Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Mint Chocolate Ganache

 After making last week's Chocolate Cinnamon Ganache Sugar Cookies, as someone who prefers vanilla over chocolate, I knew that I needed to make a vanilla-based cookie as well.  My husband's sister and her family are in town from Alaska, and I knew this would be the perfect time to make something new and get some feedback at the same time.

I love the combination of mint and chocolate, and how it pairs with the vanilla cookie.  My husband thinks that it needs to be more chocolatey, so he would suggest using the ganache in this recipe on the chocolate cookie base from last week's recipe, and if you are in the same camp, go for it!  My sister-in-law and I love the balance with the vanilla cookie and it would pair so well with any type of ganache or frosting (if that is your thing).

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Chocolate Cinnamon Ganache Sugar Cookies

 I have done a bit more cooking and baking in the last week or so than I think I did in the entirety of the last 6 months, possibly longer.  Last 2 weeks alone, I made 2 loaves of bread, one batch of ice cream, one batch of chili, a pan of cornbread, a turkey sweet potato skillet, a cake, and these cookies you see before you (at least on your screen).

These cookies actually came about by accident.  I was in the middle of making the cake I mentioned when I realized I was out of a key ingredient for the filling I wanted to make.  I reluctantly made a chocolate cinnamon ganache to use as the filling instead, but wasn't sure if it would work as well as what I originally intended for the cake.  The following day, I broke down and bought the missing ingredient to make the filling I originally wanted, but that left me with this ganache and nowhere to put it.

I first thought that I could turn it into truffles, a classic standby for me, but the ganache was a looser consistency than I typically like for my truffles.  My thoughts immediately went to cookies.  While I am not a big fan of frosting, and frosting on cookies for that matter, a ganache is a different animal.  It is smooth and creamy and becomes the star of the show, especially in these cookies.  The cookie itself sits back and lets the ganache shine by not being overly sweet and punchy on its own, more of the supporting cast!

I fully intend to make more of these cookies, switching up the flavors of ganache and cookie base, and I hope that you enjoy these as much as I do!

Monday, August 14, 2023

Two-Toned Truffle Cookies

I have been doing a fair amount of job searching recently, which feels so much more challenging than the last time I was on the hunt for employment opportunities.  I've submitted a ton of applications, asked for advice, had my resume picked apart, and definitely feel like my personal and professional life are under some sort of microscope - which, in a sense, they are - a feeling which I have been on the other side of as a hiring manager for years, it is odd to be on this side of the table.

The silence in the job hunt feels deafening at times and there are many moments of discouragement when you can't even get an interview.  It can feel like you're fundamentally missing something, waiting for someone to see your potential and take a chance on you.

While I wait for that moment professionally, gastronomically, you should take a chance on these tasty cookies!

I stumbled across a couple bags of Nestle Toll House Baking Truffles at a discount store here in town a couple months ago and they have been tempting me each time I open the cupboard, urging me to finally make something with them.

After some brief discussions with my husband about what type of pairing to make with these (and relearning that he doesn't like nuts in his baked goods as much as I do), I decided to make a two-toned cookie, half vanilla cookie dough and half chocolate cookie dough (sans nuts... though I think they would be awesome with some toasted pecans).  The combination is a winner!  Much like a brookie, but more cohesive in texture.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Chocolate Malt-O-Meal Muffins

Well hey there, friends!

It has been a hot minute (or 2.5 million minutes) since I was last here.  The last 4+ years have been incredibly busy, rewarding, stressful, and jam-packed with life.  We have completed educational pursuits, endured health crises, progressed at work, made small improvements to the house, taken trips, fostered relationships, and come through on the other side.

During the craziness of life, I continued to create recipes for a while, some of which I will slowly be adding here, but over time, my work and life responsibilities fully took over my life and made it hard to find time to enjoy not only creating recipes but cooking and baking in general - I was always so mentally worn out after everything was said and done that a lot of my hobbies got put on the shelf and I didn't engage in any of them for YEARS.

A couple weeks ago, however, I took some time off work and was able to spend some time reconnecting with who I am, the things I love, and was able to dust off those hobbies and begin to feel like a human again!  It was so refreshing to feel like I had time and energy to do the things I loved once more - that 5-day "vacation" from work was exactly what I needed to recenter.  Little did I know that the universe had ideas of its own.

