Chocolate Mint Cookies

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Growing up, my mom always made chocolate mint cookies for Christmas. I remember helping to put the little Andes mints on the top when the cookies came out of the oven, and I’d often attempt to sneak a few into my mouth for good measure. Of course, when there weren’t enough mints for the last tray of cookies it was glaringly obvious who was guilty of stealing them, but a bit of mischief was part of the fun of baking with Mom.

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Harvest Focaccia Bread

If I had to choose my favorite type of bread, I think focaccia would be the clear winner. When I saw a recipe for Harvest Focaccia from Food Network, I had to give it a try. Topped with herbs, fruit and nuts, this bread showcases the flavors of fall – and with winter right around the corner, this bread is the perfect accompaniment to seasonal soups.

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Farm Wanderings at Heritage Prairie

Last week, I shared over at FOLK Magazine & Blog about my recent wanderings at Heritage Prairie Farm. I thought I’d share a few more pictures from my visit. They have so much great stuff I just couldn’t squeeze it all in one blog post!

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Our Open “Haus” Menu

I recently shared a few creative and simple entertaining ideas inspired by my brother and sister-in-law at their open house for FreshGround Roasting. As that event was being planned I thought, “Why not make this a weekend event and host an open house at our place the next day?”

OK, I’ll admit it was quite busy cooking, cleaning and setting up for two consecutive open houses. But it was totally worth it! We had a great time on Saturday with FreshGround. Then on Sunday, my husband and I invited friends, family and neighbors to our open “Haus” (our play on words since our last name is Hauser).

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Creative & Simple Entertaining Ideas

Last Saturday, Tiffany and I hung out with my brother and sister-in-law at their open house for FreshGround Roasting. We had a blast preparing appetizers, decorating and learning about coffee. One of the things that I loved was how my sister-in-law, Krista, set out the food. We had hearty appetizers, local cheeses, amazing cupcakes from The Sugar Path and fresh fruits and veggies. Krista used vintage and household items to make the spread look as good as it tasted.

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Offbeat’s Picks: Pomegranates

Only recently have I started eating fresh pomegranates. It began about a year ago when my husband, Colson, and I were looking for an inexpensive date night idea. We decided we’d make dinner together but we wanted to add a little twist to it: mystery ingredients. We decided we’d go to the grocery store and each pick 1 ingredient without the other person knowing what was chosen. When we got home, we’d reveal our choices and cook one meal incorporating both mystery ingredients.

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Hearty & Healthy Chili

There’s nothing better than a big bowl of chili and some corn bread.  A few weeks ago I started having chili cravings, so I vowed to find a really great recipe and get crackin.  I hadn’t found a good one yet when we were invited to dinner at our friends’ house – and guess what?  They made chili!  It was an old recipe from a close family friend and it made its way home with me.

When I was making the chili grocery list, I decided I was going to try reducing the fat and salt to make it a tad more heart healthy without losing any of that amazing original flavor.  I substituted ground turkey and ground chicken for 2/3 of the ground beef, sprung for low sodium diced tomatoes and sauce, and drained the beans.  The chili turned out AMAZING.  It didn’t have as much kick straight out of the pot, but the next day after the meats had absorbed all the flavors and spices, it was to die for!

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Cookie Decorating for Kids

My sister makes the best sugar cookies. Seriously…the BEST. Maybe I’m biased because she’s my sister, but they’re amazing. Honestly, I don’t even really like sugar cookies – except hers. They’re perfectly sweet, never dried out (thanks to a little trick I’ll share in an upcoming post!) and decorated BEAUTIFULLY! These cookies are a work of culinary and visual art.

OK, those cookies pictured above were decorated by a five-year-old…not by my sister (decorating tutorials coming soon!).

Today, I really want to show you how my sister is cultivating cookie decorating skills in her daughter, Chloe – without the frosting mess that a kindergartener is sure to make.

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When your kitchen is slower than your garden…

Now that I have a yard I love growing herbs, and I’ve found that some herbs are basically foolproof.  I’ve been able to easily grow parsley and sage by simply making sure I water them regularly, which is about as much of a challenge as I can handle in the garden.

But now I have a new problem—I have more sage and parsley than I know what to do with.  So I did what any modern citizen would do—I Googled it.  And like any good search engine, Google came through with my answer.

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Fall Baking & The Perfect Brownie

By the time mid-August hits, I’m officially in fall mode. I love summer, but there’s something about fall that just inspires me. The fashion, the new candle scents from Bath & Body Works, the planning of our annual apple-picking trip, and last but not least, the baking.

The fall-time baking itch hit pretty hard the last few weeks, so I dove into my cookbooks, Food Network magazines and favorite baking blogs in search of the perfect dessert to kick off my favorite season. It wasn’t long before I found a recipe from Ina (in the latest FN magazine) for brownies! It originally called for a caramel drizzle and a sprinkle of sea salt, but I decided to skip the toppings in honor of my chocolate obsession.

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