Monday, January 27, 2014

1.5 Ode to My Dear Friend

Jessica. Mama.
Mr. B. My favorite 
Book. Alas, Starbucks.

You see what I did there? A Starbucks haiku.

Cold floor under feet.
Mittens on. Traffic. Slow. Brake.
Warm Starbucks cafe.

Caramel Macchiato.
Dirty Chai. Golden.

I can roll out haiku all day. I had a whole course on the HAIKU during my English undergraduate study. It was...short. Liberating. Expressive and a test for my patience, to say the least.

If I find a Starbucks while on vacation, I must take photos and celebrate with a beverage :) [in Key West on honeymoon]

But you can thank my friend, Jessica, for more coffee ramblings. My love for this coffee shop runneth over. It's no secret. This past Christmas family and friends supported my habit with plenty of gift cards.

I am not alone. My wonderful friends and family are hopelessly devoted as well. 99.9% of the time Jess and I are together we stop and pick up a glorious beverage. (The other .01% is probably one of us talking about our recent Starbucks experience.) It's the ritual that goes along with this coffee run. It's knowing Jessica and I share a special love, a special place (among other things). Oh the memories I have associated with that coffee shop. It's where I spend time catching up with friends. And take this past Christmas, for example. Since there is so many of us, we do a Round Robbin' gift exchange--where everyone brings a $15 gift, we draw names, take turns, and hilariously "fight" over the gifts. This year there were four gifts pertaining to Starbucks. We love this place.

If I'm going on a trip, I'm stopping at Starbucks. If I'm at the airport, there better be a Starbucks. When Mr. B and I headed to Frankenmuth last year, right before he started the car he looked at me and asked, "You want Starbucks, right?"

"Do I breathe?" I responded, showing him my empty Starbucks travel mug.

My obsession love for Starbucks doesn't stop at just coffee. I'm addicted to their ice cream (I'm addicted to any coffee-flavored ice cream), I'm constantly purchasing cute mugs and other miscellaneous items. I'd love to go to Starbucks Anonymous. Just to sit around and talk about it all day sounds great. And, you know, there would be coffee.

And not to mention their rewards program. Gold member. Free drinks every 12 stars. Free drink on my birthday. Discounts galore. Ahhhh....

Gosh, I should be a spokesperson.

  Extra shot brewing.
 Sipping comfort through green straws.
Ode to my dear friend.

It's Monday and I'm ready for a busy work week.

P.S. The other day Jessica sent me this on Pinterest with the comment "For your birthday?"

Ummm, yes! Get.On.It.

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, January 24, 2014

What I'm Reading

Source: Good Reads
My last book review post didn't mention much about the fiction I read lately, so today I'm focusing on that genre specifically. This year I made it a goal of mine to read more juvenile books, that way I can attempt to keep up with the youth literature, both past and current, enabling me to be more efficient when answering reader's advisory when a parent is looking for a book for their child that's like The Hunger Games but not as violent, or Harry Potter read-alikes, or something with historical fiction, or something that has a "pig, but it's about Christmastime." Yes, I was asked that question, and yes, we actually had a Christmas book with a pig as the main character.

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)
Winter Book Club Read

When my friend, Jenny, mentioned to the group she wanted to read this title, I was all in. I heard great reviews from many people, and it was at the top of my to-read list. To be completely honest, I did not like first. It's a young adult novel taking place during WWII, and the narrator has found herself on the wrong side. As a POW she fights to stay alive by confessing what she knows to her enemies. However, there are so many intricate details to aircraft parts and codes and other stuff that I sort of lost interest. Most of the time I felt I actually needed to see the plane in order to understand what she was talking about. Yet, I was interested in the ending, and I am sooooo happy I kept reading. I can't say much else because I risk spoiling it for ya, BUT I became absolutely speechless for a good five minutes towards the end. This is definitely worth picking up.

