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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spooky Spider Cookies

Looking for a last minute Halloween treat? Try these super simple (super cute) cookies that I made last year! They take almost no effort at all and they are a huge hit with kids! Best of all, you probably have nearly all of the ingredients on hand!
[Post originally from 10/27/09] 


My little sister needed some Halloween themed goodies to bring to her high school dance this evening and these were quick and super easy.

They are a bit rich for my taste buds, but perfect for a bunch of kids trying to satisfy their holiday sweet-tooth at a school function! Plus, look how adorable they are!


Spooky Spider Cookies 
recipe from here 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda 
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 egg, at room temperature 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 bag thin pretzel sticks 
  • 11.5 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet) 
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 6+ ounces chocolate sprinkles 
  • small red candies (I used cinnamon hard candies) 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. 
  4. Gradually add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined. The dough should look slightly dry. 
  5. Form tablespoon sized balls with the dough and place on a cookie sheet. The dough will not really spread while baking so there is no need to place them too far from one another. 
  6. Break the pretzel sticks in half and and stick 8 halves into each ball (4 on each side). 
  7. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack. 
  8. Combine the chocolate chips and oil together in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals. 
  9. With a pastry or basting brush, paint the cookies completely, including the pretzels. Cover with sprinkles and push two red candies into each cookie for eyes. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate


It's been pretty chilly and grey here in Seattle lately and this kind of weather makes me want to do nothing more than skip school and curl up by the fire with a nice big mug of hot chocolate. While I can't get away with the skipping school part (boo :(), I can soothe my warm drink cravings!

The hot chocolate is creamy, spicy, and extremely comforting. Paired with the cinnamon whipped cream it is absolute heaven and perfect for the holiday season! Also, thanks to my adorable hot chocolate set complete with electric frother, it was super light and foamy. 


While this recipe may not be completely traditional (I really have no clue), this is my version of Mexican hot chocolate and I think it turned out pretty amazing if I do say so myself :).


Mexican Hot Chocolate
serves 2 (with lots of leftover whipped cream :P)

hot chocolate ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split down center
  • tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (about 82g) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  1. Heat the milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and cayenne in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring the heat back up to medium-high. When the milk begins to bubble around the sides turn the heat off and stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring until smooth.
  3. Remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. At this point I poured the mixture into my specialty hot chocolate vessel fitted with frother and frothed for a few seconds. If you don't have a frother, you can leave the mixture in the pan and use a whisk to froth.
  4. Serve with a dollop the Cinnamon Whipped Cream (see below).
cinnamon whipped cream ingredients:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  1. Pour the cream into a chilled bowl and beat until soft peaks form.
  2. Add in the sugar and cinnamon and beat to stiff peaks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spiced Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


I am SO excited that it's fall: the cool weather, warm-colored leaves, sitting by the toasty fire, and LOTS AND LOTS of pumpkin! I cannot even begin to describe my love for the big orange squash, buuuut I can show you:

...and that's only the stuff I've actually posted. I think it's safe to say that I'm more than a little obsessed. Hence, when I saw these whoopie pies I absolutely HAD to try them. Plus, they are almost "too" perfect for Halloween; check out that black and orange combo (also note the adorable spooky cupcake liners :) ).

I had never made whoopie pies before, and though I was a bit nervous, I had always wanted to give them a try. Honestly, I don't know what I was worried about. They could not have been easier to make and I cannot wait to try my hand at some more fun flavor combinations (though it will, of course, be hard to top pumpkin).

These turned out absolutely fabulous! The cookies (cake?) turned out perfectly soft and pillowy, and the filling was all I had hoped it would be- spice-y (not spicy), pumpkin-y rich, and ultra creamy- a sweet, little package of fall in edible form!

I sent the whoopie pies to work with Mikey and he came home with empty tupperware- a definite good sign! Apparently they were quite a hit :D.


Spiced Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
recipe slightly adapted from here
makes roughly 35 (fairly large) whoopie pies

cookie ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed)
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 lage eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (not so funny story: I thought the vanilla was my Diet Coke while baking and I took a MASSIVE swig. I DO NOT recommend it.)
filling ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (I used Neufchatel which has 1/3 less fat)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • grated cinnamon, to taste
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I used close to maybe 3/4 tbsp of each- possibly more- I like mine quite fragrant.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter, shortening, and sugars for about 3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix for around 2 more minutes.
  4. Alternately add in the flour mixture and milk on low speed, beginning and ending with the flour.
  5. Scoop dough 2-inches apart onto prepared baking sheet in about a tablespoon-sized mound (I used a small cookie scoop.). Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookies spring back when lightly touched.
  6. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5-10minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth.
  2. Add in the pumpkin and spices and mic until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
To assemble:
  1. Spoon a tablespoon-sized amount of filling onto the flat side of one of the cookies and top with another cookie. Repeat the sandwich-mking process with the rest of the cookies/filling.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Roasted Chicken with French-Style Pan Sauce


One of my absolute favorite foods in the world is roasted chicken. Growing up it was on the dinner table at least twice a week, and yet, it was hard to get sick of the crispy skin and juicy meat.

When I saw this recipe for chicken with a pan sauce in my October Cooking Light magazine (which by the way has like 10 other recipes that I can't wait to try), it brought back memories of family dinners in which we sat around discussing our days.

The chicken turned out amazing (and Mom, I hate to say, but maybe even better than yours)! The skin was a perfect golden-brown and the meat was oh-so-tender and juicy. However, the pan sauce is what really made it. It was rich and creamy with a nice zing from the dijon mustard.
I served my chicken just like my mom would but with a little flair, with some simple mashed potatoes (yukon gold potatoes peeled and cooke then mashed with butter, salt, pepper, and skim milk), and some lemony green beens (beans boiled for 3 minutes then tossed in a saute pan with butter and lemon juice and finished with a bit of lemon zest). It was a perfect home-style meal that I can't wait to share with my family.


Roasted Chicken with French-Style Pan Sauce
recipe from October 2010 Cooking Light

  • 2-4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. When the oil is hot, place the chicken breasts in the pan, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is golden-brown in color (about 5-8 minutes). Then, turn the breasts over and place the entire pan in the oven. Cook for 40 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken is 160 degrees, or the juices run clear.
  5. Take the chicken out of the oven (and immediately place an oven mitt on the 350 degree metal handle so you don't forget it's freakin' hot and grab it like myself) and place the breasts on a separate plate. Cover the chicken with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is resting, heat the pan the chicken was in over medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until it reduces by about half. Add in the dijon mustard and whisk to combine.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine the cream with the flour and mix until there are no clumps. Add the cream/flour mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce for 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly. Serve with the chicken.
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