Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Or as Paula Deen calls them, "Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies."

These are really simple to make and I just love how they look once they crack in the oven!

  I was disappointed because my niece, nephew and I had made plans to bake and ice sugar cookies for Christmas, but we were greeted with a blizzard instead.  In north Texas, we aren't accustomed to weather like that so it through a lot of people's Christmas plans off... Including my family's.  We had to have Christmas on the 26th instead- It was strange postponing our usual Christmas brunch and opening of gifts, but like my mom said..

"I guess it was God's way of slowing everyone down to appreciate what it's really all about."

Our cookie date will be rescheduled, but in the mean time they can just enjoy these yummy cookies.

Just be careful not to overbake these. (In my oven they took only 8-10 minutes instead of the suggested 12) They might look underdone when you take them out, but they finish baking on the pan and harden up as they cool.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
(aka Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies: recipe courtesy Paula Deen)

2 dozen cookies

 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. (*The batter will be very THICK, it's supposed to be that way!)

Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours to firm up the dough so that you can roll the batter into balls.

Roll into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes (Or less if your oven cooks fast like mine.) The cookies will remain soft. Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas favorites

Two small gifts I'm excited about:

A Sandra Lee Grilling cookbook- and although grilling in winter may not be ideal, there are some excellent looking recipes you can do with a grill pan in here! 
I can't wait to try some of the marinades and rubs... she has some interesting combinations.


A Janet Hill print of her painting "She Liked the Pink Ones."  
Unfortunately a print will have to do because I cannot afford her originals...yet :)
But after matting and framing it will still be a great piece to hang.
I want to get two more that are similar in size to create a set.
I am definitely going to go after this one:

It's called "Heels"

Janet Hill is such an inspiration to me, I love her colorful work.
Go see her new website, Janet Hill Studio.
 Bella Cosa designed it beautifully.

Have a great week
<3 Ash

Friday, December 18, 2009

What a relief!

I put off this blog post for too long. I kept meaning to update things but sometimes a break away from the computer is nice... I have had a lot of things going on lately and it's been good to just sit back and relax once they were done.

...So what's happened? (As if anyone is truly anticipating my update :)

Well I'll just share the two most exciting things:

I graduated college! Finally, after 5 long years.

And secondly, I got all of the fraud charges taken care of with my cell phone company!  This is huge. I mean, I've been dealing with it every week since Halloween and quite honestly, I thought I was getting the run around. 

The grand total: $ 952.00

And it was all credited back to my account.  We are talking ringtones and games here. That a 16-year-old girl downloaded in 36 hours... Isn't that just ridiculous? 

I had my doubts, but it all worked out. Thank you God!

So I got a new phone (feeling that my old one had been violated, haha) and spent a great Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends stress free.

I'm going to share a recipe I made for Thanksgiving.  It's a favorite of both my mom and I, and we like it at Christmas too... Sweet Potato Casserole.

 (By the way, if you aren't sure about sweet potatoes, just give this a try, it's almost like a dessert it's so delicious!)

But really, how can you not like sweet potatoes? mmm!

And no, unfortunately I did not take these photos.. I borrowed them from Cooking Light.

What's a post without a couple of pictures?

Anyway, here is the yummy recipe:

Enjoy and I will be back soon!

Sweet Potato Casserole


2 pounds sweet potatoes
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil spray, for the baking dish
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


¾ to 1 cup chopped pecans
¾ packed cup light brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Prepare the sweet potatoes: Peel and quarter the sweet potatoes. Place them in a saucepan, add cold water to cover and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then mash them with a potato masher.

2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist a 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with vegetable oil spray and set the dish aside.

3. Place the mashed sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, 8 tablespoons of melted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until just combined, about 2 minutes. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.

4. Make the pecan crunch topping: Place the pecans, brown sugar, flour, and 3 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Scatter the pecan mixture evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes.

5. Bake the sweet potatoes until the pecan topping begins to brown and the potatoes are bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.