I just wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and only the very best for a prosperous 2011! Your support in 2010 has meant the world to me and I hope to be back in January with new ideas and recipes!
A BIG thank you to everyone for entering this fantastic giveaway from Tate's Bake Shop. I loved reading all about your favorite cookies and started getting excited about maybe baking a few myself. In case you are wondering what my favorite cookie during the holidays is, it's one of my sister's recipes called Nougat-Stangen. They're a chocolate hazelnut cookie that with a filling of Nutella and also a drizzle of chocolate. They're a lot of work to make, but the end-result is so worth it.
To get back to the giveaway though, the winner of this great cookie gift-pack and the cookbook is: Number 60 which happens to be Amanda from BakingWithoutaBox, who won with her entry of: "I already follow you with Google!"
Congratulations Amanda! Please send me an email with your full name, address and phone number so Tate's Bake Shop can get this wonderful gift-pack send right out to you.
Also keep in mind that Tate's Bake Shop is still offering a 15 % off coupon through December 31st, 2010 on their website. All you have to do is enter the code "cookie" during checkout.
Every once in a while an email lands in my inbox that gets me excited just by reading the subject line. This was the case when Elizabeth from Tate's Bake Shop contacted me to inquire if I was interested in reviewing some of their cookies and cookbook. Cookies and a cookbook, ummm, yes please! What made this even more exciting was the fact that I had known of Tate's Bake Shop cookies for quite some time, but have never had the pleasure of trying them myself. The bakery was founded by Kathleen King and is located in Southhampton, NY. The cookies are actually quite famous and have been featured in Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and InStyle Magazine, just to name a few.
The package arrived promptly and I couldn't wait to taste test. Of course, I had my trusty crew (my husband and kids) help me with this enormous "chore". The first thing I recognized when opening the cookies was the fact that not one of them were broken or chipped, which might be due to the fact that they are all hand-packed with care. They contain all natural ingredients that you can taste with every bite. The cookies are actually quite flat and crispy compared to most cookies my family has been used to. The smell is incredible on these cookies, they are buttery with lovely caramel undertones. Considering the cookies my family usually prefers, it was quite a surprise of how quickly they were gone, but they were quite addicting. The front runner by far were the White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut cookies, followed by the Chocolate Chip and then Oatmeal Raisin. My husband and I really loved the Oatmeal Raisin since it has the perfect amount of spice to it without any of them standing out or being overpowering, but the kids crowned both of the chocolate varieties the winner.
I've also had the pleasure of reviewing Kathleen Kings cookbook. There are quite a few recipes inside that I have bookmarked already. All of the recipes are down to earth with readily available ingredients. When trying to figure out which one to bake first I was faced with quite a hard decision, but ended up picking the Toffee Pecan Cookies. They sounded perfect for the season and quite frankly, ended up being absolutely divine. My daughter, exclaimed that these cookies are so awesome you don't even miss the fact that they don't include chocolate, while my youngest proclaimed "now that is a good cookie, it tastes just like a cookie should", which is pretty much the highest compliment ever from a 9 year old boy ;o)
The cookie and cookbook review was made just a little sweeter since Tate's Bake Shop is also giving away the same cookie gift-pack and cookbook to one lucky reader. Keep them for yourself, or give them as a gift, the choice is yours.
*This Giveaway is Closed*
To enter the giveaway here is what you need to do (Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each entry):
To enter: Since 'tis the season, let me know your favorite cookie to eat or bake during the Holidays in the comments section
For Bonus Entries (again, please use separate comments):
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 cups instant quick oats 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1/4 cup white sugar 1 egg 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup pecans, chopped 2 cups toffee bits
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheet or line them with Silpat (parchment paper will work as well). In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and oatmeal. Set it aside. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars till creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat them till they are combined. Don't overmix. Stir in the toffee bits and pecans. Using two tablespoons, drop the cookie dough two inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake them for 12 to 15 minutes for chewy cookies and 18 to 20 minutes for crunchy cookies. The crunchy cookies will be browner in the middle and firmer to the touch.
