christmas, holiday, holidays, recipe, recipes, traditons

Christmas Cookie Bars!

I love baking all year round but there is something special about baking around Christmastime. The music, the fact it’s cold outside but warm inside, the hot coco, it’s just magical. I love making cookies, cakes, brownies and today I am going to share one of my favorite recipes. It’s for those times you feel like something delicious and sweet but can’t decide between a cookie or brownie. This happens to me at Panera all the time, I can’t be the only one, right?

Well, sometimes you shouldn’t have to make Sophie’s Choice over dessert, just have both in one! Two desserts with the calories of one means one less trip to the gym to work off the holiday weight.

North Shore Poor’s Christmas Cookie Bars!

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (Namaste Perfect Blend is my usual go to but I ran out this week)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (any kind is fine but I use Himalayan)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (unsalted or salted)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup of Fisher Nut Pecans
1 cup of White Peppermint M&M’s
1 cup Chocolate Chips
15×10 pyrex baking dish

Directions
1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degree F
2. Put some holiday music on, I like 93.9FM on my kitchen radio
3. Put the 2 sticks of butter out so they start softening
3. Gather the above ingredients. Feel free to substitute the M&Ms for any flavor they have or even just white chocolate chips. Just use the same amount. It’s a personal preference. 
I like my desserts like my man, white chocolate. Ba-dum-bum chsh! 
4. Put the 2 softened sticks of butter, the vanilla, and both the sugars in the mixing bowl. 
If you’re using a mixer/kitchen-aid, I put it on the low speed to start then one higher for a few minutes
5. While that is slowly mixing, grab another bowl
6. I like using a sifter so I put that in the mixing bowl and add the flow, salt, and baking soda. Sift.
7. Are you having hot chocolate or a glass of wine? If not, grab a drink and sing along to the music.
8. Go to the bowl with the sugar and add one egg and mix.
9. Add the second egg and mix
10. Grab the flour mixture and slowly add in
11. Taste a little to make sure it’s delicious
12. So you can use the M&M’s whole but I like to crush mine up a little. So I just poured them into a bowl and used the back of the measuring cup to crush them. Not fancy but it works well and makes no mess. 
13. Add in the nuts, chocolate chips, and M&M’s
14. Beat on low for a minute or two
15. Get your baking dish out, I use a pyrex but any will do
16. Here’s the biggest secret of my baking success…Crisco! I don’t use it in my baking but I sure as hell use it to grease up my dishes and muffin pans. Take the Crisco and put all over the dish, including the sides
17. Put the dough into the pan, spread even with a spatula
18. Bake for about 20-22 minutes. The sides will be brown like a cookie and the top should be golden brown as well.
19. Cool for about 10 minutes and if you want, add an M&M to each piece you plan on cutting. 
20. Wait another 20 minutes or so and then cut!

Enjoy!


 You can really modify this recipe which makes it really fun and a great staple for your  cooking repertoire. You can add coconut, peanut butter, different nuts, or simply add mint  chocolate chips instead. Having a nice glass of Pinot Grigio always helps as well. Plus, to keep from these all myself I plan on letting JoeyWaffles bring them to his work and share. We can keep a few at home but no need for temptation!

What are your favorite holidays treats? Do you love holiday baking or hate it?
Let me know 🙂
christmas, family, happy, holiday, holidays, home, italian, joeywaffles, kansas city, love, taylor swift, xmas

Wednesday is the new Monday

Christmas 2014

So my holiday 4 day weekend was busy and fun and went by too fast! Don’t they all though? I spent it shopping, Christmas tree decorating, removing bathroom floor tile, playing Tetris Attack with JoeyWaffles, and just enjoying time at home, I missed posting my Monday Must Haves but since it’s my blog, this week it’s going to be on Wednesday. Bear with me the next few weeks because life is crazy around the holidays. I have to finish shopping, find shoes for my company holiday party, clean the house, make Christmas cookies, get end of the year stuff done at work and so on and so on. Blogging is such a great outlet to relax, be inspired, and reflect. I love my cozy office so maybe I’ll end up writing more.

Now on to the Must Have’s!