The very week following my 5-day sabbatical, myself and 200+ of the people at my company who were at the same employment grade were all requested to attend a meeting where we were all summarily laid off.  Just like that, 13+ years of employment with my organization were done.  And I couldn't help but laugh.

Yes, I laughed, and not to minimize the seriousness of the situation, because it was definitely shocking and very serious, but I had just spent the previous few days recentering and feeling like a human again and now, I literally had all the time in the world ahead of me to connect with who I am, what I want to do, and charge ahead.

The last few weeks have been full of home improvement projects, cleaning, organizing, job searching (of course), crafting, and naturally, a little baking thrown in there.  I am truly excited to spend more time thoroughly enjoying my own company and figuring out my next steps.

If you, like me, still don't make sufficient time for breakfast though, even if you do have time on your hands, these Chocolate Malt-O-Meal Muffins are the thing for you.  Similar to my Cream of Wheat Muffins, these beauties are richer and pack a different kind of punch due to the malt within Malt-O-Meal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

I know, I know, these cookies have a super long, mouthful of a name...but I promise that you will forget all about that once you sink your teeth into one of these tasty morsels!

Last year, I stumbled across these Sea Salt Caramel baking chips from Hershey's, and I immediately tossed two bags into my cart and took them home.  I turned the first bag into truffles and filled candies soon after getting home, and then the second bag was put away in the cupboard. High up in the cupboard.  Way out of sight, and out of easy reach.  And as a result, they were still in there when I had a hankering to make cookies the other day.

The hubs and I went to go see "The House With a Clock in its Walls" last week, and in the movie, there are a couple scenes where the characters are eating these big chocolate chip cookies that have nuts in them.  Of course, being us, we immediately started thinking about cookies, and how we really wanted some...inspiration strikes in the oddest of places!

So my brain started spinning about what I wanted to make.  I knew I wanted chocolate chips, pecans, and possibly caramel, and as my brain was putting ideas together, I remembered those Sea Salt Caramel chips, and I knew I just had to use them.

These cookies are soft and sweet, but have bits of crunch and salty caramel.  Basically, they are incredible, but don't take my word for it, make them for yourself!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Tangy Rhubarb Bars

I introduced my husband to rhubarb after we moved into our house, and found that the previous owners had a rhubarb plant, which we later transplanted into the raised garden beds that we made.

I grew up eating recipes that contained rhubarb, because my grandparents always had a huge garden, and rhubarb was always one of the plants that they had in large abundance.  We would make Rhubarb Crisp, and other various goodies, and these Tangy Rhubarb Bars are perfect for introducing someone to rhubarb who may be a bit hesitant, given its celery-like form!

These bars are similar to a lemon bar, and have that lemony tang, with a smooth bite of rhubarb that can't be beat!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bran Muffins

The weather in Idaho is always a little unpredictable, so much so, that the unpredictable weather is almost, well...predictable!

We've been having gorgeous weather for the last couple of weeks, and then, BAM!  Torrential downpour, and insane winds!

The massive amounts of rain we received this past week gave us a lovely little surprise when we came home from spending time with some friends, as we found our street flooded with water, which was pooling up into the sidewalk and into our driveway and the driveways of our neighbors.  That is part of the joy of our street only having one storm drain, which is aaaallll the way down the road, and which gets clogged with debris on a regular basis.

The aforementioned flooding of the street also caused our neighbor's basement to flood horribly, but thankfully, they were able to get a restoration company to come in and start working on it right away, which was good!  We also had some flooding in our own basement, which appeared to come in at the same location as our previous flooding of last year (likely micro cracks in the foundation...since we can't actually see anything that sticks out as being a problem), but thankfully, it was relatively minor in comparison to our previous flooding, or the flooding our neighbors had.

The day after the flooding, I decided that the rainy weather called for something warm and comforting for breakfast.  I had purchased some bran cereal a while back with the good intention of eating it for breakfast, buuuuut that never actually happened, since I am typically more of a yogurt and eggs kind of gal in the morning.  So I knew that making these delicious bran muffins was the way to go that morning.

