No-Bake Rum Balls…

Crushed vanilla wafers, pecans, cocoa powder, and rum come together in no time to form the most sinfully delicious “grown-up goody”.

No Bake Rum Balls 2

Oh boy, oh boy, oh BOY! Talk about unexpected! These little babies blew my socks off! Who knew vanilla wafers and rum could make such beautiful music together?! I certainly didn’t. I had little expectations when I set out to make these. The flavor combos just sounded funky to me, but since literally every single review on these was 4-5 stars, I had to just trust the recipe. I only tweaked it slightly and sure enough, those reviewers knew what they were talking about! I’m in LOVE, people!

No Bake Rum Balls 3

These are SO simple. All you need is a food processor and time. After you roll these into balls, you want to let them sit in the fridge for 2-3 days. That part is important. They won’t look all that appetizing until you roll them in powdered sugar, but lemme tell ya- they taste fantastic. The rum flavor is SO strong and amazing. I want to turn right around and make them again. They’re that good. These are definitely a “mommy and daddy deserve a little something after wrapping all those presents, wrangling all those kids, and decking all those halls” kind of treat.

No Bake Rum Balls

No-Bake Rum Balls

11 ounce box vanilla wafer cookies
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine the vanilla wafers, pecans, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until cookies and pecans are ground up finely (it doesn’t have to be super fine, just enough that there aren’t any large chunks).

Transfer to a large bowl and add the rum and corn syrup, stirring until well-combined. Scoop out using a cookie scoop or teaspoon and roll into 1 inch balls with your hands. Place on a wax paper-line cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 days (the longer they sit, the better they’ll taste).

After chilling, roll the balls in confectioners’ sugar. You can serve them cold or at room temperature. Makes approx. 3 dozen

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com

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Buttered Rum Meltaways…

Spicy, buttery, shortbread-like cookies with a kick of dark rum. Perfect with a cup of hot coffee on a cold night.

Buttered Rum Meltaways

As you can probably tell by now, I’m going for sort of a “rum theme” this week. I guess I just love rummy desserts (and I’m not even done yet! There’ll be yet another rummy recipe to come!). Can you really blame me? Something about butter, sugar, and flour combined with dark rum is…magical. And it smells even more magical while it’s baking.

These were pretty simple- just mix it all together, chill the dough, slice-n-bake, and toss in powdered sugar. Done. Cassidy enjoyed the tossing part. ;)

I’ll be honest, the rum flavor didn’t come through super strong. I’m thinking next time, using rum extract in addition to the 1/4 cup rum might be good (literally the ONLY time I can condone using rum extract). These taste like crispy, crumbly, buttery spice cookies. We enjoyed them immensely, despite the lack of rum flavor. A winner of a Christmas cookie.

 

Buttered Rum Meltaways

1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl. Put butter and 1/3 cup sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and slowly mix in flour mixture.

Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of plastic wrap; shape dough into 1 1/4-inch logs. Chill in freezer 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; space 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool 10 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies with remaining 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar in a ziplock bag. Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.

Recipe source: Martha Stewart Cookies

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Chocolate-Dipped, Rum-Soaked Cake Bites

Cubes of buttery pound cake are drenched in a decadent rum syrup, then dipped in dark chocolate for a sweet little bite that packs BIG flavor!

Chocolate Covered Rum Soaked Cake Bites 3

Let me just tell you guys; I am SO pumped about Christmas baking this year! Last year I was pregnant with Elliott and sick and miserable (bah, humbug!) all the time, so I had zero desire to stand in the kitchen and bake anything. I managed to bake our traditional M&M cookies for Santa Claus with Cassidy, but that was about it. Now that Elliott is old enough to really enjoy his bouncer and spend more than 5 minutes in it, I’m able to devote lots more time to baking and being in the kitchen and I’m LOVING it! Cassidy is loving helping me, too.