When I was younger, we had a lot of Christmas traditions that I sadly no longer do but really loved. We always drove out to the boonies to a tree farm to pick and cut our own tree. We would get dessert at the same local spot and then get to play video games at this crazy arcade. I always spent my $5 on the crane/claw machines and had to wait patiently for my brother to go through his which took forever. We would read from the bible, ever year a different gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and light the advent wreathe. We also took the ubiquitous holiday family photo in front of the tree, although the year we had the chicken Betsy and the dogs was rather memorable.
So while I no longer have those traditions, there are still a bunch that are going strong and are what Christmas means to me. I have added a few others the older I get so read and enjoy!

Christmas Crime Scene Tape: When we were little and always wanted to peek at the tree, my Dad came up with the idea that the Elves would block off the tree and if we crossed it, we wouldn’t get the gifts. That wasn’t really the point, it was really how funny the signs were and still are to this day. There is usually a theme and now with FB my Dad has all year to collect photos and embarrass us. The youngest person gets to cut the tape, or ribbon if we can’t find any. Then we race to the stockings and Christmas can begin!
The Santa Claus: This is my favorite Christmas movie, I actually love all three in the series. They are funny and silly and sweet and I love Tim Allen. When JoeyWaffles and I were first hanging out and it was Christmas and I mentioned how much I loved them, he downloaded all three and watched the first one with me one night all cuddled up. The fact that I had mentioned it in passing and he remembered and surprised me was one of the million reasons I fell in love with him. There is nothing better then watching this while cuddling with him and all the animals, the soft lights of the Christmas tree, and a soft blanket on us. This is probably our first Christmas tradition so I really cherish it.
MiMi’s Peanut Butter Balls and Grandma Fern’s Brownies: When my great Grandmothers were alive, they each made a signature amazing desert and my Aunt has kept the tradition alive. Mimi’s PB balls are the best frozen and there is s special gold tin they have to come in. They are the perfect size and go so fast. You have to make sure to hide some so they don’t run out! Grandma Fern’s brownies are probably my favorite desert ever and I look forward to these all year. Paleo be damned, these are worth a few days at the gym.
Traveling: Christmas has always been huge in my family, much like many people. I have so much family that it had to be precisely scheduled when I was younger. My older brother and I celebrated Christmas Eve morning with my two Dads, then headed over to my Mom to open gifts with her and my stepdad and then we headed over to my Italian grandparents to celebrate with cousins, aunts, uncles, and more. We would go home around 11 or 12, sleep for a few hours and then drive to the airport, get on an early morning flight to Kansas City, MO for my paternal grandparents, aunt, and other family. We did this until one day in my mid 20’s I had enough of the missing or delayed flights and being stuck in airports and now we go to Missouri the weekend before Christmas.  Plus without going to Kansas City, I would miss out on the one meal a year my Grandma cooks, a delicious roast with mushrooms and bacon, patrician potatoes, Rhodes rolls, green beans and corn casserole.  
Pop Christmas Albums/All Christmas music: Mariah. N’Sync. BSB, 98 degrees, Hanson. I love em all and need my fix of their holiday albums. Taylor Swift and Josh Groban too. Plus 93.9FM in Chicago plays all holiday music from November ’til Christmas and I don’t change my radio. You can’t leave out Bing, Frank, and all the originals. Favorite Christmas song? “Baby it’s cold outside”
Italian Christmas Eve: My Mom’s family is Catholic so we don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve and instead have pasta, homemade cheese pizza, and seafood. Food is a big part of our culture, the making, eating, the family recipes, the warmth it is to be in a kitchen. Some years we’ve had eel, calamari salad, mussels, and more. The stuffed artichokes my Aunt Laurie makes are out of this world and what’s being Italian without some wine?We eat my Aunt Diane’s special chocolate chip cookies. Our Christmas’s are loud, full of laughter, smiles, the most wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen, and of love. It’s cheesy but I’ve always been so proud to be Italian and of my heritage and of the strong people who came before me.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? What is your favorite holiday movie or song?
Check out Kristen’s post on balance and the traditions she and her husband keep!
Bella and Dante in their holiday wear