Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies…

I hope everyone enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving with friends and family! We sure did! Although, I learned the hard way that being 8 months pregnant and eating one’s weight in turkey and dressing (and cranberry sauce…and mashed potatoes…and green bean casserole…and 3 kinds of pie…) isn’t the smartest idea (I literally thought I was going to pop!). Instead of being sociable with the rest of the women, I snoozed with the men folk in front of the TV. It was worth it, though- I LOVE Thanksgiving food!

But now it’s onto more important things, like baking Christmas goodies! I couldn’t wait to get home, get in my kitchen and start baking! I made these gingerbread cookies a couple of years ago, but rolled them out into gingerbread men and decorated them. As fun as that was, I’m not a fan of having to wait for the dough to chill, then roll it out, then cut out the shapes…then repeat 10 times. This time, all I wanted was a chewy, spicy gingerbread cookie I could bake in minutes and enjoy right away! And these are sooooo good! Especially if you’re a huge gingerbread cookie fan like I am! They’re crispy around the edges but have a wonderful chewiness that’s downright addicting! I think I polished off about 6 of these in one sitting! I have tons of leftover dough, so I know I’ll be baking lots more of these in the coming weeks!

Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; about 1 minute. Add the egg and molasses and combine.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Slowly and gradually blend into the butter mixture until smooth.

Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop dough out into 1 1/2 inch rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Space cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com

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Christmas Wassail…

Thanksgiving is only 4 days away. So why am I posting a Christmas recipe? Well, you can really make this wassail anytime of the year, but we just happen to make it at Christmas (my mom has made it every year since 1982!), thus making it “Christmas wassail”. I happen to think this would be a wonderful addition to any Thanksgiving day celebration- guests could sip on it while they mingle and wait for the meal, or it could be served after the meal with pie. Joel and I decided to put up our Christmas tree this past weekend instead of the day after Thanksgiving and I made a giant pot of this wassail to sip on while we decorated. Let me tell you, this stuff is WAY better than any holiday candle, potpourri or scentsy burner you can find! It permeates the entire house and makes it smell heavenly while it simmers! It’s one of my very favorite things and I can’t imagine the holiday season without it! Whether you make this for tree decorating day (the best day of the year!), your family Thanksgiving or just a random evening, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

Christmas Wassail

2 quarts apple juice or apple cider
1 48-ounce can pineapple juice
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 or 5 cinnamon sticks
15-20 cloves, pushed into an orange or apple

Mix all ingredients in a large pot or dutch oven. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
*Alternatively you can cook it in a slow cooker on high for 2 hours.

Recipe source: my mom

 

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Our Virtual Baby Shower!

Throughout my years of blogging, I’ve had the honor of participating in several virtual showers for some of my closest blogging friends. And it just so happens it’s time again for another virtual shower- except this time…it’s MINE! Yippee!!! My sweet, sweet friend Kelsey of Apple A Day offered to throw me a baby shower waaaay back when I first announced we were expecting and I’ve been looking forward to it all this time! She’s gathered up a fantastic group of my favorite bloggers and they’ve all made goodies in honor of our sweet baby girl: Cassidy Grace (I figured it was about time to debut her name on here!). I am so excited about this and LOVE each and every one of these girls so much! Here we go:

First up, Nikki of Pennies On A Platter made these (*stunning*) Hummingbird Cupcakes. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of tasting a hummingbird cupcake before, it’s a moist cake studded with bananas, pineapple and coconut, topped with luscious cream cheese frosting. Sounds good, right? And I love the gorgeous dried pineapple slices on top- what a gorgeous cupcake!

