The Christmas Treats Clock Is Ticking…

Christmas is right around the corner!! :mrgreen: I can’t even believe it!

Have you gotten all of your holiday baking done yet????

Well as you know, I’ve been on a pretty mean baking streak lately, so just in case you’re a “Last-Minute Mary” like I often tend to be, here are a few of my favorite cookies and baked treats (New AND Old!) that may come in handy…

I promise, they’re all winners!! 😀

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Oreo Truffles

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

Maple Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies

Dark Chocolate Turtle Graham Bars

Lemon Curd Filled Butter Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Butterscotch Cheesecake Cookies

Blueberry Banana Bread

Granola Blondies

Aaaaand, just in case you’re all set on the baking front, how about some Christmas morning breakfast ideas?

Want to know what I’ll be eating on Christmas morning????

It’ll be the same recipes that I’ve been making ever since I received them in my 7th grade Home & Careers class. 😉

Overnight French Toast

and Egg Strata

Is it obvious I’m just a little bit excited for Christmas??

Or maybe I’m just as excited for the eating part of Christmas? 😉

Question for the Day:

Do you have any special meal traditions on Christmas Day?

In addition to my special breakfast seen above, my family always sits down to a nice lasagna dinner on Christmas, complete with Mom’s homemade sauce, meatballs, and bread. Mmmmmm. 😛

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How To Dress Up Your Baked Good Gifts

Remember the other day when I was getting ready to send off my Blogger Holiday Gift Exchange gift??

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Well, a couple of the goodies tucked away in that package were some of my homemade baked goods. 😛

After spending all those hours slaving away in the kitchen baking cookies, nothing satisfies me more than when I’m able to “share the wealth” with all those around me. 🙂

If I’m not creating cookie platters to bring to work, or sending trays in to work with the hubby, I really enjoy packaging everything up nice and neat for my recipients.

First, I start off by finding some cute little boxes to hold my goods. This year, I was able to find these little cuties at Wal-Mart for only $1.50 each.

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Then I try to use some festive-colored plastic wrap + a little curling ribbon to seal in the freshness of the baked goodies. Simply lining the inside of the boxes with tissue paper (or parchment paper) helps keep everything from “squirming” around. 😉

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When I give a gift of cookies or baked goods, I almost always like to include the recipe. Not only is it fun sharing it, but I think I have even more fun creating the recipe cards!

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This year, I simply typed up the recipes into a word document, and sized them to about the normal size of an index card. On the front I include the ingredients…

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…and on the back are where you’ll find the directions. 🙂

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To make things even more festive, and eye-catching, I usually try to find some different clip art images that “fit the bill.”

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Hopefully my recipient will enjoy her gifts! 🙂

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Because I know I sure enjoyed the gifts that I received! I was beyond excited when I found out who my “secret blogger” was…

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The one and only, Tina! 😀

Turns out, Tina totally knows the way to my heart…

Pretty silicone cupcake holders (I’ve never tried these before!!!)

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Appropriately-themed cupcake recipe cards & notepads

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And this absolutely adorable apron! Is this not wicked cute, or what?!? I can’t WAIT to start putting all these goodies to good use.

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Thank you SO MUCH, Tina!!

Question for the Day:

What special touches do you like to put (if any) on the gifts you give away??

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

As you know, this holiday season has consisted of two pretty major cookie baking marathons with mi madre. 🙂

During both of those baking days, I had very important cookies to bake for a very special Cookie Swap!

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And those cookies just so happen to be the ones that I’m finally about to share with you. 😉

As I found out earlier on Twitter, turns out these cookies ended up being quite a hit!

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I must say, I was really surprised on how soft they remained, even after freezing them for almost 2 weeks. And it’s all thanks to this pretty lady:

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Alas, as much as I would like to claim this recipe to be my own, it is the one and only Paula Deen who has once again struck gold with this fantastic recipe!

First, you’ll start out by mixing your butter and cream cheese. Yup, it’s a Paula Deen recipe, that’s for sure! 😉

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Next, add in your egg and vanilla.

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And beat until smooth.