She didn’t really help me with these because they’re a very adult Christmas goodie. Not sure I want my 3 year old messing around with rum syrup. Although, I’m quite happy to mess around with rum syrup. One smell of this stuff and I want to bathe in it! I am an absolute sucker for my family’s rum cake, so I knew this recipe would be right up my alley. Pound cake? Good. Chocolate? Gooood. Rum syrup? GOOOOD.

Chocolate Covered Rum Soaked Cake Bites 2

These did NOT disappoint! Upon taste-testing, Joel and I each popped one in our mouth and immediately gave each other the “OHMYGOSHTHISISAMAAAAAZING!!!” look. Very minimal effort, too, I might add. Granted, there are multiple steps involved, but each step is super simple. I’m anxious to try this again with different liqueurs- amaretto, raspberry, orange…all good ideas!

Chocolate Covered Rum Soaked Cake Bites 4

Chocolate Dipped, Rum Soaked Cake Bites

1 pound cake, homemade or store-bought. I used the Sara Lee pound cake found in the freezer section of the grocery store. It worked great for this!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
pinch salt
1/2 cup dark rum

2 cups dark chocolate (I used Guittard semi sweet)
2 tablespoons shortening

Cut the crusts off of the pound cake and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a single layer in a pie plate or platter with a little bit of a lip (to keep syrup from dripping off).

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Stir over medium heat, until the mixture starts to boil and sugar is dissolved, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until cool. Add the rum.

Pour the rum syrup over the cake pieces and allow them to soak for about 5 minutes. I didn’t use all of the syrup, but you certainly can if you want a soggier texture. Remove the cake pieces and place on the lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. *(It’s important not to skip this step because the cake will be so soggy that it will fall apart when dipping in the hot chocolate. Freezing it first will make it nice and firm and easy to dip.)

When you’re ready to dip the cake bites, melt the chocolate and shortening together in a double boiler until smooth. You could also do this in the microwave; just be sure to take it out and stir it every 30 seconds or so.

Get out a fresh sheet of wax paper. Dip the cake pieces in the chocolate with a fork and tap to get off the excess chocolate. Place on the wax paper and sprinkle with colored sprinkles, coconut, or nuts (the sky’s the limit!). Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes for the chocolate to set. Makes approx. 12-15 bites.

Recipe source: very heavily adapted from an idea found on Swamp Hollow Designs

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Chocolate-Stuffed Pie Crust Cookies

Have leftover pie crust? Stuff it with chocolate chips, roll it in powdered sugar, and bake it into flaky, chocolaty little snow balls. This is a GREAT one for the kids to help with!

Chocolate Stuffed Pie Crust Cookies

I love to look back at my pre-children self and giggle at all the ‘from-scratch’ stuff I used to have time to make (pie crusts, biscuits, etc). I’m aaaall about the shortcuts nowadays; not because making pie crusts from scratch is hard, but because WHO WANTS TO CLEAN THAT FOOD PROCESSOR?! All those little parts to wash…. Anyway, I’ve recently discovered the AWESOMENESS of Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts. My gosh, they’re amazing. I seriously could not make anything better from scratch. I use them all the time. Only thing is, they’re huge. Like, deep DEEP dish size. So I always have lots of extra dough just lying around.

Recently, I was making a quiche and ended up with lots of extra dough. Then I remembered this idea and decided I had the perfect opportunity to bake cookies with Cassidy. We rolled out the dough and used a round biscuit cutter to cut out circles, then Cassidy put the chocolate chunks in the center of each one. Then we closed them up, made them into little balls, rolled them in powdered sugar, and popped them in the oven! So easy and SO yummy! Like tiny little bites of chocolate pie! I can’t wait for the holidays to get here so we can make these again in different variations! Cinnamon-sugar, cherry, raspberry…the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Stuffed Pie Crust Cookies 2

Chocolate-Stuffed Pie Crust Cookies

Leftover pie crust dough
Chocolate chunks or chips
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take all the scraps of leftover dough and form into a ball. Roll out to about 1/8-1/4 inch thickness and cut into circles using a biscuit cutter or a small glass. Place 3 or 4 chocolate chunks or chips in the center of each circle and close up like a pouch. Form into a ball and roll in powdered sugar.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar, if desired.  These are great right out of the oven, or at room temperature.

