Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wholesome Wednesday: Parsnip Muffins

By now all of my readers should know about my love for cookbooks.  :)  Makes total sense as I'm a food blogger.  I'm always wanting to check out new ideas and pairings.  Who knows what will inspire me?

Recently I had a cookbook called Weelicious from the library.  I'm a huge believer in libraries!  I started volunteering and then working at my local library in Louisville while in high school.  We had lots of fancy coffee in the mornings, always ordered out for lunch and the branch manager let me redesign and organize the entire library.  (It was a really small branch!)  Up until moving back to Chicago, I'd always been a librarian.

Wait....we were talking about my love of cookbooks....Weelicious in particular.  The author has written it on the premise that kids will eat vegetables if you offer them.  That you don't have to be sneaky, puree and then hide them in a recipe to get your kids to eat them.  While I'm not sure that would have worked on me or my siblings when we were younger, its a great idea.

I've been dying to try this recipe!  To me, parsnips are an unassuming root veggie.  Slightly like a carrot, but with a mild taste.  I had a larger parsnip, so mine used 1 1/2 cups packed grated parsnip.  If you only use 1 cup, yours might not be as big of a muffin.  The cream cheese filling makes them a little fancier.  Due to the cream cheese, if you don't plan on eating these within a day they will need to be refrigerated.

Parsnip Muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated parsnips


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add the brown sugar, yogurt, oil and vanilla and stir to combine.

Stir the grated parsnips in to the flour mix and toss to coat.

Add dry to wet and stir to combine.

To make cream cheese filling, put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Fill each cup 1/3 of the way with batter, top with 1 tablespoon cream cheese filling and then drop another tablespoon of batter over that.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and serve.

Susie Savors:  These tasted just like a spice muffin.  Of course, parsnips are not exactly strong or bold.  So, it was just a healthier version of a muffin.  The cream cheese boosted the moisture levels.  They aren't quite so fluffy or rise as tall as traditional muffins, but they were still good.  Everyone loved them!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Mr. Seven is here to wish y'all a very Merry Christmas!  He loves Christmas as there are always some kind of yummy proteins about that he can sample.  He also quite loves the ribbons on the packages!  They make awesome cat toys!

Miss Rosie loves Christmas too, but it's for the snow on the ground.  She absolutely loves to stick her face in it!  She's weird I know.

We've been busy, busy getting ready for the holidays the past couple weeks.  We've got lots of yummy recipes to share!  Some contests too!  But we plan on getting back in the swing of things after the new year!  The four of us want to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wholesome Wednesday: Chicken Spinach Stuffing Skillet

Last week while at Costco wandering the aisles, I'm probably one of the few people who will run into Costco to just pick up a gallon of milk, I found huge bags of stuffing mix for $.97.  We're talking HUGE bags.  Like the size of their tortilla chip bags.  Seriously, that big.  So I picked up several because we love stuffing and this didn't have any soy or MSG in it.

Now I've got all this stuffing just sitting in the basement waiting to be used.  I've also got a bag of fresh spinach in the fridge that needs to be used before it goes bad.  I thought it would be great to have a one pot dish with stuffing, spinach and pan fried chicken.  I mean we love all those things, so why not throw them together.

I also added a bit of mozzarella on top at the end, but I think in the future I'd just add some grated Parmesan to the top to give it a bit of flavor, but not glop.

Chicken Spinach Stuffing Skillet

1 lb chicken breast, cubed
1 bag (9 oz.) fresh spinach
4 heaping cups dried stuffing mix
2 1/2 cups chicken broth/stock
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 large ribs celery, chopped
1 T unsalted butter
sprinkle of shredded mozzarella or grated Parmesan

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.  When smoking, add chicken breasts.  Cook stirring occasionally till browned.  Remove from skillet.

