Tasty Tuesday–Kitchen Sink Blondies

Perhaps “Kitchen Sink” is a bit of a misnomer, because I’m not suggesting you put ALL the things in the blondies at once. But what makes these blondies great is that you can add whatever mix-ins you want in whatever ratio you want (I did half dark chocolate and half dried cranberries here), and you can even frost them (cinnamon frosting is especially good!), and not only will they turn out great every time, but it seems like you’re never making the same blondies twice!

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 lb. dark brown sugar (you can use light, but I think the dark gives it a better flavor!)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups of mix-ins (baking chips, nuts, dried fruit…you name it!)
  • Frosting of your choice (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease (or cover with parchment paper) a cookie sheet with sides (about 15×10 inches…if your pan is a different size, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time).

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. When it’s completely melted, remove from heat and stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Let cool slightly, then stir in the eggs. Stir in flour mixture and mix-ins until just blended. Spread into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes (don’t overbake!)

Let cool completely before frosting (if desired) and slicing…make about 2 dozen blondies.

Tasty Tuesday–A Look Back at Festive Feasts and Holiday Baking

The holiday season is officially over, so let’s take a look back at all of the festive feasts and holiday baking we enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving. I think the turkey turned out especially well this time around!

We had our “pick out dinner” on Christmas Day:

And our “fancy” Christmas dinner two days later. I never want to prepare a beef tenderloin any other way!

On New Year’s Eve, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, but we made it fancy, with the addition of homemade hot chocolate bombs!

And on New Year’s Day, we had our traditional pork tenderloin, with an untraditional (for us) side of twice-baked potatoes:

On to the baking. Of course there were pies (seven!) for Thanksgiving:

We made five types of German Christmas cookies in Christmas School:

And another ten types of Christmas cookies besides!

There were eight different cakes throughout the season:

And some other various treats including Christmas cracker candy and lussekattes:

This was a fun and delicious season, but now the kitchen is closed!

Tasty Tuesday–Recipes from the World of Tolkien

I’m sure we’re not done with Recipes from the World of Tolkien, but here’s a look at everything we’ve made so far…it’s another really fun cookbook to have around!

  • Turin Turambar Tarragon Chicken
  • Bilbo‘s Seed-Cake
  • Barliman Butternut’s Blackberry Pie
  • Spiced Pear and Cranberry Muffins
  • Lake-Town Beef Pot Roast with Horseradish Dumplings
  • Whole-wheat Molasses Scones with Molasses Butter
  • Elvish White Bread Rolls
  • Lembas Bread
  • Sam’s Coney (but actually chicken) Stew
  • Apple and Blackberry Cake
  • Fish and Chips
  • Bilbo’s Eleventy-First Birthday Cake
  • Beorn’s Warm Baked Cheese
  • Westfarthing Fairings
  • Traveler’s All-in-One Breakfast in a Pan

I’ve really enjoyed trying some new things and learning some new techniques…I’m grateful that cooking has become such a big part of our school!

Hail the New!

“Fast away, the old year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses”

Can you believe it’s already 2023? 2022 (for the most part) just zoomed right by! Here’s a look at how we celebrated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this time around.

I like a theme, so we started the day yesterday with hot chocolate rolls:

We spent a lot of the day decorating sugar and gingerbread cookies. Mickey Mouse shapes were very popular this year!

I also (finally!) made eggnog:

We decided that 2022 deserved one more Disney Dinner, so I made one of our favorite recipes from Delicious Disney, Monte Cristo sandwiches:

After Apollo 13, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, with the addition of hot chocolate bombs that Ladybug and I made!

Another new addition was hot chocolate Chex mix:

My only motivation to stay up until midnight is ringing in the New Year on my Animal Crossing island, and I made it!

New Year’s Day is the perfect excuse to wear something sparkly, am I right?

Of course we started the year with a special dinner, so I set the table with the china again, and this time, I learned a new napkin fold to make things a little fancier!

Pork tenderloin is a fairly traditional New Year’s Day main course here, although I did prepare it differently this time. I also made twice-baked potatoes, roast carrots and parsnips, and for the first time, spiced apple rings, since you apparently can’t buy them in a jar anymore.

It was delicious, and not as much work as Christmas dinner (and way, way less work than Thanksgiving!).

For dessert I made a hot chocolate cake, complete with homemade marshmallow creme (I told you I like a theme!).

So that’s how we said goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023…and now I’m looking forward to giving the kitchen a bit of a break!

The Top Five–Dessert Photos of 2022

As promised, here are my top five dessert photos from this year, starting with a King Cake I made for Mardi Gras…I just love the vibrant colors, and the fact that I was able to come up with enough beads from around the house to make it a little extra fancy!

This cupcake photo just came out perfectly…I don’t think I could have staged it better!

These Easter cannoli tasted as good as they look!

