Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 14 Recipes of 2014

I am so happy. 2014 has been such a great year. I've been wedding planning. We moved back to Ohio (which was one of the best decisions I've ever made). And I've made some of my favorite recipes EVER this year.

So before we ring in 2015 (which I have a good feeling will be even better than 2014) let's take a look back on what all of your favorite recipes on this blog are to date, your favorite recipes of 2014, and MY favorite recipes of 2014!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake
I've made my fair share of flourless chocolate cakes (and this one is still the best. Although the recipe I'm sharing today is a close 2nd!). And there's a reason.

They. are. pure. DECADENCE.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Another upside to flourless chocolate cake is how EASY it is to make but how impressive it seems! You can serve the cake super elegantly with garnishes, powdered sugar, etc. (to make a symbol on the top of the cake just cut out a shape with paper, place it on top of the cake, and then dust with powdered sugar. Remove the paper and voila'!) or you can just sit on the couch in your p.j.'s and eat it warmed up with some ice cream while you watch  Millionaire Matchmaker. Up to you, really.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
The texture of this flourless chocolate cake is like the most moist and chocolatey chocolate cake you've ever had times a thousand. It's intensely dense and almost melts in your mouth. I also can't decide whether I like it best cold, room temperature, or warmed. They're all delicious!
Flourless Chocolate Cake's still the holiday season. We have a bit more time to enjoy parties and indulging before January 1st rolls around and we're all hitting the gym and only eating salads. So let's live up the rest of 2014 and make ourselves and our favorite people a flourless chocolate cake. I think 2014 deserves it. I think WE deserve it!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Something Saturdays-on a Friday (12/26/14)

Alright, let's rewind to last week: Michael and I went to NYC to visit and to see my cousin Emily. We get on the bus from the airport and what's the first thing that happens? Michael's wallet gets stolen (pick-pocketed).


I lived there for 6 years with no problems and I visit after moving away and Michael is immediately robbed. We filed a police report and canceled the credit cards (which had been used within 30 minutes of being stolen) and dealt with it. It's pretty much ok was just SUCH a hassle and obviously extremely infuriating. But now I've been inside a NY "interview" room. So there's that.

Anyway we tried to move past it and enjoy our time. We did all the Christmas-y things and ate most of my favoritest foods and spent time with people we missed (including Susan and Mallory!) It was fun but....I am so happy we moved. I love our life now.

Then the holidays came upon us before we knew it! Tuesday was Michael's sister's birthday so we spent some time with his family and, since we were just going to be there again in the morning, we spent the night at our respective moms. Christmas Eve we spent the first half of the day with Michael's mom and his siblings (his youngest brother and sister had to go to their dad's on Christmas day) and then we went to my dad's parents for Christmas with them. That night we slept at our moms' again and spent the morning with my mom and brother. Then we headed over to Michael's stepmom's family, then we spent some time with Michael's dad and stepmom at their house, and theeeen we went to Youngstown for his mom's extended family. It was fun (and not as much traveling as it sounds--Michael used to go to a lot more places). We got some money, some socks, some DVD's, some gift cards, a gorgeous painting by Michael's sister, a frame for our wedding invite/a wedding photo, a pretty globe/nativity, and all kinds of other stuff! (Oh yeah...and a 50" TV from Michael's dad. That's pretty awesome, too :P) And Christmas isn't over yet! Tomorrow we'll celebrate with Michael's dad's family and then Sunday is my mom's family. Plus we're planning on trying to fit in some time with my bestie and also my cousin Emily while they're both in town for the holidays.

I hope you've had just as wonderful of a time with loved ones as I did!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!


But tomorrow is Christmas!!!

...and have a very. MERRY. CHRISTMAS

Monday, December 22, 2014

Crispy {Healthier} Waffles

Crispy {Healthier} Waffles
Those darned liege wafels make me want to eat Nutella on my waffles. All the time. It's irresistible. Especially now that I was able to go back to NY for a bit and have another taste of my beloved Wafels and Dinges. *Le sigh* I really need to redouble my efforts to recreate their waffles (maaaaybe after the wedding, though.)
Crispy {Healthier} Waffles
Hey-you remember those "leggo my Eggo" commercials (heck...they may still have them on. Perhaps just on children's channels?) Anyway...toaster waffles. They're a thing but they've never really done it for me. However I have a hard time finding the time or energy to make myself a legit. breakfast in the morning. Usually I just grab something small and easy that is sitting around. If there's nothing healthy...then cookies happen.

