Merry Christmas, dear readers!
I wish you joy and happiness this holiday season!
I’ve lived here in Southern California my whole life. That means certain places like Dunkin’ Donuts were never on my radar. When we wanted donuts, other than mom and pop places, we would go to Winchell’s. I still love Winchell’s, but I’ve always been a fan of the cake donut.
Back in the late 90s, I remember Krispy Kreme opened in California. That was sort of life-changing moment in my donut eating world. It wasn’t a cake donut, but it was still oh, so good. They are pretty much everywhere now, but they are just as good all these years later.
That brings us to last year when Dunkin’ Donuts opened a store in Santa Monica, and the entire West LA crowd lost their collective minds. We’d all been listening to our friends who were former East Coast transplants rave about Dunkin’ Donuts the way Californians evangelize In-N-Out. The line for that first Dunkin’ Donuts grand opening rivaled Disneyland and was covered by local news. Someone at work brought in a box and all us Cali-natives were ready to try this amazing donut. The verdict?
Eh, it was just a donut. It was good, but it wasn’t worth the hype, in my opinion. Then I found out that what is really good there are their breakfast sandwiches. OK, that I can get on board with.
A few months ago, they tore down a dilapidated old Fosters Freeze a couple miles from my house and replaced it with a bright and shiny new Dunkin. The novelty had worn off by then and they didn’t get the big welcome that first one got. But they are doing steady business and I was finally able to get over there a few weeks ago. I picked my hubby and I up a couple breakfast sandwiches and that’s when I knew the hype of Dunkin’ Donuts.
This was a really good sandwich! At about $6 each, though, I thought it would be best to figure out how to recreate it at home. I was finally able to try it and it was really good! Maybe even a tiny bit better, just because it’s homemade.
This was a good weekend breakfast and used up ingredients I almost always have on hand.
For two sandwiches
4 pieces of thick-cut bacon
3 large eggs
2 slices of cheddar cheese
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the bacon in a single layer. Rub both sides of each piece with some brown sugar and some black pepper. Just a light sprinkle of the brown sugar and a heavier sprinkle of the pepper. This is a sweet pepper bacon, so you want to be able to taste the sugar and pepper, but not be choked out by it.
Meanwhile, beat your eggs with a large splash of milk and scramble.
Finally, assemble the sandwich: Eggs, Cheese, bacon.
This was so, so good. I will definitely be making this way more often.
This is the last post for my Christmas movie series and I really hope you guys enjoyed it. I know I am so weird about my love for all things Christmas, so thank you for letting me share this.
And even if you skipped over my Christmas movie gushing, I hope you at least enjoyed the recipes I created!
All of the movies I talked about go back to this original post of the common themes or plot points found in TV Christmas movies. I took each category and expanded on it and created some recipes that went with it. Well, here’s a bonus category I like to call “The Ones No One Else Remembers.” These are movies I remember fondly from my childhood that no one else seems to remember. Or at least they don’t get as much attention as some of the other more famous childhood favorites (I’m talking to you, Charlie Brown).
When I was a kid, we had a VHS tape (‘member those?!) on which we recorded off the TV (omg, remember doing that?!? I feel like I’m really aging myself here) a boatload of Christmas movies. On it where the classics like Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, that sort of thing. There were also a few that I remember loving, but most people don’t remember at all:
White Chocolate-Cranberry Biscotti
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
In a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the flour and baking powder. After it is all combined, add the white chocolate chips and the cranberries and mix until combined and the mix-ins are evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
After the discs have baked, take them out of the oven and let them cool a bit before cutting them in to strips (your biscotti shapes). Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake these again for 10 minutes on each side.
For some reason this batch of biscotti turned out very crumbly and easily broken. I’m not quite sure why. They are still very delicious and excellent with coffee. I figure out a less breakable recipe, I’ll be sure to update!
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to be more aware of where my talents lie. Over the years, I’ve probably wanted to be good at certain things, but maybe wasn’t so much, and went through a bit of denial. I feel like, perhaps, I’m not quite exceptional at too many things, but I am pretty good at a number of things.
Did any of that make sense? The sentence structure was a bit awkward, I will admit that.
One thing I will admit that I am not at all good at is gift wrapping. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the person who invented gift bags because stuffing a cute bag with some tissue paper is just about my level of wrapping ability.
