Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Carmel, Pretzel and Chocolate Chip Cookies for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I was super duper excited to be a part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year. It's where you get to bake cookies and send them to 3 other food bloggers, and then 3 different food bloggers send their cookies to you! This was a great idea since I love baked goods from other people, and I love getting gifts in the mail!

I made these Carmel, Pretzel and Chocolate Chip cookies from Maggie's blog, and they are so salty and sweet at the same time, it's awesome! 


I think this cookie swap was so fun, and I'm definitely doing it again next year. It was a little hard to figure out the timing of making the cookies and then shipping them the next day so they don't get too stale by the time they arrive! But I hope they turned up okay to my 3 people.


The first batch of cookies I received was from Amanda k by the Bay, and they were really good! They were a ginger Swedish cookie called Pepper Kakor.

The next cookies I received were from Fatgirl Hedonist, and they were a Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Chip cookie. So yummyyy!

The last one's I received were from Not Starving Yet, and it was a classic Gingerbread Man cookie! How festive!

Is it sad I'm already looking forward to doing next year's cookie swap? 

Caramel, Pretzel and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields: approximately 2 dozen cookies


3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (OR semi-sweet)

1/2 cup caramel bits or chopped caramel (Kraft sells the caramel bits)

1/2 cup crushed pretzels

Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt;  set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in until thoroughly combined.


Add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in chips, caramel bits and pretzels.

Using a large cookie scoop (about 2-3 tablespoons), drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Top each cookie with a sprinkling of sea salt.  Bake for 9-12 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. The tops will not brown. I took mine out at about 11 minutes and the result was a perfectly soft, chewy center!


Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.   Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Bread and Hot Chocolate

Hi guys. I'm posting this amazing maple glazed pumpkin bread now before it's past pumpkin season! I barely made it, but I was determined to make something with pumpkin before Thanksgiving was over. I got the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, and made it into a loaf instead of cupcakes. Then, I took the maple-glaze from my buddy Sugarplum's blog, and it was an amazing combo! I really love pumpkin and maple together. I dunno if I mentioned it before, but those Maple-Leaf cookies from Trader Joe's are my weakness.

Here is the recipe!

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Bread 

(adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction and Sugar Plum)


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 grams) pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray one loaf pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until combined. Add the pumpkin, oil, milk, and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do NOT overmix the batter.

Pour in loaf pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Maple Glaze 
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat together butter, confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and vanilla, in a medium bowl, until well combined and smooth.  Baste glaze on top of bread.

I entered the Brownie Competition again for Pastry Chicago, and made Salted Carmel Mocha Brownies. They weren't the prettiest, but they tasted good! I even made a trial batch and brought them to work, and everyone there loved them. So I was hoping to win one of the prizes, but nope. There were 35 other brownies entered, and they all looked so cute and delicious! Oh well, I've tried my best.

Joshua Johnson from the French Pastry School did a demo and made these Chocolate Brownies with Sablee and Orange Marmalade, and they were soooo good. Yum. And they are pretty, too!

Oooo man, I finally went to the restaurant that has been on my "list of restaurants to eat at" the longest! And it was amazinggg! I met my friend Emily there for dinner, and we split a sandwich and mac and cheese so we'd have plenty of room for dessert. Then we of course each ordered a medium hot chocolate with homemade marshmallow, and the pumpkin cheesecake so we wouldn't have too much chocolate.

I was amazed at how good the hot chocolate was! Luckily, they let us put the rest in to-go cups and take home what we couldn't finish.

I also had a lovely dinner at Lillie's Q, because Brandon and I have been on a BBQ kick lately. It was so cute in there with the Ball jars for cups, and they had hush puppies for an appetizer! 

I got the sampler of pulled pork, chicken, and tri-tip (like brisket) and then my favorite type of fry, sweet potato fries. These had a really awesome seasoning, and I might even say they were one of my favorite sweet potato fries I've had....

