I love the holidays

Welp, the holiday season has come and gone. I had such a great time spending time with family and friends, and it seems like ages ago I was back in New York.

I had a great trip home, as always. I had a week home with my parents, some time with my family for Christmas, and then B and I took a few days off and visited Newport, Rhode Island. All in all, a successful holiday break. If only I were ready for 2016!

family

Some highlights from my trip back to New York:

Decorating the tree with my family. When I was younger, we used to go out and cut it down ourselves – it was a great tradition.

tree

Going out to dinner in Saratoga. We went to one of my favorite places and had some delicious fries. It was a little chilly and we spent some time walking along the main street of the downtown area.

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Tons of baking for Christmas. Of course.

cookies

Taking walks with my family. One day it was 30 degrees, the next it was 60! SUCH seasonably warm weather! We had some 50+ degree days before and after Christmas. It was incredible!

selfie taking a walk

selfie taking a walk

one of the 50+ degree days. Doesn't look like December!

one of the 50+ degree days. Doesn’t look like December!

Running while home. B wore shorts and short sleeves on Christmas – I told you it was warm!

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Going to the movies. A usual Christmas tradition is seeing a movie on Christmas – this year, a group went and saw Carol, while another group saw The Big Short. I saw The Big Short – it was really good! Christian Bale was so good.

Seeing two of my best friends, Jane and Alisa. Jane and I got to hang out several times, taking walks (in above said warm weather), eating cookies, watching holiday movies, grabbing lunch, etc. It was great!

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Some (but not nearly enough) quality family time.

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And tons of reading. I finished All the Light They Cannot See, Station Eleven and California. All of them were so good! Next up I’m reading 1Q84. What else should I add to my list?

 

And that was about it. A perfect relaxing holiday!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you see any movies?
  • What books are you reading now?

Chocolate Fudge Thumbprint Cookies

It’s Christmas Eve! If you’re like me, that means lots of relaxing, eating, and spending time with my family. And maybe some last minute (yes, now it’s really last minute) baking.

If you’re seeking a relatively quick, very easy, festive holiday cookie, look no further. These are great for the chocoholic (sorry, not me) in your family. Or a chocolic friend, because who doesn’t like to be surprised with a plate of cookies this time of year?

Chocolate Fudge Thumbprint Cookies-icrashedtheweb

Chocolate Fudge Thumbprint Cookies

from Cafe Mom

Here’s what you need

  • 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 heaping cup powdered sugar
  • 2­ Tablespoons hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • holiday sprinkles

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter, sugar and ⅓ cup cocoa powder. Mix well until one thorough mixture.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture by thirds and mix until combined.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls, about one-inch in diameter. Indent each ball with your thumb or a small spoon in the center.
  4. Bake for 7-8 minutes until cookie dough is lightly cracked on the surface but still soft.
  5. When they come out of the oven, don’t be surprised if your thumbprint is gone!  You’ll likely need to press the center of each cookie down again to make your frosting well. Cool completely.
  6. While cookies are cooling, make the frosting: mix the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, hot water, and vanilla. Spoon the frosting into the centers of the cooled cookies and add festive sprinkles while frosting is still wet. Allow frosting to set before putting away.

Enjoy! I’m not a huge chocolate fan and even I enjoyed one (or a few). They’re not MY favorite (again, not a big chocolate fan) but they were definitely a hit. For simple modifications, I may play with the filling, adding peppermint or peanut butter in the future.

Chocolate Fudge Thumbprint Cookies

Questions for you:

  • Chocolate lover or not?
  • What are some thumbprint cookies you enjoy? I love jam cookies! 

WIAW #43: Home for the Holidays

 

 

 

 

I’m home for the holidays! While it’s not quite yet Christmas, and I still haven’t finished all my gift wrapping (fingers crossed my last package from Fedex arrives today as planned!), I’m back home in New York and enjoying some rest, relaxation, lots of reading (finished two books, onto the next!) AND home-cooked meals. So for this week’s WIAW, instead of one day of eats, here is a glimpse at a few of the meals I’ve enjoyed since I’ve been home.

Breakfasts have been pretty standard while I’ve been home. Some cereal (my parents’ cereal collect rivals that of Seinfeld) and fruit. Pretty standard AND delicious. Oh, and I love my mom’s homemade granola.

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Granola! (no, not frozen yogurt)

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Lunches have varied somewhat, typically including some sort of bread with cheese, fruit and a type of soup.