Melt butter in skillet, add onion and celery and cook till softened.  Add minced garlic and cook, stirring till fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Pour in chicken broth/stock and slowly add spinach, adding more as it starts to wilt.  When spinach is wilted and broth is boiling, add stuffing mix.  Stir/toss to moisten stuffing mix.  Add chicken back to skillet.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let sit 3-5 minutes until stuffing has absorbed all moisture.  Fluff before sprinkling with cheese.  Serve.  Makes 4 servings.

Nifty Christmas Light Displays in Lincolnwood, IL

Can I just say that I absolutely love large Christmas light displays?  There used to be a house by Pioneer Park that did a light/music display for the holidays.  It was absolutely amazing!  They'd put it up Thanksgiving weekend and it would run through New Year's.  Even Miss Rosie loved going to see it, as they'd play the music outside too.

Unfortunately, the family sold their house and moved before the holidays this year.  There isn't any fancy light display by the park this year.  No traffic jams of people in their cars watching the lights.  It's kinda sad.  :(  There was an awesome pirate ship at North School Park in Arlington Heights though.  (excuse the quality of the photos, apparently the bloggie doesn't take great night photos)

But I did get to see some awesome Christmas decorations in Lincolnwood.  Apparently, my parents took me to see the lights there when I was really, really little.  Needless to say, I don't remember that at all.

If you're in the Chicago area and want to see some awesome lights, you should definitely check these out.  While none of the lights seemed to be cued by music, they were still impressive.  Below you'll see a house with what looks like a huge Christmas tree going through the roof.

In the very same yard, there was a pair of (real) stuffed reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh.  This is something I've never seen before.  I can't imagine putting real albeit stuffed animals on display for a holiday.

I'm including a YouTube video I found with some of the lights you'll see in Lincolnwood.

Let me know if there are any awesome Christmas decorations in your area!  If you're in the Chicago area, its possible we just might stop by to have a look!  :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Social Fabric Secret Santa Ornament Exchange

I'm lucky to be part of this great group of bloggers called Social Fabric.  Even though I have yet to hit the one year mark on my membership, I'm so glad that I'm a part of the group.  Through them I've gotten the opportunity to improve my photography and get the most amazing grill!  I've done a lot of other great things too, but the grill was amazing.
Mr. Seven is quite a large cat!  But isn't he pretty?
I got to participate in the Secret Santa Ornament Exchange this year.  Which was slightly nerve wracking as I had a hard time finding something for my recipient.  I just hope she liked it.  I haven't heard anything yet.  As you can see Seven thought it might be cat treats or maybe a mouse.  He was incredibly interested in the package.

My secret Santa sent me an ornament that so fits both me and my blog.  Can you possibly guess what it might be?

It's a yellow Labrador wearing a Santa hat!  Which is so incredibly perfect for me!  Miss Rosie does have a Santa hat but its too small for her.  Seven gets really perturbed if we try to make him wear it.

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you, Lori Pace.  Lori blogs over at A Day in Motherhood.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tyson Chicken Nugget Christmas Tree With Presents!

Earlier this week, Thursday to be exact, I found we were out of Tyson chicken nuggets.  This is a disaster!  Tyson nuggets are the go to quick meal at my house.  Even food bloggers sometimes get so bogged down and busy that its nice to have a quick and easy meal in the freezer that everyone will eat.  Without complaints, that being the most important part.

Chicken nuggets are easy.  Only they aren't the most pretty of foods.  I mean do you really want to eat blob after blob?  Not really.  So, why not try to spice things up a bit.  Not literally, we have sensitive tummies so jalapeno peppers and hot sauces aren't on our menu.  But, since it's getting nearer to Christmas and the Holiday season, we figured why not make a complete meal.  Meaning the ending (dessert) is included.  That way we can be festive and pretty without too much extra cooking trouble.

Off to Sam's we went.  Or off to Sam's I went as Susie was still sleeping.  Before stopping at Sam's I made a detour to the Long Grove Confectionery Outlet Store.  I swear its one of the best kept secrets in the Chicago area.  I would never have known about it if someone at the library hadn't told us to check it out.  They make the chocolate there and tours are available.

