Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grandma Barb's Cut-Outs

Mama's mom, Grandma Barb, has made these cut-outs every holiday for as long as I can remember. And I'm not just talking about Christmas. Depending on the holiday, the cookies may arrive as snowmen, trees, stockings, or (for every holiday but Christmas) circles and stars.


They are so well loved that there are never any to take home. My Aunt Chris loves them so much Grandma makes a separate smaller platter just for her to take home every holiday. The day Grandma gave me the recipe I was over-joyed. Now I could make these delectable cut-outs whenever I craved them. I think it might have been her gift to me before heading off to college...probably because she realized if I could handle thousands of dollars of debt, I could handle her secret recipe.

And they are secret. But now I'm sharing it with you. So now it's our secret.

The secret to these mouth-watering, demanded, sugar cookie goodness is cream cheese.

That's right. Cream cheese.

It's so simple; I'm sure you're jaw-dropped, staring at your computer in amazement wondering what the other secret ingredients are. But that's it. And they are to die for.

Last year I made about 6-7 dozen and took them to our church, which was having a program for the kids and asked for volunteers to provide the cookies.

This year I plan to make them for my kiddos at work. :)

Grandma Barb's Cut-Outs

Makes 1-2 dozen cookies depending on size of cookie cutter

2 1/2 c flour (sometimes I use whole wheat pastry flour or a combo of the two)
1 c sugar (may play around with the sugar this time...Greek yogurt, applesauce, bananas...)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (or a little more if ya know what I mean...)
1 egg yolk
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I always use Neufchatel whenever a recipe calls for cream cheese. It's less in fat and I enjoy the texture a lot more.)

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well blended. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Set aside. In a small bowl combine butter and cream cheese, blending until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese mixture slowly to flour mixture, blending until smooth and fluffy. (We want fluff, people!)

If making cut-outs, place dough, covered, in fridge to chill for about an hour. When ready, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out with cookie cutters.

Place on greased baking sheet 1" apart. Bake at 350 degrees 8-10 minutes. (*Note: These cookies don't brown very well, so they might be done even if they don't look done. If unsure, let cookies sit on the baking sheet a minute or two before moving to racks.) Let cookies cool completely and top with your favorite frosting and sprinkles.

Enjoy! Devour.

Nutritional Information: Per Cookie without frosting (24 in batch)
165 Calories; 10 Fat; 9 Sugar; 19 Carbs; 2 Protein

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Baking To-Dos

Is it sad that most of the cookies on my to-bake list include chocolate? I'm really trying to mix it up here, but it seems everything I marked as "possible for holidays" involves chocolate. And I'm not even a huge fan of chocolate....or am I? But I know many who are and I am sympathetic to others' needs like that. However, I did manage to find room on the list for a few of my favorites and non-chocolates.

Now, to find the time to make these!! Less than 30 days and counting. Ai yi yi.

Grandma Barb's Cut-Outs. Like last year, these are a family tradition. Not the healthiest sugar cookie, but it's the holidays and I must.

Skinny Sugar Free Sugar Cookies. I'm also making a small batch of these sugar cookies. Because I want to try a new version and a healthier one, too!

Hot Cocoa Cookies. I'm not a chocolate fan but I enjoyed these cookies so much last year they made this year's list. Indulge.

Browned Butter Cookies with Caramel Frosting. If I leave these off the list Mr. B will kill me....or complain until they're made. (Plus, Jess and I always make these during our annual baking sessions. That's always an adventure, and you can read about last year's here.)

Black Bottom Cups. I actually left these tasty treats off the list last year for the first time in four years. My friend, Kylee, shared this infamous recipe with me and I always make them. But not last year...I wanted something NEW. Yeah, they're on the list this year. And I promise to share the recipe!

Giant Chai Tea Frosted Cookies.These cookies sound amazing. The ingredients don't make a lot (8 large cookies), so either make them smaller or everyone gets one on the plate.

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies. Mr. B also loves oatmeal cookies, right behind Chocolate Chips and Browned Butters. But I'm throwing in a small twist I think he'll like to add change to the classic.

Citrus Butter Cookies. I found these cookies in Pioneer Woman's cookbook (and they're also on her blog) and knew immediately this would be my citrus cookie for the holidays. Most excited to try theses! I love a good pucker :)

Raspberry-Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles.
Espresso Chocolate Truffles with Almonds. The new Food Network magazine arrived in the mail last week, and after skimming through it I decided I'm making truffles. It's kind of a "pick your own ingredients" thing, and I think these two sound best.

Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls. I found this recipe in last year's holiday Food Network magazine, and I'm going to attempt them. It's been forever and a day since I made popcorn balls.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. I'm not sure why I even put these on the list. These are the first cookies I have to make every year in order to keep Mr. B quiet while I make all the ones he refuses to try. I can't even put fun twists on them because he doesn't like peanut butter or nuts or anything in his chocolate chip cookies. (But this year I'm making my friend Jenny's recipe. There's a secret ingredient in them. Shhhhh...)

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies. Having celiac disease can be hard on my aunt during the holidays, so I'm making her this gluten-free chocolate cookie.

Molasses Spice Cookies. To be honest, these cookies are only on the list because I have half of a jar of molasses I need to use up. Maybe a hidden gem?

Cinnamon Chips Gems. I wanted to make these last year but I could not find the cinnamon chips anywhere! This year I will hunt them down.

Almond Blueberry Cookies. And, yes, these are a must. They're my favorite cookie in the whole world and the only ones I'll eat once they're baked. Always room for these gems.

Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge. Instead of a bread this year I'm making fudge. And I really, really love this simple recipe I made earlier this year....but I want something with peanut butter and chocolate. And health(ier). So I turned to some of my healthy blogs and found this delectable recipe.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars or Turtle Cheesecake Balls. To take to my work pot luck next month...but can't decide which...thoughts?

Cranberry Crumble Bars. I have a bag of fresh cranberries and I need to do something with them soon or they'll become a part of the center piece on my dining room table. One of my co-workers is retiring at the end of the year and we're having a "Happy Retirement" party for the entire library staff. We're doing a Mad Hatter/Tea Party theme, and I think these bars fit in perfectly.

Pet Treats. And this year I'm not leaving out my family's four-legged friends!

Single-Serve Monkey Bread.
These were a big hit with my hubby and I last Christmas morning, and I believe I started a tradition.

What's on your baking list this season?

*Need some inspiration or want to try something new? Check out my baking list from last year, or Jessica's baking lists ...there are three of them (love her blog!).

Happy Holiday Baking!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, November 26, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Eight

Last week's challenge was inspiring. For two or three days I thought about what I should do and for whom. Finally, with Mama hosting Thanksgiving this year, I knew exactly what to do. I provided a quick yogurt bar for breakfast Thanksgiving day (so we wouldn't have to cook anything), and my aunt and I did all of the cleaning so Mama could relax. I mean she was up at 3:30 A.M. putting in the 20 pound bird, so I should do my part to thank her.

I hope you all found ways to do something nice for your loved ones as well. Giving and doing is so much better than receiving.

Moving onto this week's challenge, I thought I'd continue the inspiration theme.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Start a journal.

It can be any kind of journal.....recording dreams, goals, feelings, daily life, inspiring quotes, poems or Scriptures, workouts, etc. I've had many journals in my life that I started, put down, and picked back up here and there, devotionals and daily life mainly. This week I already know what I'm doing: a journal on thankfulness.

What will you journal?

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. O-H-I-O!

My boys are PERFECT! And even though we're not in the BCS Championship game (we should be!), I'm very proud of this season. Job well done, Buckeyes. :)

2. Annnnnd Kent State is AWESOME this year....MAC Championship game and Bowl contenders! I am loving this football season (college only, the Browns are quite lacking).

3. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Mr. B had to work all day, unfortunately, so I spent the holiday with my family, and we had food galore. Super-pumped that there were plenty of leftovers to feed us through Saturday. But it's Sunday and now I have to cook. I have this going on the stove. Perfect on this cold day.

4. Speaking of cookware, Mr. B and I went to Kohl's at midnight for their awesome sale on the Food Network pots and pans, and we bought the last black set. He knew I wouldn't be able to wait until Christmas, so I broke those babies out and I love what I'm seeing so far. Yay for new pans!!!

