For the Love of Cooking

I love cooking and my favorite part of cooking is watching someone enjoy what I made for them.  I think that is why I had such a difficult time working in restaurant kitchens.  I was cooking plenty of food for the guests to enjoy but unfortunately wasn’t getting to see the smiles on their faces when they enjoyed it.  Granted I never worked in an open kitchen but I think that would have come with it’s own set of challenges.  One of my favorite jobs was working at Rococo Chocolates and running their chocolate school. I got to interact with people, teaching them how to make chocolate and other recipes with chocolate in them. I also got to see them enjoy the chocolates! 

My husband’s birthday was last week and we have Valentine’s Day coming up next week.  I typically cook him a special meal for his birthday and then again on Valentine’s Day.  It can be tough to figure out two amazing meals to cook just weeks apart as I try to make them completely different but still filled with the foods he loves.  One of his favorites is when I make pasta from scratch, I’m talking the actual noodles here.  Tonight we’ll be celebrating his birthday with a belated birthday dinner and I’ve decided to make some pasta.  I use the recipe from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook.  It comes highly recommended from two chef friends of mine and always turns out perfect.

I found some recipe inspiration from Instagram on the feed @howsweeteats  I’ll be making the Cozy Lemon Pasta.  You can find the recipe here, And I’ll put the pasta recipe for you down below.  I cannot wait to see the joy on my husband’s face when he digs into this delicious meal.  A dream come true!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Pasta Dough

From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

6 large egg yolks

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

-Mound the flour on a board or other surface and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with the sides about 1 inch wide.  Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all  the eggs without spilling.

-Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil and milk into the well.  Use your fingers to break the eggs up.  Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides.  This circular motion allows the eggs to gradually pull in flour from the sides of the well.  It is important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly or your dough will be lumpy.  Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour.  Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour toward the eggs; the flour should be moved only enough to maintain the gradual incorporation of the flour, and the eggs should continue to be contained within the well.  The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.

-When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough.  When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy.  Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball.  It will look flaky but will hold together.

-Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself s you would with the bread dough.  Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times.  The dough should feel moist but not sticky. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you clean the work surface.

-Dust the clean work surface with a little flour. Knead the dough by pushing against it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands.  Form the dough into a ball again and knead it again.  Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes silky smooth.  The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place.  The kneading process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.  Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra 10 minutes; you cannot over knead this dough.  It is important to work the dough enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.

-Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure it does not dry out.  Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour before rolling it through the pasta machine.  The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.

The Perfect Chocolate Pairings for You and Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and what better way to show your person that you love him or her than gifting chocolate; food of the Gods, a tried and true symbol of romance. Luckily, we and Rococo Chocolates have got you covered, because nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like artisan chocolate paired perfectly with wine, spirits, and food. This year, in addition to a lovely home cooked dinner, a meal at a nice restaurant, a dozen roses, a bottle of wine, or a combination of the previous, make sure to add a bar or two of high quality artisan chocolate to elevate the occasion to the next level and show your special person the true depth of your love. We’ll supply the chocolate, you supply the love.

Rococo Chocolates was founded in 1983 by Chantal Coady who strived to change the way fine chocolate was perceived, and is now known as a luxury British chocolate company. Crafted using only the finest ingredients, Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars boast an exquisite taste, indulging consumers in a rich tapestry of flavors and balance. Not only is each bar meticulously crafted to ensure pristine quality and flavor, the wrapping  for each bar is also artfully designed to highlight the bars majesty. Luckily for you and your Valentine, our showroom selves are overflowing with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars, and using the pairings guide below, you’ll have the tools necessary to create a magical experience this Valentine’s Day.

When pairing chocolate, it’s important to play in harmony, pairing the flavor notes of the bar with complimentary flavor notes of the wine, spirit, or food with which you are pairing; flavors that enhance one another rather than overpower. Going beyond simply taste and rather turning to molecular structure, the best pairings happen when the dominant aromatic molecules of the chocolate are the same dominant aromatic molecules of the paired wine, spirit, or food. For example, when pairing chocolate with herbal teas, one should pair fruity teas with fruity bars, spiced teas with spiced bars, minty teas with mint flavored bars, so on and so forth. Along similar lines, if pairing with beer or wine, it’s lovely to pair sweet with sweet and tart with tart, as long as the beverage is sweeter than the chocolate. When pairing with wine, opt for similar style and weight, matching more elegant, lighter flavored chocolate with lighter-bodied wine, and stronger, more pronounced chocolate with a full-bodied wine, pairings that can be further honed based on the flavor notes of each.

