peppermint.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Gingerbread Syrup

I wasn’t kidding around when I said I have entered the era of gingerbread.  I’ve really enjoyed gingerbread lattes I’ve had from various local coffee shops.  I already make my own ginger syrup to add in coffee & cocktails, so when it came time for another batch, I decided to make a seasonal version.  This has just the perfect amount of spice, along with the kick of fresh ginger.  The molasses is what really brings it on home to complete the gingerbread flavor.

I’ve been enjoying this in iced coffee, warm coffee, and whiskey cocktail drinks (with a splash of apple cider).  If I had an espresso machine I would make gingerbread cappuccinos and sip them with delirious joy.  I seriously think I might slather this on pancakes next.  This syrup would also make a great homemade food gift.  Or, if you are selfish like I am, make a double batch and hoard it all for yourself.  What you see photographed is a DOUBLE BATCH, and I expect it to last me at least 2 weeks.  ;)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sugar Coated Gingerbread Twists

If years 2008-2011 were “the era of pumpkin” then 2012 has ushered in “the era of gingerbread” in full force.  I just can’t get enough of the ginger/gingerbread flavor.  I know a lot of people get excited about the pumpkin spice lattes or peppermint mochas appearing at the big brand coffee shops, but I’ve opted for anything with seasonal spice over pumpkin every time this year.  So, when it came time to choose a cookie for my Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I knew just what flavor direction to look towards.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

I loved this delightfully different gingerbread cookie!  It’s not a roll-out cookie cutter gingerbread man, but a puffier option.  It has a spicy kick from the fresh ground black pepper.  I think the raw/turbinado sugar adds a sparkly festive look as well.  These pair well with coffee in the morning, or just as an afternoon treat.  I hope my cookie swap recipients enjoyed them!  I think these would be a great addition to your upcoming cookie swap, cookie bake-off, or holiday gathering!

I sent these to Christina at The Dough Will Rise Again, Karla at Forty Cakes, and Brigitt at Cook with B.  I received Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (and mint hot chocolate!) from Secrets from the Cookie Princess, and Chocolate Shortbread Squares from Julie at White Lights on Wednesday.  So delicious!

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cabbage Gratin

This cabbage gratin is a recipe I’ve made quite a few times the past couple years.  Around October & November I find myself with a surplus of cabbage.  My summer share CSA ends around this time, and sometimes I join the winter share which begins now too, and I’ll often get a head of cabbage in both.  Other than coleslaw, I wasn’t really quite sure what else to make with the cabbage.  My mother suggested boiled cabbage which is a nasty, disgusting way to eat a perfectly good vegetable.  Ugh… I still have distinct memories of the horrible smell & taste of boiled cabbage!

I remember once asking on Twitter for cabbage recipes, to which my friend Beth led me to this recipe on her blog.  I really wasn’t sure if we’d like it, but I was up to my ears in cabbage at the time so I gave it a shot.  We were pleasantly surprised when we really enjoyed it!  It seems Nathan too had bad memories of cabbage cooked wrong in his house as well.

This is a pretty simple meal to throw together.  The end result is warm & satisfying.  It can stand alone, or is a great side dish, or even brunch item.  Most recently I had both green & purple cabbage to use, so I used both, but feel free to use only green cabbage.  I must say, as tasty as this is, it doesn’t always photograph well!  Luckily, this is a dish that we enjoy, so it seemed I would always have another opportunity finally capture the right shot.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mustardy Kale & Butternut Squash

I feel like I’ve been a total slacker about sharing what we’ve been doing with our CSA box this year.  It’s just so hard to manage to snap a photo these days, especially with daylight savings time and all.  Plus we’ve been doing a lot of repeats, or incredibly simple stuff.  We actually opted to do a winter CSA again this year with Delvin Farms when our neighbors expressed interest in sharing one.  Nathan & I have found we really love the extension of the wonderful local organic greens, winter squash, & sweet potatoes.

When planning meals for the week I knew I wanted to pair the kale and butternut squash.  I knew they paired well together from my previous post of a Kale, Squash, & White Bean Stew.  I did some recipe browsing and settled on this recipe from Real Simple.  I often have success with the recipes I use from there, as they usually are REAL (as in they use “real” ingredients, less processed things) & SIMPLE.  I don’t have time for 14 step Bon Appetit or Gourmet recipes these days (heck, I’m not sure I had that much time before I had a kid!), so recipes that come together quickly without crazy ingredients are a necessity.

The mustard addition brings a new taste to the squash & kale, as I don’t know I’ve had either of them with mustard.  It’s a nice departure from doing anything vinegar-y with the kale, or something creamy with the squash.  This will most definitely be in regular rotation for us.  We paired it with bone-in pork chops, and it was a wonderful meal!

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