First off, I'd like to thank all of you for participating in this very special giveaway and once again express my gratitude to Lindsay Olives for supporting such an important food related cause. You are all fabulous and I'm so impressed with how charitable each and everyone of you is. I'm sure glad that the winners were picked via random.org as I could have not made a choice myself. In my opinion you are all winners and I truly wish I could give all of you one of these beautiful wreaths. Unfortunately, my connections are not that great (yet) ;o) However, if you did like the wreath and didn't end up winning, there is still time to order one from Lindsay Olives. They make for great gifts, beautiful decorations and best of all benefit the Meals on Wheels Association of America. In my opinion, that's about as good as it gets.
So without further ado, here are the two fabulous recipients.
"The wreaths are so beautiful Susi! I am buying gifts for a child in need - I pick a tag (or two) off a tree at the mall with their list on it and then shop for them. I think meals on wheels is awesome! I know lots of people who benefit from their meals."
Congratulations to Kim and Reeni, I guess 4 was a lucky number for the both of you! Please send me an email with your full name, mailing address and phone number so that Lindsay Olives can ship the wreaths out to you as soon as possible.
I like Mac and Cheese, but it is not one of my favorites, which is truly weird since I love pasta and cheese. I think most of them are just kind of "eh" and I'm always looking for a bit more flavor. I know, I'm strange, blame it on my German genes if you must. On the other hand, mac and cheese is pretty easy to fix and can feed a crowd fairly inexpensively. The few times I've made mac and cheese at home, I've played with different cheese combos and while they were all good and certainly edible, they didn't have me do cartwheels.
I haven't been very inspired to prepare meals in the last few weeks, but when I do feel well enough to cook, I'm usually looking for recipes that utilize either what I already have on hand, or make it easy for my husband (who has been a saint) to pick up a few extra ingredients on his way home from work at the grocery store. I found the recipe for this dish on Tasty Kitchen while I was looking for a quick dinner. It utilizes leftover grilled chicken breast that I already had in the refrigerator but this dish can just as easily be fixed with leftover rotisserie chicken as well. Sharp cheddar cheese, Gruyere and Parmesan add flavor along with crumbled bacon. Milk and heavy cream make this very rich tasting and certainly not diet food (which we will all need come January). Don't fret though, it does have a red bell pepper thrown into the mix, so at least you're getting a little bit of vegetables. However, they are disguised enough that even non-bell pepper lovers (like my daughter) will eat it without complaint.
This is a great dish that easily serves a lot of people. Add a side salad and you have a complete meal that even with all the hustle and bustle of the season is prepared in less than an hour and lets you sit down as a family and appreciate each other.
On a personal note, I wanted to thank all of you for your kind comments and emails regarding my health. I'm still not feeling well, but really miss blogging and all of you. I've made it a goal to pop in a few of your blogs everyday. So while you might not hear daily from me, I'm still around. :o)
If you haven't entered my Holiday Wreath Giveaway, make sure to do so soon, since it closes tonight at midnight and this giveaway is too good to pass up, especially for such a good cause! Also stay tuned for another fantastic giveway coming soon.
2 - 3 cups cooked boneless chicken breast (grilled or rotisserie), chopped
6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse when cooked and set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute onions and red peppers until soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and flour and whisk together to create a roux. Add milk and cream (or half-and-half), stirring constantly. Add 3 cups of the cheese mixture (reserving one cup to top the dish with ) and the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and stir mixture for 5-8 minutes or until mixture thickens.
Mix cooked pasta with the onion/pepper mixture, the chopped and cooked chicken and the bacon.
Add half of the mixture to the greased baking dish and top with half of the cheese sauce. Add the other half of the pasta mixture and top with the rest of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the dish with the reserved cup of cheese and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the dish is hot and the top is golden brown. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.