WIAW: brinner and bacon! (and the worst dinner pic ever)

Happy happy Wednesday! I know I’m usually cheering for the middle of the work week, but today I’m off!! That’s right- I’m off for the holidays and will soon be with my family in NY and I can’t wait! Our days will be filled with holiday goodies, snacks and of course, wintry delicious meals. In the meantime. Here is today’s What I Ate Wednesday – yesterday’s meals. Featuring breakfast for dinner and BACON!

Admittedly, the day wasn’t the healthiest. Or at least it didn’t start off that way- because I started the day with a gingerbread cookie! I just made these and they are so so so good!! Here is the recipe.

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Lunch was some egg white oatmeal with brewer’s yeast and flaxseed for BF-ing,  plus some fruit salad.

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And some delicious crunchy peanut butter. Yes, I ate more than just that spoonful 🙂

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For dinner I had a GREAT brinner and beer. And the photo was awful!! I’m so sorry – but instead, imagine a holiday beer – Shiner Holiday Cheer – and eggs, egg whites, spinach, nitrate-free bacon and toast.

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Aforementioned awful blurry photo. If you blur your eyes it almost looks normal! 20161220_194426

And cookies!! B brought home some cookies for work and I tried a few. My favorite were the coconut macaron and that green tree sugar cookie. 20161220_192101

There we go – another What I Ate Wednesday. Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite holiday beer?
  • How often do you do brinner?

Disclaimer: Stemilt sent me some complimentary Skylar Rae cherries, and I loved them. All views are my own. 

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! 

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars

Just in time for the holidays, I’m excited to share with you a recipe that is delicious and perfect for peanut butter and chocolate lovers.

This is not realllllly a holiday recipe, but you can dress it up with red and green and then it’s the perfect for the holidays! It’s not difficult to make but it IS somewhat time consuming because it’s a few layers. But I promise it’s worth it because it really is that good.*

*if you don’t like peanut butter or chocolate you WON’T like these. I can’t be held responsible for your taste buds.

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars - icrashedtheweb

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars

Here’s what you need:

For the cookie layer

  • 1/2 c butter (1 stick)
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c flour

For the peanut butter caramel layer

  • 30 caramels, unwrapped
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

For the peanut butter fudge layer

  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips (I ended up using about half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate)
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. candy topping – I used peanut butter M&Ms that were red and green

Here’s what you do:

  1. For the cookie layer: Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 in. pan with foil and/or spray with cooking spray. Creaming the butter and sugar with a stand mixer until fluffy. Slowly stir in flour. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes until it starts to slightly brown. Cool for at least 20-30 minutes before continuing.
  2. For the peanut butter caramel layer: Mix caramels, peanut butter, and heavy cream in a pot over medium to medium low heat. Stir until smooth and melted. Carefully pour on top of cookie layer. I used a spatula to evenly spread on top of cookie. Chill at least 15 minutes before adding chocolate peanut butter layer.
  3. For the chocolate peanut butter layer: Melting chocolate chips and peanut butter together in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir until smooth and peanut butter is incorporated and pour over caramel layer. Again, I used a spatula to spread evenly and carefully. Top with candy of your choice – I use red and green M&Ms and sprinkles to fit within my holiday theme.
  4. Chill bars until completely firm; I chilled mine in the fridge for a few hours and then let sit at room temperature before cutting.

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars (1)

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Let the countdown begin – Christmas Eve will be here in just a week! If you’re looking for a great cookie to add to your holiday cookie collection, look no further – here is a keeper.

Thumbprint Cookies with Raspberry Jam are a staple in my household and one of the cookies we have nearly every year during the holidays. When my friend Melgar, who typically joins us for dessert during the holidays (but sadly won’t be there this year), asked me to share the recipe, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already posted it here! So here you go – enjoy!

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam - i crashed the web

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Here’s what you need:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • about 1/4 c jam of your choice – I love raspberry!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream butter with sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla, stopping machine as necessary to scrape down sides of bowl.
  3. Add flour and continue beating just until mixed through; do not overbeat or cookies will be tough.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes for firmer cookies that will not spread very much.
  5. Shape dough into 2 tbs. size balls* and flatten with your palms. Transfer to cookie sheet.
  6. Smooth and round cookies using knife (or your finger) dipped in cool water. To make a simple filled cookie, press thumb into formed cookie to make an indentation. Fill with jam.
  7. Transfer to greased baking sheets.
  8. Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies one sheet at a time until edges are brown and centers are just firm to touch, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Makes about 2 dozen or so cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies w Jam - i crashed the web

*Feeling crafty and have extra time? Feel free to roll out dough and cut into cute, festive shapes instead of shaping dough into balls, before putting thumbprint onto dough.