Jessica of The Novice Chef made these decadent Triple Chocolate Malt Cookies. Look at all that chocolaty goodness (and I love the sweet little pink bows!)! I’ve never actually had cookies with malt powder in them before, so I’m reeeeally wishing this shower wasn’t virtual! Jess, mind driving a couple dozen of these over to Texas?? I’ll leave the porch light on for ya! ;)

Ashley (another Aggie- Whoop!) of Delish (who has her own new little one!) made these yummy Glazed Key Lime Mini Scones. I have a love for all things ‘mini’ and these look seriously dangerous- I could see myself popping these babies like popcorn! Key lime happens to be one of my favorite flavors, so I will definitely be trying these soon!

My good buddy Amy of The Nifty Foodie made these awesome looking Yellow Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. In case you’re wondering, Swiss meringue buttercream is no ordinary frosting; it’s smooth, velvety and extra special. In my opinion (and many other food bloggers), it’s the most luxurious of all frostings! I’m loving the specks of fresh strawberry in the frosting, too- just beautiful!

Next up, Krystal of Mrs. Regueiro’s Plate made these adorable Salted Caramel Apple Bites. Umm…YUM! I recently went through a phase where all I wanted was caramel apples (true story…), so these are especially tempting! Like little bites of fall! And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m thinking these would make an excellent addition to any Thanksgiving dessert spread!

Brady of Branny Boils Over made these sweet little Gingerbread and Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches. The great thing about having baby showers in the fall is the awesome fall-themed treats you get to have! Gingerbread and pumpkin go so well together, so I can only imagine how yummy these taste! And I love the pretty scalloped edges!

Suzanne of Koko Cooks made these (freaking sweet!) Mozart Balls. Suzanne is a fellow musician, so she gets my love for Mozart. (though, she’s probably not as much of a freak about it as I am…) ;) And since there’s a chance Cassidy could be born on Mozart’s birthday (her due date is 2 days before…think I can hold her in until then??), I think these are the perfect treats for my baby shower! For those of you who don’t know, Mozart chocolate is HUGE over in Europe- they’re sweet little balls of chocolate, marzipan and pistachio. Even Izzy discovered she has a love for Mozart chocolate (so much so, we had to pay $400 to keep her from OD’ing on the stuff after she snuck around and found my stash a couple of years back…).

Up next, my good friend (in real life as well as blogging) Jessica of My Baking Heart made Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. Ok, that title alone is enough to make me start drooling! Anything with the words ‘chocolate’, ‘gooey’ and ‘butter’ in it is an automatic winner in my book! Jess and I have been friends long enough that she knows me and my love for all things gooey and chocolaty! Nailed it, Jess! :)

Annie of Annie’s Eats made these sinful looking Twix Trifles. I definitely have a weak spot for Twix and I’m almost too embarrassed to admit I stashed away a bag of mini Twix at Halloween that disappeared all too quickly. I’m loving those luscious, chocolaty layers and the sweet pink bows on the spoons! A perfect baby shower treat (although, now I’m seriously craving Twix!). Gosh, too bad all my Halloween candy is long gone….

Jen of Beantown Baker made these delicious looking Cranberry Turtle Bars. Chocolate, cranberry, pecans and a buttery crust??? What a knockout! This is another dessert that would really wow people at Thanksgiving (I’m getting so many great ideas here!). I’ll take 5, please! :)

OMG, y’all…up next…..the BEST cookies ever! Fellow Texan, Shawnda of Confections of a Foodie Bride made these adorable A&M Onesie Cookies. I’m so touched (especially since I know how much she hates A&M!) ;) and totally in awe of how awesome these are. Joel loved these too! We already have a fair amount of A&M onesies, stuffed animals and cheerleader outfits, so why not add cookies to the list?!

Courtney of Cook Like a Champion (also a mommy-to-be of a sweet baby girl!) made me this gorgeous Opera Cake. How sweet is that? Opera cake is an almond sponge cake moistened with espresso syrup and filled with layers of espresso buttercream (yum!) and chocolate ganache. An absolute delicacy and Courtney was SWEET enough to make one for me! I am just DYING for a slice of this!