Which I know is bad.
Crispy {Healthier} Waffles
But-good news! I've learned that if I break waffles into fourths and freeze them I can then re-heat them in the toaster and eat them up in the morning time with very little fuss! And if you make your waffles fairly's a pretty good breakfast. (Yes...I realize...nutella does not a healthy breakfast make. Pretend I used almond butter.)
Crispy {Healthier} Waffles
These waffles are great because they use whole wheat flour and coconut oil to make them a bit healthier plus they have rice cereal in them! Which is a unique and fun little spin that adds a bit of extra crispness.

(But...pssst....these waffles are still my favoritest.)

I love this new breakfast hack so much that I am much more motivated to occasionally make a bunch of waffles because I know that I'm going to be having some gooood breakfasts for a few days, at least! And I know little cheats like this will make my life easier when I-eventually-start having kiddos. 

Now I'm trying to thick of really healthy waffles I could try to make to feed my theoretical, down the road, children....yepp. Par for the course with my brain.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Something Saturdays (12/20/14)

Today is my last day in NYC with Michael and my cousin Emily. I'm sure I've been having tons of fun and eating lots of food (have you been following on Instagram?) and I'll give you more of an update in next week's Something Saturday (which will be AFTER CHRISTMAS! EEEE!)

Friday, December 19, 2014

OXO Holiday Gift Guide for the Cook/Baker

Christmas is quickly approaching. But perhaps you've still got some shopping to do? Is there someone in your life who is a food blog addict (or food blog-ger)? Someone who is constantly tuned to the food network or cooking channel? That person who impresses everyone with the fantastical things coming out of your kitchen? Or maybe there's someone who just wants to improve-someone who wants to try to get more comfortable in that crazy room we call a kitchen? Or someone who's moving into a new home? Heading out on their own for the first time? Getting married???

I'm just gonna cut to the chase: I've rounded up some of the best cooking/baking gift ideas. And all these gifts are made by one of my favorite brands-OXO (who are not in any way sponsoring this post. I just love them.) Some of the items listed here I already own, some I've registered for and am anxiously awaiting to join my little kitchen family, and some are just great basics to have!

Come with me and become someone's own, personal, Santa Clause:

OXO Holiday Gift Guide for the Cook/Baker

  1. OXO Knife Block Set, 10-Piece
    Everyone should have a good knife block-it has all the basics you need (this one includes a chef's knife, santoku knife, bread knife, paring knife, serrated utility knife, and 4 steak knives). I'm jealous of the Santoku knife-they're great for chopping vegetables!
  2. OXO Good Grips Professional Sharpening Steel
    This is to help you keep those knives you just bought sharp!
  3. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set
    As low-tech. as it is, I love silicone spatulas. I use them so much and you can never have too many!
  4. OXO Good Grips Pop-Up Cookbook Holder
    This is one of the things I registered for-it's a simple and pretty way to hold your cookbooks up.
  5. OXO Good Grips Kitchen and Herb Scissors
    This is one of my favorite OXO tools that I own-I use these scissors for everything: cutting herbs, chicken, and even just opening pesky bags. 
  6. OXO Good Grips Measuring Spoons, Stainless Steel, 4-Pc
    To get your tsps. and tbsps. straight!
  7. OXO Good Grips Measuring Cup Set, Stainless Steel, 4-Pc
    You need measuring cups and stainless steel means they'll be a bit more durable and won't melt in your dishwasher (I'm looking at you my-former-1/4-cup-that-is-now-ruined). 
  8. OXO Good Grips 15-Piece Everyday Kitchen Tool Set
    If someone is just starting out or getting into cooking this set is a great starter! It includes basic utensils, a peeler, a pizza cutter, potato masher, ice cream scoop, etc. 
  9. OXO Good Grips Large Cookie Scoop
    OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
    OXO Good Grips Small Cookie Scoop
    When cookies are being made, cookie scoops are instrumental for uniform, pretty cookies. And sometimes you want small, medium, or large cookies! So obviously all 3 cookie scoops are needed.
  10. OXO Good Grips Rolling Pin
    Another registry item! OXO's rolling pin is super gorgeous and high quality.
  11. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowl Set, White
    Mixing bowls are another must-have.
  12. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set
    I have 4 liquid measuring cups and I still sometimes find myself wishing I had more. So trust me-you want them.
  13. OXO Good Grips Dough Blender with Blades
    Dough blenders help you when you're cutting butter into pastry-such as for pie or biscuit dough.
  14. OXO Good Grips Bent Icing Knife
    If someone wants to try out a little bit of decorating/cake baking then a bent icing knife is a basic necessity. 
  15. OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull Out Display, 22-Pound
    I also registered for this! I have a food scale but not one that goes up to 22 pounds or is as nice. I've heard and seen lots of recommendations for this scale so it's not just me backing it!
  16. OXO Good Grips 10-1/2-by-15-Inch Utility Cutting Board, Black
    I love this cutting board. It's just great.
  17. OXO Good Grips Digital Instant Read Thermometer
    Instant read thermometers are great for when you're trying to cook your meat perfectly.
  18. OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer
    This mandoline is about to make your slicing world a bunch easier.
  19. OXO Good Grips Potato Ricer
    Potato ricers help make extra creamy and lovely mashed potatoes.
  20. OXO Good Grips Zester
    I use my zester mostly for grating Parmesan cheese over pastas or pizza but it can also add gorgeous chocolate shavings to your desserts and add a zesty zing of citrus to your dishes.
  21. OXO Good Grips Box Grater
    This is on my registry and I can't wait to get it because I hate having to deal with all the cheese that accumulates under the grater-so I love that this grater has an attachable container to help collect all the cheese so I don't have to scrape it all together with my hands.
  22. OXO Steel Pie Server
    When I went shopping to buy a pie server I knew I wanted OXO and it didn't disappoint. I love how the sides of the server can help cut the pie and it just does a great job. 
  23. OXO Good Grips Chopper
    OK this one might be the registry item I am most anxious to receive--I am tired of spending bunches of time chopping things and this is going to make my life (and whoever's life you would buy this for) so much easier!
  24. OXO 10-Piece Good Grips Pop Containers Set
    Food needs to be stored--flour and sugar, snacks, cereals, etc. OXO's Pop containers lock in the freshness with the fun little "Pop" button and come in a variety of sizes to help you organize and preserve your food! I have a Pop cookie jar and I LOVE it. :)
And there we are! I hope you found some great gift ideas and that you are having fun getting ready for the impending HOLIDAYYYYS! AND if you're looking for some great homemade gift ideas check out my posts from last year and the year before!

This post was not sponsored in any way by OXO. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own. Post does contain Amazon Affiliate links.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
"Just make something basic," they said. "SMALL cookies," they said. "I mean it Kayle-nothing weird or fancy," my mom said (let's be real....they're all my mom). These were my super subtle suggestions for the cookies I was tasked to bake for my grandma's 80th birthday party. Silly people. I can make basic. No problem.

...I mean....sure....the chocolate chip cookies I made were technically dairy-free because I used coconut oil instead of butter, but you can't tell! And yes....these cookies are also dairy-free AND gluten-free....but...again....YOU CAN'T TELL.

Seriously. I can't. They didn't. You won't.
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
These are going to taste like a classic, no frills, wonderful peanut butter cookie. A bit crisp, a smidge crumbly. And the perfect amount of peanut buttery deliciousness. It's our little secret that these cookies are made with only 5 ingredients. And they have no flour. Or butter.
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
This is one of those recipes that's sort of insanely easy. It's even easy to remember (just think of it as 1 cup pb, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 1 tsp. baking soda)! You mix it all in one bowl so there aren't even a lot of dishes! If you're trying to bake up a bunch of treats for the holidays I HIGHLY recommend these ones-you probably already have all the ingredients, super quick and easy, not too many dishes, and they're even good for pleasing certain dietary restrictions! And they're delicious and basic enough that my family liked them.

Nothing but good things!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Puffy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies-Nestle Toll House #DelightFulls Review

Puffy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Christmas is my favorite holiday.

There's pretty lights. Happiness. Jolliness. Colorful decorations. Gifts. Family. Friends. Fun.

AND COOKIES! SO. MANY. COOKIES! It's the cookie season!

And now we can have even more fun with baking and put a fun spin on favorite recipes thanks to Nestle Toll House DelightFulls Filled Baking Morsels! Just when you thought chocolate chips couldn't be improved!
Puffy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
A couple months ago I spied a new fantastical thing---chocolate chips with...fillings?? It was one of those moments where you think to yourself "THAT'S LIFE CHANGING." and also, "Obviously-why hasn't this already been done?" All I know is when I found out that Nestle Toll House wanted me to play with their new DelightFulls I was SO EXCITED. 

