Monthly Archives: October 2013

It’s Never Too Early For Christmas Cookie Planning

So, yes, it’s just over a week away from Halloween.  I should be thinking about “slime-filled” cupcakes and “haunted” cookie houses, but I’m not.  I’ll cover those later this week.  Tonight I’m on round one of Christmas Cookie planning.

First things first, I need a little cookie motivation.

Cookies and holiday planner

Cookies and holiday planner…check!

Each year I review my previous year’s lists.  I have some traditional cookies that are almost always in rotation.  I strayed from this a few years ago and will not make that mistake again.  Let’s just say that trying an entirely new cookie recipe list is not a good idea, especially during the holidays.

A few tried and true faves that will potentially be on this years rotation include:  Candy Cane Cookies, Slice and Bake Peppermint Cookies, and Chocolate Pixies.  I can remember my mom making the candy cane cookies when I was a kid.  There’s a lot of nostalgia in the taste of those cookies.  The others were added within the past eight years or so.

Beyond my core list are a lot of possibilities.  I get most of my recipes, inspiration, etc.  from magazines.  Granted, Pinterest is a strong second in that area.  I have the “Best of Fine Cooking – Cookies” edition.  Every cookie or bar I’ve made out of it has been wonderfully delicious!

Cookie magazines

Some of my cookie magazines…

This first round of planning will take a moment.  I tend to write down every cookie/bar/candy that looks good.  After that I’ll start to whittle the list down.  I’ll be adding and then paring down recipes, so in the meantime let’s see a list of what was made last year (well, a lot of what was made).

Christmas Cookies 2012

Candy Cane Cookies, Caramel Thumbprints, Double Ginger Crackles, Peppermint Slice and Bakes (cookie shown in the magazine pic above), Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows, Chocolate Souffle Cookies (really good!), Biscotti – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Sweet Cherry, Cappuccino, and Kolachky – Raspberry and Orange Marmalade.

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Desserts


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Toffee Apple Cookie

Wow, we’re already halfway through the weekend!  I started my weekend early and had a great time with friends at our alma maters Homecoming!  Tonight I’m back home and it’s kind of cold and rainy.  The perfect night to try a new dessert.

Toffee apple cookies cooling.

I wanted to try something new and have been seeing a lot of caramel apple cookie recipes.  I wasn’t in the mood for something as sweet as caramel but liked the idea of an apple cookie.  So, since I happened to have toffee bits, I decided to adapt them to a toffee apple cookie.

I made a couple of changes to this recipe, Caramel Apple Cookies at Midwest Living.  One of them was to dice the apples rather than shred them.

Diced Apples - Toffee Apple Cookies

Dicing the apples

I also added toffee bits.  I wanted the sweetness along with the candy crunch.  I didn’t do the caramel topping as I didn’t want an overly sweet cookie.  Good thing I didn’t either, because the toffee bits added plenty of sweetness.

Toffe Bits_Toffee Apple Cookie

I’ll keep these in rotation going forward for a nice fall dessert.  I think they’d also be good with some chopped pecans, which I’ll add next time.

Halloween is coming quickly and I have a couple of events that I’ll need to plan for.  So we’re going to be planning and making some Halloween themed desserts plus one savory dish.  I’m pretty excited about them, so get ready for some scary good recipes!

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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Desserts


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Autumn Birthday Dinner

Last weekend was a family birthday weekend.  I wanted the menu to  focus on the flavors of fall.  I had been reading through my Ina Garten cookbook, “Back to Basics”.  There are quite a few recipes in it that I’ve been wanting to try, especially the side dishes.

Baked Salmon Birthday Dinner

The finished product!











I knew early on we were having a baked salmon for the main course.  What I needed were the sides.  I went with a pan-roasted root vegetable recipe in the “Back to Basics” book.  It included parsnips, turnips, and celery root; all veggies we hadn’t tried before.  Plus, it had brussel sprouts which are probably my most favorite winter veggie.  I love them!  In addition, I had roasted assorted baby potatoes.  I just spray them with olive oil, add a sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and bake till tender.

The star of this meal though, surprisingly, was the Autumn Tossed Salad.  It was awesome!  So awesome that I’ve already made it again this week for dinner.  I found it in one of my past Taste of Home Halloween magazines.  The recipe called for romaine, but I used spinach.  Plus, it had pears, apples, dried cranberries, shredded swiss, and cashews.  I used my own vinaigrette recipe with poppy seeds.

This salad was super simple to make, especially with my Genius Salad Chopper.  This thing rocks!  Everything is easily sliced into bite size pieces.  If you haven’t seen one of these before go check it out.  You will love it.  Kudos to my mother-in-law on this gift!

Genius Food Chopper

Using the Genius to chop the salad.















Here’s the lowdown on the full menu.

Appetizers: Shrimp Puffs (another great recipe), hot crab dip,  and assorted munchies and candies.

Main Meal: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Back to Basics), Autumn Tossed Salad, Roasted Root Vegetables, Roasted Baby Potatoes, and Roasted Salmon.

Dessert: Cake and ice cream

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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Meals


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Let’s Get Started!

Welcome to My Holiday Kitchen!  We are halfway through October and my holiday planning started a while ago.  I am nowhere near done though!  Every year I aim to try new recipes and perfect the ones that I love.  So, while I know a few recipes that will be on my list this year it’s still wide open. 

Next up I’ll review last weekend’s Autumn Birthday dinner.  There were a couple of new recipes in my rotation, one that was especially good.  Cranberries and cashews are the only hint.  

Until next time!

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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Welcome