Thursday, December 13, 2012

Front Page!

Woot woot! This adorable treasury full of gift ideas for gardeners made Etsy's front page late last night. And look who was featured in the top row! So excited. I made a sale and got more views than ever. Thank you, Rachel!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Great Blogger Cookie Swap

  • Butter, sugar, flour,
  • crumbling between my fingers.
  • Add a little spice.

  • God, I'm so deep, yo. I can't even stand it:) No really, I'm just writing cookie haiku because last year (year one of the most epic cookie swap of all time) a participant of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap wrote an entire cookie themed version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. It was adorable. And I can't find it. So if you remember who wrote that post, please hit me up and I'll link it here! Meanwhile, little ol me, former Spoken Word poet and current cookie lover, can only come up with a haiku. Maybe that's because my son has finally fallen asleep for his morning nap and it's 4:00 in the afternoon. FML. So many things on today's to do list, and this post may be the only one I check off.

  • For this year's cookie swap (which  happens to be for charity this year, by the way. Each blogger made a donation to Cookies for Kids Cancer and you can plan your own cookie swap at home to do the same!), I made one of my favorites, Vanilla Chai Spiced Crackle cookies. This is a recipe I developed while I was living in Ann Arbor, back when I had no kid and thus ample time for developing recipes that weren't pureed. I brought the first ever batch in to share with the English department at school, and they were gone in a blink. Just FYI, teacher's break rooms are a great place for recipe testing. 

  • These are a crunchy cookie with a bit of bite and they are best dipped in coffee or tea. I sometimes drizzle them with chocolate, if I'm feeling super ambitious, and I actually prefer them with an extra 1/2 tsp, of kosher salt. It gives it a tiny salty bite that is so yummy. They pack and ship well, so they are perfect if you have anyone to whom you would like to mail something sweet. You know you do.

  • Vanilla Chai Spiced Crackle Cookies
  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1 c. sugar, plus 1/4 c. for rolling
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbls. chai spice mix, plus 1/4 tsp. for rolling
  • 4 oz. white chocolate (if desired)

  • Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend 1/4 tsp. chai spice mix and 1/4 c. sugar, set aside.
    Cream butter, shortening, and sugars.Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift remaining ingredients and add to butter mixture, blending until combined. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar/chai blend. 
    Place at least 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheets and flatten with the bottom of a glass or your palm. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just golden. (Keep an eye on them as they will turn from perfectly golden to crunchy brown very quickly!) If you wish, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler and drizzle over the tops of cooled cookies. Store in an air tight container for 2-3 days.

    A big thank you to the lovely blogging ladies who send me scrumptious treats in the mail! I love mail of any kind, but cookie mail? That's the bestest!

    I scored a box of melt in your mouth buttery white chocolate cookies drizzled in milk chocolate from Mari, gone before E even made it home from Cali. Too bad so sad. 

    Kara of Kara in the Kitchen sent me some fudgy peppermint brownie bars that disappeared in mere hours. I think I blacked out somewhere in that time, because suddenly I looked down and they were gone. I can't be held responsible when chocolate is involved. 

    Jennifer of Bake or Break sent these gorgeous brown butter snickerdoodles, which I'm kind of obsessed with. I actually just ate one of them while typing this. These are going on my to-bake list stat. 

    And another big thank you to the ladies who posted photos of the cookies I sent to them via Twitter and Facebook. It's nice to see they all made it in one piece:)

    And the last big thank you is for Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. You guys are amazing for doing all of the work required to make this cookie swap of epic proportions work. You're also crazy. Like the crazy fabulous kind of crazy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sippity Sup

MMM, soup weather. Gray, wet, chilly, and all sorts of gross outside weather. The kind of weather that makes you want to pull the covers over your head, read a book, and forget the world for 24 hours. I know you feel me. Today is one of those days. Luckily I made a big batch of this tomato soup with roasted garlic, so I'll be sippin' on a big ol mug of this goodness today. As will Jude, who happens to love it as much, if not more, than I do. He'll take his with grilled cheese on whole wheat, sliced into sticks. And in a sippy cup, please.

I have posted plenty of tomato soup recipes before... But I think I've perfected it this time! This is easy and oh so delicious! Plus, it makes a fantastic gift or pick me up for someone who is feeling sick or blue. Wrap a loaf of fresh bread in a tea towel, label a jar with a fantastic reusable Chalkboard Sticker Label, and you have a perfect gift;)

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Rosemary
3 pints grape tomatoes
1 head of garlic
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of chicken (or veggie) stock
1-2 Tbls. kosher salt, divided
black pepper
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice the top off of your head of garlic. Place in the center of a square of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the square up and twist to make a packet. Place the packet in the center of a baking dish.

In a large bowl, drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Pour into the baking dish with the garlic. Roast for 1 hour or until tomatoes have blistered and browned. Turn tomatoes with a spoon a few times during roasting to make sure they all cook evenly.

Transfer tomatoes to a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add stock, crushed tomatoes, and half of the rosemary (removed from the stem!). Unwrap the garlic and squeeze as much as you like into the soup (I find that about 5 cloves does it for me). Season with remaining salt and pepper and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Remove from heat and blend using an immersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender if you must, just remember to put a towel over the top and go slowly so it won't explode tomato all over you and your kitchen). Pour into a jar with the remaining sprig of rosemary for giving, or eat it all up before it gets cold!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Gift of Giving

Ah, the holiday shopping rush... so much fun isn't it? Well sure it is! If you do it correctly! I'm lucky in that I don' have to buy a ton of gifts. I do have a shortage of time and a tight budget, however, so that can always make things tricky. I have a strategy. Come up with one good idea and get everyone the same thing. Last year it was hooded towels. Seriously. I found a killer hooded Yoda towel at the Ridgewood Craft show and fell in love. I then bought six more towels online via Etsy for my nephews, cousins, and the kids I used to babysit. They were a huge hit. This year it's newsboy caps. I just ordered six of those. There's always a few books, girly things, and treats that sneak into the shopping, but at least 75% of what I buy is handmade. Craft shows help. Like the one I did last weekend at West Side Advent-ure. That's my table. Cute, no? I got a great response and it was my most successful show so far, so I'm very happy! All of the new card designs I did for the show are sneaking into the shop this week. 
Here's one I love the bestest:
Baby It's Cold Outside 
Etsy is also my obvious other go-to answer for handmade holiday shopping. Last year's towels came from Rubadub Buddies. This year's hats are from MyMoJo Baby. I'm still hunting for the perfect little something for my brandy new sister in law who is expecting a brandy new baby in February. I found so many gorgeous baby things I had to make a treasury to feature some of them. But now I'm so torn! What would you buy?

'Itty Bitty Holiday - GIfts for Baby' by jojobeandesigns

Perfect presents for that bitty bundle of joy, and for mommy of course:)

Baby's First Christ...

Crochet Off White baby ...

Airplane baby mobile - ...

Waldorf doll, organic g...

READY TO SHIP Baby sant...

Hemp Baby Blanket / Rec...

Organic Infant Onesie: ...

custom christmas stocki...

Hand knit classic Irish...

Harry Potter - Infant O...

Organic Baby Blanket wi...

Christmas Baby Leg Warm...

Natural Shea Butter Tea...

Hearts and Stripes Todd...

Cotton Crochet Dishclot...

Christmas Headband - Re...