I just knew they'd have something special to use for my Tyson nugget Christmas tree.  I found these awesome chocolates dressed up as presents, stars and ornaments.  Also these yummy gummy bears to use for teddy bears under and around the tree.  Definite score!

At Sam's I found they were sampling Tyson Chicken nuggets, encouraging customers to decorate them with condiments to make a snowman.  What a cute idea!  You can check out my Google+ photo album of my shopping trip.

On to our Christmas tree!  Quick and easy to make.  You'll need 25 chicken nuggets to make this festive tree. (I added a few extra just in case.)   Bake at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes or until sizzling!

Using a large platter to make your tree on arrange 9 nuggets in a concentric circle.

Top that circle with 7 nuggets, then 5, then 3 and finally with a single nugget on the top!

Then its time to decorate your tree!  I topped ours with a large dark chocolate star.

Added presents to the bottom, ornaments to the branches and threw in a few teddy bears for good measure.

Check out our totally awesome, easy to make Tyson Chicken Nugget Christmas Tree!  You'll also see I've added a few holiday decorations and some dipping sauces to complete the scene.

Not only do you get a cute holiday meal your kids will love, by just adding a simple side dish like mashed potatoes you have a complete meal including dessert.  Now that's what I call a win-win.  A quick easy meal that everyone will eat without complaint.

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and Tyson #CBias #SocialFabric. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wholesome Wednesday: Samoas Sticky Buns

I have always loved Samoas.  You know, those girl scout cookies with the coconut, chocolate and caramel.  They've been my favorite ever since I was a girl scout selling them.  We never lived in the same state as our relatives so when it came time to sell cookies, my grandparents would always send a check and tell us to keep them.  So we'd order samoas.  :)  Or if I had my way I'd be in my room with a closet full of them.

Earlier this week, I woke up to the idea of a samoas sticky bun.  I've been thinking about it for days now.  How to incorporate the caramel, coconut and chocolate into a scrumptious sticky bun.

Tom Douglas's recipe for schnecken with its gooey caramel topping gave me the idea to make these.  The sticky bun topping is perfect for the caramel flavor I want in my buns.

I decided to use the recipe from my maple coconut rolls as the base.  Another thing I do with yeast breads is to let my bread machine do all the dough work for me.  This way I always get a consistent dough that has gone through its first rise.  It also takes an hour and a half, whereas if you made the dough by hand, typically it would take twice that amount of time to make a dough that has risen once.

The only thing I've changed in the dough is to decrease the amount of butter and substitute Greek yogurt.  Lately I've been trying to swap out fats for yogurt in most of my recipes.  This also adds more protein so its a win-win.  Using yogurt also makes a more chewy roll, which to me has a better texture.

Samoas Sticky Buns

3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active yeast

I layered everything in the bread machine in this order and put it to work.  An hour and a half later I had gorgeous elastic, perfectly risen sweet dough.  This recipe makes enough to make a dozen buns or rolls.  If you want to make the dough by hand, leave me a comment and I'll include the entire recipe.

Gooey Caramel Topping
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract

In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine all ingredients except vanilla.  Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (be careful, mixture will bubble up).  Pour into bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan and set aside.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Assembly:  Take your freshly risen dough and on a floured surface; stretch, pat and pull it till you reach a 12 x 16 inch rectangle.  With the 16 inch side being horizontal to you.  Brush entire surface with melted butter.  Spread brown sugar all over surface of dough, leaving a 3/4 inch area all along the top topping free.  You'll need this edge to be able to seal your rolls when you roll them up.  Then top with brown sugar, coconut and finally chocolate chips spreading evenly

Tightly roll dough up.  When finished pinch all along long side to form a seam and seal rolls.  When sealed, gently stretch dough to 18 inches in length.  Place seam side down and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices with a serrated knife.  Place these in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan, cut side down.  (I sprinkled any escaping coconut on to the top of the rolls).  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size.  (Mine took about 40 minutes to double, but it was warm out)

When doubled in size, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake till puffy and golden brown 20-35 minutes.  Mine took 26 minutes to cook.  Don't be scared if they seem to bulge up in the middle of the pan.  This is due to the caramel underneath, they'll settle down after cooling a bit.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto serving platter and serve.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Susan Rice's Truffled Potato Chips

Honestly, I'm not a fan of potato chips.  All I can say is I that they're not the best choice and around our house they don't last long.  Plus the fact that a lot of the flavored kinds have all kinds of artificial flavors that rely upon MSG to make them savory.  Since one of our family members has an allergy to MSG, we avoid most potato chips.

