Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 15 Recipes of 2015

Happy New Year's Eve!

Unbelievable that it's the last day of the year. I feel like I have been on vacation this week (much needed after Christmas Cookies) with my slacker posts. Indeed, it's much easier to post round-up's and articles about reading and summing the year up. I was going to post this yesterday, but alas, it was my birthday friends! Yep, this ol' girl turned 29 again... Or maybe a little more than that. Haha.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Books I Read in 2015

Time to start wrapping up 2015!

I'm looking back at the list of books I read in 2015, and it's so weird, but I feel like I just read these all yesterday. It's hard to believe that some of these I read more than 365 days ago. It was a good year for reading, if a light year. I usually aim to read 2 books a month, but I only made it to 19 this year. Mainly because I stopped reading after I read "What Alice Forgot" in October, and started writing. So I'm not beating myself up. I probably would have read 4 more books in November and December. And writing is whole other type of self-education that I'm learning to enjoy. Here's how the year of 2015 went in reading-

Saturday, December 26, 2015

25 Pasta Recipes


Happy Day-After Christmas folks! Did everyone have a great holiday with lots of friends and family? We sure did! Due to the holiday festivities yesterday, there was little time for blogging. The hubby and I have been go, go, GO! for the last couple of days. I'm definitely feeling it, and am ready for life to slow down just a bit. We've got our niece and nephew staying the night with us tonight, but come Monday, I should have some alone time. We aren't even planning anything for New Year's Eve, thank goodness. At the top of the list of my least favorite holidays you would have New Year's Eve. I'm always so-done with the holidays and usually 5 lbs overweight by the time it rolls around. This year, we are staying in. The more you progress into your 30's, the less you care about going out. Missing out on something. Not being in the pictures the next day. All the things that mattered so much in your 20's? Eh. I take em' or leave em' now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Cookie Dough Truffles

The last cookie of the 2015 Christmas season. Awwwwwww.

I can't believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Wowsers, this season has gone fast. And with the arrival of Christmas, I present to you the last of my offerings. The humble Christmas Cookie Dough Truffle. Decadent, eggless cookie dough, covered in melted chocolate, and doused with a good helping of sprinkles. If you love cookie dough (and I'm certainly one of those people), you will love this candy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

Time for my favorite cookie of the year!

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies are so darn yummy. Seriously. Both sides are soft and chewy, studded throughout with chocolate chips. The chocolate side is decidedly chocolatey, while the peanut butter side is perfectly subtle. It tastes like peanut butter without being dry and mealy. Always a good thing when you are talking about cookies! And while these cookies do require chilling (keep that in mind when you go to make them. Believe me!), they really aren't too much work. I loved the technique of rolling the two doughs together, so creative. More on that later. In the meantime, let's go over how to make these delicious drops of heaven!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chocolate-Mint Bark

Let's continue CookieFest 2015!

Still on vacation here in Illinois. As much as I love my dogs (because I love them to the moon and back, ya know) there is something to be said for simply waking up, making a cup of coffee, and enjoying the view of a lake. No shoving tired feet into boots, tired arms into coats. No checking the property for neighborhood dogs or the stray deer. No pack of vicious Chihuahuas barking at such a decibel you'd think we starved them by their urgent need for food.

Of course, I start to miss all those things after a couple of days. But man, for a couple of days, I do enjoy the "me" time. And speaking of "me" time, you'll have plenty of that if you decide to make this simple minty candy over say, Spritz cookies. I'm serious, this takes all of 5 minutes to make. And it's sooooo yummy!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reindeer Gingerbread Cookies

Let the Christmas cookie bonanza begin!

I am officially on vacation. The hubby and I are staying with his cousin at his lake house in Marion, IL. I have no housework, no agenda, and now, no cookies to worry about! I spent the entire weekend like a baking fiend. There was no rest for the wicked. But the hubby shipped a majority of them yesterday morning to our far distant relatives, and we handed out the rest. The leftovers were brought to Illinois to be enjoyed by the hubby's cousin's wife because she is almost 8 months pregnant. She was very appreciative to see the cookies and Christmas Crunch Popcorn yesterday.  And, let me tell you, this year's cookie selections are better than ever.

