Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tidbits {December 28, 2012}

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas. My family and I enjoyed a relaxing, wonderful day. We went to Mass on Christmas Eve and it was beautiful. On Christmas Day, we woke up and ate breakfast and opened our stockings. We volunteered at a local church serving Christmas lunch to the poor for a couple of hours after breakfast. When we got home, we opened presents and ate dinner. It was a twist on our traditional Christmas, but it really reminded me what Christmas is all about - GIVING! I'd love to make the volunteering an annual tradition.

I am so behind on my Tidbits - it's terrible! Finals + Christmas Baking = Distraction. So, here goes nothing (and everything). Feel free to check out my Instagram for more (I have an addiction).

Smile fries. Thanks for a happy end to finals ADPi.

I-85S can be really pretty.

These three pictures are just a few of the reasons why I LOVE being home - peanut butter M&M's, good coffee, my pup, and grilled cheese.

I did so much holiday baking it was absurd...and awesome. Check out my holiday recipes here, here, here, here, here, oh and here.

I love this, and how perfect around Christmas. John 3:16.

I'm obsessed with my puppy, Roxie. BFFs.

Thanks to Julie over at Table for Two, I am now the proud owner of this incredible Calphalon pans. #grateful (can you hashtag on blogs?)

My mom hosted a Wine Exchange Party. She rocks.

My best friend Nick and I had a Nothing But Noodles and SAS Cupcakes date. It was lovely.

My aunt, uncle and cousin delivered my family a BIG box of Cheryl's Cookies. I openly wept tears of joy.

This sunset is real. And amazing. My mom and I were mesmerized on our walk.

My kitchen accessory stockpile grew immensely over Christmas. This ADORABLE hot pad and oven mit were a gift from my best friend, Tara. She is leaving me to study abroad in Florence next semester. While I am utterly depressed, I can't wait to read about all of her adventures on her blog, Tara's Travels!

Babysitting over Christmas Break = baking and decorating Gingerbread men!

Riccio's Italian Restaurant is THE BEST Italian food in Charlotte. GO EAT THERE...NOW.

Captain Crunch. I'll never grow up. Sorry 'bout it.

Festive nails.

Ghost of Christmas past? I clearly love Santa.


My favorite ornament - my mama's okra angel.

This text from my dad was so cute...but I am still confused at who this Catherine girl is. 20 years later and I'm left questioning my identity - is my name spelt with a K or a C?!

Someone explain to me how you learn to decorate cakes online. Please, people. Some things are better left OFF the Internet.

Foodie for life.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year! I'll be headed to New Orleans with my family! If you have any recommendations on places for us to visit/eat at, feel free to comment below :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Minty Oreo Cheesecake Brownies

Merry Christmas Eve!!! I can't believe Christmas is tomorrow!!! To round out this wonderful season of baking, I'm leaving you with one last recipe - Minty Oreo Cheesecake Brownies!!

I found the recipe for these decadent treats over at Crazy for Crust and thought they'd be a perfect finale to all the other recipes I've posted in the past week. They are a combo of treats: brownie, cookie, and cheesecake! Scrumptious!

The original recipe calls for Candy Cane Oreos, but since I couldn't find those at any of the stores I ventured to, I opted just to use the Winter Oreos with the red filling. Also, the original recipe called for these to be topped with Andes Baking Chips, but I could find those either! So my lovely friend Nick helped by chopping up some Hershey's Peppermint Kisses so they'd be more chip-like. You rock Nick!

These are an easy-to-make treat that look super involved that will impress (and feed!) a crowd.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas eating, relaxing, and spending time with loved ones. Enjoy!

Minty Oreo Cheesecake Brownies
Recipe Adapted from Crazy for Crust (originally adapted from Inside BruCrew Life)

  • 1 box brownie mix, plus eggs, water and oil called for on the box
  • 20 Winter Oreos, about 1 package
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups Hershey's Peppermint Kisses, chopped (or 3/4 cup Andes Baking Chips)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Make brownie mix according to package directions. Pour half of the batter into the bottom of the pan and spread to coat. Line the brownie mix with the Oreos and then top with the remaining brownie mix.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until combined and no lumps remain (your ingredients need to be at least room temperature for this!). Beat in egg and sugar. Pour over brownie mix and spread to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle your chopped Hershey's Peppermint Kisses on top of the cheesecake layer.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Christmas Bark

I love Christmas. I love just being with my family and enjoying their presence...all while stuffing our faces with tons of cookies. Now, I know that's not what the holiday is really about, but it is an aspect of it that I enjoy.