These, on the other hand, are a delight.  They are still potato chips so I can't lie to myself and say they're going to be the healthiest choice, but as a small treat they work wonders.   I should probably temper my statements by telling you that I am a person that loves mushrooms.  Any variety and I will go mad for them.  The flavors are excellent and truffles top that savory ladder of awesome.

Which is what these are awesome, I tasted one and let me say I'm hooked.  I had to hide the bag from myself so I couldn't eat all of them at once.  It was like eating mouthfuls of delectable truffles, which it is except there's potatoes in there as well.  Her truffled potato chips are sprinkled with summer and black winter truffles.

Susan Rice is a woman that knows truffles well.  She has a hand in the cultivation of her own truffles so not only are you getting truffles but the best of them and locally from the United States rather than somewhere else.  Her orchard is located in North Carolina. A woman after my own heart producing gourmet truffles.

For more information or to get your own bag visit  There is a variety of other fine truffle products.  Including another favorite snack, popcorn meets truffles.

*I was sent these products for review.  All opinions are my own.*

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not your ordinary Campbell's Tomato Soup + Contest

Is there truly anything better than a hot mug of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold, damp day?  I really don't think so.  I, for one, have always loved the combo of tomato soup and a toasted sandwich.  It's warm and comforting.  All in all a great mood lifter.

Recently, Campbell's soup contacted me and asked if I'd like to try their new heirloom tomato soups.  I grew up having Campbell's original tomato soup, not often mind you, but it's a fond memory.  The heirloom soups are fairly new and definitely a different taste than Campbell's regular tomato soup.

There are two new flavors.  The first, Harvest Orange Tomato, is made with orange tomatoes and has a more delicate flavor than the classic tomato soup.  It's a delightful change of pace and pairs nicely with a classic grilled cheese.

The second, Sun-Ripened Yellow Tomato, is made with yellow tomatoes and has a more Mexican flavor vibe to it probably due to the cilantro in the recipe.  I found this went awesome with our homemade guacamole and chips.

Both soups are a delightful change of pace from Campbell's classic tomato soup.  They've both got such a different taste to them that even non-tomato soup lovers, like my sister, will be wanting more.

On to the giveaway!  One Rosie Discovers reader will win the Campbell's Tomato soup package you see in the photo.  It includes a gorgeous tote bag, cute red and white mug and all three varieties of Campbell's Tomato soup.  To enter just leave a comment below with your favorite tomato soup memory.  Make sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win!

Contest will run Sunday, 12/9/12 - Saturday 12/22/12.

*Campbell's provided me with these promotional items to facilitate my review.  They've also provided the prize.  All opinions are my own.*

Gingerbread Train at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library

There's something unique hiding in the Children's section at the Arlington Heights library.  You may even have to ask for directions to find it!  I certainly did, but then again besides picking up the occasional picture book for Miss Rosie (what can I say, she loves to hear a good story!), I rarely have a reason to be in the Children's section.

Hidden away in the back corner of the Children's section is a hand-made gingerbread train!  It was made by one of the library employees.  I was suitably impressed as I've never attempted to make, bake and carve my own gingerbread creations.  That's a lot of work!  Not including all the decorating that goes into anything gingerbread.  Typically during the holidays I'm so busy baking, that I'd never have time to try something like this.