Adapted from Averie Cooks

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This Christmas is VERY Merry!

beskow snow

Hello there! I apologize (sort of…not really) for the super long hiatus I’ve been on! The months of November and December have been action-packed, to say the least. And it isn’t to say I haven’t wanted to post over the last few weeks, because believe me, I really, really have! But since I no longer have a reason to keep quiet….here goes! We are experiencing our own little Christmas miracle this year–

that’s right: Baby #2 is on the way!!! Cassidy is going to be a big sister and we are THRILLED. I’m 12 weeks along and due late June/early July. And of course, feeling rotten. ;) Actually, the rotten part is (hopefully) almost done. I was pretty sick for awhile (i.e. the first 2 months) and had NO desire to eat food, think about food, or blog about food. It’s still not great, especially at night, but I really feel like I’m on the downhill slide.

We’ve talked to Cassidy about her new brother or sister, but I don’t think she quite getting it. We’ve got 6 months to get her used to the idea, though, and I’m sure she’ll start getting curious as soon as I start showing a lot more.

So now you know the reason for my disappearance. Thanks to those of you who missed me and sent me messages to check on me- that was greatly appreciated! After the holidays I hope to get back into blogging and back to a more normal version of myself (who knows, maybe I’ll even find the energy to change out of my pajama pants every now and then!). Until then, I want to wish you all a VERY merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Have a wonderful time with your friends and families and don’t forget the real reason we celebrate each year!

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Pretzel-Kiss Sandwiches…

Pretzel Kiss Sandwiches 3

Who’s ready for Halloween??! Every single year, I’m always tempted to say Halloween is my favorite holiday, but Christmas always wins out. However, Halloween comes in at a VERY close 2nd! I absolutely love decorating the house (most importantly, dragging out all of my ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ paraphernalia), but this year was even more fun than usual, because Cassidy helped me this time around. She had so much fun dragging pumpkins and other goodies out of the big boxes and saying, “cuuuuuute!” every time I’d hang something up. We had a blast together!

Pretzel Kiss Sandwiches

We’ve all had so much fun watching our favorite Halloween movies and eating snacks together- this seriously is just the greatest holiday. Speaking of snacks- here’s a super duper quick and easy one (and DARN addictive, I might add!). No party or gathering (or movie-watching night!) is complete without these little guys. All you need is pretzels and Hershey’s Hugs- that’s it! So little effort for so much yumminess! Plus, the kids could probably help with this one; I’m sure Cassidy will be a big help the next time I make these. ;)

Pretzel-Kiss Sandwiches

1 bag Pretzel snaps (such as Synder’s)
2 bags Hershey’s Hugs (I also used some of the caramel-filled Hershey’s Kisses and they worked great as well)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Lay the pretzels down in an even layer on the baking sheet and top each one with a hug. Put the baking sheet in the oven for 2 minutes, until the hugs get glossy-looking.

Remove from oven and let sit for 1 minute. Gently place another pretzel on top of each hug, making a sandwich. Don’t push down too hard, or the hug will ooze out everywhere. Leave at room temperature to cool completely and harden- about 30 minutes to an hour. You could also pop them in the fridge to speed up the hardening process. Place in a big bowl and enjoy!

Recipe source: Cookies and Cups

Pretzel Kiss Sandwiches 2

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Merry Christmas to All!

1-2

We wish ALL of you a happy, warm, joyful Christmas filled with good food, good friends/family, and good cheer!

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Love,

Joel, Amy, Cassidy, and Izzy

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Chocolate-Dipped Orange Sables…

Chocolate-Dipped Orange Sables

One last Christmas cookie post before the big day!

There are only 4 1/2 days till Christmas! How exciting! My baby’s first Christmas…..we absolutely CANNOT wait! I know she probably won’t have a clue what’s going on, but Mommy and Daddy will be brimming with excitement to witness our baby girl opening presents under the Christmas tree!