Like, seriously. The hubby told me so :-)

Let's kick of my series (yes, there will be 4 cookie recipes I share with y'all) of cookies with these super-cute Reindeer Gingerbread Cookies!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Arugula Prosciutto Pizza

What is it about the holidays? There never seems to be enough time. I've been baking, pretty much non-stop, for the past 2 days. And I'm still not done! I guess this means the hubby and I will be mailing the cookies tomorrow morning instead of this morning. I've decided that I have to be ok with this, mainly because I'm not done. I should know better by now, 2 days is just not enough. Do you hear that, Future Jessica? 2 days is NOT enough!

We can only hope I remember that next year.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Is there a more perfect time for a slow cooker recipe than at the holidays? I think not. After all the shopping, gift wrapping, check-book balancing, cookie baking, and making sure the hubby's not falling off the roof-ing (hehe), there's not a lot of energy left for cooking. Back when the hubby and I lived in Portland, this wasn't such big deal. We had many (quick) options for feeding ourselves somewhat healthy. We were within 5 minutes of Whole Foods, walking distance of of handful of restaurants, and had a kitchen drawer full of menus from restaurants that deliver. Ah, the old days. Today though? Our grocery store doesn't offer the options of Whole Foods (fresh salad bars, amazing hot soups, made-to-order sandwiches), we are within a 20 minute drive to the nearest restaurant, and delivery? That's a no-go. I cook a heck of a lot more here in Kentucky that I ever did in Oregon, which in itself has positives and negatives.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

Happy Thursday!

It's been a difficult couple of days for the hubby and I. A stomach virus invaded the house and brought all activity to a grinding halt. The hubby had the worst of it. His started on Tuesday, and he did nothing but get sick until 4 pm that day. He was finally able to keep some Pepto in his system in the evening, and that seemed to help. All day Tuesday, the one and only thought I had was 'Please, please, please! Do not let me get this!' I mean, you know when you are watching your spouse get sick every 30 minutes, literally all day? No one wants to do that themselves. I was feeling the fear.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Recipe Redux: Shrimp & Artichokes Over Rice

Let's go back in time my friends-

To February, 2012. I'd been blogging for a very short time, less than a year. The hubby and I had been living in Kentucky for almost a year and a half, in our run-down rental in Ashland. The hubs had been working a new job for all of 3 months, and we'd begun to house-hunt. The hubby is required to live within 30 miles of the office, so Ashland wasn't cutting it. We'd been house-hunting for months, and finding zilch. Houses that needed to be gutted. Houses at the base of hills, that very obviously needed thousands of dollars of mold abatement. Houses on busy roads. Houses where you could reach out and touch your neighbors house. It was soul-sucking, to say the least.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Thanksgiving might be over, but pumpkin season runs right through December in this house!

Is that true for anyone else? I remember as a kid my mom always made a pumpkin pie for Christmas, as well as Thanksgiving. Needless to say, I associate pumpkin pie with the whole holiday season. I know some people see pumpkin pie as a Thanksgiving or fall recipe, and therefore put away anything pumpkin by December. If you are one of those people, tuck this recipe away in your back pocket for next fall. If you aren't one of those people, well, break out the pumpkin and let's do this!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich

-with a legit moist-maker!

Calling all "Friends" fans! I've taken on Monica's Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich, complete with a moist-maker! For those of you not in the know, a moist-maker is an extra piece of gravy-soaked bread in the middle of the sandwich. I know all kinds of people hate the word moist, but I'm sorry. It's word that must be used, and used often, by foodies. You don't want your chicken to be dry, you want it to be... moist. Same with cake. And brownies. And steak. And all kinds of meats. So peeps, I apologize, but the word must be used.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Turkey Noodle Soup

Can. You. Believe. It?

It's December. Already. I'm in shock. It feels like just yesterday I was pouring over Pinterest, trying to pick out Christmas 2014's cookie selections. How is it that a whole year has flown by? I know, I know, I say this every year, but does anyone else feel this way? 

2015 was one for the books in terms of recipes. I was going through my 2015 posts and statistics, trying to guesstimate which recipes are going to make the top 15 of 2015. It was a great year for food photography. An unparalleled year. I felt quite a bit of satisfaction going over the years' work. And now, we are almost to another year. I get to post new Christmas cookies this month. Yippee! This year's selection includes :