If you're at the library, you should definitely take the time to check out this awesome train!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wholesome Wednesday: White Peppermint Chip Shake

Today's wholesome Wednesday is a little bit different cause it focuses on a drink!  As y'all probably know by now I'm more a vanilla kinda girl than anything else.  For me, when it comes to a milkshake I'll choose vanilla over chocolate nine times out of ten.

About a week ago, Torani shipped me a couple of bottles of syrup, vanilla bean and peppermint.  They also sent some $1 coupons which I plan on sharing.  Torani syrups are awesome to have on hand because you can use them for so many things.  You can change up your cup of coffee, use them to flavor recipes and even create some nifty cocktails with them.

The white peppermint chip shake gives you the creamy taste of white chocolate mixed with peppermint and then the mini chocolate chips add just the right hint of chocolate.  A definite win in my book.  :)  The vanilla pudding mix is the key component to keeping the shake from separating quickly.  It helps to thicken it.

White Peppermint Chip Shake

2 1/2 ounces of Torani Peppermint Syrup
1 ounce Torani White Chocolate Syrup
6 ounces milk
2 teaspoons instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups ice cubes
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

In a blender add Torani syrups, milk, pudding mix and ice cubes.  Blend to a milkshake consistency.  Add 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips, blend 10-15 seconds to incorporate.  Pour into glasses and enjoy.  Recipe makes 2 servings.

*This post is sponsored by SheSpeaks and Torani.  All opinions are my own.*

Monday, December 3, 2012

Eric Lanlard at Nielsen-Massey Vanilla

A while back we got the chance to go to the Nielsen-Massey headquarters here in the Chicago area to check out the factory, but also to meet Eric Lanlard.  The minute we got out of the car I knew we were in the right place as everything smelled of vanilla.

Who is Eric Lanlard?  Eric Lanlard is one of Europe's top pastry chefs.  He also makes cakes for the Queen and other VIPs in England.  I was very excited to get to see him make two different recipes from his new cookbook Tart it up.  He made a pecan pie and a salmon tart .  Besides the time involved to make the dough and baking, it really took no time at all to make both tarts.  They were incredibly easy.  I've yet to try my hand at any of his recipes, but the gypsy pie looks the most intriguing.

After watching Eric make tarts, we were able to get a few photos.  :)

Then it was off to tour the factory.  Photos for the most part were not permitted, so I didn't attempt to take any.  I can tell you the factory is huge and smells absolutely amazing.  I'd much rather have vanilla and caramel over chocolate any day.  We learned all about how Nielsen Massey makes their vanilla, starting with vanilla beans and ending with extract and paste.

It's taken me forever and a day to get this post done as it was my first time using my Sony Bloggie Live.  I had to eventually hit up the Arlington Heights Memorial Library to get my footage edited correctly.  That said, I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wholesome Wednesday: Roasted Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

This week's Wholesome Wednesday is really, really late.  The only excuse I have is the holiday weekend was exhausting, Miss Rosie's 12th birthday was Tuesday and I made a blogging work space for all my stuff this week.  Those are mostly good excuses.  You'll be seeing something about Miss Rosie's birthday soon.

I'm also incredibly excited to have a space for all my blogging stuff.  I cleaned out a space in the basement so I could put together our huge Ethan Allen trestle table.  I still have to rig up part of the table for photos, but its incredibly great to have all my stuff in one spot and not spread all over the house.  :)  We'll see if that keeps me more organized.

Anyway back to the post.  I recently came across Stanley Tucci's new cookbook.  I love, love, love the recipes in it.  Earlier this week I tried my hand at the rosemary focaccia.  While it was good, it wasn't great and the directions were a little off.  I've changed it up by adding 2 (that's right two!) whole heads of roasted garlic and letting my bread machine do most of the work.  I also changed up the milk, I used a cup of water with 5 tablespoons of dry milk.  Totally could not tell the difference.

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Focaccia
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups flour
2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 heads garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 5 inch sprig of fresh rosemary

Place ingredients in bread machine following the guidelines for your machine.  Mine has me put them in this order: water, milk, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, flours, sugar and yeast.  Set your bread machine to the dough cycle and let it work its magic.