I know many people do not like bran muffins, and think they are boring, but I disagree.  These bran muffins are slightly sweet, and if you are a fan of raisins (I am not), you can add some for additional flavor, but they are perfectly divine without them as well!  On our recent trip to Seattle, we bought some amazing Blackberry Vanilla jam while we were at Pike Place Market, and it was the perfect compliment to these tasty morsels.  Don't take my word for it though, make them and pair them with your favorite jam for a true taste sensation!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Garlic Butter

Having lost 60+ lbs within the last 10 months, I have seen a number of "inspirational" quotes for weight loss.  One of the most common ones I have seen is "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels".

I'm sorry, but whoever said that has obviously never eaten garlic bread!

Garlic bread is probably my favorite part of a pasta dinner!  Granted, most people who are dieting also don't eat pasta either...poor carbs, they get such a bad rap!  My motto is: "Everything in moderation".  I can't cut out entire food groups, because I know that it would just make me dwell on how much I want it.

So, I still eat my garlic bread, and I don't feel guilty about it in the slightest!

And this garlic butter makes the most amazing garlic bread!  So you can make it any time you want!  And it is wonderful on roasted vegetables too, in case you don't want the carbs but are okay with the butter and cheese!

Easy Italian Bread

The weather has been warming up here in Idaho recently, which makes me very happy.

We often have some misleading weather, and this year has been no exception.  In January, we had multiple days where the weather seemed positively spring-like, and I was even able to get some things done in our yard in preparation for spring, and was able to clean up a large amount of "presents" from our two pups, which are anything but a gift, to be sure!

Then, we were later hit by snow, wind, and freezing temperatures as we moved in February, and even this past month, we received more snow, which is the last thing I desire in the springtime.  But thankfully, we've had temperatures into the 70's for the last few days, and I have been enjoying every minute of it!

When we experienced our most recent snowfall a week or so ago, I decided to make some Italian bread, with the intent of making garlic bread to go along with some pasta I had planned for later in the week.

This bread is super easy to make, and is a wonderful accompaniment to any meal!  It also makes simply scrumptious garlic bread when paired with my homemade garlic butter and set under the broiler for a few minutes.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Zopf Brot (Braided Bread)

Life has been busy.

Life is always busy, let's be honest, and sadly, this little blog gets left by the wayside when my life gets busy.

I still cook and bake, I still experiment and try new recipes, and create new recipes, I just don't get around to photographing and posting about it to share with all of you lovely people (all 5 of you who probably read this!  Hi mom!😉).

Recently, I hosted a group of ladies at my house for a lesson on making infused butters, and what better vehicle for infused butter is there, than fresh baked bread?  I made some of my go-to bread recipes ahead of time, including the recipe that I am bringing you today, along with my Carrot Nut Bread, Rosemary Garlic Crust Loaf, and a wheat bread that I hadn't tried before.  During the lesson, the ladies were able to shape their own Buttery Rolls if they wanted to, and then we got to sample the breads with a variety of sweet and savory butters.

My 4 favorite butters were Cinnamon Vanilla, Orange, Strawberry, and Garlic Butter, while others enjoyed the Bacon Chive, Cilantro Lime, and Honey Cinnamon butters.  I guess you can say that I like the sweet butters the most, and you wouldn't be wrong!

I actually finished off my sample of Cinnamon Vanilla butter on a piece (or 2) of this Zopf Brot, and it was probably the best decision I will make all day.

Traditional Zopf Brot is a braided bread from Germany, which I had a number of times on my trips to Switzerland back in my single days, however, that isn't where I first encountered the bread.  I have eaten this simplified version of Zopf since I was a teenager, when my mother put together a recipe book for our church women's group, she had not one, but two recipes for Zopf submitted by different contributors!  What are the odds?!

This bread is not only gorgeous, it is incredibly delicious!  Slather some Nutella or butter on a slice, and you are good to go!  This recipe makes two large loaves of bread.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Quickest Dinner Rolls

The husband and I took a quick day trip to Shoshone Falls this past weekend.  The falls are called the "Niagara of the West", and my husband, who has lived in Southeast Idaho his entire life had never been there before.

We got to enjoy some time alone, sans puppies, which was simply lovely!  And while the weather wasn't fantastic, it was still warmer than it has been in the past few weeks, and it was exciting to see spring in full bloom.

