#59 Buttery Dinner Rolls


I’ve never been so glad that the grocery store was out of stock of everything until now.

Christmas this year kind of sneaked up on us. Normally we have the day before Christmas Eve to prepare for Christmas Day dinner, since we go to my Aunt’s house for Christmas Eve for the day. But this year we went to my brother and sister’s house for a Hanukkah dinner (hello Latkes!) so we were a little behind on stocking the kitchen.

I guess I didn’t realize that I had used up all of the flour for baking the week before, and that we didnt have any bread for dinner, oh and we didnt have any vegetables. I mean seriously we hardly had anything besides a huge piece of meat for dinner and some potatoes.

On Christmas Eve, I double checked that there would be a grocery store near by open on Christmas Day, that way we could just go in the morning rather than wandering around the store like zombies after a long day.

MISTAKE. Don’t ever go to the store on Christmas Day. What a nightmare. So many people trying to get the last of everything. Honestly, it was like the world was about to end and everyone decided to stalk up on bread and flour. The entire bakery section was void of bread. So I decide “Oh hey, I’ll just make bread. It will taste better anyways”. Oh wait, we don’t have any flour. I go to the flour section – NO FLOUR. After offering to buy my friends flour off of her (no such luck since she’s a baker too – this stuff is precious!) we found a package of flour at the weirdest place: Rite Aid.

After my frustrating visit to the store, I really hoped that this bread would turn out better than what I could have just picked up.

Verdict: I never want to buy bread from the store again. I made 24 rolls for 7 adults and a toddler. They were all gone that evening.

This is my brother



#58 Gingerbread Men 2011

It seems like for the past 5 years I have been on the search for the perfect Gingerbread men recipe. The first year that my friend and I made Gingerbread men it was hardly a gingerbread cookie, but more of a sugar cookie with some spices thrown in – and it was amazing. Neither of us really had the palate for gingerbread frankly, it was just too strong. Over the years, we have tried new recipes and havent been huge fans, until this year.

I think it was a may have been that my tastes changed to now enjoy deep, strong flavored foods (like my new affinity for dark chocolate which I could never get myself to like before) but this year these were full on Gingerbread cookies, and I really liked them!


Oh no! Not my arm!!

Mom trying the Gingerbread Men

I got into the spirit this year with personalization of the packaging for the food that I made. I put a label on the lid of my Caramel Sauce, and figured I should keep it up with my Gingerbread Men too. Normally we just put them in little baggies and tie it with a string. This year I got crafty and made my own bag toppers! I think they turned out absolutely amazing 🙂

Kitchen demolished!

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas & Hanukkah with your families. Love you all



#57 Homemade Caramel Sauce

I first stumbled upon caramel sauce when I failed an attempt at salted caramels a few months back. The caramels never ended up setting up, granted it was my first time using a candy thermometer, and I ended up with this pool of caramel. At first I was bummed that my caramels didn’t turn out, but quickly realized that this caramel soup that remained was amazing! Into a mason jar it went and ended up on ice cream, pies, cookies, in coffee, or just on a spoon, hehe.

I wanted to make something for my family back in Minnesota for Christmas but wasn’t sure what to make that would travel well and also appease a bunch of different people’s tastes. Everyone loves ice cream, so this caramel sauce was the perfect thing! I put it in half pint sized mason jars, glued some ribbon onto the rim of the lid, and made my own label for the top. Seriously, these turned out way cuter than I expected 🙂

The one thing about making candy that makes me so annoyed is that the caramel is SO HOT that you can’t really test it (unless you drop some into some water). I’m all about tasting along the way, otherwise you might make this huge batch of cookies and find out that they’re disgusting because you forgot the sugar (this happened…).

For this recipe, I started out using the candy thermometer, but found after making 3 batches that I didn’t really need it to make a good caramel sauce. You let it brown until it gets to an amber color, and then add in the cream. Taking the candy thermometer out of the equation makes the process seem a lot less intimidating.

So if you’re scrambling last minute for a gift for a holiday party that you’re going to, this is an easy fix! After you make it you can put it in the fridge and go get ready for the party. By the time you’re done it will be cooled enough that you wont burn your hand.