The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)
Audio Book

Another YA (fantasy) novel I chose to listen to because it was an audio award-winner. I loved it! From the very first minutes I was captivated and couldn't wait to get into my car to listen to the next part. "It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die." [Good Reads] One boy enters every year; it's expected of him. One girl, the first to be exact, finds herself entering because she's run out of options. Steve West and Fiona Hardingham do an amazing job at giving the characters their voice. I was completely enthralled with the story line and writing and character development, and everything just fit. Excellent, and I highly recommend! Bonus....the movie is scheduled to hit theaters next year :)

Alchemy and Meggy Swann (Karen Cushman)
Audio Book

Ye toads and vipers! Katherine Kellgren's narrative truly places you in the late 16th century in this entertaining story about a young girl (disabled by her 'crooked legs') and her relationship with her father, the alchemist, and those around her. At times I was inspired, appalled, and laughing out loud, yet connecting and rooting for the young heroine. This juvenile audio book will leave you with a smile.

Because I really enjoyed Cushman, I decided to pick up her Newbery Honor title, Catherine, Called Birdy in audio book as well. This story takes place in the late 13th century. It is nothing compared to Alchemy and Meggy Swann, and fell flat, while impressively boring me to death.

What good books have you read lately?

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, January 20, 2014

1. Coffee

Coffee. Coffee.


I'm bringing a new feature to Sweet B's Impressions this year, and it's all about my favorite things. Each post will be completely dedicated to that one favorite thing. And I couldn't think of a more perfect way to start off this series. For those who know me, even if it's just through this blog, it's quite obvious. And it has six letters.


My coffee bar :)
I was a late bloomer in my family. My love for coffee didn't happen until I went to college, where I first learned to enjoy the taste of coffee-flavored things. My love for strong, black coffee began my senior year of college, living with my best friend. Jessica loves to tell the story about how she came back to our apartment one night, around 11 p.m., and I greeted her with "Hey, I just made a pot of coffee! You want some coffee!" She just looked at me and went to bed.

I think most in my family came out of the womb drinking coffee. Mama gave my cousin her first taste of coffee at nine months old. We love our coffee. It doesn't matter what time of day, or night, there's always a pot on. And if not, there will be shortly. My fondest memories are of shared coffee at the kitchen table. The kitchen is where my family gathers. The kitchen is where you wanted to be. It was always filled with family, laughter, stories, food, and the smell of coffee. We didn't need anything else. And I loved that. I'm sure that is why I love coffee so much. It's the memories associated with it. It's the ritual of my coffee time I enjoy so much.

Which reminds me, it's National Coffee Break Day. I hope you are celebrating.

Also, I love coffee everything. Coffee flavored chocolate, ice cream, books, quotes, coffee shops. I love Starbucks. It's my little treat. I like the environment. The smells. The rewards. The customer service. I could write a whole separate "Favorite Things" blog just on Starbucks. But I'm saving you from more obsessed-with-coffee-ramblings.

Bonus. I love COFFEE mugs.

This is what our "beverage" cabinet looks like at the moment. Mostly overflowing with coffee mugs, and of course my many travel mugs. Sadly, the holiday mugs are sitting on a shelf in the basement. (Also, I want to point out that this picture is minus a good three mugs. They're currently being used or have been, and for the moment reside in the dishwasher. Annnnd, a few of my mugs I house at work, that way I have choices. Love choices.)

The below picture was taken two Christmases ago. Mama understands me so well.

Growing up in my family, no one ever had matching mugs. I mean, what fun is that? Opening up the cabinet and selecting the mug that best fits your mood at that exact moment is almost as satisfying as the coffee itself. I loved going to Grandma's and using her cranky "Grandma" mug. I have two favorites, a purple mug and a Starbucks mug, I use at my parent's house, and that big white one [pictured above] has Mama's name all over it when she visits me.

Mr. B, however, does not understand this at all. He's been known to threaten to "clean out" my mug cabinet, asking why I need so many mugs, and when will we have that many people over all needing a mug? In response, I have been known to threaten violence. As mentioned before, my husband does not drink coffee, nor any hot beverage requiring a mug. After seven years of knowing me, and over five years of living together, just recently he has learned he is fighting a losing battle. Now he just rolls his eyes every time I bring home a new coffee mug.