On days where most of your time is spoken for, quick doesn't get any quicker than these delicious dinner rolls.  These rolls come together in about 30 minutes, and are delightfully dense without being heavy.  They are great with any main dish, can be used for sandwiches, or just eaten by themselves any time you want.  They come together so fast that you will find yourself making them over and over again.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cream of Wheat Muffins

Ah, life...sometimes it can just get away from me.

I am sure that you know what I mean.  Since moving into our house, we have been busy getting settled, working, being sick, doing projects around the house, and...

We decided to top off the crazy with a new puppy!  Back in January, we added another furball to our clan.  Since we gave Murphy back to my brother and his family last April, we apparently felt it was time to refill the puppy-void.

So this is Watson (and my husband)

He is an adorable little blue heeler/black lab cross, and he clearly takes after the lab side, though he does have a wavy strip of fur all the way down his back and tail, and I do not know where that came from.

He will be 5 months old this week, and he definitely keeps me on my toes.  He is full of energy, and we are still working on him being okay with being petted without feeling the need to nibble on your hand.  He is also an excellent "finder", meaning he finds virtually anything he can in our backyard...trash, pieces of cement, rocks, chunks of grass, and one time, a rusty razor blade (we are not always thrilled with his finds...the razor blade was terrifying!) Thankfully, my mom bought us a powerful magnet, and we were able to pick up more of the dangerous bits and bobs that were left in the yard by the previous owner.

Since we often are running to and fro, we don't always have time to sit down for a hot breakfast, but we have been saved by these muffins!  I have been experimenting with various hot cereal muffins, and this is one of our favorites, we have made them twice in the last week! They have a similar texture to cornbread, and my husband cannot get enough of them, and we hope that you like them as much as we do!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

German Chocolate Truffles

I don't what the weather is like where you are, but here in Idaho, we've had snow dumped on us this past week.

Our dog, Cooper, absolutely loves snow.

He acts like it is a new experience each time he goes outside, and loves rolling around in it, eating it, and zipping through it at breakneck speeds.  It is a lot of fun to watch, as long as I am safely and snugly perched inside the house,

I am less than a fan of being out in the snow due to the frigid temperatures, but I do think it is beautiful to look at from someplace warm.

This past week, my someplace warm has been my kitchen.  I have baked batches of cookies, seared some delicious ham, made tasty pastas, and rolled numerous little truffles to be dipped.

As a huge fan of coconut, today's post brings me immense amounts of joy, these truffles are reminiscent of German Chocolate Cake frosting, which is always the best part of the cake in my opinion (which is saying something, as I typically do not enjoy frosting).  Full of sweet coconut and crunchy pecans, these truffles are a true delight if you even remotely enjoy coconut, and are begging to be part of your holiday treat-making routine!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rocky Road Truffles

Life is good.

My husband and I have recently completed a whirlwind of an adventure...we bought our first house!  It all happened so quickly, it's almost hard to believe that we really made this leap, but I have awoken each morning for the last 5 days in this beautiful house that he and I get to call home.

At times, we felt like we were going crazy, trying to pack, sign documents, work, do school, and somehow not lose our minds in the whole process.  And while our new home still has boxes all over the place, and not a shred of Christmas decor to be found, we feel very blessed to be together and beginning this next phase of our lives.

To celebrate the end of our road to home ownership, and because I also needed to make a dessert for a Christmas party we are attending tomorrow, I decided to whip up these heavenly Rocky Road Truffles.

OMG... these beauties are so incredibly divine...the recipe will make about 80 truffles, but you are destined to eat one...or three...who am I to judge?  Okay fine, I ate four of them, I confess!  Salty roasted almonds in a silky chocolate and marshmallow pillow covered in yet more chocolate...it is ecstasy!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Best EVER Cream Cheese Frosting

So many desserts out there use some sort of frosting.

Growing up, though, I didn't (and still don't) care much for frosting.  Buttercream made me gag, and you could always tell which dessert plate was mine, by finding the globs of frosting leftover on them.  There were only ever a couple exceptions.

German Chocolate Cake frosting, because really, that stuff is like manna from heaven.  Coconutty goodness that basically sends you into a diabetic coma.  And Cream Cheese frosting, because, if it is done right, it provides the perfect bite and contrast to the sweetness of the dessert it is used with.

I know it is odd that I like one super duper sickeningly sweet frosting, and one that is basically the opposite, but I am an oddity, what can I say?