5. Let me tell you, this was the best Black Friday shopping ever. The line for Kohl's wasn't too long, only had to stand outside for a half an hour, no pushing, fighting, running or screaming. We were in and out in less than 30 minutes, so we decided to peruse whatever was left at Walmart. Ummm it was a ghost town, but we still found a few CDs and DVDs we wanted along with some cat food (why not, we were there). Then we headed to Target (but first Mr. B took me to Starbucks, of course), again ghost town, and purchased some pillows. We were home by 3 A.M. A definite first.

6. I kind of got a little side-tracked there, so back to Thanksgiving. I made this tasty and cheesy spinach dip. You can find the recipe here. It was simple, quick, and a hit.

7. Also, I've been eating pumpkin bread for dinner for the last two days and I had it for breakfast this morning. I'm not a fan of pumpkin anything really, but this is delightful. It's my boss' recipe. She brought it to our meeting a few weeks ago. At first I cringed because I don't like pumpkin. But I cut myself half a piece, to be polite, and told myself I could eat it.  Sooooo happy I did. I had to go back for my other half and begged her for the recipe. It's moments like these when I'm thankful Mama always enforced the "one bite" rule.

I will be posting this recipe soon!

8. Now, I'm off to enjoy some soup and to hunt down the box of Christmas cards I know is around here somewhere....

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blogger Recipe: Grilled Pesto and Goat Cheese Pizza

This pizza is sooooooo good.

So good I really don't want to share. I want it all to myself.

And it's even better cold.

(It's even Mr. B's favorite.)

Growing up I would eat tomatoes like candy (and I still do). My grandma always had a plate full of tomatoes and cucumbers fresh from the garden sitting on the kitchen table when my cousins and I would come in for lunch. A classic summer memory. And now, some days that's all I want for lunch...when those vegetables are at their peak. I can't eat sandwiches unless there is a tomato on it. I eat my cottage cheese with tomatoes. I LOVE tomatoes.

You know what else I love: goat cheese (obsessed) and pesto (my latest re-occurring obsession) and homemade pizza crust (the only way I'll eat pizza).

One day in June, I stumbled across this recipe and my taste buds exploded just from reading about it. I immediately went to the grocery store after work, bought the ingredients, and soon sat down to the most delicious pizza ever. Since then I have made this pizza once a's a constant in our household.

And I could eat the whole thing. Ah-mazing.

Here's my shortened up version....for the full recipe go here.

Grilled Pesto and Goat Cheese Pizza
(*adapted from Eat, Live, Run)

serves 4-6 (usually just me and Mr. B)

1 homemade pizza crust or store bought (My absolute favorite is The Pioneer Woman's crust.)
pesto (use as much as you like, homemade or store bought)
sauteed mushrooms, sliced
tomatoes, sliced
5 oz goat cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out your dough to fit a pizza pan or baking sheet. Bake 5-7 minutes. Top crust with pesto (spreading to edges), tomatoes, mushrooms and goat cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes.When done the crust should be a tad golden and cheese melted.

Simple, healthy, and perfect.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, November 19, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Seven

I always feel a sense of peace and comfort wash over me when I speak with the Father. And taking those few extra minutes to thank Him for providing my family and I with food on our table, that we may never know hunger, is one of those peaceful moments. I'm so thankful and blessed, I tend to go off on tangents and feel the need to thank Him for everything at that food has grown cold on more than one occasion.

But it was nice saying Grace even over my Larabar on a 20-minute break. This is one challenge I must turn truly into a daily practice.

However, today is Monday, and be it a bit late, let's discuss this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Do something nice for a loved one.

Whether it's something small every day or a huge surprise on Thanksgiving, this week, let a loved one (or friend) know how much he/she means to you.

And, Happy Turkey Day...wishing you safe travels!

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Monday, November 12, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Six

I'm happy to say I was on time!!!! I feel like myself again and I like it. Now, all I want to do is put up my Christmas decorations and blast the sounds of the season.

Is it too soon? Never.

(I apologize that this week's challenge is so late. I was enjoying my day off with Mr. B--we don't have too many of these together--and we finally saw The Expendables 2. I was a little tiffed that Chuck Norris wasn't in more of the movie, but he's so amazing that if he was in it more there wouldn't be a movie because he'd have knocked off the bad guys from the beginning, you know? But we had a fabulous day :)

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Take time to say Grace.

