Christmas

Mini Peanut Butter and Nutella Cheesecakes

One of the perks of being a student (and right now as I’m in the middle of college applications and interviews there don’t seem to be many) is that you get a long Christmas break. This is what I’ve done since Christmas:

  1. Stayed in my PJs all day. I got new pajama pants for Christmas (a tradition in my family). They are red with pink polka dots! My middle sister got the same ones so we’ve been matching for 4 days in a row.
  2. I got dressed briefly yesterday to go to the movies with the middle sister. We saw New Year’s Eve which was cute! It’s just a fun chick flick or as Celina said a “fluffy” movie.
  3. I painted my nails with the nail polish I got in my stocking. They are super sparkly and purple.
  4. I have eaten cinnamon rolls for breakfast and dessert for the past 3 days…but this morning I had to have cereal because they were gone :(
  5. I’ve worked out. Yesterday I did Jillian’s yoga meltdown with my mom. Today I am very sore.

Today I am hoping to finish up my second to last college application (maybe both of them! how cool would that be???). I have a meeting with an alumni of University of Pennsylvania for my college interview…I should probably shower and get dressed for that…meh.

But that’s enough about boring college stuff! On Christmas Eve, tablets we had dinner at my grandparents’ house. I brought these mini cheesecakes for dessert and they were a hit! They’re really easy to make and look so pretty and fancy. I made peanut butter ones and nutella ones. The overall consensus was that the nutella ones were better, healing so if I make these again I’ll just make them all nutella. But they were both great and this would be a great dessert to bring to a New Year’s party! I can’t believe it is almost 2012…it’s insane how quickly this year has gone by.

I just have to point out the adorable little snowman cupcake wrappers! I was so excited to get a chance to use them. I love cute things like this :) I hope you have a fantastic last week of 2011…I would encourage you to stay in your pajamas all day at least one day this week. And eat cake for lunch. Not that I did that yesterday…but if I had, gynecologist it would have been good. Very good.

Peanut Butter/Nutella Mini Cheesecakes

Adapted from Snappy Gourmet.

Ingredients:

1 cup finely crushed chocolate graham crackers
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted
2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter or 1/2 cup nutella or to make half a batch of each, 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup nutella
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

For the Ganache:
Note
: I had a ton of ganache left over. You could easily halve these ingredients.
1 (12oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the graham cracker (or cookie) crumbs and butter. Press crumbs onto the bottom of the cupcake liners.
  3. If you are making all peanut butter cheesecakes or all nutella cheesecakes: In a large mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese, 1/2 cup peanut butter or nutella, sugar, flour, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in eggs until well combined.
  4. If you are making half peanut butter and half nutella cheesecakes: In a medium mixing bowl, mix together one 8 oz. package cream cheese, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tablespoon flour, and 1/2 tsp vanilla until well combined. Beat in one egg until mixed in well. In a second mixing bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup nutella and the remaining sugar, flour, and vanilla until well combined. Beat in the remaining egg until mixed in well.
  5. Spoon cheesecake filling onto tops of crusts. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until set on top but still soft. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  6. When they are cooled completely, place chocolate chips and cream in small microwave safe bowl in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Spoon the chocolate on top of each cheesecake.
  7. Refrigerate cheesecakes for at least 3 hours or overnight. Store cheesecakes in refrigerator.

Note: Make sure the cream cheese is softened when you mix it in. If you’re using it straight out of the fridge, you can microwave it for 10-20 seconds to soften it.

Makes 12 Mini Cheesecakes.

Enjoy! :)

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Heaven in a Cinnamon Roll

Don’t argue with the title. I am dead serious here.

Pioneer Woman talks about these cinnamon rolls as if they are the best thing in the world, recipe so I thought I would make them for Christmas morning breakfast. I made the dough on the 24th and put it in the fridge. Even with making the dough a day in advance, it took a while to make these on Christmas morning. But it was SO worth it. We usually just make cinnamon rolls out of a can for Thanksgiving and Christmas morning but I can tell you that my family will never be able to go back to those inferior things!

Don’t worry about fat content, calories, gaining weight, health, or any of those nonsense things. Just make these. Tomorrow. You will be forever grateful…and eat cinnamon roll for every meal like I have been.

By the time we got up, opened presents, and I made these, it was 11am. We would usually have eaten around 2 but nobody was hungry! We decided to eat around 3 or 3:30 (which got pushed to 4:30 when the oven stopped working for a while). Needless to say, these rolls are very filling. My rolls ended up much bigger than Pioneer Woman rolls (I couldn’t roll the dough tight enough apparently) but they turned out absolutely delicious. These rolls are buttery, sweet, with a delicious maple frosting and light fluffy bread.