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For dinner, I’ve eaten all meals home (and homemade by my mom!) but one. We went out to dinner one night in the beautiful Saratoga Springs and hit up Ravenous, a place known for their crepes and frites. They did not disappoint. Otherwise, we had some roasted turkey breast, pesto pasta and cornish hens. All hit the spot. So. Much.

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And desserts. How can I forget about these? I’ve been baking up a storm for the holidays and of course sampling some of the treats, including chocolate covered pretzels, lemon bars, chocolate fudge cookies and jam cookies. ‘Tis the season!

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Questions for you:

  • What have you been baking?
  • What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I LOVE biscotti. I grew up with biscotti – my mom seemed to always have a package of Nonni’s biscotti on hand for desserts, snacks (breakfast…shh), etc. There’s just something deliciously satisfying about the crunch of a good biscotti, paired with some coffee or hot tea. Amiright? And now that I know how to bake them (I’ve made a few different kinds before, including chocolate pistachio biscotti and pumpkin biscotti), I am loving them even more!

Seeking a last minute cookie to bake for the holidays? Okay, I guess it’s not quite last minute yet, but these make the perfect Christmas cookie. The green pistachio and red cranberries are festive – but these really are great all year round. I made these for a holiday party/cookie exchange and recommend you try them out too. The recipe is from B’s mom, and I was so grateful that she shared it with me – so now I’m sharing it with you!

cranberry pistachio biscotti-icrashedtheweb

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg set aside for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ⅓ cup dried cranberries (soak 5 min in hot water)
  • 1 cup pistachios, chopped

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Combine first five ingredients.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla. Work into dough using hands.
  4. Drain cranberries and add to dough with pistachios.
  5. Roll into two logs. Flatten slightly and place on greased pan. Brush with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon cold water).
  6. Bake for 50 minutes, slice into pieces and bake an additional 10 min. per side. Makes approximately 36 biscotti cookies. Enjoy!

cranberry pistachio biscotti~icrashedtheweb

I also made this recipe sheet if you’d like to print out the recipe (click here to download the pdf).

CRANBERRY PISTACHIO BISCOTTI-icrashedtheweb-recipe-small

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like biscotti?
  • What’s a favorite family cookie recipe?

December FLEW by

Whew. I don’t know about you, but the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Between holiday parties, cookie exchanges, dinners with friends, baking, and more – the past month has flown by. And I’ve loved every minute! We’ve had such a great December – here are some of the highlights from this past weekend, week and month:

lights in playhouse square

Running with Nicole! Me and my running bff finally got back outside and enjoyed a few runs the past few weeks. Some were incredibly warm and I wore shorts! Others were more seasonable. But it was great to get out there again after a few too many indoor treadmill runs and enjoy the morning and sunrise. And stop and take pictures of the Terminal Tower all lit up for the holidays!

running-tower city

Going to a Browns game for Monday Night Football! On one of the seasonably warm days, B and I snagged suite seats to a Browns game thanks to his work. The game wasn’t that great – we ended up losing at the last second and it ended after midnight. BUT, it was still fun to enjoy live Monday Night Football and inside the warmth of a suite.

browns suite

Going to the Cavs game. And having suite seats (yes, again). Through B’s work, we were able to enjoy a Cavs game. I prefer basketball to football (inside, faster paced, better fans, shorter games…) and had a great time. Even the food was good! Seriously – look at that grilled cheese. At a game!

cavs game

cavs game food

Celebrating the holidays with coworkers. Our office holiday party was at a fun restaurant/bar this year, Happy Dog, that features hot dogs and tater tots with tons of toppings. And arcade games. t was fun to celebrate the season (and a great year!) with my coworkers. Their hot dogs are really good – especially their vegan dog, which tastes more like an Italian sausage. I had a really good vegan dog with a garlic sauce, mozzarella, bacon, onions and mushrooms. Plus some tots!

office holiday party

happydog

Ringing in the holiday season with other BC grads. B and I are in charge of our alumni association and planned this year’s holiday party. We were excited to go to a new place – Bold Food & Drink on the East Bank of the Flats – and had a great turnout. I love meeting new BC grads living in Cleveland – they’re here, but not so easy to find!

bc holiday party

Enjoying the final Ladies Craft Beer Society of 2015. This year, we opted to do a holiday dinner to celebrate a great Ladies Craft Beer Society and wish good luck to the three ladies in our group who are pregnant. One of them – Reanna – is due any week (!!) so it was great to see her and the other girls and enjoy a night out. And do a final craft for the year 🙂

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Dining out with the Carney ladies. Each year, my sisters-in-law and I opt to celebrate the holidays with an experience as opposed to gifts – this year the holidays snuck up on us and we only had time to plan a dinner. Still, it was a great night for wine and pizza and fries (dinner of champions!) at Bar Cento and to catch up before the craziness of the holidays sits in.

girls night dinner

We did quite a few other things this month – going to see the Cleveland Orchestra, out to dinner in Uptown, grabbing drinks with friends, seeing the From Monet to Matisse exhibit at the Cleveland Art Museum and more .. it has really been a great month! I can’t believe December is nearly over and we’re already talking about 2016. Which undoubtedly will be a great year 🙂

holiday flowers

Some questions for you:

  • What are you most looking forward to about the rest of December?
  • Have you ever been to a Monday Night Football game?

