Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Perfect Ten

Seven years and we finally finished all the cookies we planned. Go us!

Since my library is closed today due to the "Polar Vortex" affecting most of the country, I'm taking advantage and catching up on some much needed blog posts, particularly the holiday ones. Taking advantage read as hiding from the -21 degree wind chill by lounging in my sweats under an electric blanket on the couch watching The Avengers. I hope you all are staying inside and warm as well.

So here's the good news, Jessica and I made all the cookies we set out to make this year. However, I did not complete my list. Close but no cigar. I'm still super proud of Jess and I finally getting our act together. It did help that this time we had a solid plan of starting super early with a few cookie doughs prepared and chilling already. I liked having some of the preparations finished beforehand, but on the downside I also started eating cookies (and cookie dough) earlier this year, too. Not necessarily a good thing...for my waistline. :(

Anyhoo, starting early. Scratch that. We celebrated Jessica's little guy's 3rd birthday (Monster U style) the night before, and had our Christmas (plus some wine...). Yeah, we had a late night. We didn't get started until almost 10 a.m. (yikes!)

After she brewed me an espresso using her new Verssimo, an [early] Christmas gift from her husband,  we were ready to get started. First on our list: not doubling the browned butters! There will be no extras of these to go around this year. Last year we almost dropped the ball on these and I didn't want to do anything to mess them up.

Mmmm. I just wanted to put my face finger right in that buttery dough. We were getting those babies in and out of the oven, moving onto the next batch of cookies, when I realized I could smell the brown butters. Very strongly. And not delightfully. We burned the fourth pan of browned butters. :(

Here's Jess doing her best at salvaging the tops. We quickly blamed it on the pan, declaring it was unsuited for baking and assigning it to cooling duties only, and continued with the rest of the cookies, and another mug of coffee.

Despite our late start, thanks to my prepared cookie doughs, we actually made decent time with our batches. In and out of the oven like pros. Having a plan always helps, too. For instance, Jess was mixing up one of her doughs while I worked on the Reindeer Chow-Chow, which didn't require the oven (the recipe is at the end of this post). Once her cookies were in she helped me shake up the reindeer food. Good thing she noticed the bag was ripped because that could have been a DISASTER.

A powdered-sugar-all-over-the-dining-room-kind of disaster. A "That's-it-I'm-done-no-cookies-this-year" disaster. A we-need-wine-right-now DISASTER.

And speaking of wine....

While we're at it, let's do lunch. It's 11:30 a.m. and I don't want to snack on more cookies (cough, cookie dough, cough) than I already have.

This Toasted Pecan and Blueberry Couscous Salad (minus the capers) was fan-freaking-tastic. The fact that it's quite easy to assemble makes it the ideal go-to lunch in the midst of an all-day cookie baking extravaganza. I also brought along one of our favorite soups, my Potato, Broccoli, and Coriander Soup. It was a feast fit for queens.

Cookies galore.

Later on that afternoon, I needed some milk and Jess got it out for me. I wasn't paying attention and went to shake it up, not realizing she had already opened it. Yeah, it was worse than the picture shows.

Clean-up time!

Starbucks time! We made a much needed 4:30 p.m. happy hour coffee run. And then it was back to baking...

....and back to washing dishes for the sixth time.

When Myles came in he was so excited to see all of the cookies spread throughout the house, but there wasn't anything he could have because of his food allergies....except the Reindeer Chow-Chow. Oh, did he enjoy that. When he asked me what it was I said it was like reindeer food. He ran in the other room and brought back his mom's reindeer figurine and proceeded to give it the food as well. I love this kid. And his "cheese" camera face.

Sadly somewhere along the way my beautiful Kitchen Aid glass bowl broke. Well not exactly broke, but chipped. He now has a minor cut but is all bandaged up now. Not sure if it happened when I was washing it, but Jess discovered it while she was drying. I was in the other room playing with Myles while waiting for dinner when I heard, "OH NO, your bowl is chipped!" My face must have looked pretty sad because Myles immediately stopped what he was doing and followed me into the kitchen. He then hugged my leg and gave me a kiss to make me feel better. He made me feel better.

This year our  "Cookies Made" List looked like this:

Almond Butter Saltine Bites
Lemon Poppyseed Cream Cheese Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Lavender Shortbreads
Apple Snickerdoodles
Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Maple Oatmeal Cookies
Reindeer Chow-Chow (recipe below)
Browned Butters with Caramel Frosting
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Vegan-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies

A perfect 10.

I didn't make the cranberry browned butters and now I'm wishing I had because not even 24 hours later my household was without any type of browned butter anything. I'm looking at you, Mr. B. (This is why I only make these at Christmas.)

When it was all said and done, I had 17 different kinds of cookies to platter-up this year :)

Reindeer Chow-Chow
*renaming [and vegan-izing] an old family recipe :)

1 box rice squares cereal (or your favorite similar cereal)
1/2 c almond butter (we actually used sunflower butter here)
1 c mini chocolate chips (for some reason the minis just melt better) the darker the better
1/4 c butter
1 t almond extract (or vanilla is great, too)
powdered sugar (slightly more than 1 c)

In a microwaveable bowl, combine chocolate chips and butter. Heat 30 seconds, stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in extract. (Heat for more time if needed.) In a gigantic bowl, gently toss together rice squares, nut butter, and chocolate mixture until all rice squares are evenly coated. In batches, depending on how big of a plastic storage bag you have, add in some rice mix layered with powdered sugar. Add in layers until bag is half full and shake to coat the squares. Repeat with the rest of the batch. Spread squares on baking sheet to set.

Enjoy! It's tasty.

With Love and God Bless,


  1. YAY!!! That pic of me eating the burnt cookies is oh so flattering :)

    1. It's hilarious and it's an action shot!