I went to Aldi this year to get a lot of my holiday baking ingredients. I definitely saved a ton of money doing it that way, but I also bought more than I needed. For example, I bought 3 bags of milk chocolate chips. I didn't even use any in my holiday baking. So, this morning, I was craving chocolate chip cookies, and conveniently there is a recipe on the bag of the Baker's Corner Milk Chocolate Baking Chips...so I made them. This recipe made more than I thought it would. I figured I would end up with 1-2 dozen, but I ended up with double--4 dozen! Had I known that, I would have made them for Christmas!
I don't go to Niagara on the Lake often, but when I do, I can't resist getting a butter tart. They are so delicious but so rich. You can't have more than one at a time. I have to say I blame Joel for introducing me to these delicious treats. I found this recipe from Closet Cooking as well. After the fact, I realize that I accidentally doubled the amount of butter in the recipe. I also was only able to make 11 crusts instead of a whole dozen. Next time, I might try making mini butter tarts using mini muffin tins.
Another cookie that I chose to make this holiday season was shortbread. I found this recipe here on Closet Cooking. I have never made shortbread before, but I love them, especially with a nice cup of tea. I thought for the holidays, to be a little festive, I'd try to somehow tie in some green and red, which is why I put dried cranberries and pistacios in one half of my batch. Then, since I had a bag of Heath bits, I put some of those in the other half of the batch. I rolled the dough out, but since I didn't have a fun shaped cookie cutter, so I used my 3 inch round one and cut them in half, making half moons. I think I may have rolled the dough out too thin because they were slightly thin and some broke when trying to get them off the pan, especially the Heath ones. Oh well, still edible and delicious!
Like I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to make "different" cookies this holiday season. One of those cookies that I tried were these from Joy the Baker. They looked so yummy in her pictures. I didn't use molases like her recipe says to, but that is only because I had brown rice syrup in my cabinet and I read somewhere that it could be a substitute for molases. As a result, my cookies are not quite as dark brown in color. I didn't get those cool little crackles on the top of mine either. But they still look and smell delicious. This recipe made about 2 dozen cookies, plus a few extra.
Jambalaya and Gumbo are 2 things we like very much but don't have often. I can't remember ever actually making Gumbo but I found a recipe in the cook book that came with my Crock Pot. This recipe is loosely based off of that. You see, we kind of forgot to start making dinner this morning when we woke up since we were both so consumed with going on our "top secret Christmas mission" for each other's gifts. So, when we got home at 5:00ish, we figured we had to modify. So we scrapped the use of the Crock Pot and made it on the stove instead. It was good, but a little spicy for my liking.
I remember going to craft shows with my mom when I was younger. One of the things I remember the most about the craft shows was the roasted nut stand. Without fail, there was always a booth that sold hot roasted nuts, and you could smell them a mile away! I've never actually made them myself, mostly because I had never found a recipe for them. When I found this recipe on The Sisters' Cafe, I figured it was worth a try. I decided to make these to go along with my Christmas cookies this year, which I still have not finished!
A few years ago, my mom received a loaf of this bread from a friend of hers at Christmas time. This year, when I was looking for something to make for the girls at work, I decided I would try this. I found mini ceramic loaf pans with christmas designs on them at AC Moore for $1 a piece. I made 3 batches of bread batter and it filled all 9 loaf pans with enough to spare to make probably 2 or 3 more! They all ended up overflowing and making my oven smoke. Anyway, after I cleaned it all up, I put the loaf pans in cute cellophane bags and gave them as gifts along with a recipe card for this bread. It was a success. They all loved it!
My cousin and I joined a bowling league this year. It's the same league that my parents have been on for several years. Every year, in December, they have a little "Christmas Party" where everybody brings a snack to share, pizza and wings are ordered, and you eat in between your games. Tonight just happens to be bowling night. I decided I was going to make a pizza dip to bring. I've seen several variations of this recipe floating around, but I decided to go with one that I had at a recipe swap with my sorority last year. It is super easy and I remember it being very good. I will serve it along with Triscuit crackers.
The other night, we made our own falafel wraps for dinner. We cheated and bought a box mix where we only had to add water. Surprisingly, they were actually pretty decent. On the side of the box (Fantastic Foods brand, I think) there was a recipe for "cucumber yogurt sauce" which sounded an awful lot like tatziki to me. I made it for our wraps and it was good. I used the leftovers to eat with bagel chips as a snack.
I didn't know what monkey bread was until about a year ago. It sounded so good and I was planning on buying one of those kits you see at the store-the ones that have the pan as well as the packaged ingredients. Then I found this recipe from Ezra Pound Cake, which was clearly a better option than buying yet another pan!
We have a bakery/cooking school near by and they have the most amazing chocolate cayenne cookies. When I found this recipe on Figs in My Belly it reminded me of them. This is the first of several kinds of cookies I plan to make it for Christmas this year. I wanted to try something a little different, instead of having the same cut-outs, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter blossoms, etc. that we seem to make every year.
I found this recipe on The Nest, but it originated from Cooking New American. Everything in it sounds great, especially the garlic part! I swear we must eat garlic every single day. This recipe couldn't have been any easier. I can see this becoming a staple in our house. It was the perfect thing to warm us up on a really really crummy night and we even have enough for tomorrow too!
We had these potatoes as a side dish with our dinner one night last week. They are delicous and incredibly easy. We started by pre-cooking our potato in the microwave. Pierce the potato in a few places with a fork and put it in the microwave (we put it on the potato setting). When it is done, cut it in half and scoop out the insides, putting them into a bowl. Mash the potato in and sprinkle in a little bit of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Replace the mashed potato back into the skins, sprinkle a bit more brown sugar on top with a few toasted walnuts. Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for 10-20 minutes.
I had a Christmas party tonight with some of my girlfriends. Every year, we do a dinner and each person brings something. This year I was in charge of a veggie dish. The dish that I made is somewhat of a family recipe. Somebody always seems to make this for each family function that we have. I can't say I can blame them because it couldn't be any easier! I doubled the recipe below for tonight. Quite honestly, I can't remember a time when the recipe wasn't doubled!
The other night, we made a slightly different variation of this recipe that I have made in the past. We've been on a meat-free kick lately and needed something quick for dinner so we put these together. They were pretty good, but honestly, they would be better as an appetizer than a meal. I think I'll try this again as individual crescent rolls for a Christmas party we'll be going to.
I found this recipe on 30 Bucks a Week. Joel used pita for his lunches very often so we decided to see what it would be like to make it ourselves. He made this one day while I was at work. While it used ingredients we always have on hand, he was discouraged by how long it took to make these. Although it tasted ok, we decided that from now on, it might be worth spending the extra buck or so to buy pre-made pita.
I found this recipe over at Annie's Eats. I changed it a little bit by making it meatless. I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and I omitted the chicken. I also don't have the patience to make my own crust, at least not yet, so I used a piece of puff pastry. It wasn't too hard and it turned out pretty good. The sauce was a little thick, even after adding double the amount of broth, but its ok. They definitely warmed us up on a cold night.
I found this recipe here from Joelen at What's Cookin, Chicago? It was different but pretty good. We scaled her recipe down, since it was just for the 2 of us, and we still had leftovers. The recipe below reflects my changes. It was definitely a decent meal on the lighter side, which was perfect for tonight.