Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

Now that Santa has blessed us all with his presents and holiday cheer, it’s finally time to profile some fun holiday cookies. A close friend and I have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies together, and last year, we made these deliciously cute Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies:

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Since they were a huge hit, we knew we had to step up our game and try our hand at something even more complex: Roly-Poly Santa Cookies!

These were actually really hard to make…they tested our craftsmanship (ie. molding Santa hats out of dough, squishing dough pieces together to ensure that the cookies wouldn’t break after baking) and endurance (each cookie probably took 5-7 minutes just to shape). But I must say we prevailed and took home the gold for our cookies this year:

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Pre-baking. Protip: To ensure that the pieces all stay together after baking, try to connect the arms with the faces more before baking.

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This Santa won the “Best Looking” Award

Another protip: We made powdered sugar by blending regular sugar, but we may have needed to blend the sugar more since we didn’t really get a powdery texture in our frosting.

After we reveled in our glorious accomplishment, I took home the pound of extra frosting we made and decided to bake gingerbread cookies the day after at another friend’s place.

But this time, we couldn’t find gingerbread cookie cutters anywhere. It’s like all the stores said move over, Christmas, and cleared out everything for whatever else is coming. So we settled for “bunny” and “dog” cookie cutters which were the only options.

Shoutout to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for this awesome eggless recipe: Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies. WITH molasses :O

When we actually got to cutting the dough, we felt that our bunny and dog cookie cutters were too big so we ended up making circles, which created about 45 cookies! 45! I guess you could say we baked up a storm.

Anyway, we had lots of fun using the leftover chocolate chips, red hots, and frosting from the Santa cookies to decorate these gingerbread circles:

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Quite the baking adventure, but I’m already looking forward to what 2016 baking has in store. Get ready, Pinterest.

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Big Girl Dinner #1

This post is long overdue, but I had the pleasure of hosting a few friends over at my apartment for dinner a few weeks ago…which meant lots of cooking! This was my first time throwing a dinner party on my own – I definitely underestimated how much time cooking would take and scrapped ambitious plans to bake a dessert, but hey, it was worth it.

Roasted Chickpea Salad with Feta

Modifications ~ Seasoned chickpeas with paprika and basil in addition salt / pepper, sauteed onions instead of using them raw, used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar, added walnuts, used “mixed greens” instead of arugula, didn’t use mint

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Simple Spinach

Heat up a pan with olive oil, and once hot, add minced garlic (as much or little as you’d like with the amount of spinach you use). Cook the spinach thoroughly, and continue to drizzle with olive oil, curry powder, red chili, and salt.

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Pesto Spaghetti with Zucchini

First step is the homemade pesto – so much easier than I thought it would be and, let’s be honest, to die for. You can never have enough pesto. I decided to make Parsley-Walnut Pesto since parsley was pretty cheap at the grocery store, but there’s a lot of different leaf – nut combos that work.  Make sure you add enough oil (and water!) to make blending easy! I learned the hard way by settling for some kind of puree first, then making my pasta, then realizing I needed more pesto, and then revisiting the blender one more time only to realize that I could have made this pesto in 2 minutes instead of 20 if I had used more water…

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(Fry the zucchini until it turns golden-brown)

And voila, we have a tasty home-cooked meal!

 

Muffins = Smart Cupcakes

As a farewell to fall and hello to winter, I made these yummy Pumpkin-Banana (eggless) Muffins the other day. When I make these next time, I’d probably add a bit more spice than what the recipe calls for for a stronger taste.

If you’re feeling like you really want to load up on the sweet, definitely consider topping these muffins with frosting (I just used store bought)! After all, muffins are healthier than cupcakes…right?