Every year, people drop by with holiday treats and it seems that every year we get some sort of bark, typically of the peppermint variety. Now, when I came across this Peanut Butter Chocolate Christmas Bark I knew I needed it (is it apparent I have a hard time distinguishing wants and needs...?)

Lordy, is this bark decadent. You've got your saltine layer on the bottom (see these crackers are good even when you aren't sick!), and then you top those with a layer of toffee. On top of the toffee goes your peanut butter and chocolate. Then, because none of that is enough, you top with crushed Christmas M&M's. This stuff is the best way possible.

While these treat is over the top and absolutely incredible, it actually doesn't require much effort to make. The hardest part will be making your toffee. Just remember, when you are waiting for the butter and brown sugar to boil, don't stir it! While you will want to, RESIST. Once it turns a dark amber color, take it off the heat so it doesn't burn, then coat your saltines. Yumz.

While you should restrain from stirring that toffee, don't restrain from making this bark. Trust me when I say your lack of willpower will be rewarded generously. This bark does not disappoint, and it's a crowd pleaser! Enjoy!

Line up your saltines...
Don't you dare stir this toffee :)
Dollops of peanut butter - yummy.
Chocolate. Everywhere.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Christmas Bark
Recipe from Grin and Bake It
  • 1 sleeve salted saltines
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet (or milk) chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 bag of chopped M&M's
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper (the pan needs to have a lip to prevent the bark from leaking all over your oven!)
  2. Place the saltines in the jelly roll pan, salted side up. Leave just a bit of space between the crackers so the toffee will cover the entire cracker when done.
  3. Bring sugar and butter to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes (time the boiling after the whole thing starts boiling, not just the edges). And, resist the urge to stir it (resist, I tell you!). Pour the boiling mixture over the crackers and place in the oven for 5 minutes.
  4. Once out of the oven, put dollops of peanut butter on top of the toffee and crackers and return to the oven for 1 minute.
  5. Once out of the oven, spread the melted peanut butter mixture over the toffee and crackers with a spatula. Then, top the crackers, toffee and peanut butter with your chocolate chips and put back in the oven for 1 minute.
  6. Once out of the oven, use a spatula to spread the chocolate chips (which have melted) over the rest of your candy. Top with your crushed M&M pieces. 
  7. Once done, place in the freezer for at least 1 hour to allow the bark to set. When they have set, crack them into individual pieces.

Gingerbread Scotchies

You cannot pry me out of the kitchen. I have not stopped baking since I've been home. IT'S PHENOMENAL. And to make things better, today my house smelt like a gingerbread house. Can you imagine that?! Soak it in. It was like I was living in a gingerbread world, sans gumdrops (I mean, does anyone actually like those?!)

These cookies, y'all. I don't have words. Despite what my most recent posts may tell you, I am not a chocoholic. SUE ME, OK?! But you give me brown sugar and butterscotch and I will be shouting on the rooftops. 

I took one bite of these little guys and straight up melted into the floor. That's how good they are. I don't know that I ever would've thought to combine these flavors. Sure, I love gingerbread, and if you'll recall from my Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats, I adore butterscotch, but together would they work out? Would this union last?

Folks, it does. This is a flavor marriage that I can happily say will last into eternity. I suggest you make these immediately so you too can live in gingerbread's quite a lovely place.

Gingerbread Scotchies 
Recipe from Cooking to Perfection (adapted from Lemons for Lulu)
(makes about 40 cookies)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 (11 oz.) package butterscotch chips
  1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a bowl. Mix until ingredients are blended together. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, add butter and brown sugar and cream together. Add egg and beat into creamed butter. Add molasses and mix until incorporated.
  3. Slowly add your dry ingredients to your wet, stirring until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold in butterscotch chips.
  4. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight (I chilled mine overnight).
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop tablespoon size cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies are set and begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!