Mint Chocolate Meltaways

I went to a cookie exchange at a good friend’s house this past weekend. I had been searching all over for a semi-festive cookie that everyone would really enjoy. I assumed that most everyone would be doing really holiday-ish cookies and I wanted to do something a little different. I ran across this recipe for a basic Melting Moments cookie and adapted it to have some Christmas flair but not too much. These are really good and have a very unique texture. Very light and not too sweet.

Mint Chocolate Meltaways

Cookie Ingredients

2 cups Softened Butter

2/3 cup Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 cup Cornstarch

2 cups Flour

PS – this is doubled from the original recipe to make about 3 dozen little cookies. These four ingredients really did make a cookie!

Cookie Directions

1. Blend all ingredients thoroughly. This took at least 5 minutes in my standing mixer. You will notice a difference in the texture of the dough when it’s ready, it looks smoother and softer. If you don’t mix it long enough it will have a very chalky cornstarch taste…I may have tried the dough at this point and that’s how I know. Bottom line, blend it up well!

2.  Chill at least 1 hour or in my case, overnight.

3. Form dough into small balls. The dough will be very stiff coming out of the refrigerator and it needs to stay cold and stiff in order to avoid spreading in the oven. Try not to handle them too much, use a spoon or something else round. Place them on a cool cookie sheet.

4. Warning – High Altitude Baking Directions – Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. The cookies should be barely brown on the bottom and still white on the top. If you aren’t at high altitude it’s better to bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

5. When you remove the cookies from the oven let them cool on the cookie sheet completely. They are VERY fragile…I destroyed several cookies at this point because I hit them with my oven mitt. They had to be eaten…very unfortunate. Once they are cool they are still very fragile but then you can move them to a plate or other container. I had one literally dissolve in my hand while I was eating it so watch out.

Ingredients for Mint Chocolate Drizzle

2 tbsp ButterMint Chocolate Meltaways

1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

1 tsp Peppermint Extract

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder

1/4 cup Melted Chocolate Chips

Enough milk to make a pretty thin frosting

Directions for Mint Chocolate Drizzle

1. Blend all ingredients together, adding enough milk to make a fairly thin frosting…remember you have to drizzle this over the cookies.

2. Use a pipping bag or a plastic bag with a little hole in the tip to drizzle the chocolate frosting over each cookie. The frosting will dry pretty quickly so decorate fast!

These were a huge hit at the cookie exchange! I only ended up taking a few home with me, which is a good sign. To make the day even more fun, I had a surprise waiting for me when I got home. Gavin has occasional times when he decides to cook something amazing – lately it has been a progressively better version of BBQ Chicken Pizza. This one had french fries he fried himself and a homemade stuffed crust! It was soooo good! I need to get his recipe and put it up here.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

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DIY White Dough Christmas Ornaments

DIY Christmas OrnamentsI made these instead of buying expensive matching ornaments for our new little Christmas tree. They were really easy and turned out well! I was concerned (and Gavin was too since not all of my pintrest crafts have turned out lately) that they might look like a kindergarten art project but especially once they’re up on the tree they really look just fine. Best of all it only cost about $2.00 for the supplies for this project. Here’s the original post that I used for these Clay Ornaments.

IngredientsDIY White Dough Ornaments

1 cup Cornstarch

2 cups Baking Soda

1 1/2 cups Water

PS – this is the original recipe doubled – it made about 30 ornaments of various sizes

DIY White Dough OrnamentsDirections

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized pot and cook over medium heat stirring frequently on the stovetop.

2. Cook until the mixture resembles smooth, thick mashed potatoes. This took longer than I thought so be patient.

3. Remove the mixture from heat and place the dough ball into a separate bowl to cool.

4. Once the mixture is cool you can roll out the dough – use more cornstarch if the dough is sticking to the counter. Roll them out to about 1/4 inch thick. The slightly thicker ones seemed to hold up better in the oven – not as much cracking.

5. Use various cookie cutters to make the shapes you want and then use stamps or other items to make patterns on the dough. I used some tools I have for fondant cake decorating and they worked out really well! Use a straw to make the hole for the ribbon.

6. Bake on a cookie sheet at 175 degrees for an hour, turning them over halfway through. If they aren’t completely dry, you can continue to bake them at this low temperature until they are dry. I actually ended up baking them for an hour in the evening, turning off the oven and leaving them in overnight. They still weren’t completely dry so I baked them for another hour at 175 degrees the next morning.

7. Add a ribbon and hang on your Christmas tree!

Oh Christmas Tree!

CIMG3926As a new season approached I was once again confronted with the issue of how to decorate well on a budget. I managed to do it with just a few key pieces for the fall/Thanksgiving season but Christmas is much more specific. The weekend after Thanksgiving, Gavin and I broke out the Christmas tree. We got this little tree last year from Gavin’s aunt who was ready for a new tree. We gladly accepted this free tree but didn’t look at it until we opened the box a few weeks ago. We started to set it up and didn’t realize that only the bottom had branches to place into the base, the top was one whole piece. We ended up thinking that the tree didn’t have a top! I wish I had a picture at this point, because the bottom half of a tree is not pretty. However, we did eventually figured out our mistake and with a little fluffing, our tree looks great! It’s little but the perfect size for our little apartment. I’m surprised it fit anywhere!