Anyway, I just had to post one more cookie recipe before I take off for the holiday fun. And let me tell you, this one is a KEEPER! Crisp, crumbly, buttery shortbread flecked with bright, citrusy orange peel, then dipped in luxurious dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. OMG so amazingly good! (P.S. sable is the french word for shortbread). If you still have parties to go to, or perhaps want to leave Santa something a little more special this year, by all means, this cookie is for you!

Chocolate-Dipped Orange Sables 3

Chocolate-Dipped Orange Sables

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 2 large oranges
2 cups melted dark chocolate, for dipping (you can use chips, or chop your own)

Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugar, salt, and orange zest and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the egg yolks and almond extract, again beating until well blended.

Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball — and it shouldn’t. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)

Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it’s easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)

When the cookies are cool, dip each cookie (I like to just dip half of the cookie since white chocolate can be a bit rich) in the melted chocolate and place on wax paper. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt. Makes about 50 cookies.

Recipe source: sable recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan; the orange-chocolate idea is a Sing For Your Supper original

Chocolate-Dipped Orange Sables 2

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Pistachio-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies…

pistachio cranberry shortbreads

So far this Christmas season, I’ve been really proud of myself as far as branching out goes. Every year it seems I bake the same cookies, cakes, and snacks. I have lists and lists of awesome sounding recipes I’ve been wanting to try, yet I still end up making the same old things. Not that there’s anything wrong with a great standby, but you gotta be adventurous, right? I looooove shortbread and I looooove the combination of pistachios and cranberries; and that’s exactly how these cookies were born!

pistachio cranberry shortbreads 3

I recently mentioned that I baked these for our Christmas party (along with these Soft Almond Sugar Cookies), but I didn’t go into any detail. Well, let me tell you what a HIT these were! People kept going back and forth between these and the almond cookies trying to figure out their favorite, but I feel like these were the clear winner. I think it was the white chocolate that did it. ;) These were so incredibly EASY! Great taste, great appearance, great method. GREAT Christmas cookie.

Pistachio-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 cups melted white chocolate chips, for dipping (optional)

Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugar and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the egg yolks and vanilla, again beating until well blended.

Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball — and it shouldn’t. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.) Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it’s easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)

When the cookies are cool, dip each cookie (I like to just dip half of the cookie since white chocolate can be a bit rich) in the melted white chocolate and place on wax paper. Makes about 50 cookies.

Recipe source: sable (shortbread) recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan; pistachio-cranberry-white chocolate idea is a Sing For Your Supper original

pistachio cranberry shortbreads 2

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Soft and Chewy Almond Sugar Cookies…

Ho, ho, ho! Santa Claus is coming soon- do you know which cookies you’ll be baking for him? We sure do! Normally, I’d be baking these M&M Cookies, a Christmas tradition in our family, but this year, I’ve decided on a new favorite! These soft, chewy, sugary cookies with a gloriously subtle and delicate almond flavor, and sparkly, crunchy sugar all over the outside…..WHAT. A. COOKIE! We hosted a Christmas party this weekend and I transformed into a baking fiend. I baked these amazing almond cookies, my favorite M&M cookies mentioned above, and shortbreads with pistachios, cranberries, and white chocolate (can’t wait to share those with you!). They were all amazing, but my hands-down favorite were these soft almond cookies.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of anything with almond extract, but I decided to make these anyway, because my big sis loves it. I’m so glad I took a chance! Not only are these beautiful, they’re downright DE-licious! Try them this Christmas! Santa Claus will thank you! :)

Soft and Chewy Almond Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour**
1 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

coarse decorating sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugar and butter.  Stir in eggs, almond extract, and vanilla. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt and add to butter/egg mixture.

Form dough into walnut sized balls and roll in decorating sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet and press down to flatten slightly. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Bake for 8 minutes; cookies should not brown much at all- do not overbake.

**If you don’t have cake flour, all purpose will work fine

Recipe source: adapted from Confections from the Cody Kitchen

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