Below, we’ve complied a list of complimentary pairings with Rococo Chocolates Artisan Bars. We hope this list proves helpful in creating a magical experience for you and your Valentine.

Shop the collection today to receive your Rococo Chocolate in time for Valentine’s Day.

Rococo Chocolates

Cheers to chocolate!

Happy Friday,

Payton

White Chocolate  Cardamom: Tokaji Dessert Wine

White Chocolate Cardamom Crackle: Terra Botanical Gin

Milk Chocolate Sea Salt: Caña Brava Reserva Añeja or similar aged rum

Milk Chocolate  Honeycomb Crunch : Aged Tawny Port

Milk Chocolate Christmas Pudding: IPA or Stout

Dark Chocolate  Sea Salt: Smokey Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Chili Pepper: Crisp, Sweet Reisling

Dark Chocolate  Basil & Persian Lime: Pinot Noir

Dark Chocolate Gold Frankincense and Myrrh: Blue Moon Beer

Dark Chocolate  Earl Grey: Black Tea like Earl Grey

Dark Chocolate  Violet: Chamomile Tea

Dark Chocolate  Mint: Bobby Burns Whiskey Cocktail

Milk Chocolate  Rose : Pinot Grigio

Milk Chocolate Almond, Rosemary and Sea Salt: Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Dark Chocolate  Rose: White Tea

Milk Chocolate  Gingerbread: Egg nog, of course

Milk Chocolate Orange Blossom Neroli: Light and smokey Mezcal like Los Amantes Mezcal Joven

Winter Wellness

The dead of the winter has finally hit NYC, encasing the city in sub-zero temperatures. Thankfully, January is nearly over and this is the first of extremely low temperatures that we’ve experienced this winter, so I can’t complain… after all it is January in New York City. This weather however, and I assume as we continue on through winter, makes it seemingly harder and harder to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. The gym, which a few weeks ago was filled to the brim with people, is becoming increasingly less crowded as we delve deeper into the winter months. It’s important, however, to maintain a healthy eating and exercise regimen this time of year. So, what are you doing to stay active, healthy, and happy this winter?

Greens. First and foremost, do not forego eating greens. Even though we tend to crave heartier, carbohydrate-dense food in the winter, it is very important to get your daily dose of greens as well, which are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, are loaded with antioxidants, and boast high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These phytochemicals are essential for keeping our bodies nourished, as well as regulated during the winter months. Thankfully, we now carry Farmhouse Lab dressings, which makes consuming your greens even easier and so very delicious! If you’re not in the salad mood, try adding raw greens like spinach and kale to a smoothie, or sauté heartier greens with lemon juice, garlic, chili pepper, and olive oil to accompany roasted chicken or fish. It may sound silly, but getting your daily dose of greens is really so important to keeping you not only healthy, but happy this winter.

Balance. Not only are greens important, but it’s also important to make sure that the food you’re consuming is balanced. Each time you sit down for a meal, your plate should contain protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, as well as greens. Creating a balanced plate will help keep you fuller longer, will create satiety, and will also help you from over-eating, which is so easy to do in the winter time, as heavier foods feel warming and comforting. Balance should also include finding time for meaningful play, and balancing that play with your hectic work life. The winter blues are no joke, and one way to combat them and stay mentally healthy, besides consuming the proper nutrition, is making time for play. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, going to the movies or a play, or perhaps going bowling, it is so important to make time for laughter and enjoyment. Your body will thank you!

Stay active. Finding time for exercise is necessary to stay healthy this winter. Whether it be going to the gym, lifting weights, taking a yoga or spin class, or going for a run outside if the weather permits, making time for exercise will aid in staying healthy and happy this winter. It doesn’t have to be everyday of the week, but one should shoot for at least two or three active days per week. It’s tricky at times, especially when it’s blistering cold outside, but speaking for myself, I always feel so much brighter and happier after completing a workout. The endorphins that are released during exercise trigger positive feelings in the body, in addition to other brain-boosting chemicals, which all aid in improving cognitive function and mood elevation. I also find that keeping an exercise regime helps me make healthier food choices, as I feel more in-tuned with my body and what it needs for nourishment and sustenance.

