Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 in Review: Reader's Choice

Every year since I started the blog, I've had every intention of compiling a list of favorite posts.  But for some reason, each year, I just haven't been able to get things together in time.  Well, 2012 is the year that changes!  I'm finally able to comprise a list that features the most popular posts of 2012.  I must say, it was a year of sweets for sure!  I guess I know what to make more of in 2013!

First up, Blueberry Grilled Cheese.  This dessert was inspired after a visit with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It's nothing short of AH-mazing.  A smooth and light, sweet cream cheese mixture speckled with blueberries and sandwiched between two pieces of buttery pound cake.  This delicious sandwich is then grilled to perfection, making the edges lightly crisp and the inside perfectly fluffy.  A dessert that will make any and everyone happy.
Cookies and Cream Cake-What can I say about this cake?  Um, Wow.  This cake is incredible.  I made it for Spencer on his birthday and I think this was definitely a hit with the birthday boy.  What's not to love; moist chocolate cake with layers of pastry cream, then coated in a cookies and cream pastry cream and finished with tons of crushed Oreo cookies. 
Soft banana, peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies were definitely a hit.  But what's not to love about a chewy cookie that has bananas, chocolate chips and peanut butter.  A crowd pleaser for all ages.

Cold Oven Pound Cake- This cake has long been a favorite of mine and my families.  There's really no special, out of the norm ingredients, or even a fancy glaze.  This is just a simple pound cake, baked in a non-preheated oven and comes out incredibly buttery, moist and delicious.  It's true, sometimes simple is best.
Best Blueberry Muffins- These blueberry muffins truly are the best I've ever had.  They are light, fluffy and moist and exploding with blueberries then topped with a streussel crumble.  An absolute treat for breakfast or even a snack.

Soft Giant M&M Cookies- I can't look at these cookies and not smile.  A giant cookie packed full of one of my all-time-favorite candies.  It really does make me feel like a kid every time I eat one.  For this particular cookie the magic truly is in the way it's prepped, not sure what it is but stacking the dough before it's baked makes for an exceptionally fluffy cookie.
Sausage Cheese Kolache- are a weakness of mine, and my families.  There's just something about the sweet, fluffy bread surrounding melted cheese and spicy sausage that is truly amazing.  When I came across this recipe I was in heaven.  These remind me of the kolaches we enjoy from the donut shop on a regular basis.  I was thrilled to find a recipe that was spot on, and that encompassed all the flavors of the ones we enjoy from the donut shop.  These are perfect fresh from the oven, but store in the freezer incredibly well too.
Three Ingredient Nutella- I knew I LOVED Nutella but I had no clue how many others felt the same, exact way I did (and do) about the stuff.  Wow.  This recipe was posted and immediately exploded.  I have a special place in my heart for Nutella so when I found a recipe that was incredibly simple that I could make myself, I was sold.  I can have this chocolate, hazelnut goodness any time I want.  Even better, I have control of the ingredients I use!  Who knew making this deliciousness could be so easy?  I didn't, but now I do and I'm so glad!

Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans- candied pecans and almonds area one of those treats that pull me in every time I'm at a mall or carnival.  I'm not quite sure what it is but I'm addicted.  There's just something about that sugary sweet coating surrounding some of my favorite nuts.  Since I enjoy them so much I decided to make some at home, but I added a bit of heat to them.  Talk about a hit.  We enjoyed them fresh out of the pan, as well as on several different main courses.  I can't keep these in the house, they dissappear everytime I make them.
Sweet and Salty Cookies- These cookies were created because of my love of all things sweet and savory.  I have long been a lover of this combination and I finally acted on my love for that and created these cookies.  These cookies are a mixture of pretzels, dry roasted peanuts, pretzel M&M's, chocolate and salt.  Yes, packed with tons of goodies and they all work together to give you a delicious cookie that is packed with flavor.  It has it all; sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy.  In my opinion it's the perfect cookie.  Apparently many of you share this love for the sweet and savory combo, because plenty of you have been very interested in this recipe!  I hope you all enjoy these cookies as much as I do.
Well, this wraps it up.  These are the top 10 most popular posts of 2012.  I hope you have enjoyed looking over the most popular posts of 2012 with me.  It's been a journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  My promise to you for 2013 is to deliver more sweets for you to enjoy!