Linking up today with Erin for my weekend snapshot post, Katie for MIMM and of course, the weekly wraps.

Chocolate Dipped Heath Bar Shortbread Cookies

Have you been baking Christmas cookies yet? If your schedule has been anything like mine, you’ve been busy baking up a storm for cookie exchanges, holiday parties and office gatherings.

For this year’s work cookie exchange, I opted to make these cookies. I knew I wouldn’t have time to make them completely the night before, so I actually made the dough, froze it, and then baked and dipped them in chocolate and sprinkles the night before. These cookies are good – not too sweet, but delicious and festive (if you add rainbow sprinkles)! A great cookie exchange addition.

Chocolate Dipped Heath Bar Chip Shortbread-icrashedtheweb

Chocolate Dipped Heath Bar Shortbread Cookies

Recipe from the kitchn. The original recipe says it makes 70-75 cookies. Don’t know what I did differently, but mine made about 45. If yours makes 70, PLEASE let me know what you did!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup Heath toffee chips
  • 1 cup chocolate melting wafers

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream together butter, powdered sugar, and salt until smooth. Add vanilla.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer on, low speed, mix in the flour until combined and a dough is formed. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the Heath Bar chips.
  3. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log about 10-12 inches long. Wrap both logs of dough in parchment or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the rolls until firm (a few hours, or up to three days). The logs can also be frozen if you don’t plan on baking them within a few days, just make sure to thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.
  4. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, cut the logs into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange slices slightly apart on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, until the edges just start to brown brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets before removing from the pan.
  6. Melt the 1 cup of chocolate melting wafers in the microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each interval. Dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate and use a butter knife to scrape off the excess chocolate. Place the dipped cookies on parchment paper. Optional: while still wet, add festive/colorful sprinkles. Wait until set before storing or tasting.
  7. Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Heath Bar Chip Shortbread~icrashedtheweb

Some questions for you:

  • What twists on traditional cookies do you make to give them more of a holiday appeal? I like to shape them into fun holiday shapes (candy canes, snowmen) or add red/green sprinkles (like these!).
  • What’s your go-to cookie for cookie exchanges?

WIAW #42: One Friday, Two Cities

It’s time for another exciting episode of … What I Ate Wednesday! That’s right, it’s already Wednesday. And for me, it’s my pseudo Friday, because I’m off work tomorrow and Friday! Yippee!

This post features my eats from last Friday. It was a semi interesting day of eats, because it started with a somewhat normal work day, but since we were going away for the weekend, we had very few groceries. And then we were traveling and then we were in NYC Friday night! So, this post features 2 cities in one day.

The day started out with a non-typical breakfast. As I mentioned, we didn’t have many groceries, so I had some grapes and a few bites of B’s peanut butter toast. I wasn’t too hungry, so a few bites were all I needed.

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I was starving by my usual mid-morning snack time, and I opted for half a banana and some peppermint bark.

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I hadn’t brought a lunch, so I decided to walk over to Stone Oven. I got my FAVORITE salad, Jaina’s salad. It has chicken, feta, croutons, tabbouleh, couscous, roasted red pepper and their amazing bread. I ate the whole thing up.

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I left work a little before 5 to head home to finish packing, grab a snack, and head to the airport. My snack was a cookie or two from our holiday cookie exchange the day prior. Look at all those cookies!!

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At the airport, I grabbed some mentos, a lemonade and gum and then we headed to NY.

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I was so hungry by the time we got into the city and met up with my friend Jane.  It was after 9:30, and we grabbed some Mexican food at a local place near her and it was great.

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Chips, guac and three tacos later, I was stuffed. Not a bad start to a fun weekend in NY!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have any upcoming trips planned? I’ll be back in NY again soon to spend the holidays with my family!
  • What’s your favorite holiday cookie or treat? I love peppermint bark! But love the simple shortbread cookies that my mom makes.
  • Do you have any go-to meals when you have no groceries?