DIY Dough OrnamentOnce we had the tree up we had the issue of ornaments…we had some random ones we’d been using in college but I wanted a few more on the tree that matched. The round ones are so expensive for just a few ornaments so I decided to make my own! Separate post on that to follow, they turned out great!

Christmas Apothecary JarI did end up buying one set of silver ornaments from the dollar store! It came with about 10 of them for just a dollar…I love the dollar store! I used them to fill my apothecary jar and we’re currently using it as a centerpiece on our table. The apothecary jar is great since I can change it easily to adapt for each season. At least these few little changes added some Christmas flair to our apartment. I hope to do some Christmas clearance shopping at the end of the season to expand our decoration collection. My goal is to be even more festive with our decorations next year!

 

Baked Yam Fries with Chipotle Aioli

Baked Yam Fries and Chipotle AioliLast week I was in Sprouts and they were handing out samples! This particular sample was so amazing that I bought the ingredients on the spot and have since made this as a meal and snack three different times. It’s really easy and really good! Plus I think the aioli would be really great on other things like sandwiches…Enjoy!

Ingredients for Baked Yam Fries

1 Red Yam

2 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions for Baked Yam Fries

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Peel the yam and cut into thick slices (about 3/4″)

3. Place slices onto a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste

4. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake an additional 10 minutes

Ingredients for Chipotle Aioli

1 cup Mayo or Miracle Whip

1 Adobo Pepper in a little bit of sauce

1 tbsp Lime Juice

1 tbsp Cilantro Flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions for Chipotle Aioli

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely combined. That’s it!

DIY Yogurt Hair Mask

Over the past few days my hair has been feeling really dry and brittle so I decided to use a few ingredients I already had to make a hair mask. I looked at some of the recipes on Pintrest but they all involved ingredients that were expensive or that I didn’t have. So I decided to use a few of the ingredients I did have to create my own.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Plain Yogurt

1 Egg

1 tsp Lemon Juice

1 tbsp Oil (I used coconut oil but olive oil would work great too!)

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. I put it in the microwave on low heat for two 30 second intervals. This helped it blend together and also helped so it wasn’t icy cold when I poured it on my head. At the beginning of your shower, before you get your hair wet, pour the mixture all over your hair. Leave it in for about 10 min and then rinse it out well. Go ahead and shampoo and condition as usual. My hair felt sooo much better! With these simple and cheap ingredients I definitely will be doing this more often!

Nightie Nite Cookies

I had completely forgotten about these wonderful cookies until I started thinking about what cookies I’m going to bring to an upcoming cookie exchange. However, I didn’t really want to wait two weeks to make them, so I did a “test” to make sure they were still as good as I remembered. And they were! So easy and actually not as bad for you as some cookies out there…

Ingredients

3 Egg Whites (careful to not get any yokes in there)

1 tsp Lemon Juice

3/4 cup Sugar

1 tbsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

Directions

1. Make sure your bowl/beaters, standing mixer is very clean and dry or else it may effect the consistency of the meringue. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add egg whites and lemon juice to mixer and beat on high until still peaks are beginning to form.

3. Continue to beat and slowly add the sugar and vanilla.

4. Keep beating the whole mixture until very stiff peaks are formed and the batter looks shiny.

5. Stop the mixer and gently fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

6. Drop by the large tbsp onto a pan lined with foil and place in the oven.

7. As soon as you close the oven door, turn off the oven and leave the pan of cookies in overnight. Hence the name nightie nites! It does take a little self control not to open the oven but it’s worth it!

8. In the morning the cookies should be ready to go. I had one for breakfast…

Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad

This week I bought 2 packages of split chicken breasts. At first I was very intimidated by the thought of my chicken having skin and bones since I usually only buy boneless skinless chicken breasts; however, they were surprisingly easy to handle! And much cheaper! I put all 6 of the chicken breasts into my big crockpot and filled the crockpot halfway full of water. Add spices to taste. (I used salt, pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder). After cooking all day on low, take the chicken breasts out and easily pull of the skin and watch the chicken fall away from the bone. So easy! Then you can shred the chicken and it starts to look just like the stuff I usually buy only cheaper. I ended up freezing most of the shredded chicken (using some for shredded chicken tacos tonight) but I also threw some back into the crockpot for  super easy chicken noodle soup. Use the broth you already have and just add veggies! But with a little bit of the chicken I had chicken salad in mind. I love chicken salad but wanted to give it a fall makeover…

Ingredients

2 cups Shredded Chicken

1/2 cup Mayo or Miracle Whip

1/4 cup Milk

1 tbsp Lemon Juice

1 tsp Dill

1/2 tsp Garlic Salt

1/2 tsp Onion Powder

1/2 tsp Pepper

1/4 cup Fresh Cranberries (cut into fourths)

1/4 cup Fresh Apple (cut into little pieces)

2 pieces Celery (cut into little pieces)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until fully combined. If it’s too dry, add more mayo and milk. I recommend trying your salad to make sure you like the taste. I usually end up adding more spices. Add the salad to bread and a piece of lettuce. Sooo good! Especially with the fruit in it! (I brought this to work yesterday and got lots of comments on how good it looked.)