Grab a spoon and dig in!


1. Use a large pan! That way when the caramel bubbles up when you add the liquid it doesnt boil up too high to the point where it might cause a mess.

2. Stir with a silicon spatula that can handle serious heat!

3. Understand that this sugar is 300+ degrees! Be careful!

4. Clean up: When you’re done, put the spatula back in the pot and add a few cups of water. Put the pot back on the stove and bring it to a boil. This will boil away all of the hard caramel thats a nightmare to clean on its own.



#56 English Toffee [Homemade Holiday Gift]

I love this time of the year. All of the wreaths, the little gingerbread men, and nutcrackers – I love it all. Christmas decorations just make the house look complete to me. Whenever it hits the new year, and the decorations get put back into their sad little boxes, the house just looks so cold and empty.

On the left is my baker nutcracker, he’s quite adorable. And on the right is my gingerbread man that I made when I was in Kindergarten. He’s looking a little ratty these days since he comes out every year. I think he use to have buttons on his eyes…poor guy.

Whenever my Granny visits she always brings with this amazing toffee. I sadly didn’t know how amazing this toffee was until a few years ago because my parents always told me that I wouldnt like it. Turns out that they were just trying to keep me away from it so they had more for themselves!

Since I had issues last time I made anything with a candy thermometer, I was a little apprehensive about making this. I used the holiday’s as an excuse to just go for it and I was surprised how simple it really was. All you really need is a candy thermometer! I have this cheap one from the grocery store, it isn’t great but it does the job well enough for how little I use it.

Break it up into pieces and put the toffee into little bags, voila! Makes a lovely home made gift for the holidays 🙂 and it’s quite delicious too.

Enjoy! I’ll be posting another home made holiday gift soon! 🙂


#55 Salted Chocolate Pecan Cookies

This year I participated in a cookie swap and not just some amateur local one. This my friends was put together by the lovely ladies over at Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. The idea is genius really. Combine the powers of the amazingly talented food bloggers all over the country, ship a box of cookies to three different people, you get three different boxes of cookies, and in the end everyone writes a nice little post about! Fun! [If you’re interested in participating next year, sign up for their emails here]

Well here I am at stage three writing a nice little post about this event. This event was a lot more than just shipping your cookies to random people around the country. Blogging about anything can seem really closed off sometimes. You don’t get to see the people who are reading your blog or interact with them like you would if you were cooking for a group of friends. This event brought together about 500 food bloggers over the common love of cookies. Personally, I went on Twitter way more just to look through all of the tweets about the cookie swap. It was nice to bond virtually over the trials and errors of making the perfect cookie, and through the process I found a few more people to follow online.

My cookies ready to ship

I want to give a shout out to the three blogs that I sent cookies too:

KarmaCucina – my new go-to “real” cooking site! Lots of different variations on delicious food.
Life of a Bama Girl – another young chef blogging about life and food 🙂
From My Sweet Heart – a lovely woman living her life the best way possible – through sugar 🙂

The bloggers that I received cookies from:

Addicted to Recipes – she sent some yummy Gingerbread Snickerdoodles which was so appropriate. I love the two of them separately this season, so combined it was heavenly.
Grumpy’s Honey Bunch – she sent two different types of cookies [a nice result from reading directions when stressed :)] One was a peppermint bark filled bon bon (Mom loved these!) and some Cardamon Sugar cookies (yum!)
Decadent Philistines Save the World – she sent Maple Walnut cookies, which sadly must have been man-handled by the USPS because the box of cookies was opened inside when i got it and the cookies were a little hard 🙁 BUT I did try them and they tasted good regardless!  There should be a stamp for packages that says “HANDLE WITH CARE – COOKIES INSIDE”

I should probably tell you about the cookies I made now, huh? Recently I have fallen in love with the idea of sea salt on desserts, like cookies and chocolates. I know some people who havent experienced it yet are a little hesitant about the idea, but trust me, you’ll be hooked.