All-in-all, the coldest part of winter has just seemed to set in, and being that it’s nearly February, hopefully we don’t have too many more months of winter left. But in the meantime, it’s important to find happiness, peace, and enjoyment amongst the cold and barren landscape. I hope that the tips above help you, as they have helped me, find health and happiness this winter.

Happy Friday, all!

Payton

Calling all Football(Food) Fans!

We’re just two weeks shy of Super Bowl Sunday and I’m already thinking about game day.  I’m not particular if the Patriots, Saints, Chiefs or Rams make it to the big game, but I am particular about what is on the menu!  There are lots of statistics about how much guacamole is served up on Super Bowl Sunday and I’m sure there are quite a few chicken wings and hot dogs gobbled up during the game as well.  Here is a super easy menu for your Super Bowl Gathering. As you know when I entertain, my goal is always to make one or two  really good homemade dishes and fill in the rest with some quality purchased items.  The cake in the picture is from Super Bowl XLVIII when the Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos. The game was on Ground Hog’s Day which is also my husband’s birthday, so we celebrated all 3 events with one cake! If you’re not hosting just put together one of these dishes to take to your friend’s place or bring some of this amazing Champagne bottle sized Miller High Life!

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY MENU

French Onion Dip with Potato Chips – Mix a packet of Onion Soup Mix with and 8 oz Tub of Sour Cream and serve with your favorite chips

Baby Carrots, Sliced Cucumber & Grape Tomatoes with Hummus

Popcorn – I use Tiny But Mighty Butter Flavor Microwave Popcorn and it is ready in 2 minutes

Pigs in a Blanket – Buy the pre-made frozen ones, simply reheat and serve with fancy mustard

Chicken Wings with La Boite Ayala Spiced Aioli – Recipe HERE

Cupcakes with Frosting coordinating to the teams playing

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Find the recipe HERE

Miller High Life

Wine – Selected by my husband

Whether you watch The Super Bowl for the football, the commercials or to see Maroon 5 at Half Time this menu will come together quickly and keep your crew smiling.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Classic Meatloaf, Amplified

Growing up in the Midwest, meatloaf was a staple comfort food during the long and cold winter months. The combination of ground beef, sweet onions, bread or crackers, salt, pepper, and a sweet and tangy ketchup glaze seems to make every midwesterner that I know very happy during the winter time. I feel that it is almost customary that every midwestern mother has her own meatloaf recipe, or at least her own unique addition or adaptation of one. In my house, my grandma Carolyn’s meatloaf recipe reigned supreme, and no matter how hard my dad and I tried, regardless of the step-by-step handwritten instructions given to us by my grandma, our meatloaf never seemed to taste as good as hers… she just has the magic touch in the kitchen, where muscle memory and eye measurements outperform numerical metrics.

Whether served hot right out of the oven, or cold between two slices of buttered bread, a basic meatloaf comes together in minutes and provides the hearty and stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction that most individuals crave during the winter months. I no longer eat meat, and I haven’t for years, but I vividly remember the delicious comfort that meatloaf provides, a comfort that is both filling and warming, as well as nurturing.

In hopes to provide you with the best possible meatloaf recipe, I called my grandma this afternoon to request verbal instructions of her exact procedure. Of course, as mentioned above, she reiterated that she relies only on sight rather than measurement, but she was able to provide me with a quantifiable recipe that is similar to hers. Thankfully, it’s quite easy, as any meatloaf recipe should be, containing only a handful of simple ingredients. Of course, because I can never leave well enough alone, I’m going to swap out saltine crackers for The Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers and Heinz Ketchup for D.a.T. Ketchup which I think will provide a more unique and complex flavor, as D.aT. Ketchup boasts a few additional spices that Heinz Ketchup doesn’t contain. I’m leaving everything else alone, so please rest assured that this meatloaf will be nearly as good as my grandmas.

First things first, it’s all about the beef. Not all ground beef is created equal as it can contain various amounts of fat, so when choosing ground beef for your meatloaf, choose something with a higher fat content to insure that your meatloaf doesn’t get too dry during the cooking process. 70/30, which is the ratio of lean meat to fat, is a good choice, as the higher fat content will keep your meatloaf moist as well as add additional flavor and richness. Second, a ketchup glaze is key. A tangy and sweet glaze is not only delicious, but is also needed to cut through the fatty richness of the meatloaf rounding out the flavor to make it even more palatable. Lastly, chose your additions wisely, as simplicity lends to the best final result.