I need to find a White Elephant gift for our gift exchange at work, and these would be so awesome!!

Pecan Pie Pringles? Hmm, I thought they'd be really good, but they are strange. They have a real maple-y flavor, which I usually love, but combined with potato it's sort of weird. Nice try Pringles!

I'm ready to eat my mom's Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday for the first time in 4 years! Oh it's been toooooo long since I've gone home for Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pistachio White Chocolate Chip cookies and some Kale Slaw

I made these cookies for my family's picnic this summer, and they were some of the best cookies I've ever made! So I wanted to share them with the world. I got them from Maggie's blog, and thought they'd be different from the usual chocolate chip cookies that I make. 

I never used to like pistachios, but in the last few years, I've grown to love them! Of course they are not the cheapest nut and take lots of time to shell, but they do have out of the shell ones if you're short on time.

Soft Batch White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios
Source:  From Mag-Pie's & more, adapted from recipe found on Apple-A-Day
Yields:  approximately 3 dozen cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup pistachios (Trader Joe's sells them shelled and ready to go!)
Sea Salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in white chocolate chips and pistachios.

Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt before baking.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  The tops will not brown.  I took mine out at about 9 minutes and the result was a perfectly soft, chewy center!

Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

So there is a new restaurant called Doc B's Fresh Kitchen right across the street from work, and I am obsessed with their Kale slaw. How can kale be so tasty? I think I could eat this every day for lunch. It just has some chopped up mint mixed in, and a light semi-creamy dressing that makes it soooooo good. I know kale is good for you, but I wonder if this stuff is healthy with the dressing? I sure hope so, cause I'll be eating a lot of it in the near future.

This morning we went to Stanley's for the brunch buffet, where they have fried chicken, mac and cheese, an omelet station, waffle boats, and other brunch-y stuff. Now I don't think I can move I am so full. And then last night we went to the Bad Apple and I had an Elvis burger with peanut butter and bacon on top. I need to definitely workout soon, but first an episode of Downton Abbey.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's chilly out there

Uh oh, it's starting to get cold outside! Noooo! Summer needs to stay a little longer.

I've had a pretty busy last few months, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down either. I haven't been baking and bringing in treats to work in forever! Today I even bought some Maple Leaf cookies from Trader Joe's and put them out at work because it's been so long, and everybody needs an afternoon snack. 
I got to attend a WITS Reading in the Schools lunch the other day, and they had the cutest meal! Ants on a log are my favorite, and the little ice cream containers with the wooden spoon were just like I remember. We even got chocolate milk! 

I usually eat instant oatmeal in the morning when I get to work, just because it's fast. Trader Joe's Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal is really good, but I've really only been wanting Steel Cut Oats!  Jamba Juice actually has really good steel cut oats, and I get brown sugar and bananas in it, yummm. 

I love this Bow Truss coffee also. They have it right across from my work now, and it's only $1!!! I couldn't believe it.

Today I signed up for the Pastry Chicago Brownie Competition! Now I just have to come up with a good brownie recipe that has coffee in it. Any ideas? I want to win so badly!!

My niece and brother came up to visit me for my birthday/labor day weekend, and we had a blast! We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Kuma's Corner (she loves heavy metal, ha!) and then my work had a big picnic with rides and games, so she loved that. When they left though, I was wornnnn outtttt.

I also went to visit my friend Amy a few weeks ago in Phoenix, and we climbed Mt. Camelback! It was a lot harder than I thought, cause the top part was pretty much rock climbing without a harness. But we survived, and I had a nice, warm relaxing weekend.

Ahh the sunset there was so beautiful! Pictures are never as good as the real thing though. I leaned out the window while she was driving just to take this without any glare!