I really like how I embellished this chocolate malt cheesecake:

And finally, a cake from The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook that was decorated by Ladybug and photographed by yours truly:

Also, because I’m not me if I’m not trying to sneak a sixth item into a “Top Five” list, a bonus photo of a Rainbow Cone at the lakefront in Chicago, which is honestly more about the setting than the food itself:

Stay tuned for my top drink photos from this year!

Tasty Tuesday: The Top Five–Food Photos of 2022

It’s time to take a look back at 2022, starting with my favorite food photos of the year (minus desserts and drinks)!

Let’s start in February, with this beautiful quiche I made for the tea party we had to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne:

A lot of my best food photos this year occurred during our “Disney Dinners,” like these Moana’s Motunui Sliders:

Some of my other best food photos came from my adventures in German cooking, like this Bavarian Obatzda with homemade pretzels:

We had a lot of fun with The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook…I love how colorful this “Snake and Spider Stew” was!

More German cooking…this time, a whole dinner plate featuring homemade schnitzel:

And a bonus picture, because nachos at the ballpark just photograph so well!

I took a lot of food photos this year, so stay tuned for specialized lists focusing on desserts and drinks, too!

Luciamorgon

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

As always, we started the day with lussekattes, served by our little Lucia.

We had stroganoff for dinner again this year. I’m not really sure why, but it makes for a very nice dinner on Santa Lucia Day.

For dessert, I made a cranberry cake with cream cheese frosting. This is the third year in a row I’ve made a cranberry cake for Santa Lucia Day (I really like the way the red fruit against white frosting reflects the colors of the holiday), so I guess it’s a family tradition now. I’ve never made the same cake twice, though!

This was another nice Advent day!

Nikolaustag

Happy Nikolaustag!

We started the day as we start every St. Nick’s Day…with stockings. The children always receive a new ornament, and this year, the ornaments came from our trip to Disney World. I had such a fun time picking them out at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square back in June!

We always decorate the tree on December 6th…in addition to our Mickey Ears ornaments (and the final installation of the “12 Days of Christmas”), we also added an ornament made from marble from the steps of the US Capitol that we picked up when we toured the building over the summer:

For dinner, as I did last year, I made Döner Kebab. One more year, and it will be a full-fledged tradition!

For dessert, I stuck with the Disney theme and made Mini Gingerbread Bundt Cakes with Orange-Vanilla Sauce from a recipe on the Disney Parks Blog:

We always have wassail on Nikolaustag, too:

Now I feel like the Christmas season has really begun!

Thanksgiving 2022

Time for a look back at our family’s Thanksgiving celebration, a three-day affair that always begins with Pie Day (Wednesday), and continues on through Black Friday.

On Thanksgiving morning, we watched the Macy’s Parade (which just wasn’t the same without Al Roker), and in between dinner preparations, I played a bit of Animal Crossing:

While we watched the Dog Show (we were thrilled that the adorable French Bulldog, Winston, won!), I got to work setting the table:

Instead of using a mix of stemmed glasses, this year, I set the table with our “regular” drinking glasses, which I purchased over the summer. They look pretty fancy, even though we use them everyday!

Dinner was ready earlier than I was expecting (I’m glad I checked the turkey when I did, because the pop-up timer, which I never use, had already popped), and I scrambled to get it all together. Our meal was fairly standard, with turkey and everyone’s favorite stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, carrots and parsnips, green beans with almonds, Brussels sprouts, and rolls, plus one new dish, made with wild rice and mushrooms, that I really liked!

I think it was a pretty amazing feast!

For dessert, we had our standard seven pies, most of which were our usual picks, but I did make one new recipe for a cranberry curd tart with a shortbread crust:

I chose the two main Thanksgiving flavors, pumpkin and cranberry, for my dessert plate:

The next morning, we started the day with pie-for-breakfast…this time, I chose Nutella:

Then we went to see Moose march with his band in the town Santa parade:

Nothing beats a turkey sandwich on Rye bread for the after-Thanksgiving lunch!

I also tried the pecan pie…I updated my recipe, and I just had to see for myself how it turned out (really, really well, if you’re interested!):

This year’s Lego Winter Village set is an adorable Main Street complete with a streetcar:

For dinner, I made turkey soup (of course):

And then Moose, Chickadee, and I went downtown for the tree lighting:

I love our Thanksgiving traditions!

Pie Day 2022

Welcome to my bakery!

Today, as is our tradition the day before Thanksgiving, we made pies. Seven of them this year, which honestly seemed like nothing after the nine we made in 2021! Most of our creations were old favorites…Nutella, pumpkin, caramel apple, pecan, butterscotch, and s’mores:

The one new addition this year isn’t even technically a pie…I made a tart for the first time. A cranberry curd tart with a shortbread crust. I’m hoping it’s as delicious as it looks!

I’m really looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labor tomorrow!