I was going to make a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt, but that was too simple. So these cookies ended up as a mixture of a few different cookies. I only got to eat one of them because I didn’t make enough to devour myself, but that one cookie was mouthwatering. These will be made a few more times this holiday season, that’s for sure.



#54 Pumpkin Bourbon Walnut Tart

I’m not a Pumpkin Pie person. I’m just going to get it out there, and you can all hate me later. There’s just something about it…I think its the texture, or maybe the intense amount of pumpkin with nothing else going on. Whatever it is, I usually am just not a fan of traditional Thanksgiving desserts. With that said, I am here to show you a better alternative to a boring Pumpkin Pie !

I knew that I couldn’t just ignore the pumpkin pie all together, especially during the holidays, so I found this alternative recipe. How do we make Pumpkin Pie better? With Bourbon, Nuts, and a Streusel topping is how! Honestly, the bourbon went in a few more things besides this tart…tis the season!

This tart turned out amazing! Instead of having an intense pumpkin flavor, it had more of a holiday spice thing going on, combined with the buttery crust and the crunchy streusel nut topping – so yummy. I cant wait to make it into  miniture individual sized tarts.

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but it was Thanksgiving. Between there being way too many people in the kitchen and a toddler running around like crazy, the camera was the last thing on my mind.

#53 Braided Garlic Herb Bread

You probably just looked at the title of this post and said, “What….she doesnt do ‘real’ food”.

Well surprise surprise my dears. This Thanksgiving I decided I’d dip my cold feet into the waters of “real cooking”. Baking is a form of cooking, but its dessert, and sadly you can not live off dessert…or can you…

I’ve always been intimidated by bread, specifically because of the yeast. You have to put it in a special temperature water, you have to wait for it to bloom, yada yada. I feel like cooking shows have given off this impression that making bread is so time consuming and difficult, but its not! It’s not at all!

I may start making my own bread every week. Probably not, but its so delicious and so simple that I really should. The recipe I used called for some spices that I didn’t have, and am not a huge fan of. Yeah, I’m talking about Dill. Not a fan of Mr. Dill. I used fresh thyme from the garden instead. When substituting fresh herbs in place of dried, you have to use more fresh herbs to make up for it.

Now seriously, go and make some bread. Your house/apt/hut will smell amazing.




#52 Chocolate Cream Pie with a Cookie Crust

I think Thanksgiving this year was my favorite yet. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was so involved in cooking this year’s feast, or maybe because it was a more intimate Thanksgiving. Whatever it was, I have never been so happy with this holiday.

I dont know about you guys, but I felt like I lived in the kitchen the day before and the day of Thanksgiving. The grocery store, the kitchen, and me — we were the three best friends.  (I go through self check-out when even I go to the store now because I’m embarrassed by how often I frequent that place.)

Although Thanksgiving tradition generally requires Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie, this family needs chocolate. (Don’t worry I made Pumpkin and Apple too) I made a Chocolate Cream Pie last year for Thanksgiving, which was good, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it. The major difference between the two recipes is the crust. This time, I chose a cookie crust, rather than a pastry dough crust. This pie wins, hands down.

While making the filling, dont walk away! You’re cooking eggs here people! If you aren’t watching this pot of love, you’ll have scrambled eggs in your pie. Imagine that. Seriously. The thought is just repulsive.

As you were looking at that last picture you were probably thinking that I forgot the chocolate. 🙂

Before you put the filling into the fridge, press down some plastic wrap onto the filling. This way you wont have any film on the top when you take it out. I wish I knew this when we made pudding when I was a kid. I would always scoop off the top of it because it was so weird!

After it has chilled a little bit, pour it into the pie crust.

Tip: If you’re serving the pie right after making it, go ahead and whip up the cream and put it on top before placing it all back in the fridge. BUT if you’re making this ahead of time, wait to whip the cream until serving. Also, remember to keep a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pie while in the fridge to keep that film forming on top!

Side note: I slightly overwhipped the cream (awkward), but it still was amazing. Just don’t make the same mistake as me, and you’ll have a beautiful pie!


You’ll love this pie!