Happy One Year Birthday To Me & A Giveaway to Celebrate

>> Friday, December 31, 2010

I can't believe it's already been one year since I started this little blog of mine. I wanted to just thank all of you who come by and read, encourage me, and keep me motivated to keep trying out new recipes. As I've said on here before, I love this blog, because it keeps me sane. That's what the 'Vent' part of the "Cooking Vent" is all about. Through this blog, I've discovered so much more about myself, and who I really am. Not that I'm done yet, or have that whole thing even close to being perfected, but I've found a little bit more of the person God has created me to be.

As odd as it sounds, this little blog has brought me closer in my relationship with God - it's hopefully made me a better wife, a better friend, a better follower of Christ - and hopefully a better cook! :) "All of that from this simple blog", you say. Yep! It's amazing what doing what you love to do, and following what God tells you to do will bring about! Of course it goes deeper than cooking stuff and taking pictures, but that's for another day.

It's weird to look back at my entries a year ago, and see how different (read: bad) they were, and I'm sure I'll feel the same way about this one in another year.

In order to conclude the year of 2010, and recap my first year to blogging, I've compiled a little list of what I think were the best recipes I put together this year - 10 recipes for 2010.

Which one was your favorite?

1. Browned Butter Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies 2. Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting

1. Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Truffle Filling 2. Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Yummy Comfort Food:
1. White Truffle Oil & Cognac Cream Mac & Cheese 2. Beef Bourguignon 3. Two Cheese Risotto

1. Red Velvet Cake Brownies 2. Mini Chocolate Ganache Cakes...aka - the best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting you'll ever taste!

Refreshing Beverages:
1. Refreshing Blackberry Lemonade

And now for the fun part....

I'm giving away a fun little package to thank each and every one of you for reading! Saying it on here and having this giveaway really doesn't explain how much I really appreciate all of you guys - I wish I could bake you all a big ole' batch of cookies.

Unfortunately, I can't make them for everyone, but I can make them for one of you! :)

The giveaway includes:
1. Your choice of the above cookies - either the peanut butter sandwich cookies or the browned butter chocolate chip cookies

2. A Whoopie Pie Kit from Crate & Barrel/Sur La Table - How cute is this fun little kit.. I wish I had one too! (It includes a Wilton 12 pie pan from Sur La Table, Red Velvet Whoopie Pie mix, and the mini cupcake spatula's both from Crate & Barrel)

1. Post a comment here on this blog telling me what your favorite part of 2010 was and which cookie you would choose if you win

2. For an extra entry: post about this giveaway on your blog with a link back in your comment

Make sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner

Contest ends - Thursday, January 6th at midnight PST (which just so happens to be my REAL birthday, making it a great day to give away some fun treats!)



Merry Christmas!

>> Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all of you... from our home to yours!

Thank you for such a wonderful blogging year! I am so grateful for each and every one of you! Thanks for joining me on this blogging journey and reading me every so often! :)


Merry Christmas and One Last Christmas Recipe

>> Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve! It is such a joyous time! Besides all of the fun, laughter, decorating, presents, shopping, singing, and cooking/baking - it is the season of our Savior's birth! I am so thankful for the gift of God's son who came as a baby in a simple manger to save the world from our sin! We have so much to be thankful for!

If you forgot to plan something for Christmas breakfast, don't worry!! I think I've got you covered. Gingerbread waffles. If that doesn't say Christmas breakfast, than I don't know what does? And don't worry, I don't think you'll even need to run out to that crazy packed, traffic-filled, long-lined store to get anything. You probably have all of this stuff on hand from all the Christmas baking you've been doing. These are so yummy, and have just the right amount of spice. They are definitely a softer waffle, not hard and crispy. I topped them with a yummy maple whipped cream, but you can just use plain whipped cream, or whatever you have on hand.

I love making waffles, because my great-grandmother's waffle iron was passed down to me after she passed away. It's probably from the 50's and totally feels retro, but I love it. I always wonder what kind of waffles she made in it. She loved to cook as well, and I inherited a few of her baking tools - and I'm still working on getting her famous red velvet cake recipe! :)

I hope you all have a BLESSED and JOYOUS Christmas!!

Gingerbread Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream (Adapted from: Annie's Eats)
For Waffles:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
4 large eggs
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbsp. unsulfured molasses

For Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup whipped cream or cool whip
3/4 tsp. maple extract

For waffles:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to blend.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the eggs, butter, milk, sour cream, and molasses and whisk to blend.
Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry and combine until well mixed.

Using a medium-sized ladle, place one ladle full onto preheated waffle iron. Cook until golden brown and no longer sticks to waffle iron.
For Whipped Cream:
In a small bowl, combine whipped cream and maple extract. Fold together in order to not lose shape of whipped cream.
Serve on top of warm waffles and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever your little heart desires! :)


Red Velvet Brownies

>> Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How many "special days" can you cram into a little over a one-month period??

I bet you can't beat mine!

Nov 26 - Thanksgiving

Dec. 1 - The hubby's birthday

Dec. 14 - Our 7 year anniversary

Dec. 25 - Christmas

Jan. 1 - New Year's

Jan. 6 - My birthday

That's right - we have SIX, count them S-I-X major celebrations within just a month's time.

Now you know why I've been a little absent and needing some time away from the blog.
I've always said this blog is just for me... my way of keeping sane in the midst of craziness... my way to "vent" in the midst of stress. But if I were to keep it up the last few weeks, it would have caused me stress! So, I'm sorry for the absence. I can't wait to get back into it in the coming days.

I'll also be celebrating my blog's ONE YEAR anniversary at the end of the month with a very fun giveaway!! So look for that coming up very very soon! I really think you will like it! :)
I'm looking forward to some down time in the next few weeks. I have a few days off work, going to be spending some time with some good friends, celebrating Christmas Eve with our church, South Bay Church, and even getting away for a few days with my hubby! Can't wait for some relaxation time.

What is everyone doing for the holidays??

Now onto some insanely delicious brownies!

These take a pretty simple basic home-made brownie recipe with melted semi-sweet chocolate, add some red food coloring to give the red-velvet flare, and top with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate curls.

Don't let the white chocolate curls intimidate you. They are super easy! And they make your dish look super fancy.
These are super Christmasy, if you haven't planned out your whole menu already, these would be a great addition - or you can hold on to the recipe and use them for Valentine's Day! :)

Red Velvet Brownies (From: Southern Living)
For White Chocolate Curls:
8 oz. white chocolate chips
1 Tbs. vegetable oil

For Brownies:
1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (1-oz.) bottle red liquid food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

For Frosting:
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For White Chocolate Curls:
1. Melt white chocolate chips with vegetable oil in bowl in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
2. Pour melted chocolate onto smooth surface (I used a cutting board) that can be transferred into freezer.
3. Spread chocolate out till ~ 1/8 inch thickness (very thin)
4. Place in freezer for ~ 1 1/2 min. or until no indention is left on chocolate when pressed with finger.

5. Using a butter knife or frosting spreader, turn it over and push along chocolate long ways till thin curls come up from chocolate.
For Brownies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides of pan, lightly grease foil.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.

3. Whisk in sugar, then add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition.
4. Gently stir in flour and next 4 ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 44-48 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on wire rack. Lift brownies out of pan using foil handles, and remove foil.
For Frosting:
1. Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla.
3. Frost brownies and garnish with white chocolate curls. Cut into 16 squares for serving.