I hope you all have had a wonderful start to the new year! Cheers to lots of love, laughter, hugs, happiness, and of course, delicious food this 2019!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Classic Meatloaf, Amplified

Ingredients:

1 lb 70/30 ground beef

1 c crushed Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers

1 c minced white onion

1/2 c whole milk

1 large egg, whisked

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp D.a.T. Ketchup

Glaze:

1/4 c D.a.T. Ketchup

2 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tbsp white vinegar

Method:

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-to a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, crushed crackers, onion, milk, egg, 2 tbsp ketchup, and seasonings. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overwork the meat

-gently compress meat mixture into a 9”x5” loaf pan

-meanwhile, combine 1/4 c ketchup with brown sugar and vinegar and then spread on top of meat mixture

-bake for 1 hour, uncovered, and then remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing

Enjoy!

Here we go, 2019!

Happy New Year!  I hope 2019 has started off well for all of you.  We have a tradition of hosting New Year’s Eve at our home and this year was not different. I believe this may have been the tenth year we hosted but who’s counting, right?  The party has changed over the years as we’ve gotten older and children came into the picture.  We’ve had parties end at 4am but now we’re starting at 6pm and if you’re still standing at 10pm, I’ll kindly offer you something to go!  That gives me enough time to clean up and join my husband on the couch to watch the ball drop before heading swiftly off to bed.  The kids don’t get the memo that they’re supposed to sleep later on New Year’s Day!

As we start a new year, there seems to be a lot of pressure to make new resolutions and make changes to your life. Like most people, my resolutions tend to be similar from year to year, meaning I don’t quite get that part of my life resolved as I had hoped.  As I look ahead to 2019, I’ve decided I should concentrate on the parts of my life that are great and keep them that way instead of adding something else to my plate. I juggle a lot as a mother of three small boys, a wife and a small business owner.  Like that tradition of hosting New Year’s Eve, here are some of the pieces of my life I resolve to keep running as smoothly as they are.

  1. Schedules:  We’re a very busy household with 5 different schedules for work, school, classes and playdates. I keep most of our dates in my handy iPhone calendar and post the important ones on our family calendar.  Each year, I create a calendar which lists the birthdays of friends and family and has photos from the past year. It is a great way to keep us on point and enjoy some memories from the past year.
  2. Exercise:  I used to work out 6 days a week, that was before having kids.  With three of them running around it is often difficult to carve out time for myself to get the exercise I need.  Last April I joined Obe Fitness and can work out in the privacy of my own home at 6am before anyone else wakes up.  In addition to these workouts 3 days a week, I aim for 1 day of yoga, 1 run and 1 other workout(Physique 57, Fhitting Room, Swimming). I strive to keep that going through 2019 to keep my body and mind healthy!
  3. Healthy Eating:  I love cooking and cook a lot for myself and my family which equates to healthier eating.  Typically for the grown-ups at home I keep the meals low carb with lots of vegetables and healthy proteins.  The kids get their fair share of pasta and potatoes but usually mixed with some healthy proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables.  French fries and milkshakes are a staple when we’re eating out but balancing that with healthy home cooking keeps us on a well-balanced diet.  And my go-to snack during the day is a mix of almonds, raisins and chocolate chips… a little bit of sweet to complement the protein in the nuts and get me through the afternoon.

What are your resolutions for 2019?

Happy Friday,

Julie

A look back at 2018’s trends

From the beginning to the end 2018 was full of headlines pertaining to food, foodies and  chefs alike.  We said goodbye to Anthony Bourdain. We said hello to Top Chef Kentucky, Season 16 and also to Dunkin(formerly Dunkin Donuts). As the year comes to a close we’re looking back at the trends we’ve seen in the food world. 