Nestle Toll House DelightFulls Filled Baking Morsels are the same Nestle Toll House chocolate we all love (I mean...guys....they invented the chocolate chip cookie. THAT MEANS SOMETHING.) filled with 4 different flavors! They're slightly bigger than standard chocolate chips (no complaints here) and they even hold their shape when baking. You can use them whole, cut in half, or even chop them up--the ways you can use these tasty morsels are endless (brownies, cookies, cake, candy, hot chocolate, milkshakes...etc.!)

Available in 9 oz. bags these are the 4 varieties of Nestle Toll House DelightFulls:
Pssst....Nestle should totally make the peanut butter and caramel varieties in dark chocolate, too! Just a dark chocolate lover's opinion :P
Puffy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Back to Christmas talk: I'm in that very frustrating stage of life in between being a child and having children. I'm unable to fully experience all of my old Christmas traditions, but I don't have any kiddos to create new ones with! That said, Michael and I are definitely already forming new traditions. And this year I will enjoy the last bit of my most time-honored and important childhood Christmas experience for the last time: I will spend the night at my mom's, wake up with my brother, and enjoy Christmas morning being all excited and happy (although we probably won't wake up at 3 AM like we used to--also...the presents aren't gonna be so overwhelming.) Next year Michael and I will be married and I'll want to wake up with him, so this is all a little bittersweet. The good news is, now that I'm home I can take part in other Christmas festivities! My mom and brother and I are actually going to a little Christmas village today. And next week we're going to decorate cutout cookies (which we always used to do as children and I haven't been able to participate in for a long time). And in the spirit of new things...I've been tasked to make cookies for other things. Like Michael's work party. And who knows what else!

I'm really looking forward to, in the next 5 years or so, having little chubby helping hands and seeing little innocent eyes light up and seeing chocolate smeared little smiles in the kitchen with me. I adore baking and I cannot wait to share that with my children, and to share all the love that I bake into every bite!
Puffy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I could definitely see these cookies becoming a favorite for years to come-especially with little ones. They are a total classic--all the flavors of a peanut butter cup in a big, FAT, perfect cookie! Fresh out of the oven they're so soft and peanut-buttery and when you take a bite and see the peanut butter filling a little bit melt-y inside of the baking's simultaneously cool and delicious. Michael loved them. My brother broke his strict diet to eat one and a half (and he forced himself to resist more). I dare any picky eater to not fall head over heels (unless you're not into peanut butter...then...well...not for you, I suppose. May I interest you in a different cookie?) 

Anyway. What I'm saying is: make these cookies. Especially for the holidays (I bet Santa would put you on the extra nice list for LIIIFE if you made them for him, btw.) Get your hands on some Nestle Toll House DelightFulls Filled Baking Morsels. Have some fun. Bake. Experiment. Make traditions! Eat. BE HAPPY.

Fa la la la la.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Something Saturdays (12/13/14)

After lots of stress and phone calls and texts and 3 months of waiting....I've mailed out all the Save the Dates! FINALLY. *sigh of relief*

And Michael I and sat down with his uncle to get all the invitation stuff finalized-we just need to approve the proof (which we got yesterday) and then hopefully they should be ordered within the next week. Woo!

I had another meeting with my alterations woman to work on my mom's dress and it is like...almost done. It's looking so good and we even figured out how to bustle it! I should only have 2 more appointments before me picking it up for the wedding (agh!)---and I have until mid April to lose weight and have the final fitting (because then we have to have it sent to be cleaned again because some of the stuff is starting to yellow again). So I must start hitting the gym and making better food choices. Pray for me.

And it's official--you can now buy your very own DVD of You Can't Kill Stephen King {amazon affiliate link} You Can't Kill Stephen King is the horror/comedy I starred in and that's been in theatres in Japan and on DVD and television in various countries around the world but has FINALLY come to the US & Canada! I'm super excited and I hope lots of people buy it and like it! It's been over 4 years since we finished filming but it was worth it :) 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
I have too many shaped pastas. I don't know how. I don't know why. All I know is I have penne and shells and whatnot for days-and no idea what to do with all of it.

So Michael promised me he'd eat penne with meat sauce. If there were meatballs.