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Next, comes this bad boy. 😉

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Beat the cake mix into the batter,

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which will then turn out looking like this:

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If you’re laughing right now, that is totally acceptable. My mom and I got a pretty good chuckle both times we made this dough; I mean, c’mon, really? Does it not look like…… 😯

Once you’ve gotten a handle on your laughing fit, go ahead and cover the dough and place it in the fridge for about 2 hours. Don’t worry, it will still look just as fun a couple hours later. 😉

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Now it’s time for the fun part!

Roll the chilled batter into balls and then roll them into in your confectioner’s sugar. *The original recipe says to roll into tablespoon sized balls – I did mine much smaller, just so I could get more “bang for my buck” – probably about 1/2 tablespoon.*

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Make sure those little buggers get nice and coated!

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Place ‘em all on an ungreased cookie sheet so they can start to work their magic. 😉

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After about 12 minutes, you’ve got some cookies!

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Ohhhhh, these are SO DARN GOOD. 😀 They have got to be some of the softest, gooiest cookies I’ve ever made. And when I tell you that they’re just as soft and gooey two weeks later as they were on the day you baked them…well, I promise you, I’m not kidding.

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And they actually kind of DO taste like chocolate donuts. I’m just sayin’… 😉

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Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

(Original recipe courtesy of Paula Deen)

(Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on size of cookies desired)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and “gooey.” Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired. ENJOY! 😛

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I’m REALLY curious to see how these cookies would come out with different kinds of cake mixes…

-Gooey Pumpkin Spice Butter Cookies??

-Gooey Funfetti Butter Cookies??

Ohhh the possibilities! What would YOU want to try? 😉

Ever Wondered What Over 950 Cookies Looks Like?

Have you ever wondered what almost 950 cookies looks like?

Well, you can wonder no more because this is exactly what it looks like:

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Last night’s CDNYEatDrinkBlog Cookie Swap was out of control fantastic!

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When it comes to hosting, Heather totally wins the Hostess with the Mostest award. 🙂

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There was even a “Guess How Many M&M’s Are In The Jar” game, too. I was this close to winning the Jar #2 guess! 🙄

A big thank you to Musselman’s, who actually donated some delicious cider for our get-together.

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Which of course was offered with the option of being a “Big Girl” drink, too. 😉

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And then…there was the spread…

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Rye Bread Dip from yours truly! 😛

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If you read Jessica’s blog, then you probably already drooled a tid-bit when she posted her recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip early last week. I know I did.

And then I saw it staring me in the face last night…and I drooled just a tid-bit more.

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In between bites, of course. 😉

Everyone had a really great time sitting around, chatting, and stuffing our faces. 😯

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Ok, well, maybe not everyone stuffed their faces…but I know I did.

Hence the reason I didn’t even bother taking a photo of my plate. Because it really wouldn’t have justified just how many goodies were consumed!

After a couple of hours, the time had arrived! We were all giddy with excitement…

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It was time to SWAP SOME COOKIES!!!

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My Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies (I’ll be sharing the recipe with ALL of you this week!) 🙂

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As if I wasn’t already in love with the recipes from Liz @ Little Bitty Bakes…her Chambord Brownie Balls were off the charts amazing!!! It was so great to finally meet her! 😀

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So before I knew it, I had myself one large amount of cookies! 😀

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Is this not insane or what?!?

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A Cookie Monster’s Heaven!

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Plus, not only do I have the scrumptious goods in my possession, but now I also know how to make ALL of them, thanks to the recipe card swap, too!

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I think I may have an idea of a few things I’ll be baking once this kitchen is all taken care of. 😉

There’s certainly a lot of things that I’m thankful for in my life, but last night included two very important ones:

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Cookies & Friends 🙂

Thanks to everyone for such a great evening!!

Question for the Night:

What’s your favorite Christmas Cookie??

Ready To Swap Some Cookies!

I’ve been tackling a “To-Do” list a mile long since about 8am this morning! 😯

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I started out with a sweaty, 4-mile run on the treadmill. It felt fabulous!

Then I took care of a little cleaning around the house, which included our mini “makeshift kitchen” corner in the living room:

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As of yesterday afternoon, I am officially without a stove. Hello, microwave. 😉

After cleaning, a trip to the Farmers Market was in order for some fresh baked bread,

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so I could make this fantastic rye bread dip.

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While I was out, I had to pick up a little caffeine to keep me going. 🙂

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Now I’m working on getting ready to head to Heather’s house for a cookie swap! I’m so excited…I LOVE cookie swaps!

