Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Come and Gone

Pistachio Cranberry and White Chocolate
Walnut Cranberry cookies
I cannot believe the year is nearly over already.  NYE is tomorrow!  That blows my mind.   Mr. H got a nice surprise and has today and tomorrow off, so we actually get to spend one of the winter holidays together.  I'm very excited.  We haven't figured out what to do yet (possibly Reno or Alameda). Other than missing my husband over the holidays, everything was wonderful!  I didn't get to make all of the treats I wanted for my platters because I didn't have any assistance, but rather three adorable girls wanting to help me bake and simultaneously slowing me down.  

 So Mr. H and I spent the early morning of December 23rd together when he got home from work at 6 am.  We opened presents from each other and then had breakfast at Pancake House (at least I think that's what it was called).  It wasn't a very memorable restaurant.  We went to the mall after and it was dead, since it was barely eight in the morning.  That was about it for our Christmas quality time.  He went to sleep shortly after and I went over to my mom's for baking chaos.  Oh, but of course I dressed Ziggy up in his Santa outfit before I left.  Cruel?  Nah.

I have a couple recipes to share for my next post.  I've been lagging with this whole blogging thing.  It's going to take me a while to get the hang of it.  Still having a hard time with making photos and text appear where I want them, too.

Have a beautiful (and safe) New Year's Eve!

Ziggy Claus! >:)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2 Work Christmas Parties + Holiday Cookie List

I can't believe I haven't had a chance to write anything else since my last post.  I've tried, stopped, restarted, and then forgotten.  So here's my much needed second post!

Last weekend, I attended my work's Christmas party, which is hosted at the home of one of our attorneys.  Free dinner and drinks is always a good time in my book!  My husband couldn't make it due to his work schedule, so one of my best friends came as my date.  I always have plenty of attractive men to replace my husband as good company, but I still missed him.  I'm actually kind of happy that I was able to bring M instead, since Saturday was his last night in town.  He moved for school and lives almost 10 hours from me now.

M and I being silly.
I borrowed an adorable vintage dress from one of my friends that I was able to make fairly festive with a red belt and matching bow.  We did white elephant and I scored a Best Buy gift card, which is awesome because it'll be going towards my husband's gift (I know, I'm a procrastinator when it comes to Christmas shopping).  But I did do good and finished almost all my other gifts through Amazon!  I only need to get something for my husband and for Mr. Zigs.

Yesterday was Mr. H's work Christmas party.  His was at a bar, so I had a little bit more fun dressing up for this one because I felt like I could actually dress a little sexy (I prefer to stay conservatively clothed around my employers).  We won two raffles!  Both were visa gift cards and totaled $75.  How awesome is that?  I was pretty happy and we both got way too wasted.  I was set on going out to dinner at this new Korean place I've been wanting to try, but I had no composure left and was forced to settle for Del Taco.  I was so drunk and having such a fun time that I didn't even get a good photo with Mr. H.  I have a couple with just me though:
Not a very good one of us together.  Haha.

So now both of our Christmas parties have come and gone and it's time to really get ready for the special day!  One of my aunti's (who just recently moved to Washington) is coming home for Christmas on the 18th and we are going to have a massive kitchen party!  I was planning on doing all my Christmas cookies tomorrow, but I'm going to wait until the 23rd now.  Here's my list of treats that I'll be baking with links to the recipes:
  • Cran-Pistachio Cookies
  • Eggnog Cookies
  • Thai Tea Fudge
  • Red Velvet Rice Krispies
  • Holiday Rice Krispies (no recipe, just standard rice krispie treat with the holiday colors)
  • Red Velvet Brownies (I don't add the buttercream frosting that this recipe calls for.  I like the brownies better without it.)
  • I can't think of the rest of my recipes I have planned out as my list is at home on my kitchen table creating clutter.  I'll come back and edit this and add more to the list when I get a chance.
Here's to expanding waistlines!  What are your favorite sweets to bake during the holiday season?

Also, if anyone could help me out, how do I get my pictures to post side-by-side (not vertically one after the other)?  Thanks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Post + Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

My first blog post!  I'm excited to finally be starting (and hopefully maintaining) a blog of my own.  Thanksgiving has come and gone already!  I can hardly believe how fast the past few months have been flying by.  This year has been amazing, and I have so many things to be thankful for (which I'll save for my next post).

For Thanksgiving, I baked a pumpkin cheesecake from a recipe I found on The Girl Who Ate Everything (a great recipe blog!).  The cheesecake was well-liked by everyone, with the exception of my husband, who is crazy and doesn't like pumpkin.  The recipe is very simple and you don't need special baking pans or anything, so don't be intimidated just because it's a cheesecake!

I used fresh pumpkin puree the first time I baked this and I hate to say it, but it came out much better the second time, when I made it with canned pumpkin.  It was much more firm, unlike the fresh pumpkin version that came out mushy and watery, even though it was cooked an additional 20 minutes.

So, let's get started!

Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese (softened)
  • 9 inch graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp.vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin 

Now to get it ready for the oven:

Separated batters.
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.  Make sure to combine well before moving on to the next step.
  • Add your eggs, one at a time, blending well after each one.
  • Use a measuring cup, remove one cup of the batter, and spread it gently onto the graham cracker crust.
  • Going back to the mixing bowl, add the pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Mix well.
  • Gently pour the new pumpkin batter on top of the "plain cheesecake" batter already in the crust.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  The center should be almost set (not jiggly).
  • Let the cheesecake cool completely before covering it up to put in the fridge to chill overnight.
Baking in the oven!  Like my festive dish towels?  :)

I noticed a lot of recipes called for whipped cream to be added when it's served, but I skipped it and thought it was just as good.  Cool whip might have even been too much, since the cheesecake is fairly rich by itself.  Slice and serve for a perfect autumn treat!