While the bread machine is going, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Find a small loaf pan and coat the bottom with olive oil.  Slice the tops of two heads of garlic, so the tops are cut off each clove.  Place in loaf pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover loaf pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  When done, remove from oven and let cool.  Squeeze cloves out of garlic heads and roughly chop.

When bread machine is done mixing dough, turn out onto a well floured surface.  Flatten dough a little, the sprinkle with half of the roasted garlic.  Knead dough 6-8 turns or until garlic seems evenly incorporated.  Allow dough to rest for about 10 minutes.  In the meantime, grease a 10 x 15 inch rimmed cookie sheet.

After dough has rested, use a rolling pin to roll out to a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.  Place on greased cookie sheet.  Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Then sprinkle with rest of roasted garlic and rosemary leaves.  Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wholesome Wednesday: Snicker Doodles

Earlier last week I was looking for a cookie recipe that would go well with Starbucks Holiday Blend coffee. I ended up getting some for the women at the prayer shawl group and thought they might like some cookies to go with it.  I'd actually never made snickerdoodles before, I'm not quite sure why though.  I mean we love cinnamon and sugar, but I've never had them in a snickerdoodle.  I've always loved Mexican wedding cookies, which are also cinnamon and sugar, so I've always made those.

Let me tell you, if you've never had a snickerdoodle before that they're awesome.  Snickerdoodles are actually a soft, chewy, craggy-looking cookie that go great with holiday coffee blends.  Or just with some milk.  :)

This recipe comes from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  I've changed the size of the cookies as their recipe made bake shop sized cookies.  I prefer mine smaller


1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 3 baking sheets with silicone baking mats.  Combine 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon together in a shallow dish.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together rest of sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each to incorporate.  Reduce mixer speed and slowly add flour, mixing till combined.  Give the dough a few final stirs with the spatula to make sure the flour is fully incorporated.

Using a single tablespoon scoop, scoop out a ball of dough and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes until the edges are set and cookies have cracks.  Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Susie Savors: Let me say, we love Snicker Doodles.  It's hard to resist fresh out of the oven cookies, but a Snicker Doodle is one step up from that.  Warm and soft but with that sugar cinnamon coating that melts in your mouth.  They do pair well with coffee, but honestly who can wait that long?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Indie Craft Galore

So many things going on in Chicago this weekend.  There's the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show, the opening of the recently moved Old Navy in the Loop, and the indie craft show: The DIY Trunk Show.

I am so excited to attend The DIY Trunk Show tomorrow!  I've recently moved to Chicago for graduate school and have begun to explore the city and attend indie craft events.  In September, I attended the Randolph Street Market, which had an indie craft section.  I'm lucky because this show is only 10 minutes on the Redline from my apartment!  I love craft shows that are comprised of indie designers because it's fun to meet people my age and see what they're making.  Of course, the shopping aspect also counts!  

I bought these pages of illustrations that were $1.00 each at the Randolph Street Market and did a quick and cheap DIY to hang them in my kitchen.  I went to Michaels and bought jewelry wire, mini clothes pins from the kids craft section, and I already had these plant hanger hooks.  I have a ton of these pages that I plan to hang up when I live in a larger apartment.

I plan to check out the Trunk Show tomorrow morning and hope to find more decorative art.  I am also meeting my fellow Rosie Discovers bloggers for lunch at Navy Pier while they take a break from tasting chocolates at the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show.  

Chicago Fine Chocolate Show - Friday Nov 16th, 2012

Today was finally THE day for the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show!  Talk about excitement.  We saw most of it!  You can check out all our awesome (yet-unedited) photos in the slideshow below!  So much to look at and taste.

Google+ album

Starbucks at Sam's Club #DeliciousPairings

Alison:Did you know that its Starbucks Holiday Coffee Season?

Susie: No...I didn't know there was a coffee season.

Alison:Well it is!  We absolutely love all things coffee at my house, so we headed out to Sam's to see if they had some.  Even though we use lots of coupons when shopping, coffee is typically something you never find a great deal on.