Friday, December 28, 2012

White Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cookies

I must say this week has definitely been very interesting, maybe even one for the record books.  It started out like any other holiday week; family was in and last minute preparations were being made for Christmas.  The final presents wrapped, stockings stuffed, goodies baked.  You know the drill.  Tuesday, Christmas day, even started out normal.  We woke up, my little man opened his stocking and then went to see what Santa had brought him.  The events of Christmas morning transpired as normal.  After we opened gifts we got ready, loaded up the car and headed to my in-laws to celebrate Christmas with them.  It was chilly outside and rainy but no real weather to speak of.  After we had been there a few hours the temperature started dropping, the rain started coming harder and harder and then the wintery mix.  All the rain and mix started freezing on the trees and roads.  It was amazing how quickly the weather changed.  We eneded up having to load up and head back home before the weather and the roads got too bad.

We made it home just in time.  About the time we got the car unloaded the snow started coming down.  We're not talking about a flurry here and there, we're talking tons of snow.  I fixed our Christmas meal, we sat down, ate, got everything cleaned up and then sat down to relax.  About an hour after that we lost power.  Yup, powerless on Christmas day.  We started our gas logs and made a pallet in the living room so we could stay warm.  The next day we woke up and still no power, so we hung around the house for a while hoping and praying the power would be restored soon.  Time went by and still no power.  I checked the news on my phone and read that there were close to 200,000 people in our area without power and they were predicting people could be without power for upto 7 days...yikes.  We toughed it out a little longer since we had seen the power trucks going up and down our street.  Then a few hours later I looked up and saw a lamp come.  I don't think I can explain just how happy we were!  I turned our heat on, the gas logs off and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  We are definitely some of the fortunate ones in our area, there are still people without power.  The crews are working continuously to get everyone's power restored ASAP.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Day to Honor Sandy Hook and Browned Butter M&M Cookies

Before Friday, December 14, 2012 I had never heard of the tiny town of Newtown nor the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I think it's one of those days that will stay frozen in my mind forever.  I will remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I found out that one of the most horrific things imaginable had happened.  A shooting at a school.  An elementary school.  For me and all the people around me it was like the events of the day came in slow motion and the number of victims just kept increasing.  My heart was broken and I was numb.  Children, teachers, a town and a community had just experienced one of the worst things ever.  My heart broke for people I don't know, for a town and school that I had never heard of.  All I could think to do was pray.  Pray for God to wrap his arms around the kids, teachers, staff, parents, first responders, a town and community.  And that's what I've done; pray numerous times every day since I heard the news.
I can't imagine the terror and the horror that each person in Sandy Hook faced one week ago on this very day.  There aren't enough drills or courses in the world that can prepare anyone for what they went through.  I thank God that the teachers and staff were able to keep a level head and did everything in their power to keep their kids safe.  These teachers will forever be remembered as heros.  These kids will forever be remembered as angels and remembered for the joy and laughter they brought to everyone they encountered.  They may be gone but their spirits and legacy will live on forever in everyone that they touched. 
Not a day has gone by that I don't think about the people in this town, a town before now that was described as Mayberry.  An innocent, happy place where people loved one another, a tight knit community.  How could something so senseless happen to such a perfect town?  Such perfectly innocent people?  I think those are two questions that will be running through people's minds infinitely.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Triple Chocolate Molasses Cake

It's no surprise to any of you that I LOVE chocolate.  Infact, I think that's probably an understatement.  I have a healthy obsession with it, to say the least.  I also love anything and everything sweet.  So when I stumbled across Crunchy Creamy Sweet blog and saw this cake it was love at first sight.  I knew I must make this and make it soon. 
I had been longing for some baking therapy for quite some time, and especially since the holidays are here.  There's just something about the holidays that makes me want to bake something sweet every. single. day.  I'm not sure what it is but I find myself HAVING to bake during the time of year, every year.  This cake fit the bill; baking therapy, a perfect recipe for the holidays and a cake big enough to share with lots of people.  After all, this is the seaons of giving and sharing.  And what better way to show others you care than with a big, rich, tasty and chocolate-y cake. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Baked Burritos with Creamy Poblano Sauce

Mexican, Tex-Mex, anything along these lines is a weakness for me.  I honestly think I could live on Mexican food of some sort every. single. day.  So when I saw these burritos on Elly's blog I knew I had to make them.  And soon.  So...I did. 

