The Classics

With the million and two holiday recipe options floating around every year, sometimes you just need one go-to that is pretty much always guaranteed to taste great and be a crowd pleaser. I bring you…the chocolate chip cookie. It’s easy, it makes a decent sized bunch, it isn’t super fancy, and hell, who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?

I would love to say this recipe has been in my family for generations (because well, my grandma does in fact use this recipe), however I shall not tell a lie. It is taken from the cookie extraordinaires themselves, Toll House. And well, why fool with something that’s already so good? I present you…the classics:

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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I sometimes like to add things like white chocolate chips and dried cranberries , or coconut flakes to this recipe instead…the base is great for any amazing cookie! I’m giving some to my coworkers as gifts this year…hopefully they’ll like them as much as I do 🙂

Have you made these before? What is your favorite flavor combination?

xo SA

“We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big Eastern syndicate you know.”

As much as history repeats itself, so does the stories in the news, particularly around the holidays. Next to the “Milk and Bread!” announcements with some low-level news anchor standing next to the empty rack where shovels used to be in Home Depot , the most notable winter-time holiday news stories include that of people trampling each other at your local Wal-Mart. Ah, Black Friday..the one gem of the American holiday season. I once tried explaining this truly American holiday tradition to a German friend of mine, who simply could not understand the reasoning behind people getting into physical altercations to get televisions as if there was a global shortage, but alas.. one of the many mysteries of life.

While Black Friday has come and gone, the holiday season is still well upon us. I recently read this article discussing “Christmas Gluttony”, as some would say. Growing up, it almost seemed the norm with my friends and I what we would get—a few toys, an outfit or two,  and maybe a book or holiday themed movie that we had particularly wanted. Nothing really that over the top; it was also expected that amidst the Christmas season we would give back to those around us in some capacity, regardless of our age–whether it be delivering excess cookies to a homeless shelter or helping an elderly neighbor out with her shoveling. The concept of how families vastly differ in their internal gift-giving has only something that I really have recently paid attention to as an adult. Granted, this of course, largely varies on parent’s values as well as economic abilities, but a lot of the underlying principles behind it still stand.

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I’m personally a fan of practical gift-giving. Most of the gifts I purchase are something a person can wear in some capacity, or eat, or a high quality version of something rather useful that they need/planned to buy anyway (ie:part of my mother’s gift is a new curling iron..SHH!!). I also have siblings who were born ON Christmas Day, so really, when it looks like I’m buying them an array of gifts, it’s really just Christmas and Birthday combined–so not all that bad.

Last year, I overheard the story of 5 year old who, when prompted by their aunt on what he would like for Christmas, replied with a list of 3-4 items, none of which that had a price tag of under $200. Aside from the extreme specificity of the gifts (and the entire spirit of Christmas and giving being entirely lost here), to further worsen the matters, when the gift-giver told him that she could not afford his pricey selections he simply replied with “Why not? It’s ONLY $200, and it IS Christmas!”.

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While I would have received a swift swat on my derriere from my parents for being such a (insert adjective of your choice here) child, the point I’m trying to make is that Charlie Brown did have it right-Christmas is being commercialized! Whether you celebrate the religious significance of the day, or simply enjoy the concept of a holiday to be spent with your loved ones with the potential exchange of gifts ‘just because’, keep in mind that it’s not about the actual gifts, but rather the thoughts behind them. I’m (clearly) not an expert on parenting, but instilling the value of giving rather than receiving is something that Christmas should highlight. Avoiding talking about what the spirit of this season truly means  only feeds into the effect of future generations further commercializing the season.

 

What was your favorite gift-giving practice for children based on the list? Should these concepts be applied to all this season?

 

As for what I want this holiday season?

Real estate 😉

xo SA

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the snowflakes are so delightful!

I LOVE the holidays and not like a little… Like a WHOLE LOT! I feel like even with the madness, there is this undeniable happiness, hope, love, and excitement filling the atmosphere. I love the colors, the smells, the decorations, the get togethers and all the things everyone else seems to hate. Mostly though, I LOVE giving gifts! I love making them, buying them, wrapping them and most of all watching everyone open them! Although this year I am low on the funds and can’t afford to be buying and sending too much, I found a quirky idea for my cards! I hope you like them and try them too because they are simply out of this world!

Thanks to the absolute geniuses of Anthony Herrera Designs and Chaunce Dolan of Mattersofgrey.com, the world can create the best snowflakes ever. With nearly 25 Star Wars patterns, they have revolutionized the art of snowflake making.

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I printed a few patterns and gave them a go. They are tricky at first but if you stick it out, they are seriously the coolest winter gifts ever! I plan to make many many more!

Here is the link: http://mattersofgrey.com/diy-star-wars-snowflakes/

All you have to do is print out the PDF, cut out the circle, fold it according to the pattern and cut out the grey sections. Once unfolded, they look amazing-o!

I did it on regular computer paper because most of the stock of my colored/patterned paper is just too thick. I also left the paper white because I like how it is a little bit of secret and not boldly visible that there is a hidden pattern within the flake! Of course you are more than welcome to do whatever you wish to do!

I am sure I will be attempting to implement this pattern in other projects but I am not quite sure how yet but I will definitely keep you posted!

May the flake be with you!

-a

Three french hens, two turtle doves…

And a roasted duck that tastes love-lyyyyyyyy!

Sorry, had to finish the song hehe.

So at my Friends-giving (the better alternative to Thanksgiving, of course) this year, I assisted my masterful chef friend in making duck for the first time. We followed the instructions to a T, and well, the final product can be seen below. While it takes about a million and two hours to complete (and may not be the best choice for those on a tight schedule with the potential to get hangry–yes, hunger+anger), it’s a great alternative to fancy up your meal if you’re having a few friends over for a relaxing dinner. The recipe she used can be found here.

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Not too greasy, totally moist, and really a great first-time-you’ve-tried-duck experience for the more squeamish eaters. Bottom line, it tastes amazing. Just make it!

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Have you tried to make duck before? Did you like how it came out? Would you try this recipe for a dinner party?

Happy Eating!

xo SA