Then all I had to do is mention the idea of mozzarella stuffed meatballs and that was it. Michael was all about it. They had to be made soon.
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Fun fact about this recipe: it originally used ground turkey for the meatballs. Which you can absolutely do. However...we like our beef, so I subbed it in. But if red meat isn't your fave or if you're trying to stay a little leaner with the meat go to town with the turkey! Ironically Michael's favorite meatballs are his mom's...and I'm pretty sure she uses turkey. But for some reason hers are the only ones where it's ok with him, I guess?
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
I kinda want to make a meatball sub with these. I wouldn't even need to add any more cheese. All you need is the bread and some sauce and the meatballs....mmmm, sounds pretty good methinks!

Oh and when you make the meatballs, don't be alarmed if some cheese goes rogue and just oozes out of random places. Cheese is tricky like that. It's ok. It's part of its charm! We forgive you cheese, and we love you for you.
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
These meatballs are moist, flavorful, and bursting FULL of cheesiness!

If you want to get crazy authentic you can attempt to stuff legit. mozzarella in these meatballs. I'm not sure what will happen, though. I can only attest to what goes down when you use string cheese, but far be it from me to curb your creativity!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Bread
I had THE MOST incredible loaf of cinnamon sugar swirl bread and it haunts me.

I wanted to replicate it. So I tried. I adapted the recipe slightly to try to add my favorite component of the bread I so adore---cinnamon sugar crusted around the outside of the bread. At that I succeeded. At the attempt to copy it? I failed. *sigh*
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Bread
So if anyone knows how to make a smaller, skinnier loaf with lots of swirl and really just SO much cinnamon-sugar....let me know. Or I'll just cave and buy it. Either way. 

My failure stated-I still really loved this bread. For the record. It was delish. Especially toasted. With butter. Yeah...that was good.
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Bread
I don't know what it is but the smell of cinnamon (and bread-always) is so crazy comforting and homey. And when you are baking it this bread smells AMAZING. You're going to just want to curl up in your Christmas blanket, watch some home movies, and call your mom. And if you bake yourself a loaf on Christmas eve this is so perfect for Christmas morning breakfast!
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Bread
So. This bread. The top is a little crunchy because of the cinnamon sugar. The bread itself is soft and chewy (although, as stated, I like it best toasted. My bread was too big for my toaster so I just put it under the broiler until toasted--which is dangerous and a couple pieces may have been sacrificed to the burnt toast gods. Oops.) The cinnamon swirl is buttery and rich and super flavorful. I love it. You'll love it. Everyone's happy.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes-Cupcake Day!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
As you may be aware...I only have 2 cupcake recipes on this blog. Which is crazy, I know. It's just....cookies....ya know? BUT I am so excited that I got an excuse to make you guys another cupcake because today is CUPCAKE DAY! I mean...not officially...but myself and some other bloggers dubbed it such because we're all sharing cupcake recipes. You get the idea. It's a good thing.

And look....I'm gonna tell you straight up....I registered for some piping tips and pastry bags. Because...I mean...look at that frosting. I apologize. These turned out way prettier in my head. Try your best to forgive me lack of decorating skills, mk? Thanks, guys. You're the best.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
These cupcakes led to Michael's co-workers accusing me of witchcraft. This is due to my, apparently, delectable treats + the fact that the cookie dough inside the cupcake "magically" didn't bake. 

I'm not a witch (in spite of my Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed loving young self's hopes and dreams). And I'm not even a magician who will protect my secret. Because it's not a secret-it's just a filling! You add the cookie dough into the cupcake after it's baked (I used the "cone" method that's detailed below as well as in this post---and, for the record, thus far those are the only cupcakes I've made that I've really been super into. But that makes sense because choc/pb cupakes are usually what I like best when I buy them, too.).

They are pretty tasty, though. There's a gorgeously fluffy brown sugar cake that you fill with the eggless cookie dough and top with-my favorite component-the chocolate chip cookie dough frosting. That frosting is the bomb dot com. Best part. previously stated....I'm not obsessed with cupcakes. I just wasn't head over heels for the cake itself (there's nothing wrong with it, this was just my own general "meh"-ness about non-chocolate cakes) and Michael is attempting to cut back slightly on the sweets (he'd like to not think he's fat in our wedding pictures-he's not fat for the record). And that is why these were sent to his work, I was accused of witchcraft, and they were devoured within 20 minutes of Michael getting there. I'm spoiling his co-workers and I'm okay with that.

Spoil your co-workers. Or friends. Or family. Or YOURSELF!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Now go check out the tons of other completely drool-worthy cupcake recipes we have for you!!

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