The New Year has not started yet! Eat cinnamon rolls and work out later :) Another recipe I want to try is Pioneer Woman baked french toast…I’m a reaaaal health nut ;)

Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Frosting

Update: Check out this post for tips on making these, including how to make them ahead of time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups 2% Milk
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packet
  • 4 cups (Plus 1/2 cup extra, separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (heaping) Salt
  • 3 sticks melted butter (don’t be scared!)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon

MAPLE FROSTING:

  • 1/2 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/8 cup Melted Butter
  • 1/4 cup Brewed Coffee (I omitted this and added a little extra milk instead)
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a large pot over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm (about 1 hour). When the mixture is warm but not hot, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
  2. Add 4 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
  3. When you’re ready to make the cinnamon rolls, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. To assemble the rolls, remove the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
  5. To make the filling, pour the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.
  6. Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight (I had issues rolling the dough. Butter was oozing out of the sides and I couldn’t roll it very tight. Don’t worry about it, they turn out wonderful). When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.
  7. With a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices (oops I think I cut mine bigger than this). One “log “will produce anywhere from 14 to 25 rolls. I only got 14, Pioneer Woman gets 20-25. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. Pioneer woman says each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls but I only put 4-5 in mine.
  8. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the counter for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
  9. While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee (if you choose to add it), and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.
  10. Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.

I found Pioneer Woman’s step by step instructions helpful…especially since I’m scared of working with yeast. Check them out if you’re unsure of how to do anything :)

Makes 14 big cinnamon rolls or 20-25 smaller ones.

Enjoy…and imagine you’re in heaven :)

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Gingerbread houses, Christmas Eve, and a Wonderful Christmas

Did you have a good Christmas? I really hope you did! Mine was awesome :) I got some amazing presents but the best part was spending time with my wonderful family. And the food was pretty tasty, disease too.

On Christmas Eve day, asthma we decorated gingerbread houses.

My sisters!

Look what daddy did!

On the left is my snowy cabin (my family kept calling me an icing hog. It’s just very snowy). On the right is my mom’s house which turned out great, epidemic especially since her house was missing parts and she used graham crackers for the roof.

Here is Celina’s very artistic house.

And this is Ella and Daddy’s house. Last year my dog, Fenway, ate a gingebread house. I mean the entire thing was gone. This year we made sure to keep them where he couldn’t get them :) He did unwrap a present, though. It was reece’s pieces. But he didn’t eat any of them which is odd…

On Christmas Eve, we went to our grandparents for dinner and to open presents.

Celina got a recording system so she can sing and record songs in her room (she’s a really talented singer. Check out her singing here).

Daddy stole Ella’s skittles.

And what did I get? A Canon 5D! I was so thrilled. This was the camera I was dreaming of owning and I was really hoping that I would get a new camera before going to college. I am so thankful and happy!

We got home and left some cookies for Santa. Yes, that horse is headless…do you have a problem with that???

Christmas Eve was great, and Christmas day was wonderful as well :) After waiting for my littlest sister to wake up (we ended up getting her up at 8:45), we all went downstairs to open presents. We always do our stockings first.

We get fun little things in our stockings. I got sparkly nailpolish, mechanical pencils, dove chocolate, and the traditional silly putty and socks! Ahh socks…. :) We then opened our presents!

Ella loved her silly putty!

Celina was really excited to get two Big Bang Theory shirts!

Ella was super happy to get this piggy bank. Celina is trying stop her from breaking it…or maybe she just wanted a piggy bank, too ;)

My mom loooooves laffy taffy.

This is me making cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast. Look! I’m wearing my new apron from Celina! You may recognize it from this post where I listed a whole bunch of Christmas gift ideas. I not only got this apron but a decorating kit, too! My mom said my list was very helpful ;)

Celina got a Chi and then insisted on straightening my hair. My hair is ridiculously long when it’s straight!

That’s my dog, Fenway, and my grandpa. Fenway was very excited about the two toys he got for Christmas, but the best present of all was getting to snuggle with my grandpa. It was the best day of his life.

I am so thankful for all that I have. This past year has been difficult and wonderful all in one, and I’m expecting this coming year to be one of my best ones yet :)

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Merry Christmas

I cannot believe there are only three more days until Christmas! I feel like I have so much to do, meningitis but slowly people’s presents are coming together and I will start wrapping this evening. I love giving presents :)

I also love making Christmas crafts. Here are some step by step instructions for how to make this precious little snowman ornament. All you need is some felt (2 colors), seek some thread, a little bit of stuffing, tiny piece of yarn, and sequins/buttons. I found a picture of these ornaments on Pinterest and knew that I had to make them. I’m no expert when it comes to sewing or crafting, so I just did this the best way I could see how. It was easy and turned out great :) I might make some more if I have time. I’m thinking it’d be really cute to give him a hat if I can figure out how. I hope all of you guys are having a wonderful holiday season!