Never-the-less, it is Christmas and there was a lot of wrapping to do. I didn’t want to use gift bags, because having a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old in the house could result in some gifts being opened way too early. I was a gift bag peeker myself when I was a kid.
So, since I had to force myself to sit down and wrap, I thought I would make it a bit easier by doing something I can say I am good at: Food. I made a plate of rocky road fudge and kept a few pieces by my side during the obligatory wrap-session. (Which I finished. PTSD-free! Yay!)
I haven’t garnered too much experience in candy-making, but that doesn’t matter with this super easy recipe that I found right here: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/28655/easy-chocolate-fudge/
For my rocky road fudge, all you need is a bag of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate), a can of sweetened condensed milk, a splash of vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and about 1/3 bag of mini marshmallows.
Remove the foil from the dish (no clean up!) and peel the foil off the fudge. Cut into whatever size pieces you want and serve.
I’m a sucker for a good piece of fudge. This may not be super fancy with candy thermometers or what-have-you, but it is still really delicious.
Almost makes the gift wrapping not so bad. Almost.
My mom makes some pretty stellar sugar cookies. I always loved making sugar cookies with her growing up, but I’m sure she probably could have made more cookies out of each batch if I wasn’t around. You see, I’m a dough eater from way back. I just can’t help myself, salmonella be damned.
That’s how I knew these cookies were going to be delicious: the dough. They had the perfect amount of sweetness where you could eat them plain or put sprinkles or frosting on them. I played around with the amounts a little, but I think I hit just the right note with the amount of sugar and vanilla. The vanilla is what really makes these, I think.
For this batch I made fox cookies. My son’s elementary school’s mascot is the fox and my husband is on a softball team made up of dads from the school (the “Foxy Dads”) and I made these for the last game of the season. When I saw this fox cookie cutter at Williams-Sonoma, I knew I had to have it. I figured, by the time both kids have gone through 5th grade, we’ll have been involved in the elementary school for about 8 years so there will be plenty of opportunities to use it. I’m not sure what the middle school mascot is, but the high school is the Centaurs. Maybe by the time my kids are in high school, Williams-Sonoma will have come out with a half man-half horse cookie cutter. I’ll have to keep my eyes open…
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add this a little bit at a time to the mixer and mix until well combined.
Separate the dough in half (to make it easier to work with). On a floured surface, roll out your dough to about a 1/4″ thick. I like my cookies on the softer side, so I make the dough a bit thicker. If you like a crisper cookie, make the dough a bit thinner.
Use whatever shape cookie cutter you want to cut out the cookies.
Put the cut out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 8-9 minutes. If you do a thinner cookie, you’ll probably want more of a 7-8 minute baking time. Start on the lower end and then if you need to add more time, you can.
Move the cookies to a rack to cool before frosting.
For decorating, if you want to add sprinkles, you can do this before you bake them. If you want to frost them, you can do it your usual way or try my trick. When I don’t make my own frosting, I like to take the canned kind from the grocery store and put however much I need in a bowl. Then microwave it in 15 second increments until it is just melted.
Then I just sort of smooth it on with the back of a spoon. I just really like how smooth the frosting comes out when I do it this way.
These were so good. I will definitely be making these in Christmas shapes later. And probably in other shapes all year round for whatever reason I can come up with. Like a party or another holiday. Or, you know, a Tuesday.
*Bonus: you can freeze the dough to use later. Just make sure it is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and put in a freezer bag. It should be good for about 2 months
We’re all familiar with Throwback Thursday, right? The social media trend of posting old photos or whatnot that make us all nostalgic and remind us of days gone by.
Well, sometimes watching these TV holiday movies is like an extended Throwback Thursday. For those of us in my age group, anyway. I was born in 1984 so while I do remember some things from the late 80’s, I was only 5 years old when the decade ended. Most of my memories are from the 90s and it is a decade I look back on fondly.
Lots of these Christmas movies that I enjoy so much star celebrities from my childhood. A few of them could even have a category all their own. Here is just a sampling of where you can find your favorite stars of yester-year:
There are a few stars from the 90s who have been in enough Christmas movies to host their own film festivals. Since that probably won’t happen, you can just have your own little marathon at home:
So far for this Christmas movie series, I’ve tried to make recipes that correlated with the specific facet of TV holiday movies that I was writing about: Gingerbread boys and girls for the relationship post, Cheesy popcorn because the movies are totally cheesy and the definition of a popcorn movie… you get the idea.