Plus, as always, some questions for you:

  • Have you made these before? What do you do that’s different?
  • What’s your favorite type of jam?
  • What’s your favorite holiday cookie?  I love these! And Buckeyes, do they count? 

And here are two more of my favorite holiday cookies:

Super Easy Peasy Tuxedo Cookies - i crashed the web

Cherry Almond Chocolate Kiss Cookies - i crashed the web

 

A wonderful Cleveland holiday

I love the holidays. The lights everywhere. The baked goods. The cookies. The music. The Christmas Ale. The overall warmth and jolliness that everyone seems to espouse (especially after a few cookies and Christmas Ale!). And even though it’s not even the middle of December yet,  I’m already in full blown holiday spirit!

Cleveland public square at night - all lit up

Cleveland during the holiday times is great. Public Square is lit up and there’s so much going on! In addition to a few holiday parties (not mentioned below), here’s how I’ve been celebrating  – with 15 days left until Christmas!

Baking … and more baking!  

Yes, as if I need an excuse for baking … but so far this year I’ve made Oatmeal Scotchies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies and Cherry Almond Chocolate Kisses.  When I get back to NY, I’ll likely make some more – probably some lemon bars, thumbprint jam cookies, peanut blossoms, Tuxedo Cookies, and much much more.

Some of the holiday cookies we baked for our office potluck/cookie exchange party

Some of the holiday cookies baked for our office potluck/cookie exchange party

Rocking it at the Cleveland Rocks! Awards

Each year, before the holidays, the Cleveland PRSA Chapter celebrates the best in the year’s programs and invites local PR pros to celebrate as well. This year, projects I worked on won several awards, including Best in Show! Plus, the Silent Auction I helped coordinate garnered a record number of funds to support the chapter’s scholarship fund. It was a great night and definitely wonderful to celebrate with my other coworkers and friends in the business.

Coworkers Goofing Off At Our Photo Booth at the Awards

Coworkers Goofing Off At Our Photo Booth at the Awards

Best In Show winners with our award - a guitar!

Best In Show winners with our award – a guitar!

Enjoying the Cleveland Orchestra’s Holiday Performance

Each year, the  Cleveland Orchestra puts on a performance for St. Ignatius as a fundraiser for student scholarships during the holidays – and it’s amazing! They play holiday concerts during the entire holiday season for the public, but I love the Ignatius concert tradition. We get dinner in Little Italy with B’s entire family (parents, siblings, aunt, uncles, grandma, cousin, etc.), then enjoy a performance in Severance Hall by the Cleveland Orchestra. It’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit – and I love it!

third row at the Cleveland Orchestra!

third row at the Cleveland Orchestra!

Watching A Christmas Carol at Playhouse Square

This weekend, B and I got tickets (THANKS CHRIS!) to see A Christmas Carol, put on by Great Lakes Theater. We made the evening into a date, and got drinks with his brother and parents before, saw the show, and then enjoyed dinner at Cowell & Hubbard. It was a great way to spend a wintry evening  – the show was great (although it made me really want to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol) and dinner was awesome. We enjoyed some beef ceviche, escargot, fois gras donuts and seafood dumplings — all food that I don’t normally order.

Escargot, beef ceviche, seafood dumplings and fois gras doughnuts @ Cowell & Hubbard

Escargot, beef ceviche, seafood dumplings and fois gras doughnuts @ Cowell & Hubbard

Giving Back with Caring Cubs

This weekend, B and I took ourniece and nephew to the zoo! Not only were we there to see some of the animals, but we were there for a Caring Cubs event. Caring Cubs is an organization I became introduced to through Bridge Builders- they hold monthly events for young children, ages 2 to 7, designed to teach various lessons of social responsibility.  We took Oliver and Sofia to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, brought some new and gently used toys that were in turn donated to the Department of Child and Family Services, and then got to enjoy an animal show plus tour of the zoo afterwords. We finished up the afternoon in Little Italy, enjoying some pizza and dessert at  some of our favorites – Mama Santas and Presti’s.

caring cubs

Caring Cubs collected more than 500 toys!

sofia touching armadillo

zooo with children

hmm ... which cookies to choose?

hmm … which cookies to choose?

What about you? What have you been doing to get into the holiday spirit?