The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: Guest Spot and a Recipe.

Today it is my pleasure to feature a fabulous lady, Heather Gilbert (she obviously draws her awesomeness from her name.) Heather and I are friends from our days at Otterbein and she writes over at bakingbreak. Earlier this season she told me about her new Peppermint Mocha cookies she was planning to try and of course I wanted to hear all about them! I must say, they look incredible. I can’t way to give them a try. Thanks so much for sharing your joy, Heather!

I  love Peppermint Mocha season. Just seeing those red cups makes me feel all festive. I agree with Heather, this season is all about joy and few things give me as much joy as baking for friends and family. Who doesn’t feel more joyful with Christmas cookies?

So, ‘tis the season for sharing sweets with those you care you about. Just this week I had my first red cup of the season and I’m happy to say, I think I was able to make a cookie that matches the magic of the Peppermint Mocha. You’ll be the talk of the cookie exchange with these and I hope this recipe helps you spread a little bit of joy to you and yours.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant espresso
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips)
1 cup Peppermint Crunch Andes Mints Baking Chips (I found these at World Market)

DSCN2094

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso, baking powder and salt.

Add dry ingredients to wet gradually and fold in the chocolate chips and Andes Mints.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper lined sheet trays and bake for 12 minutes. Enjoy!

DSCN2113

DSCN2109

Advertisements

New Recipe Love: Spinach and Feta Quesadillas.

Yep, you read that right. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious. It’s one of my new favorite finds on Pinterest!

I adapted the original recipe found at Closet Cooking. Here’s what I came up with:

1 handful of fresh spinach, steamed and squeezed (recipe says 1/2 cup…I like to eyeball measurements…)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 handful crumbled feta
salt and pepper
Shredded mozzarella cheese
2 corn tortillas
*I left out a few of the ingredients from the original recipe (mostly because I didn’t have them) so I missed a little bit of the greek style, but I still loved them.

Directions:
1. Steam spinach, drain and squeeze excess water.
2. Meanwhile, warm your skillet with a little bit of cooking spray or EVOO.
3. Combine spinach, parsley, feta, salt and pepper in a bowl.
4. Warm each tortilla one at a time in the skillet.
5. Fill one tortilla with a small handful of mozzarella, followed by the spinach/feta mixture. Top with a little more mozzarella and the second tortilla.
6. Cook on both sides until tortillas are browned and cheese is melted.

And the finished product!

“Eat Out of My Own Kitchen” Week in Review.

I did it!

I managed to eat the whole week out of what was already in my refrigerator/freezer/pantry. Here’s a little sample of what I indulged in:

Lasagna
Chili (made from my mom’s recipe; I make a GIANT batch every fall and keep it in my freezer for the winter. It’s my favorite!)
Tortellini soup adapted from the recipe found at eatliverun.com
This killer parmesan chicken recipe made using chicken fingers
Mashed potatoes (out of the freezer)
Salad (which included the parmesan chicken)

Snacks included almonds, cashews, cheese/crackers, carrots, cucumbers, protein bars

Now I will admit, I was lucky enough to have three lunches provided at work this week (the blessing of event season!) so that does make my meal planning a little easier sometimes. But I also attend classes in the evenings which throws my entire eating schedule out of whack. Seldom do I ever actually sit down and eat an entire meal; so most of the time I’m looking for food I can pack to take with me to work and graze all day long (ask any of my coworkers, I almost always have food sitting on my desk.)

Meal planning and creativity is something I’m constantly trying to work on; I just get bored with the same food all the time and I’m often on a tight schedule. If you haven’t already, check out my friend Sonya’s blog…she’s great at posting new recipes and her meal plans for the week.

Did you try “Eat Out of My Own Kitchen” week? I’d love to hear how it went!

I Declare This Week “Eat Out Of My Own Kitchen” Week.

Why you ask?

Because my freezer looks like this…

And my pantry looks like this…

I have so much random food in this apartment! I’ve been stocking my freezer for months with chili, stew, soup, leftovers…and for some reason I never eat it. But the time has come, my friends, to stop stocking up and start enjoying! So I have declared this week “Eat Out Of My Own Kitchen” week…also known as the week that I give the grocery store a break (except for a few fresh staples as needed.) Each week it seems like I buy more food and avoid what I’ve already got waiting for me.

Already tonight I’ve made lasagna (with leftovers for the next day or so) completely out of ingredients in my kitchen.  With a little creativity, I’m confident I will use up some ingredients in my fridge/pantry and eat up some meals from my freezer…at which point I can then enjoy making new recipes to restock 🙂

I’ll try to update later this week on how my mission went. But I’d love to hear from you, what are your meal planning/use-up-random-ingredient-and-leftovers secrets?