Lately, I've noticed the only time I seem to say Grace is before I enjoy my dinner. Mr. B (when he's home for dinner) leads our prayer in thanking God for our food and that it may nourish our bodies. But why only at dinner? I was reminded of this when I saw my co-worker bow her head in a silent prayer before she enjoyed her snack. This hit me hard and I want to be more thankful. The Lord has provided me with not only dinner every night, but breakfast, lunch and snacks in between. This week I'm challenging myself to take the time to thank my Father for the food on my table. I pray you take this time as well.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. Happy Veterans Day! Just want to thank those who have served/serve. Because of you our country is free.

2. I'm craving grilled cheese sandwiches again. I'm eating one right now...with Muenster...I could eat three I'm so hungry!

3. Super excited that I have tomorrow off. Due to a shift in my schedule I'm working the next three Saturdays, so it's nice to enjoy this last two-days-off-in-a-row thing. Thought about going to the library near my house to rent some movies. Then I realized if my library is closed this one is as well.

Maybe I can get Mr. B to finally rent some movies....

4. Mama and Daddy came up today to get some donations for some friends of the family. Their house burned to the ground this past Tuesday from an electrical fire. It's devastating to see what's left of their home. It was nice to see my parents, I just wish it was on a more happier note. Please pray for the family to get through this hard time.

5. Speaking of know how I mentioned a few weeks ago that Mr. B broke his pinkie toe running into the furniture. Well, on Tuesday he dropped something on his foot (the same foot) and we spent some time at the the grace of God it wasn't broken. He has a nice little booty and light duty for 2 weeks.

6. If it were me, I'd be propped up on the couch enjoying a week off from chores and enjoying Chipotle along with a FRIENDS marathon. Mr. B, however, can't sit still and mowed the lawn this morning...grant it, it's a riding lawn mower but still....enjoy your down-time, babe!

7. I'm a huge Black Friday shopper, but I am sooooooo mad that this year Walmart is opening their doors at 8 p.m. It's ridiculous. Let people spend time with their family to enjoy the holiday! I'm protesting.

8. And THE best news......KENT STATE IS RANKED #25 on the AP Poll. First ranking since '73. Lots of love to my alumni, The Golden Flashes!!!!! Keep it up, boys!

Daddy and I at a Kent State game during my last year. GO FLASHES!

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Must-See Holiday Movies

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Every year, this movie starts my obsession with all-things holiday....mostly all-things Christmas. I can't help it. It's my absolute favorite time of the year. I'd give up my birthday (in July) to constantly celebrate November and December. Once this holiday special graces my TV, I'm ready for "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night," days and days of baking cookies, Black Friday shopping sprees, family gatherings with the most delicious food ever, snuggling by warm fires, hot cocoa, Christmas cards, lights galore, and SNOW! And I could seriously go on...

Instead I want to share with you my holiday movie must-sees. I LOVE these movies and it's not Brindi's Favorite Season without them all.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Little Drummer Boy

A Christmas Carol (1999)

The Polar Express

White Christmas

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Little Women (1949)

(I also read this book every Christmas. LOVE.)

Home Alone

A Chipmunk Christmas

The Santa Clause

(NOT!!! I can't stand this movie...probably because my little cousin was obsessed with it. This was the only movie she ever wanted to watch when she was little, even in the summer.)

The Year Without a Santa Claus


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

(And Rudolph's Shiny New Year.)

Frosty the Snowman

(And, of course, Frosty Returns.)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

(I enjoy this movie way more than A Christmas Story; it's not Christmas Day without it.)

A Christmas Story

(Yes, I'm not a fan of this movie...I think it's because every time I turn to it, it's at the same part. But I have to watch it through at least once.)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

(I do not like the Jim Carrey version.)

And of course, my all time favorite,

It's a Wonderful Life

Did I miss any of your favorites?

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, November 5, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Five

I killed last week's challenge and I hope everybody else did as well. I packed more filling snacks and staggered my breaks to where I wasn't hungry on my drive home from work. Definitely plan to keep this going!

But let's keep this party rolling with this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Be on time.

I've been a little...behind lately. (Mama, I know, you're in shock.) I was raised to not only be on time, but to be 10 minutes early. Always.

(Mr. B....not sure he knows what "being on time" actually means.)

I hate running late. I get stressed and hot and impatient and tend to drive over the speed limit.

Being on time and I work very well together.

We need each other.

So this week's challenge is to be on time! Now that it's starting to get light(er) when my alarm goes off in the morning should help tremendously.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,