I love burritos.  How could anything be bad when it's rolled up in a fluffy, flour-y tortilla?  These burritos are incredible.  A combination of spices, lean ground beef, beans and cheese rolled up in a whole-wheat tortilla and baked to crisp perfection is amazing on it's own.  But to take it one step further, it's then topped with a poblano sauce that's thicky, creamy, with a hint of spice.  Un-be-lieveable! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bloggers Unite for Sandy Hook

Bloggers unite for
cookies & crafts
for Sandy Hook
Friday, December 21, 2012

A tribute to the victims, families
and community of
Newtown, CT.

Hope you'll be able to join us!  Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook {#BloggersforSandyHook}

After the terrible tragedy that errupted on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary families, a community, a state and a Nation have been left in desparation.  Everyone is in shock and asking the question "Why?".  Why would this happen, how could this happen, and to innocent children of all people?  After the terrible events of the day I had so many thoughts and questions storming through my brain, with one of the main ones being "What can I do to help?" 

What could I possible do to honor the victims and families that have been so deeply wounded and who have suffered a loss no one should ever suffer?  I felt so helpless, to say the least.  Then word started spreading through the blogosphere about an event Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook that would be held to honor victims, families and an entire community that is broken.  Dorothy of  crazy for crust along with many other bloggers who are part of a facebook group decided to head up the benefit to honor all of those affected by the events that took place on Friday, December 14, 2012. 

On Friday, December 21 the blogosphere is uniting to pay tribute to the vicitims, families, and community of Newtown by doing a post on their blog.  Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook is one very small way to show a community and town in devistation that they are loved, prayed for and supported after something so terrible and unimaginable. 

Bloggers unite for
cookies & crafts
for Sandy Hook
Friday, December 21, 2012

A tribute to the victims, families
and community of
Newtown, CT.

Hope you'll be able to join us! Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook {#BloggersforSandyHook}

On Friday, December 21 write a post sharing a recipe or craft along with a tribute to Sandy Hook Elementary.  That's it, something simple to honor Sandy Hook and Newtwon.  There are no other specifications or requirements; just something that you would make for or with your children. 

The Newtown Youth and Family Services has now been set up. According to their website, Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a “licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.” All donations made to them are going to go back to those affected by the school shooting. You can go to their website to donate.

Please spread the word.  I hope you're able to participate.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Day of Silence

My heart bleeds for each and every person affected by this terrible, senseless tragedy.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers.  I pray that God wraps HIS arms around you tightly and holds you close.  I can't even begin to imagine what you are all going through, but please know that this country is crying, hurting and grieving with you as well as praying for you during this horrific time in your lives. 

candle photo courtesy of candle light backgrounds

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bacon Pecan Brittle

When I think of brittle the first thing that comes to mind is peanut brittle.  Because brittle is synonymous with peanut brittle, am I right?  Peanut brittle is simply a classic; a candy that has been around for years.  Peanut brittle seems to go hand in hand with the holidays.  It's pretty much a sign that the holidays are here when I start seeing brittle pop up all around me; in stores, in the mail and recipes for it all over the internet. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I am and always have been a sucker for potato soup.  What's not to love; a starchy potato soup piled high with bacon and cheese.  How could anyone not love it?  When I was younger, I would always stay with my Grandma after school until my mom and dad got off work.  Sometimes their schedules were so that I would end up eating supper at my Grandma's house.  I can't tell you how much my heart pounded with joy when I would eat with my Grandma and she would make her delicious potato soup.  Folks, her soup ruined me.  I'm quite positive it turned me into a potato soup snob.  If there is such a thing!  It was thick, but not too thick, creamy, with chunks of potatoes, carrots and celery.  It was truly out of this world. 

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