Part of going to the swap means bringing not only the cookies, but also the recipe…so I broke out my trusty laminator (one of my fun “teacher toys”)

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And got to work on my festive recipe cards!

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Now I think I’m ready to pack up these bad boys and get ready to party with some of my favorite blogger gals. 😀

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I can’t wait to see what goodies I get to come home with later!! 😀

Question for the Afternoon:

Have you ever attended a cookie swap before??

Who Wants Oreo Truffles??

Hubby and I have BIG plans tonight! 😯

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am

It’s gonna be a roarin’ good time, oh yes it is.

Tonight, we are ripping up the kitchen floor…

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Yes, can you tell just.how.excited.I.am??? (Hopefully my major sarcasm is translating easily to you all right now…) 🙄

So while I may not be excited about the labor ahead of me tonight, I definitely AM excited to be one step closer. We’re getting there!

Here’s the view of our new door we put in from last week.

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Looks a little different, wouldn’t you say?

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So, most of today’s eats weren’t all that exciting…

(Exhibit A – a whole wheat Arnold’s Sandwich Thin with PB & banana)

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(Exhibit B)

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In case you’re wondering, that’s a 1/2 of a container of V8 Golden Butternut Squash Soup + leftover roasted zucchini; I took the picture before I heated it up, hence the unappealing, chunkiness. I must say, I’m really a fan of this soup! I’ve had it before, and it’s quite good.

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I did say “most” were unexciting…not all. Enter, Exhibit C. 😉

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So since I don’t have much left to offer on the meals front, I figured it would only be fair to share a recipe tonight!

During my first Christmas Cookie Baking extravaganza this year, my mom and I were sure to whip up another family favorite:

Oreo Truffles

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These truffles taste so incredibly decadent, people hardly believe when I tell them that there’s only 3 ingredients! 😯 I don’t think I’ve ever brought these anywhere where they weren’t a hit!

Start by chopping up an entire package of Oreos. After dividing the Oreos, simply mix one part of them with a block of cream cheese.

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It will take a little while to get everything totally incorporated, but don’t sweat it. Think of it as a mini-workout…or as an excuse for that extra piece you just snagged out of the bowl. 😉

Roll your mixture into balls and allow to chill in fridge for about one hour.

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Once the balls are chilled, melt your chocolate and start dippin’!

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Right after the balls are dipped into the chocolate comes the fun part:

It’s time to roll them in MORE Oreos!

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And after giving them a little more time to chill and the chocolate to harden, you’ve got yourself a big ‘ol batch of decadent, delicious Oreo Truffles.

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While I’ve only ever tried using regular Oreos, I’d be rather interested to see someone try experimenting with the other flavors that are available…

Mint Oreo Truffles??

Strawberry Milkshake Oreos??

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Have fun with this one…they’re pretty stinkin’ amazing! 😀

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1- 8 oz. block cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 package Oreos, finely crushed
  • 2 pkg. (8 squares each) semi-sweet chocolate, melted**

Directions:

Crush 13 Oreo cookies from package and set aside.

Crush remaining Oreo cookies and mix with cream cheese until well blended.

Shape into approx. 48 (1-inch) balls. Chill for 1/2 – 1 hour.

Dip balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Roll in reserved cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator. ENJOY! 🙂

**I melt my chocolate on the stovetop, using a double boiler. I find it works easiest this way and the chocolate remains easy to work with.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

My Mom and I came across this recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies probably three years ago, and it has been a Christmas Cookie staple in our family ever since.

The ingredient list is simple, not to mention totally tasty, and the prep is fairly easy too. Unfortunately for us (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the boys in our family don’t find these as appealing as we do, so we end up enjoying a good amount of them ourselves. 😉

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They are light and flavorful, making the combination of shortbread + pecans a total winner.

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If you’re looking to add something a little different to your “cookie repertoire” this season, go ahead and give these a try!

Mexican Wedding Cookies

(original recipe found here from the Food Network)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for coating baked cookies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces
  • Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed gradually add the flour. Mix in the pecans with a spatula.

    With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a crescent or mini disk. Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minutes.

    When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional confectioners’ sugar. Cool on wire racks.

    ENJOY! 😛