But, we have compromised....only because I understand I cannot use for my lovely mugs. I rotate out my Christmas/holiday/winter mugs. Unfortunately, I'm sure soon I will have to rotate the seasons as well.

This should actually be favorite thing #.5 (because I need the mug first, and then the coffee. But I've been known to drink out of just about anything.)

Bonus. Bonus. Check out this article, from Women's Health Magazine, on indicators you're obsessed with coffee. Guilty of all charges. Except #1. I am quite the morning person :)

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, January 17, 2014


I'm currently....

Watching...heading to the theater to see American Hustle with my friend. It's friend date night, and I'm in desperate need of Jessica time. I haven't seen her since this. (Also, a little Jeremy Renner never hurt anyone, either. wink, wink)

Eating...a vegan diet. I'm in the midst of a 28-day yoga challenge. In Mandy Ingber's book, Yogalosophy, she provides three meal plans to choose from, and of course I went with the most challenging one, the "green" food plan. Surprisingly, I am enjoying most of the recipes, like that tasty veggie stir-fry over brown rice pictured above, and I can't get enough of her vegan stew. However, I find myself not really missing meat, except when Mr. B is unenthusiastic about making his own dinner and the house smells like bacon or steak. I am terribly missing my Greek yogurt, and the thought of ice cream almost brings me to tears. (But I'm fasting all sugar this month as well. It's my usual January fast, to cleanse my system from all of the baked goodies I filled it with since Thanksgiving.) Although, I am happy to announce I don't need any sweetener in my morning bowl of oats. They're perfectly tasty without. (I previously drizzled some honey or agave on them.) *Note: I will be blogging on my Yogalosophy experience, so stay tuned!

Planning...would you believe it, I'm busy planning for Summer Reading 2014! "Fizz, Boom, Read" seems to be all I can think about. I'm not that great at science stuff, nor do I have the patience for it, and I am annoyed when experiments don't turn out because I feel I wasted my, I mean the library's money on supplies. Jessica, I will be picking your brain quite often over the next few months; my deadline is April.

Reading...This month my book club is reading the YA novel, Code Name Verity, and based on another blogger's review, I picked up Calling Me Home, by Julie Kibler.

Inspired by...I am getting ready to start an online Bible study, Intentionally Focused, with a group of girls. I'm very excited about digging into my Bible and finding some peace and focus in the wee hours of the morning. Also, all the "extras" that come with the Yogalosophy challenge are quite inspirational, like journaling, making gratitude lists, and breathing.

Excited about...a three-day weekend! Book club next Friday! Getting back to my weekly yoga classes next month! And did you read what I'm doing tonight....

Also, It's National Hot Tea Month!

The only thing better than that is National Coffee Month.

I have been logging multiple cups of hot tea all month long, switching between green and black, depending on my mood. It's a welcome delight since this challenge has me limiting my caffeine intake. And I will not drink decaf coffee unless I am forced, and sorry my friends, that time has not yet come.

So grab a pot, a mug, and some tea. And thoroughly enjoy each sip :)

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Black Bottom Cups

Tiny.Cups. Too.Cute.

The first time my friend, Kylee, made these for me, way back in 2007 at the very first holiday baking extravaganza, I wanted to kiss her. Well, I did anyways. She's my very good friend. And to whomever gave her the recipe, I'll kiss you, too.

These Black Bottom Cups are THAT good. And they're bite size, which automatically makes them even tastier. And, I promise, you cannot, will not, and won't want to eat just one tiny cup. You might even find yourself having to make another batch just to put on the holiday platters you promised friends and family. Here's a word to the wise: don't tell people what you're case it never makes it on the tray. It's always a little, ummm awkward trying to explain what happened to the dozen or so missing cookies.....

This year, however because I can't leave well enough alone, I healthi-fied them a bit more than my already adapted recipe below. Instead of a mixture of whole wheat pastry flour and white flour, I replaced all flour with pureed black beans. I'm known for doing this, see Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C. (While we're on the subject of beans, check out my famous Black Bean Burgers, if you haven't already.) And let me tell you, there is good news and bad news. Let's start with the bad news: when replacing all flour with pureed beans, the cups will fall apart. They might look somewhat pretty now, but try getting those things out of the liners. The mess didn't stop me; just use a spoon.

