The countdown to Christmas is really on now! If you’re like me you have the shopping mostly done and your menu planned. All that is left to do is some holiday baking. Check out our Pinterest Board Cookie Exchange for some fun holiday recipes. Even though it is fun to whip up a batch of dreidel shaped cookies or maybe even a snowman; when it all comes down to it, what people really like are Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve found. If you want to make them festive for the holidays, sprinkle some colored sugar on top or mix in some fancy sprinkles like Sweetapolita to make them really feel like the holidays.
Makes approximately 36 cookies
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (one stick) butter, softened
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
-preheat oven to 375°F
-Combine flour, baking soda & salt in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter, oil, both sugars and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until creamy.
-Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture.
-Stir in the chocolate chips.
-Drop by rounded tablespoon on to ungreased cookie sheet.
It is hard to believe we’re already in the middle of December and in the thick of holiday shopping season. I’ve started thinking ahead to what we’ll be eating on Christmas Day. We’ve invited a couple of friends over for an early dinner(normal time if you have children 5 and under😊). I want to be able to spend time with my company so I need a dish I can prepare ahead. It is Christmas and while I don’t formally celebrate the holiday, I realize we need something a little special for our meal. Here is the final menu… I’ve linked some of the recipes so you can enjoy them for your holiday meal.
Last Saturday was Small Business Saturday and if you’re like me you received many reminders to #shopsmall. American Express started Small Business Saturday 10 years ago. It falls the Saturday after Thanksgiving when many people are in full-blown holiday shopping mode. While it is nice to have reminder to shop from smaller artisans/stores/retailers this time of the year, I think it is important to shop small year-round. Don’t get me wrong I still order from Amazon, especially when I need a gift for the birthday party my son is attending in a few days or I’m pretty much out of diapers, but I do try to think ahead and order from small businesses and shop at local boutiques.
One of the reasons I shop from smaller artisans is because their product tends to be more unique. Everyone starts small and when they do they are really passionate about what they are making. This results in a product that is made with love and attention to every detail. There is also a lot of pride when you produce something that has your name on it. I always feel I am getting a quality product when I shop small because an artisan will only sell something that makes them smile.
I saw a statistic last week that small women-owned businesses employ 9.4 million workers and that is just women-owned businesses. Keeping small business alive is what keeps these jobs. Think about that the next time you shop. I know large businesses employ more workers but the barista at Starbucks is very different from the barista at your local coffee shop. The local shop probably has a lot more personality and that barista has a much higher chance of moving up the ranks and learning about running a business versus just making coffee.
The next time you’re walking down the road or looking for a gift online, look a little further than the big shops. By shopping small I guarantee you’ll get something you truly enjoy.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. While we all eat a fairly similar menu on Thanksgiving Day( Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie). It got me thinking that there are so many amazing foods to be thankful for, I cannot believe we all limit ourselves while we celebrate each year. Here is an alphabet version of the foods I’m most thankful for.
This fall has been especially busy for me… turns out adding another person to the mix is a lot of work. I’ve been keeping up with the kids’ classes, this blog, the marketplace and feeding everyone. I somehow didn’t realize Thanksgiving is next week. I am very lucky to be attending two Thanksgiving feasts and don’t have to cook for either of them. That has left me with plenty of time to scour Instagram, Pinterest and the rest of the internet for the best Thanksgiving Recipes. Let me present to you my Thanksgiving Dream Menu! If you’re in a pinch these recipes may be just what you need to get the most magnificent meal on the table.
My dad and stepmother are visiting New York this weekend. They are now retired and spend most of their time in a warm climate. New York decided to give them a taste of the winter weather they’ve been missing as winter came really early this year! While the purpose of their trip is to spend time with their grandchildren, a visit to New York City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Times Square and more specifically a Broadway show! I became a little nostalgic thinking about my days working at db Bistro Moderne in the theater district. Those pre-theater rushes were no joke! One of my favorite recipes from my days in the kitchen there is Butternut Squash Soup. Here is the recipe so you can make it this weekend and warm your body from the inside out!
Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 4 servings
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeds removed
-Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange butternut squash in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.
-Meanwhile in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook 7-9 minutes, until tender. Season generously with salt and pepper.
-Add roasted squash to the vegetable mixture and cover with vegetable stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
-Blend carefully in small batches until the soup is smooth and creamy.
-Serve garnished with fresh thyme, your favorite croutons or a drizzle of crème fraiche.