Materials:

White Felt (I used less than 1/4 of a 8.5 by 11 piece of felt…it just depends on how big you make your snowman)

Colored Felt (This is just for the scarf so you don’t need much at all)

Thread (Dark Blue or Black for the eyes, Orange for the nose, and Light Blue to sew up the snowman)

Stuffing (Very little needed)

Small piece of yarn (to hang the ornament)

Extras- small buttons, sequins

Directions:

Start by cutting out two identical snowman bodies. On one of them, use the dark blue/black thread to stitch the eyes and orange thread to make the nose. The one I saw on Pinterest didn’t have a mouth, but I wanted mine to have one so I stitched on a little smile.

Next, either sew on little buttons or use some hot glue to attach sequins for the snowman’s buttons. Next, tie the yarn into a loop and then, on the body piece that doesn’t have the face on it, hot glue on the yarn towards the top of the snowman’s body.

Now it’s time to start sewing him up! Use the light blue thread to sew around the snowman’s body (making sure that the knot of the yarn is on the inside of the snowman), leaving a gap at the bottom so you can put the stuffing in. When you only have a small opening left, stuff the snowman. Then finish sewing him up.

The final thing is to add the scarf. Cut two thin pieces of felt. One of the pieces will be glued around the snowman’s neck, and the other will be the part that hangs down. That sounds confusing…it’s really not. Just look at the pictures :)

Glue that final scarf piece down and you’re done!


I hope those instructions made sense. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, and I’d love to see pictures if you end up making this ornament!

For to us a child is born, allergy
 to us
 a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

I hope you have a peaceful, joyful Christmas surrounded by the ones you love :)

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Christmas Recipe Round-Up

I love the food around Christmas. For my family’s Christmas dinner, sildenafil we have ham, Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole…basically all the things we have at Thanksgiving except we swap turkey for ham, add the Swedish meatballs, and take away the stuffing. Now that I’m reading a lot of food blogs, I’m finding that not everyone does a big meal like this on Christmas…some people do big meals on Christmas Eve or have other traditions, like Mexican food, on Christmas. Interesting! I thought everyone had a meal similar to Thanksgiving on Christmas Day. What does your family do?

Well no matter what you eat for dinner on Christmas, you definitely need to finish the day off with some tasty desserts! Here are some of my favorites that I have made this year.

1. Marshmallow Pie

I know pie is traditionally eaten at Thanksgiving, but this is one of my all-time favorites. It’s very easy to make and I haven’t met anyone who didn’t absolutely love it. Definitely one to think about for your Christmas desserts :)

2. Nutella Swirl Brownie Bites

Oh goodness. Brownie+nutella=heaven. These are great because they’re really easy to make- you can use a brownie box mix to save time and just swirl nutella on the top. If you’re going to anyone’s house to celebrate or any parties, these would be really easy treats to bring.

3. Oreo Truffles

My family always makes these around Christmas…I think we’ve made them four times already. They are insanely easy to make and one of the best-tasting things I’ve ever had!

4. Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake

Are you guys over pumpkin yet? Good. Me either. I stood in the kitchen eating piece after piece of this cake..it was just that good. It’s really easy to make (even though I kept messing up when making it!) and tastes aaamazing!

5. Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

Chocolate chip cookie dough + pretzel = heaven. The pretzel crust is buttery and salty and the chocolate chip cookie is gooey and sweet. This is the treat I mailed for the Great Blogger Cookie Exchange and loved how they tasted!

6. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies

These are cookies that taste like cookie dough. I’ll wait while that sinks in. Yep that’s what I said. The outside is like a soft, tasty chocolate chip cookie while the inside tastes like raw cookie dough. They’re incredibly simple to make and they are sure to impress everyone!

7. Peanut Butter and Pretzel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Keeping with the sweet and salty theme, these are, in my opinion, some of the best cookies I have ever made. They’re really easy to make, and you can add in whatever your heart desires! But I would recommend chunks of Dove chocolate and pretzel pieces. Mmm :)

8. Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies really have the “wow” factor. Everyone is amazed that a chocolate chip cookie is wrapped around an oreo! Make these perfect for the holidays by using red oreos.

9. Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Oh goodness. These mini chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting were insanely good. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcake, and a really tasty peanut butter filling. They’re adorable, especially when topped with a chocolate chip, and kids will be sure to love them!

10. Minty Kiss Brownie Bites

Take advantage of your favorite holiday limited-edition Hershey’s kisses! I used mint truffle kisses for these super simple brownie bites. Again, make these a speedy treat by using a box mix and placing a kiss on the top.

~

Tonight my sisters, grandparents, and I are doing our traditional Christmas Eve Eve celebration. We all get in the car in our PJs, drive to Sonic, eat dinner, and then drive around and look at all the pretty Christmas lights. It’s a really fun tradition :) Happy Christmas Eve Eve everyone! Hope it’s wonderful!

 

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