  1. Eco-friendly Packaging:  From the movement to ban plastic straws to re-useable to-go packaging(think Stasher Bags and Healthy Human bottles) this year was all about saving planet earth.  Our new dressings from Farmhouse Labs are sold in small mason jars, perfect for re-purposing in your kitchen.
  2. Plant-Based Protein:  Vegan food is really coming into its own with chefs across the country substituting meat for plant-based proteins.  The meatless Impossible Burger even bleeds like real meat.
  3. Cauliflower:  Cauliflower went beyond just being a vegetable and has been used as a substitute for rice, pizza crust and even gnocchi.
  4. Spiralizing:  I’ve hopped on the bandwagon here and got the spiralizer attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer.  It turns boring vegetables into something more exciting. I also use it for peeling and slicing apples for applesauce. 
  5. Eating Local:  This is something I’ve always loved and continue to support local, small businesses through Julie’s Beet. Farmers Markets continue to be a popular destination for local cooks and we love seeking out their awesome products to share with all of you.
  6. Comfort Food:  While our tastes are becoming more sophisticated, it turns out, we’re still loving the foods we had growing up.  I often take a ‘Cooking Light’ approach to these types of meals to make them slightly healthier for my family but definitely find comfort in ‘comfort foods’.
  7. Delivery:  Think UberEats, Grubhub, Seamless, and even Instacart. We spent 2018 having everything from that ice cream sundae with extra whipped cream and walnuts to a gallon of milk delivered to our door and sometimes within an hour(especially important for that ice cream sundae!)

At Julie’s Beet we’re always trying to keep up with these trends but also want to bring you the best products on the market.  We’re thrilled you’ve decided to join us on our journey this far and are very excited to see what 2019 brings.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Minnesota Christmas

Christmas time has always been my favorite time of year. From all of the lights, to the snow frosted trees, to the dancing notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and baked apples, to the love and warmth of being surrounded and sharing in holiday joy with friends and family, the holiday season is unlike any other time of year. The spirit of the season is seemingly alive, finding shelter in nearly all of those whom you come into contact with, which can only be described as an all-encompassing blissful wonderment.

As young children, and even into our late teens and early twenties, my siblings and I would wake up at nearly 3am on Christmas morning and rush downstairs to see what Santa had left for us, carefully tiptoeing past our parents room as to not wake up our mom. As we sat surrounded by stacks of gifts and overflowing stockings, my siblings and I would rifle through the loot in our stockings before trying to guess what each of our wrapped packages contained. My dad, who is the only person that I know who starts his day at 4am, would soon find us downstairs eating candy and eagerly waiting to open our gifts. My dad would put on a movie or TV show for us and we would each find a spot on the couch, and if excitement allowed us, we’d fall back asleep until our mom was awake and ready to document each of us opening up our gifts. I treasure these memories dearly, and I hope to one day create the same magical experiences with my own children.

As per tradition, each Christmas morning before gifts were opened, my mom or I would make cinnamon rolls, pancakes, and scrambled eggs, which, due to anticipation for gift opening, hardly got eaten. Each of my siblings and I would take turns opening gifts, taking turns sitting on a chair positioned in front of the Christmas tree so that my mom could photograph each gift being opened, as my dad sat on the corner of the couch videotaping the madness. This is something we still do to this day, however, as each of my siblings and I get older, the less focused we are on receiving gifts, but we rather appreciate the time spent together so much more. This year, instead of asking for a plethora of material gifts we asked for an experience, so my parents are taking us to the Dominican Republic for a week of fun in the sun!

The older I get, the more and more I love just being present and sharing in love, joy, and laughter with my friends and family, and it’s now my favorite part about Christmas. I love cooking together, sharing in laughter together, eating together, celebrating together, more over, just being together, all encased in the warmth and love of the season. I cherish this time of year dearly.

I hope you all have the chance to experience the magic of the holiday season!

Happy holidays and happy Friday!

Payton

Gifts and DIY, Oh My!

Gift giving can be something of a chore but when you find the perfect gift it can be magical. Nothing beats watching someone open your present and seeing their eyes light up and a big grin come across their face.  That is when you know you made a good choice. This can happen for kids of all ages, meaning kids and grown-ups alike, have the same reaction to the perfect gift.  We’re coming down the home stretch of holiday gift giving but there is still time to get that perfect gift and also to have it arrive in time with out paying an arm and a leg for shipping😊You can check out our Experience Gift Guide here to find out how to give the whole experience and not just something in a box.

If you are more of the crafty type, here are some DIY ideas that you could make mostly with things around your house.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix in a Jar – Of course we would substitute chunks of our favorite Rococo Chocolates Bar in place of the chocolate chips but this recipe from Very Best Baking by Nestle hits all of the right notes.

T-shirt Chew Toy for Dogs – I actually made this one and my sister’s dog can’t put it down. We all have old t-shirts laying around, right?