The good news: the mess didn't stop others either. All proper etiquette went out the window when it came to these delicious cups. There are a few members of my family that request these treats every Christmas season, but this year my mother-in-law couldn't get enough of them. I had to bring her the rest of my stash once she devoured hers. Lesson learned: possibly try a mixture of flour and pureed beans next year. If you give it a try, be sure to let me know how they turn out. Happy baking!

Black Bottom Cups
*adapted from my friend Kylee's recipe (pureed bean-less)

Makes about 4 dozen mini cups

8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 + 1 c sugar
pinch of salt + 1/2 tsp
6 oz semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/3 c canola oil
1 c water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
1 c chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, egg, 1/3 c sugar, and pinch of salt; mix well. Fold in chocolate chips; set aside. In a large bowl, combine 1 c sugar and oil. Add water and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add to oil mixture. In a separate small bowl, mix vinegar with baking soda (and enjoy the fizz). Add vinegar mixture to flour mixture. Stir in nuts, if desired.

In mini cupcake pans, with mini liners, add 1 tsp black mixture and top with 1/2 tsp white mixture.
*Note: I tend to get a little crazy when it comes to filling the cups, usually due to lack of patience and time. But these bake up much prettier if you take your time and use the correct measurements... instead of the tablespoons I tend to use...(hence the not so flattering above pictures).

Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely on wire racks. (or they might be messy, but tasty.)

Nutritional Information (without nuts): Per Mini Cup (48 in batch)
80 Calories; 4 Fat; 8 Sugar; 11 Carbs; 1 Protein

These are absolutely perfect paired with a steaming cup of coffee.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Starting Anew

Now that we're a week into the New Year, I feel it's time to share my views on 2014. There are a few things I'd like to bring into my daily life and some I'd prefer to let go. I'm not big on the word "resolution" because I think today people throw it around and it doesn't hold it's meaning any more, like a resolution is something to break or to not follow through. I prefer to use habits, or goals. Something that sounds inspiring and motivates me to accomplish what I set out to do.

Two things I'm really trying to let go of this upcoming year....

Checking my phone close to bed time.

I am a completely different person when it comes to worrying than I was four years ago. I'd just graduated with a BA in English from Kent State University and had dreams of working in the publishing industry. Six months later I was still unemployed, and to add to the worry, in the middle of planning my wedding. The student loan bills started to pile up. I lost it. One sunny day in June I had a complete breakdown at the kitchen table after I calculated how much a month I owed in student loan debt. My only debt. I was on my knees pouring out my fears to God before I even knew what I was doing. I gave it all to Him that day. I kept falling back on his promise for strength, "Be not, therefore, like them; for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him" (Matthew 6:8 KJV). This scripture also stayed with me, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?" (Matthew 6:26 KJV). These words became a rock for me. That day I decided I would do what I could and I would not worry one more minute over these finances. And I haven't. There will be times when a payment might go up or something new comes along, and I start to feel a slight panic. But I remember quickly that I gave this to God; I will not take it back from Him.

See, here is where I believe Christians make the biggest mistake. We say we "gave it to God," yet we continue to talk about it. As soon as it comes around again, we're worrying, stressing, panicking, and crying out. It's like an endless cycle. Doing this tells God we don't trust Him, and we take on this unnecessary worry when we don't need to. Trust Him. I did that day and have not looked back. On a note card I wrote down Matthew 7:7 (KJV): "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you," and taped it to my fridge. It's still there to this day, and I am at peace. Everything worked out: a month later I made the decision to get my master's in Library and Information Science, three months later I found work in a writing center, and almost four years later here I am, a Children's Librarian. It's beautiful, God's plan.