Walking down the street earlier this week I stumbled upon a sample sale. This one was for high-end pajamas, undies and robes. As I walked past, I started thinking about who I need to buy gifts for this holiday season and circled back to the sale. I purchased some super soft hoodies for my nieces and thought about what I was going to get everyone else on my list. My husband is from a big family and there are 11 cousins we give gifts to. They range in age from 4 to 26! I always try to be the cool aunt but also want to give something that I would like my children to receive. We have a budget for the gifts so everyone is gifting at the same level.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the gifts I’ll be purchasing for the remaining cousins but the whole experience got me thinking about this type of gifting. Often in offices or among groups of friends, you are in a situation where you are getting a gift for someone but have a spending limit for the gift. You want to get something thoughtful but that is sometimes difficult with the limitations set. The marketplace at Julie’s Beet has some great buys for the budget conscious. Here are some of my favorites in each category. Let’s be honest, a $10 bar of chocolate is so much better than a $10 bottle of wine so focus you’re efforts here!
Under $10 :Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles… so sweet and delicious, the bag will be finished in one sitting but the recipient will be thanking you for days.
From $10 – $25 :P & T Tea … These boxes of tea are a work of art on the outside and filled with 15 tea bags to keep the recipient warm all winter long.
From $26 – $50:Pasta Tonight Gift Set … This set includes Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce, Semolina Artisanal Pasta & FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Giving the gift of a good meal cannot be beat!
From $75-100:FIVE Oil & Vinegar Set… A bottle of FIVE Estate Balsamic Vinegar and FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil are a statement on any table. Together this duo makes a great salad dressing or dipping sauce for bread.
It is never too early to start your holiday shopping. We’ll include a handwritten not with every order and can even hold the order to ship closer to the holidays if that is your preference.
Pumpkin spice has been in season for a while now but it is finally PUMPKIN season! I ordered two cans of pumpkin this week with my groceries. That way I’ll have some on hand when the pumpkin baking begins. They always seem to run out close to Thanksgiving when everyone is making pumpkin pie, so now I am prepared for once. I actually don’t have any plans to make pumpkin pie but I will be making pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies. I’ll be sure to post the results on Instagram with the recipes too.
This weekend we’ll head out to Secor Farms for their hayrides, animal farm, pumpkin patch, corn maze and probably some apple cider and apple cider donuts. Maybe we’ll even have some hot chocolate if we’re feeling very decadent. That gives us just a few days to decide how we are going to decorate those pumpkins before Halloween. If all goes as planned one will turn into a proper jack-o-lantern with an electric candle and the other will be decorated with paint or markets. The pumpkins will become a part of our decor through the fall and into the winter(until the Hanukkah decorations come out!).
Head over to our Pinterest Board The Great Pumpkin for more pumpkin inspiration. What is your favorite part of pumpkin season?
Today is going to be a great day… it is Friday, hopefully the sun is shining where you are and it is National Chocolate Cupcake Day! I believe cupcakes are the perfect sweet morsel. They are just as delicious as a cake but you can eat them with your hands and have all of the deliciousness of the cake in one or a few bites, depending on the size. When thinking about the perfect chocolate cupcake the one that comes to mind are cupcakes I often had during my childhood. These cupcakes were a moist chocolate cake and had a dollop of cream cheese chocolate chip filling baked right on top. It was like they were frosted without the added mess of the frosting. Here is an upgraded, adult version of that recipe from my childhood.
Be sure to have a chocolate cupcake or two today to celebrate!
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper cups and set aside.
-In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, egg and sugar for the filling. Once combined fold in the chocolate chips. Set aside
-In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate, baking soda & salt. Gradually add the water, vegetable oil, white vinegar and vanilla. Mix to combine, stirring well for 2-3 minutes.
-Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin cups just filling ½ way. Drop a large spoonful of cream cheese filling on top the muffin batter.
-Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cupcake should come out clean.
My son went on an apple picking trip a few weeks ago with his kindergarten class. He had a great time and brought home lots of apples. You can only eat so many apples so I’ve also been busy cooking with the rest of them. Apple sauce has been made and I’ve started researching the best candy apple recipes so the caramel doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. This recipe for Caramel Apples with Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles and Chocolate Shavings is a winner. I have also been testing some apple pie recipes. There are only so many hours in the day so I resorted to pre-made crust that I just had to roll out into the pan. My favorite recipe from the exercise is below.
Old Fashioned Apple Pie
Makes 1 8-9 inch pie
1 package pre-made pie crust
5 gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg + 2 tablespoons(egg wash)
-Preheat oven to 425°F.
-Roll out one pie crust and gently press into greased pie pan. Allow excess dough to hang over the edge. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator to chill.
-In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the sugars, flour and spices and mix to combine. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to let the apples release more juices.
-Pour into prepared pie shell. Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples.
-Roll out remaining pie crust. Cut into ½ inch strips. Place one layer of strips across the pie over the apples, about 1 inch apart… do not press edges down. Place another layer of strips perpendicular to the first layer. Weave the strips over and under the first layer of strips to create a lattice affect. Press down the edges of the pie crust to seal the layers together.
-Whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash. Brush across the top of the pie crust.
-Bake pie for 30-35 minutes or unti top is golden brown and juices are bubbly.
-Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.