Kid’s Dishtowel Apron – If your kids love to cook as much as mine do, this is the perfect use of one of those extra dish towels spilling out of your kitchen drawer.

With gift giving it is often more about adding a personal touch than it is about how much you spent. As long as the gift is from the heart it will be loved by the recipient.

Happy Friday,

Julie

P.S. Our Showroom will be open today and tomorrow from noon to 5pm for your holiday shopping needs. Stop by for a visit if you are in NYC, we’re at 210 W 80th Street New York, NY 10024.

Holiday Treats… an ode to National Cookie and National Brownie Days

I’m sure that it’s no surprise to any, but I love baking. At times, I find myself dreaming about sugar and sweet creations. Seemingly infatuated by the all-encompassing world of pastry, I find the combination of sugar, flour, fat, salt, heat, and other flavor components to be something of a magical science. As a child, instead of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I found myself enchanted by the cooking shows on the Food Network, and nurtured by a family of wonderful cooks and bakers, I find much comfort and joy in creating in the kitchen. The realm of pastry is vast and endless, and I quite love exploring it.

During the holiday season in general, more over as soon as the weather begins to cool, my urge to bake begins to intensify. Cold weather plus the joy of the holiday season creates the perfect baking environment, as being surrounded by friends, family and warmth makes the experience all the better. Sugar cookies are by far one of my favorite things to bake for the holidays, with gingerbread cookies following in close second. My grandma makes the best cut-out sugar cookies, which are thin and crisp, yet they surprisingly still melt in your mouth, that she decorates with vibrant holiday colors — which I attribute to the reason why I love to bake them. I recently purchased a rolling pin embossed with a holiday scene that I’m so excited to try out on this years cookie creations.

Every Christmas morning, I find myself baking cinnamon rolls for my family and myself. On occasion, they come from the Pillsbury can, other times they are scratch made. I made cinnamon rolls the last time I was home in Minnesota which I plan to recreate this Christmas. This time, however, I plan to add more of a pecan pie element to the rolls — I’ll let you know at a later date how they turn out. I also recently made lemon scented Belgium Waffles which were quite fluffy and airy due to the addition of a high quality Italian lemon soda that I can’t wait to make for my family!

Since the holidays are soon approaching, and since both National Cookie Day and National Brownie day were celebrated this week, I wanted to share with you two amazing recipes that you can wow your friends and family with! The fi-rst recipe is my take on a traditional peanut butter blossom cookie — which my grandma always makes for Christmas as well — in which I subbed Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels  for Hershey Kisses. These cookies are so moist and pack a serious peanut butter punch! The second recipe is for fudge brownies featuring Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and a Gus and Grey Spellbound infused cheesecake swirl. The combination of rich chocolate and blueberry and lavender cheesecake is truly irresistible!

If you’re anything like me, you love baking with friends and family for the holidays. My wish for you is that you’re able to find some time in the kitchen surrounded by those you love and together create your favorite holiday treats. The recipes below are a great place to start! I wish you all a safe and happy holidays!

And most importantly, happy baking!

Payton

Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms with Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 c creamy peanut butter, I prefer natural

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 box Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels, unwrapped and cut in half

Method:

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated

-Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine. Be careful not to over mix

-Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough, roll into a ball, roll in granulated sugar, then place the dough onto a parchment lined sheet tray approximately 2 inches apart

-Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and set. Immediately place a Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramel in the center of each cookie and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Fudge Brownies with Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and Gus and Grey Spellbound Infused Cream Cheese Swirl

Yields 1 8×8 pan of brownies

Brownie Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 c granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 c Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate, plus additional for dusting

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream Cheese Swirl Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 c Gus and Grey Spellbound Jam

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Butter an 8×8 inch cake pan, then lightly dust with drinking chocolate, making sure to tap out any excess

-Combine melted butter, which has been allowed to cool slightly, with sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, drinking chocolate, and salt, whisking to combine. Gently fold in flour and baking powder until just combine, be careful not to over mix, then pour into prepared baking pan

-Meanwhile, make cheesecake swirl by combining cream cheese, sugar, egg, and Gus and Grey Jam, whisking to combine. Dot the surface of the browning batter with the cheesecake mixture, then using a wooden skewer, swirl the cheesecake mixture and brownie batter together

-Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly set

Enjoy!