So of course I'll end this with food. I saw BopNGrill on DDD a while ago, and have been wanting to try the Kimchi burger. It was pretty good, but a little soggy since I brought it home. Food is always better when eaten right away. Kind of like fries, if you take them home and close the bag up really good so they stay warm, they loose their crispiness and get kind of soggy. I know... I shouldn't be eating fries anyway!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The last 2 months

Wow where does the time go? It's been 2 months since I updated, so this one's gonna be a doozy of a post. I'll keep it simple though. I'm sitting out on our back porch right now, and it's so nice to sit outside with my laptop! I'm actually pretty chilly cause it's shady and the wind is blowing. Of course this summer hadn't been hot at all, so I've not been a big fan. 

We've been traveling every other weekend to Indiana this summer, so if there is a weekend we are in Chicago, I usually use it to catch up on laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and vegging on the couch with some Weeds or Breaking Bad. 

Yesterday morning, I woke up and drove all the way to Bang Bang Pie Shop in Logan Square, which is has the BEST biscuits ever. I picked us up 2 biscuits with cheddar rosemary butter and blackberry preserves. They were gone before I could take a picture, but I got a slice of Smores pie for later, and it was soooo yummy. 

I will definitely miss that place once we move back to Indiana next year. That's another exciting thing happening, well not yet, but we are definitely moving back by the end of next year, when B will graduate. I'll start looking for jobs next summer so hopefully I can find something easily!

I got a filling in my tooth last week, and so they numb that side of your mouth. Well this is what I looked like when I tried to smile for the next 2 hours, and I even went back to work! I tried not to talk to anybody, or they would think I'm quasimoto.

Brandon's step-mom gave us some of her eggs from their chickens when we visited last weekend, and the first one I used to make cookies with was a double yolk! Would it have been twin chicks? I've heard that's good luck, too! The picture looks gross, sorry!

B was the best man in his friend's wedding, and it was so much fun, I love dancing at weddings! I love dancing period. I need to do it more often.

We took the bride-to-be out for a few drinks the night before their wedding, while the boys did their thing.  We did these shots called Astropops or something, cause it was red, white and blue like the frozen popcicles. They were soooooooo good, and got me nice and buzzed. It makes me miss going out in Muncie with all my friends :(

This is a doughssant. And it was not that good. I was SO excited when I heard about cronuts, also called doughssants. What a perfect combination! But the one I had from West Town Bakery was so greasy and deep fried oily tasting. I'll just eat them separate from now on. 

My friend Sharyn and I tried to go to Lollapalooza, and thought we could just walk around the gates and buy cheaper tickets from people that want to get rid of them last minute. But nope, the only ones we saw were still $200 or more, and that just wasn't worth it. So instead, we walked all the way to North Avenue beach and sat up on the bar with some fancy drinks.

 It was fun, and a little chilly too! Where is the warmth!??!?!

I'm trying to take advantage of this lake we have next to us, so I did a yoga on the beach class! It was really cloudy that day, but it was still fun to do it. 

On one of our drives back to Chicago, I REALLY wanted to try the Sonic pretzel bun hot dog. I'm kind of obsessesd with pretzel buns, and all things pretzel. There are not a lot of Sonic's around, so we found one in Lafayette. It was a really good hot dog! I'd eat another. They also have crazy sounding shakes, like Banana Creme Pie, and Peanut Butter and Jelly. We got the Chocolate Covered Banana, and it was just a basic chocolate banana shake. Those creative names get me every time.

My mom and I took my niece to Holiday World! It was so fun, and I want to go back next summer! The lines aren't that long there, they have unlimited soft drinks, and the water park has so many slides! I love it.

I went to a rooftop happy hour with some ladies from work, and we had fun for only $2! We bought some kind of Two Buck Duck deal, so it was definitely worth it for all the beer we could drink. 

Then we went to Little Goat after to get some grub. We actually tried going to Au Cheval, because their burger is supposed to be amazing, but there was a 45 minute wait! So we went to Little Goat instead. I'm really happy we did because I've been wanting to try it, and the food was great! Even better than Girl and the Goat I might say...

I wanted everything on the menu, but decided on the Bacon, Eggs, Pancake and Kimchi Thing. I loved the kimchi at G&TG, so I wanted to get something with it again.