My favorite cream cheese frosting is what I am sharing with you today.  It is sweet, but still has the flavor of the cream cheese, which I feel many recipes lose, because they add way too much powdered sugar to it.  

This frosting is fabulous on cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, or eaten with a spoon from the bowl.  I won't judge!

Double Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


The time of year when adding pumpkin spice to anything and everything is socially acceptable once more!  I personally see nothing wrong with eating pumpkin or pumpkin-spiced foods all year round, but the majority of people feel that the pumpkin love needs to end sometime around the end of December.

Probably the same people who think listening to Christmas music in July is weird.  Personally, I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.  What I DO need are these delicious Double Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, and you do too!

These soft rolls have pumpkin mixed into the dough itself, and in the rich cinnamon filling too, for a double dose of our favorite fall flavor!  Top it off with some of the BEST cream cheese frosting, and you can turn every day into an extravagant experience.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mint Chocolate Dips

Hello Blogger-verse!

It has been a long time...and it's all on me.  This past year proved to be hectic, and at times, more than I could handle.  Which is why I have been radio-silent since February.  

I promise that I still love you, and that I should be able to devote more time to this hobby of mine in the coming months.  I have still continued to cook and bake, and think up some fun recipes to share, but I didn't get around to photographing and posting them, with all the craziness in these parts.

My hubby and I are in the process of purchasing our first house, and once all the moving and unpacking is done, I will be able to spend more time with you all, and as a bonus, it'll be Christmastime, which is my favorite time of year, and there will be plenty of delicious goodies for me to share with you!

If you are hankering for something slightly Christmassy already, you HAVE to make these adorable and tasty Mint Chocolate Dips!

They are a light, minty cookie that is super soft, and dipped in additional mint chocolate.  I drizzled these with some white chocolate, just for fun, but you can leave them plain, or add sprinkles!  They are a perfect addition to any Christmas cookie plate, or you can enjoy them any time you want.  You can use plain milk chocolate if you aren't a mint fan too!

Bruce and I enjoyed ours with some steaming mugs of mint hot chocolate, because we are mint fanatics!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Banana Bread Overnight Oats

I am not a huge fan of bananas.

Never really have been.  However, there are a few exceptions!  I love banana bread, and banana cake. So basically, I like it when my bananas are mashed and mixed with sugar...yep!

There's just something so warm, comforting, and special about a moist slice of freshly baked banana bread.  So when we ended up with a couple overripe bananas this week, I knew I had to do something with them.  But since I am trying to watch my sugar intake, I knew that banana bread was out of the question.

So I decided to make these banana bread overnight oats instead!  I used just the natural sweetness of the bananas to sweeten the oats, but you can add up to a tablespoon of honey to the batch if it's not to your liking.  I love the taste of these, and it makes me feel like I am indulging for breakfast, even though I am not.  Adding a tablespoon of walnuts also adds a nice crunch to my morning portion as well!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sensational Steak Soup

My husband and I have made meal plans each month for the last 14 months, and we only go grocery shopping once a month, but somehow, this month didn't really happen.  We didn't make a meal plan, and we didn't go grocery shopping.  As a result, our dinners have been a little haphazard.  At least I feel like they have been, and we have been slowly using up the items in the fridge and freezer, some of which have been there for a while.

Today's dinner was the result of some creative finagling with some leftover beef broth, potatoes and carrots.  This soup is savory, hearty, but not heavy.  The steak is tender and delicious and the vegetables are colorful and fresh.  This soup pairs well with a nice, crusty bread or roll and a crisp salad, to make it a whole meal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Overnight Oats with Lemon Blueberry Compote

Breakfast is one of those things that I often forget about, that is, unless I am super excited abut what it is that I get to eat.  Which is why I stocked up on oats, yogurt, and milk a couple weeks ago.  Now, I just put together some batches of overnight oats a couple times a week, and then I have a tasty and filling breakfast every morning.

Today's version consists of vanilla oats, with lemon blueberry compote layered on top.  The oats are great just by themselves, but the compote is the perfect blend of juicy berries and lemon flavor, which pair wonderfully with the creamy oats!

I make the compote ahead and store it separately in the refrigerator, then I add a couple spoonfuls to my oats in the morning.