And finally, my sweet friend Kelsey of Apple A Day made these luscious Buttermilk Cupcakes with Pomegranate Cream Cheese Frosting. Oh man. Pomegranate cream cheese frosting?? YES, please! These look moist, rich and absolutely delicious; and the sugar pearls add an elegant finishing touch. What a classy looking cupcake! A perfect finale for my virtual baby shower. Kelsey, you sure know how to put together a perfectly beautiful virtual baby shower! :)

I am so fortunate to have the BEST blogging friends out there- friends who really know me and know my favorite foods, interests and hobbies. Friends who take time out of their busy lives and schedules to participate in a virtual shower for me.  Having friends like that is sweeter than the sweetest buttercream frosting, folks! I’m really, really blessed.  :)

Kelsey, I can’t thank you enough for your kindness in putting all this together- you are SUCH a wonderful friend and I can’t wait for us to (finally!) meet in person someday (soon, ok?!). And to each and every fabulous blogger who participated, THANK YOU! Your special treats made my mouth water and I’m sitting here wishing I could taste every single one of these goodies in person! I’m feeling very loved right now…. thank you, all!

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Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal…

My house is an absolute wreck. A disaster zone. A nightmare. We’re still in the big middle of renovations (we should be long-since finished by now, but you know how these things go…), so all of our furniture is piled in the middle of rooms, half of our carpet is rolled up and disgusting looking, our stairs don’t even have carpet on them, so all that’s there is ugly, torn up padding and tack strips, and up until last night there was a layer of dust 1 inch thick covering every surface of my kitchen and dining room. And on top of all that, we just had a baby shower recently, so there’s baby stuff all over the place and nowhere to put it! It’s. A. Mess. Luckily, (hopefully…) everything will be finished by the end of this week (please, Lord!). So, with all this madness, stress and clutter everywhere, you can imagine I haven’t done much cooking. And by much, I mean practically none. That’s where the beauty of this recipe comes into play. You throw your oats, water, spices and fruit in the slow cooker and let it do its’ thing overnight. In the morning, you’ve got hearty, delicious oatmeal waiting for you. No standing over the stove stirring involved. It’s a beautiful thing. Not to mention really, really delicious. Give this a try this week- your family will love it!

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut oats**
3 1/2 cups water
1 medium-large apple, peeled and chopped (I like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar

Spray a slow cooker with non-stick spray and place the oats, water, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar inside. Stir to combine. Cover, set to low, and allow to cook overnight (about 8 hours). In the morning, stir the oatmeal one last time before serving. Serve with milk and additional brown sugar if desired. Serves 4.

**you don’t have to use steel cut oats, but it’s highly recommended -the texture will be mushier with regular oats since they cook for so long.

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com

 

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Sweet Potato Soup…

Happy November!!! I hope everybody had a fun, safe Halloween and lots of yummy snacks and candy were eaten! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a leftover bag of Reese’s minis sitting on my nightstand just waiting for me. ;)

But now the fun of Halloween is over and it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving! Yippee!  In fact, it was a Thanksgiving side dish that inspired me for this soup- mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, a splash of orange juice and a sprinkling of pecans. I had four very large sweet potatoes I wanted to use and the idea of soup just popped into my head. I made it just like I make my mashed sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, except I pureed the whole thing until I had a silky smooth, creamy soup, just perfect for a chilly fall evening. This came together so quickly and easily, and it made a pretty big pot of soup, so we had delicious leftovers to look forward to! I’d even recommend this for a Thanksgiving soup course; it really is a breeze to throw together and it’s easily customizable – you can add any number of seasonings or toppings to suit your tastes!

Sweet Potato Soup

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into chunks
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
salt
pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
splash orange juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large pot, bring the sweet potatoes, chicken broth and water to a boil; cook for approximately 20-30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in 2 or 3 batches), puree the soup until very smooth and no lumps remain. Add the salt, pepper, butter, brown sugar, orange juice and cayenne pepper. Check for seasoning. Garnish with chopped toasted pecans, if desired. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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