And, wow, I didn't mean to get off onto this tangent. What I really wanted to say with the whole worrying thing is lately I find myself worrying (not constantly, but sometimes something will creep up) about things that don't matter at all. Like how I'm so busy I can't fit in all of my fun hobbies any more (and when will I fit in "me" time when I have kids!), taking the smallest off comment and turning it into something it's not, creating some dramatic scenario in my head (that hasn't even happened) and running it into the ground. Worrying about future incidents before they even arise. This year I'm letting even the slightest worry go. No more rushing through something just to worry about when the next thing will get done.

And on a lighter note, my smartphone. Compared to some people I know, I don't even have an issue. But I do find myself checking up on things when I used to not care, or felt it could wait until tomorrow. I'd like to start putting my phone aside an hour before bed time with more focus on winding down from the day and less powering up. I feel my smartphone is an intrusion on my calming "me" time at night.

Lastly, a short list of a few things I'd like to add this year....

Finally get our puppy! (Picture source: Tumbler)
Attend more yoga classes (even though this can be sort of expensive, but it'll be my weekly treat). I'd also like to incorporate more meaningful yoga practices into my routine. For example, a co-worker and I have embarked on the 28-day Yogalosophy (yoga + knowledge) challenge. I'll be posting about this when we finish :)

More walks. Despite the chilly weather, I'm ready to bundle up and head to the park!

More date nights with my hubby. More exploring our [new] hometown, doing different things, enjoying our time together instead of rushing through it.

No more throwing away leftovers (or unused produce). I will become a leftover and freezer queen.

Develop a more disciplined many areas of my life, like eating habits, strength training, making a good night's sleep a priority. Creating a routine for my mornings and evenings so I don't feel obligated to get out my mat or finish the day's devotional, but enjoying it because it's naturally what I do.

And it's National Stick-To-Your-New-Year's-Resolution Day. Cheers!

With Love and God Bless,

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,

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Holiday Cookies Review

Welcome to the first read of 2014. Yay, it's here! I'm sure you were expecting a New Year's Resolutions-related post, but as I stated before, I'm not into the whole resolutions thing. I prefer adding positive habits and taking away negative ones. I do plan on sharing these habits and ideas with you all, but first I want to get some past-due holiday posts out of the way. And I'm starting with this one, a cookie review.

While I tried many new cookie recipes this past holiday season (did you see my baking list?), the Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies and Lemon Poppyseed Cream Cheese Cookies were my two favorites. Pistachios. Dark Chocolate. Lemon. Cream Cheese. You cannot go wrong with these ingredients, my friend. Except maybe all in the same cookie....hmmmm, might be a tasty experiment.

First up: the Shortbreads. These cookies were fabulous because I love anything with pistachios. But these shortbreads were made even better by using a good dark chocolate. I like my dark chocolate around 85%. Like my coffee, strong, dark, and bitter. Perfect. Plus, you know, there was butter, which puts a smile on your face. The combination of the three puts a smile in your heart. AND they were bite-sized, making them even tastier, right?

Since they were shortbreads, I pretty much stuck to the recipe, which called for three sticks of butter (eek!), but I did cut the sugar in half and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract. I do recommend finely chopping your chocolate and nuts, only because the cookies are so small and some of them crumbled a little if the pieces were too big (cough, which meant more for me to snack on, so you do with that information as you must, cough). This dough works really well as a make-ahead. I made it and stored it in the freezer four days before I made the cookies. And, of course, no eggs in the batter makes for plenty of tasting if I cared about eggs. Click the link for the recipe to these delightful Pistachio-Chocolate Shortbreads.

Now these lemon cream cheese cookies were the most looked forward to on my looong baking list. I was super excited for these little gems, and they didn't disappoint. However, I do recommend more lemon. Always more lemon.

These were soft, chewy, and light. And pretty. And bite-sized...bonus points.

The only tweaking I did to this recipe involved more lemon, and I replaced the white sugar with Stevia. (If you're new to baking with Stevia make sure you use the correct equivalents, and I think there is a slight after taste, which I can usually pick out in my Stevia baked goods. Still trying to get use to just make sure to use it to your liking.) You can find these Lemon Poppyseed Cream Cheese Cookies over here! And, as Heather states, these do not change color so make sure to check the bottoms as they bake.

Did you discover any new favorites during your cookie baking?

With Love and God Bless,