Monthly Archives: December 2010

Making a List, Checking it Twice.

I’m a list maker. I thrive on organization and categorization. There’s something so comforting about knowing exactly what you need, when and where to get it.

Things. Lots of things.

Wrapping paper here. Ribbon there. Toasted almonds here. Butter there.

Needless to say there are a lot of lists floating around here right now. I’m sure the same goes for you too. I always tell myself I’m going to get my shopping done early and wouldn’t you know it never happens. Despite my mad organizational skills I seem to lack motivation. It’s not a good combo. My lists taunt me and call me names for months until I simply have to get out there and get it done. Otherwise my family would find gas station goodies wrapped in the funnies under the tree.

It’s intimidating though isn’t it? Shopping. And not just any shopping. Push-and-shove-endless-lineups-all-sold-out-interminable-traffic-fall-off-your-feet-dreaded-holiday shopping.

Let’s take a break from the mall madness and mountains of lists shall we? Why not indulge and transport yourself to chocolate peppermint heaven? Step away from the tape dispenser. Kick off those boots. Put that pen down. You work hard. You deserve it.

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Source: Adapted from my family recipe.

3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup candy cane, finely ground

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Cream together the butters, sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and ground candy cane then blend well into the butter and sugar mixture.

On a large piece of plastic wrap form the dough into two logs both 9 inches long. Wrap each tightly and refrigerate them for an hour or two to firm up.

When you’re ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position and rack in the center. Line you baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

Slice the cookies about a 1/4 of an inch thick and bake them for about 10 minutes. Transfer them to a cooking rack and enjoy!

When Good Bananas Go Bad…

…Make banana bread.

Then make bread pudding.

Dress it up with whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon.

And I don’t think I need to tell you what to do with all that…

…But I will.

Eat it. Eat it all. And fast. Before I do.

I’m a picky banana eater. I like them yellow and only yellow. No green and no brown specks. As soon as there’s brown present I don’t want anything to do with them. That’s a very narrow window in which to enjoy banana goodness.

But rest assured I have not thrown out brown bananas in years. It just doesn’t happen. Because, as I’m sure you know, they are soft, sweet and begging to baked up in something special.

Like this Banana Cinnamon Bread Pudding. I have never eaten and most definitely never baked bread pudding before. I have to be honest I put it off for a few weeks. I think it was the custard. If you know me at all you know the long history I have with custard.

Oh yeah, me and custard go way back. Trials and tribulations.

I think it’s time custard and I set the past aside and become friends. Maybe even best friends. I mean when a dish full of freshly grated cinnamon, sweet bananas and toasted walnuts extends that hand of friendship you don’t say no.

I say yes. Heck yes!

Banana Cinnamon Bread Pudding

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Source: My imagination.

3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

3 eggs
2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

1 banana, sliced
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted

Whipped cream for topping
Cinnamon for garnishing

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Preheat the oven to 350 and position a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9 inch loaf pan then set it aside.

In a large bowl combine the mashed bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder then mix it gently into the wet ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan then bake it for about 40 minutes until the top gets golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let it sit in the pan until it’s cool enough to touch then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a sharp knife slice the bread up into cubes about 1/2 inch in diameter. Spread the cubes out on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes. This is done to dry out the bread in order for it to soak up the custard.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 inch square baking pan.

To make the custard whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Evenly spread the dried banana bread cubes, sliced banana and walnuts in the prepared pan then pour the custard mixture over top. Let it soak in for 5 minutes, press down the banana bread cubes, then bake it for about 30 minutes until the top is toasted and the custard is set.

Serve it warm or cool topped with fresh whipped cream and sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon. Enjoy!

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

Dear Exercise Bike,

I haven’t been avoiding you. No really. I might use you as a coat rack from time to time. I might even have let your seat collect dust. It’s a really uncomfortable seat by the way. You should look into that.

I know. I know. I told you I was going to ride you everyday. I promised you. I promised me. So I’m not the most motivated person in the world. You knew that getting into this relationship.

Don’t look at me like that. I’ve been busy, ok? Those four seasons of Mad Men aren’t going to watch themselves. Cookies need baking. Dough needs kneading. Hair needs washing. You know how it is.

Maybe we need to take a break. We obviously want different things. You’re a fitness enthusiast. I’m a sucker for cinnamon buns. You like action films. I like chick flicks. You like to wake up with the sun. I roll out of bed around ten.

It’s not you, it’s me. We just need some time apart. I think it’ll be good for us.

Tell you what, after the holidays if you’re still into me we’ll give this another shot. In the meantime just focus on yourself. I’ll eat these Sesame Cookies with half a pound of butter and you can fix that seat of yours.

Take care.

Your friend,


Sesame Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Source: My imagination

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sesame seeds

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In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugars and honey. Mix in the egg until it’s just blended.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt then add that to the wet ingredients. Mix it together until it’s well incorporated then refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to stiffen.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper then set them aside.

Spread the sesame seeds out into a shallow dish. Form the cookie dough into 1 inch balls then roll each in the sesame seeds until they’re covered. Flatten them slightly with your fingers and bake them for about 10 – 11 minutes until they’re golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!