Chocolate Mint Cookies

_MG_3026

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.

Keep reading!

Homemade Eggnog

Homemade Eggnog

Growing up, my mom always made eggnog around Christmas time. As kids, I remember going into the fridge to grab a snack, and then getting really excited when I saw the gallon jugs of milk replaced with gallons of homemade eggnog (non-alcoholic, of course).

Keep reading!

Peppermint Mocha Soap

Peppermint Mocha Soap 1

When the cold weather hits, you can almost always find me with a hot beverage in hand – cider, tea, hot chocolate and nearly any type of coffee concoction. One of my favorite wintertime treats is the peppermint mocha. It’s the perfect drink to kick off the Christmas season – chocolatey, minty and needlessly caloric. What more could you ask for?

Keep reading!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

When I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles last week, my taste-testers (i.e. family and friends) ate them up in no time. I took that as a good sign, so I’m at it again with the no-bake no-egg cookie dough creations. This time in the form of fudge!

Just like the truffles, this recipe comes from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook, by Lindsay Landis. I originally borrowed this cookbook from a friend, but after making two delicious and indulgent treats I think I may be ordering it for myself. I hope my taste-testers are OK with trying out a few more cookie dough recipes!

Keep reading!

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).

Keep reading!

Chocolate Hazelnut Soap

This past weekend, one of my best friends came to visit. She and I have known each other since those uncomfortable junior high days of braces, over-sized glasses and zero sense of style. Fortunately, we survived the preteen years and have come out the other side with an awesome friendship and (hopefully) a little less adolescent awkwardness.

_MG_9483

We spent this past weekend hanging out downtown, eating great food, reminiscing about old times and of course, crafting. I couldn’t wait to share my new love of soap-making. I’ll admit, after my last soaping mishap I was a bit nervous to create my own recipe. But when you’re crafting with friends, the mistakes are half as frustrating and the successes twice as fun, so why not give it another shot?

Keep reading!

Offbeat’s Picks: Cavallini & Co. Rubber Stamps

My mom and I used to make card-buying quite the epic field trip. We’d head out to the Hallmark store and peruse every aisle, laughing at the funny cards and holding back tears when reading the heartfelt sympathy cards. Before we knew it, we had forgotten that we only went in there for one birthday card, and instead came out with enough birthday, baby, sympathy, thank you and congratulations cards to last the entire year.

Keep reading!

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Pumpkin pie has never been something I particularly loved.  I’ve always been more of an apple pie sort of gal, but when my sister was visiting we decided to do pumpkin pie for fall’s sake.

I’ve had these Le Creuset mini cocottes (baby Dutch ovens) for a while now and I’m absolutely in love with them.  Aren’t they adorable?  Basically, if something can be made “mini”, I’ll do it just so I have an excuse to use these cute little things.

Keep reading!

Vanilla Spice Applesauce

We went apple picking yesterday!  This is one of my favorite fall traditions.  Dave and I have been going apple picking once a year since we got married, so this is our third year.  It’s really exciting to be settling into a yearly tradition in my still fairly new family.

Orchards in fall are some of the prettiest places you can visit.  The beautiful rows of trees ripe with juicy apples, the families all bundled up and roaming the grassy lanes, the kettle corn and apple cider stands with lines of kids waiting to taste all the yummy fall-time treats – it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss.

Keep reading!

Homemade New Jersey Deli Bagels

There are a lot of things I miss about New Jersey.  I miss being familiar with a place because I grew up there.  I miss the weekly football gatherings at my dad’s house, having about 50 authentic Italian restaurants within a 5 mile radius, only being a few (traffic-filled) minutes away from Manhattan, the “accent” that I didn’t realize existed until I moved to Kentucky – and I miss the bagels.

Every deli in New Jersey sells bagels.  I’m not sure which are better, New York bagels or New Jersey bagels, but I have to say the texture and flavor of both are something I haven’t found anywhere else.  We have a Panera nearby and they definitely make a decent bagel – but the slightly dense, slightly sweet, slightly salty, steamy and rich bread encased in the chewy caramelized crust of a fresh New Jersey bagel just can’t be beat.

Keep reading!