So, what to do for the post about these movies being a landing spot for the stars of the past? Bear with me on this one…. Christmas PASTa! Get it? PAST… Pasta… See what I did there? OK, moving on.
So the only thing that makes this “Christmas” is the fact that it is red, green, and white. And the bow ties. Like a present? Yes? Otherwise, this is a year-round dish.
Pesto is very easy to add to your recipe arsenal. You just throw everything in a blender and done. You can use it for lots of things. There are also LOTS of ways to make pesto, just do a Google search and you’ll see. This is just how I make it. Feel free to substitute things to adjust the flavors to your liking.
In a blender, add the following:
1 big handful of spinach (this is not a traditional ingredient, but I love the color and it add so much nutrition. You can also do kale if you like that sort of thing)
1 big bunch of fresh basil, leaves torn (you’re going to blend it up anyway, so you don’t have to chop or anything. I used the entire package from the grocery store. Use a lot.)
3/4 cup walnuts (I don’t like pinenuts, which is the traditional pesto nut. Use what you like.)
4 cloves of garlic (I start with 4 cloves. If you want it more garlicky, you can add more later after a test-taste)
1/2 cup parmesan cheesehefty pinch of salt
Put all the ingredients in a blender and turn it on a medium level to get it going.
To assemble the “Christmas PASTa” dice up some mozzerella (use what you want, but fresh mozzerella is so good! I’ve heard it’s easy to make, maybe I’ll have to try that sometime), and cut some cherry tomatoes in half.
Boil some pasta and mix in some of your pesto. It really doesn’t take much, so just add a couple spoonfuls and mix in while the pasta is still warm. You can refrigerate the leftovers. Add the mozzerella and tomatoes, and eat up!
I know it may sound lame or corny or cheesy or whatever, but part of what I love about the Christmas season, and what I’ve always loved about the Christmas season, is the magic of it all. Something about the whole package: the trees, the presents, the music, the food—it really brings a childlike quality to the season and just makes you feel really good. This only works if you stop with the hustle-bustle and the crazy and the negative news that permeates our lives. Just stop and really take it all in, all the imagery of Christmas. It’s a time to appreciate each other, reflect on the birth of Jesus, and just start over.
Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of our Lord, you can still use the time to show the ones you love that you love them. Be a little kinder to one another. The “magic” of the season is really just letting go of the toxic things in your life and just being nice to each other. Loving each other. Most of these Christmas movies aren’t religious at all, but they still manage to capture the spirit of the season and what it means just to be nice to one another. It’s a lesson I think we can take through the whole year with us, actually.
Some of my favorite movies that really show what the magic of Christmas can do to change or help a person have already been mentioned in previous posts, but if you are looking to see a movie that will restore your faith in the human spirit and make you feel all warm and fuzzy, these movies definitely have that as a main theme in their plot: Northpole, The Christmas Shepherd, Snowglobe, 12 Wishes of Christmas, Elf, Fir Crazy, Let it Snow, Moonlight and Mistletoe, 12 Dates of Christmas, A Carol Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Any iteration of A Christmas Carol, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Night Before Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Christmas Cupid, Preacher’s Wife
Whenever I eat peppermint, I can’t help but think of Christmas—especially peppermint with chocolate! And of course when I think of Christmas, I think of everything I just mentioned above. This treat is commonly found around the holidays, but it is so easy to make at home.
You just need:
1 bag dark chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 bag peppermint candies
In a microwave, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl. Put it in in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until melted. I think mine went 90 seconds.
Pour the melted chocolate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Spread it out into a thin layer. Put the sheet into the fridge to harden for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
Once the dark chocolate is cooled, melt the white chocolate the same way you melted the dark chocolate. Don’t add any peppermint extract though.
Either with a rolling pin or a food processor, crush up about a half a bag of peppermint candies (remove the wrappers, obviously!). Do this before melting your white chocolate so that you can use them right away while the white chocolate is still melted.
Sprinkle the white chocolate with your crushed peppermint candies. However much or as little as you want. Put this back in the fridge so the white chocolate can harden.
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"People who love to eat are always the best people." -Julia Child
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