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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One Of Those Days…

Today was one of those days

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😉

To be honest, with being a teacher I pretty much expect this particular week to come with a few of those days.

Does that sound awful of me? I promise, I’m not that much of a scrooge!

Just remember back to when you were in elementary school at this time of year…

You were pretty excited excited for Christmas and vacation, right?

Now imagine that excitement…while me trying to teach you about the English colonies and cumulative frequency…

Yeah, probably not on the top of your priority list, right? 😉 Don’t worry, it isn’t for my students either.

Can you blame them though? I mean, really, Christmas is only 4 days away…of COURSE they’re excited!! So lucky for me, I always make sure to keep an extra bottle of vino on hand for this week, in case of emergency.

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Today, we’ll just say I was rather happy that I remembered to stock up. 😉

So I’ve got my comfies and my cozy slippers on; I’ve got my glass of vino,

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and I’m ready to watch one of my favorite holiday movies, Love Actually.

Which is “actually” exactly how I want to spend the rest of my evening. 🙂

Question for the Evening:

What is one of your favorite childhood memories from around the Holidays??

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??

Rockin’ Out & Wrapping Gifts

Wow, it’s been a while since I gave you guys a full recap on the day’s eats, hasn’t it? Boy oh boy, where does the time go??? 😯

Alright, well let’s get this post started!

First up: today’s yumm-o breakfast; nothin’ new, but certainly a favorite of mine!

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I combined a container of vanilla Chobani with 1/2 a sliced banana + about 1/2 cup blueberries + a sprinkling of cinnamon.

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It’s another case of “hairy berries!” 😉

Once I got to work, I mixed everything all together with some Kashi Heart to Heart cereal + a little granola.

I ❤ yogurt messes. 😀

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Today’s coffee had to be enjoyed out of a regular mug, which I must say, I REALLY enjoyed! I don’t know, call me crazy, but it just felt so much “cozier” to enjoy my coffee at work out of a regular mug, rather than my travel mug?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…coffee was enjoyed out of the travel mug because I happened to drive away yesterday morning with the full coffee mug still on the roof. 🙄 Needless to say, I think it may be busted. 😳

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Lunch

I was totally rushing to leave the house for work today, but this spectacular reason was sooooo worth it:

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I’ve really been lacking in the veggie department, and actually woke up craving a nice fresh veggie salad for lunch today. So I mixed up anything I could find in our veggie drawer: romaine, grape tomatoes, carrots, pickles, red peppers, and corn.

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I drizzled my salad with a little salad crack Newman’s Own Light Balsamic.

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On the side, I had a HUGE, juicy pear,

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and a little later, finished off the rest of my Popcorn Indiana Chip’Ins. Definitely gonna need to go get more of these babies…they’re fantastic!!

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Workout

My original plan for today was to hit up the gym after work for a little BodyPump, but after analyzing my “To-Do” list, I realized I’d be better off to just head home and do a workout there. Thanks to my trusty Exercise on Demand, I sweated it out (sorta) with a little Yoga Meltdown with my gal pal Jillian. 😉 No idea why, but today’s workout seemed super intense?!? It’s ok…I love feelin’ the burrrrrrn. 😉

Dinner

A random mix of sorts, but I was on my own so I just went with the first thing that came to mind: chicken sausage!

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Since we don’t have any rolls conducive to chicken sausages, I decided to slice up my link and place it on a whole Arnold’s Sandwich Thin.

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I then topped the other half with a slice of provolone cheese, plopped ‘em back on the stove top, and let ‘em get toasty and melty. Yummmm. 😛

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On the side, I roasted up some zucchinis with a little non-stick cooking spray, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, & oregano. They were actually a tid-bit spicy. 😯

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Now I’m in the process of doing up some laundry, rockin’ out to Christmas tunes on Pandora, and wrapping up some Christmas presents. I’ve got a Blogger Holiday Gift Exchange gift to send out tomorrow……

Maybe it’s YOURS! 😉

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I just love the holiday season!!

Question for the Evening:

Do you enjoy wrapping presents or do you find it tedious?

I love it! I just crank up the Christmas tunes, set out all my supplies, and get to work. 🙂

Christmas Cookie Baking #2 & Some Girl Time

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas, when all through Mom’s kitchen,

Batches upon batches of cookies were bakin’! 😀

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Mom and I definitely worked just as hard the second time around on our marathon cookie baking. We both accomplished double batches of Mexican Wedding Cookies,

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and Christmas M&M Cookies. 😛

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I actually used the same chocolate chip recipe that I use for my Chewy Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookies; I simply substituted M&M’s for Heath bars, and they turned out awesome!

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Mom also made up another batch of cookies that absolutely knocked my socks off…

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Chocolate & Black Raspberry Filled Shortbread…HOLY DELICIOUSNESS! 😯

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Once again, with cookie baking comes copious amounts of cookie eating. I did manage, however, to keep things somewhat under control and didn’t end up leaving in a sugar coma. YAY for small victories! 😉

Besides, I couldn’t load myself up too much, I had a dinner date with my favorite gals to get to!