This is a Goat Burger that Sharyn ordered. We all shared the mac and cheese, which was awesome.We also ordered Smoked Fries to share, and they were sooooooo good. I would get these again next time.

Whew this is getting long. But I need to tell you about my summer before it's too late! 

My friend Amy and her bf Marc are moving to LA, so we all went to a last dinner at La Scarola, a little Italian place west of the loop. I'm so glad she took us here, because I probably never would've heard or tried it otherwise. It was some of the best pasta I've ever had. Seriously! I got the vodka pasta, which had mushrooms, artichokes, arugula, and shrimp. It was amazing. I want to go to Italy right now if food there tastes this good! I might even say it's competing with Buca di Beppo as my favorite Italian restaurant.....

One bad thing about Chicago is that I have this list, and I keep adding new places to it when I read about it or see the food they offer. My list never ends! So anyway, my friend Emily and I went to Endgrain for brunch cause I heard they have really good donuts, and awesome fried chicken biscuits. This one was a winner. The donuts were good, just normal donuts, but the biscuit was so tasty, with really good fried chicken and an amazing mustardy sauce on top. Yum.

Bacon Butterscotch donut and Jelly-filled donut. Mmm.

Another Indiana weekend was for camping. These guys and their hammocks. Only one of them actually ended up sleeping in it. I was actually sick for this camping trip, but we were right next to the bathrooms, which was so lucky. And they were clean! I'm glad I went, but I was so sick looking back, I can't believe I went.

Skyline Chili dogs. An Indiana favorite.

I made some Pistachio White Chocolate Chip cookies for a family picnic using my mom's oven, and they were so much better than when I made them at my apartment.

I'm so glad I've gotten to spend so much time with Presley this summer! Even though she can be demanding most of the time, she is sweet and funny so it all makes up for it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summertime (finally!)

Woohoo! It's finally summer in Chicago. It's about time since it's the middle of June and everything. B and I decided to take advantage of the warmer weather last weekend and went camping for one night. I used to go camping all the time growing up, so I was pretty pumped to go. 

We had to drive 1 1/2 hours outside of Chicago to get to Gebhard Woods State Park, and we were excited to go hiking, but it was pretty tiny and didn't have many trails. So next time I think we'll try Starved Rock, which has pretty neat waterfalls I've heard. I also want to go canoeing, so we'll probably go down to the Hoosier National Forrest and make a weekend out of it. 

Oh and I didn't get a pictures, but I made us some campfire banana boats! It was the best part of the trip. You split a banana longways with the peel on, and stuff chocolate chips and marshmallows inside. Then wrap it in foil and put it on the campfire until it gets all melty and hot. Eat it with a fork and it's sooooo good!

We went to a sushi restaurant called Jellyfish for a Bridal lunch at work last week, and it was really tasty! I'm liking sushi more and more everything I eat it. It's so funny how I didn't really like it at first, and I still don't know what to order when I go out for it. I'll usually eat anything, except maybe the ones with eel....

I took out my phone and started taking pictures, and everybody was like, what are you doing? Why are you taking pictures? It was funny. I just like to remember what and where I ate! The desserts were pretty good, and it's funny how we all shared them so each person took like one spoonful of each one. 

One of the places on my Chicago bucket restaurant list was Edzo's Burger Shop. We drove to the one in Lincoln Park on a Saturday around noon, and it was so tiny inside! I was kind of surprised. But the burger was delicious, and the Elvis milkshake was even better. 

I could've done without these loaded cheese fries, just because the cheese made everything so soggy. But it was Merkt's sharp cheddar, so I loved the taste and sharpness of it!

I attempted to make Smores' cookies, which have a graham cracker on the bottom of each one, and the actual cookie part was good, but the graham cracker kind of made them too sweet for me. I think I'd just crumble some graham crackers on top next time.

Time to put in the window air conditioner!