Susie:I think you mean never.

Alison:For this reason we try to find coffee brands we love at stores like Sam's because they're a much better deal.  I mean where else can you pick up a 28 oz. bag of Starbucks coffee for $18.98?

Susie: I can't think of anywhere.  Unless of course you travel straight to the source.  But that would include airfare and most likely a strange journey with donkeys or some other stinky animal.

Alison: Uhhh...I think you over thought that one.

Susie: Says the person who'll end up on a donkey.

Alison: That will never happen. Another reason I wanted to pick up the Starbucks holiday blend was to use it as a little treat for the Prayer Shawl group over at Our Lady of the Wayside since November 15th was National Philanthropy day.  They knit and crochet shawls for those in need.  Their annual bazaar is coming up this weekend, November 17th, and I wanted them to have a little treat for all their hard work.

Susie: It's true.  They are quite amazing.  I mean, not many people knit and crochet in such quantities.

Alison:I expected to see a huge holiday Starbucks display, but there was only this sad little box of holiday coffee in the coffee aisle.

Susie: I know, it's more of a sad shelf.

Alison:I didn't see any other holiday coffee displays either.

Susie: Giant goose egg.

Alison:I also picked up some pumpkin and cinnamon muffins to make it more of a #DeliciousPairings coffee klatch for the volunteers.

Susie: Muffins.  They remind me of puffins, except you know with a P instead of an M.  Puffins are so cute!

Alison: I suppose they are...

Susie: Plus puffins remind me of all sorts of holiday decorations and cartoons!

Alison:As you can see, I'm not the only one who loves a great holiday blend! Seven decided to love the bag while I was setting up my Starbucks Holiday coffee spread. 

Susie: He is well trained.  There's a reason he's the favorite.  He has great taste!

Alison:No one can resist coffee in our house. The proof is in the sniffing.

Susie: *deep inhale* I don't smell any coffee.

Alison: It's not coffee time.  You had coffee this morning!

Susie: What?  I can't have more?

Alison: Not right now! While I do love lattes, I also love a great cup of coffee at home.  I tend to pick artisan roasted coffees as I love all the flavors you get in a cup.

Susie: More accurately a whole pot.  One cup is not enough.

Alison: I do love a holiday blend as it has great flavor notes such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Picking up a bag this size is always a great idea if you love to brew your coffee at home like we do.

Susie: We almost always use a french press to make coffee as it allows all the great tasting oils to shine through flavor-wise.

Alison: I typically find Starbucks coffee to be a little strong tasting.

Susie:That's one way of putting it.  Dark might be another.

Alison: But the holiday blend was surprisingly tasty with a little cream and sugar added.  First, we tried the coffee alone.

Susie: Then we quickly mixed until our lips no longer puckered.

Alison:My sister and I definitely noticed a holiday spice taste.

Susie: Which is a good thing, or else that'd be one lame holiday blend.

Alison:Next we tried the muffins, I had the cinnamon.

Susie: I had the pumpkin.

Alison:Then, it was time to see if they brought out extra flavor notes in the coffee.

Susie: Surprisingly, they did!  After tasting a treat containing similar flavors brought out the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger notes in the Starbucks holiday blend.

Alison:This afternoon I brought the coffee and muffins over to the Prayer Shawl group.  The ladies over there love coffee and treats.

Susie: Heck, who doesn't love coffee and treats?  Probably that donkey carrying all that coffee.

Alison:They were excited to get to try them.  Most commented how much better the coffee tasted after they'd tried the treats.  The huge bag of Starbucks holiday coffee will last them well into the new year!

Susie: They like to savor their coffee.

Alison:Sam's Club will open at 7 am on Black Friday and will greet members with free Starbucks Holiday Blend coffee and Artisan Fresh pastries (while supplies last).

Susie: Coffee?  Can I have some coffee now?

Alison: I don't see why not!

Susie: Wooo! *slurp* Mmmmm.

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