We had a great time chatting, catching up, and just enjoying each others’ company. We don’t get to get together nearly as often as we’d like, so these meet-ups are always special. 🙂

I attempted to take a picture of dinner…

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But obviously that wasn’t happening. 😳 Grrrrr. I will tell you that it was a delicious mixed greens salad, topped with oven roasted pears, dried cranberries, almonds and a toasted brie crostini, served with a honey vinaigrette dressing (which I ordered on the side). It was super tasty, but for the amount of food, I’m not sure if it was quite worth the price. I was still hungry after!

But no worries; us ladies knew how to solve that…

Enter: Friendly’s Ice Cream 😛

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Now THAT, my friends, is what I call quality “girl time.” 😉

I went with a favorite combo of cookie dough ice cream + caramel + brownie bites.

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I guess it’s a good thing I fit in a sweaty treadmill run this morning! 😯

Mmmm Mmmmm GOOD!

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On a side note, some of you asked yesterday how I got my sugar cookies to look so pretty (thank you, by the way!)…

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Well, here’s my secret:

Betty Crocker Cookie Icing

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This icing is the easiest stuff to decorate with. All you need to do is outline the shape of your cookie, then just fill in about 85% of the middle. Eventually, the icing just fills in any gaps on its own. It’s amazing! 🙂

Today, Jay and I, along with our friends Joe & Kate, are packing up our rain gear and heading down to the JETS vs. Miami game!

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Joe & Kate are Miami fans, while Jay and I (as you know) are total Jets fans, so it should make for a fun day. It would be nice, however, if it wasn’t expected to look like this all day…

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100% chance of rain today. ALL day. Oooof. 🙄 Good thing we’ve got our ponchos ready!

J-E-T-S, Jets Jets JETS!

Have a great (dry) Sunday everyone!! 😀

Dark Chocolate Turtle Graham Bars

Iiiit’s Monday…are you psyched??? 🙄

Well, perhaps sending a nice Monday morning recipe your way will put a little “pep in your step?” I’m pretty sure it will, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…

This recipe is INCREDIBLY DECADENT and outrageously delicious. 😯

Yesterday afternoon, I came across an email from the 12 Days of Cookies that had me totally intrigued. After reading the ingredient list + preparations, I decided it was easy enough, yet worth any effort to attempt to make, so I put together my ingredients and got to work.

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Yes, that’s two sticks of butter…Hey, I warned you. We’re not counting calories here today folks. 😉

Start off by lining a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone mat, if you have one…I don’t). Arrange the graham crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet. Luckily, my 15×10 jelly roll pan fit ‘em all perfectly!

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Next, combine your butter, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and a pinch of salt in a medium sauce pan.

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Bring the mixture to a boil…

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And continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. You’ll notice the mixture will start to thicken up and bubble nicely.

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Pour the butter mixture evenly over the graham crackers…

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But be prepared to start unconsciously licking your lips. It will happen. 😛

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Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

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While the graham cracker + butter mixture is cooking, start to prepare your chocolate.

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Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over a simmering pot of water (if you’re smart, you’ll simply rinse out the same pot you used for your butter mixture and just fill it with a little water…less dishes to wash!) 😉

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At this point, it is absolutely, positively acceptable to snag a couple chips. Hey, you’ve been working hard. 🙂

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Now it’s time to be patient. Give ‘em a few good stirs, and go ahead and “accidentally” let your finger slip and hit the chocolate coated rim of the bowl.

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It will take a good 10-12 minutes for the chips to start melting, but I promise…eventually you’ll end up with a smooth, creamy chocolate.

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By now, it’ll probably be about time to take your graham cracker + butter mixture out of the oven.

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It’s ok to stare in amazement, then continue on.

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Pour your melted chocolate over the toffee-covered graham crackers and spread evenly.

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I also sprinkled my dark chocolate layer with a little sea salt. If you have some on hand, go for it. 🙂

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Chill completely in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cut into bars (they won’t break perfectly) snag one (or three) for yourself, then immediately put the rest in the freezer.

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Or share them with friends.

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Otherwise, you’ll be making a new batch quicker than you can say “flippin’ fantabulous!” 😀

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Dark Chocolate Turtle Graham Bars

(recipe from Food Network’s Day 6 of “12 Days of Cookies”)

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 12-14 graham crackers (if each graham cracker is 5″ x 2.5″)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 12 oz. bag dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat. Arrange the graham crackers in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.

Put the butter, brown sugar, pecans, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the butter mixture evenly over the graham crackers and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over simmering water. Pour the chocolate over the toffee-covered graham crackers and spread evenly. Chill completely in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cut into bars.

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ENJOY! 😛