Friday, December 2, 2011

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

For me the holiday season means lots of baking and making treats. Since I've been trying to cut back on sweets, I've found that so far I'm not really craving holiday flavors like eggnog and gingerbread. Instead I just want to indulge in some of the other things I've been skipping lately.

Hence these cookies and cream cupcakes. I have been wanting to make this recipe for ages, and I finally had the opportunity when we had a few friends over for dinner this week. I don't know about you, but I've had some bakery Oreo cupcakes fall short of my expectations—often they have just a single cookie as decoration, or they are dry from all the cookie crumbs.

But this recipe is what I think a true cookies-and-cream dessert should look like—there's a hidden Oreo at the bottom of each cupcake, the batter itself is full of chopped cookies, and then each cupcake is topped with cream cheese frosting, more cookie crumbs, and another half Oreo.

Yum! It definitely took care of my cookie craving. :)

Have you gotten started on your holiday baking? What have you made so far?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wrapping Paper Storage

Source: via Hannah on Pinterest

I saw this clever idea for storing wrapping paper on Pinterest a while ago, but finally got around to trying it myself. We don't have much storage space in our small New York City apartment, but we are blessed with high ceilings in our closets.

My version isn't as pretty to look at (no lighting in the immediate vicinity of my closet), but I'm happy with the way it turned out. When I e-mailed a photo to my husband, he said I was a regular MacGruber. Only if MacGruber is on Pinterest. :)

If you're short on space, how do you store your wrapping supplies?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gift Idea: ButterPups Collars

If you're buying a gift for a pet person this year (or for your own lucky dog), definitely check out ButterPups. I may be biased, because my friend Edith runs this shop, but I've never seen cuter collars. There are bows for the girls, bow ties for the boys, and a huge array of colorful fabrics to choose from.

Above is my mom's dachshund, Ivy, modeling the Christmas Tree Collar.

And below is my own sweet boy. Obie's collar collection has gotten a little out of control, but what can I say, he likes being a dapper gentleman.

Do you buy Christmas presents for your pets? Or am I the only crazy doggy mama out there?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Card Wreath

How was your Thanksgiving? We had a very relaxing few days visiting family and playing with puppies (two new ones in the family--adorable!). I am grateful for so much, especially my loved ones and the opportunity to make a living as a writer. Thank you, world.

And now... my very favorite time of the year. I love Christmas. I love throwing our annual party for friends and family. I love the shopping, baking, and crafting. I love sitting on the couch and admiring the tree and pretty lights. And I'm looking forward to sharing some special treats with you over the next month.

First up...this simple Christmas card wreath. When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I did a mental inventory and realized I had all the supplies on hand...crafting kismet!

The original wreath used a wire hanger to string the clothespins, but I glued mine to to an embroidery hoop. I saw some other examples online where the clothespins alternated directions—I think this would be a good idea if you want to display more cards.

I can't wait to receive this year's batch of greetings! Let the festivities commence!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Apple Cream-Cheese Bundt Cake

Are you a cake person or a pie person? I'm not one to turn down any dessert, but I definitely lean towards cake. Frosting always beats pie crust!

That's why I decided to make this apple cream-cheese bundt cake for a recent "Friendsgiving" dinner. I knew there would only be pie at my family's celebration next week (again—not complaining!), and I wanted to get my autumn cake on. :)

This dessert is totally over the top, with a moist apple cake base, a tunnel of cream cheese filling, and a delicious praline frosting. I wish I could show you the inside, but I didn't want to slice into it before bringing it over to my friend's apartment. You'll just have to take my word that it was delicious!

Here's the recipe. What are you having for Thanksgiving dessert?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ten Years Ago...

...I met my husband for the first time, on the field after the Harvard-Yale football game. Sounds like a classic love story, right? Truth: We didn't start dating until four years later. In fact, when we first met, Matt thought I wasn't interested in guys at all.

(My roommate Sarah and I may have been hitting the spiked cocoa that day, and so we were both giggling when she introduced me as her "friend." Little did Matt know, we were giggling at everything!)

Anyhow, Matt and I were rooting for the same team, but I love this vintage rivalry poster from (If you can't see, the caption reads "Held by the Enemy?")

We haven't really gone to the Harvard-Yale game as alums, but maybe someday we'll drag our kids and bore them with the story about how Mom and Dad met. :)

M, here's to another ten years (and another ten after that!) Love you!

(I don't have many pictures from that day, but this one gives you an idea of the jubilation after the big win--and perhaps the effects of that spiked cocoa! I'm the girl to the left of the guy in the blue sweater.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chicken Artichoke Stew

The other day I was craving spinach artichoke dip, but didn't really want all of that heavy mayonnaise and cheese. So I looked around for some healthier options, and after a few tweaks I think I hit the proverbial nail on the head.

This hearty stew has the same flavors as spinach artichoke dip, but uses white beans instead of mayo or cheese to achieve its creamy texture. I added shredded chicken for extra protein but it would be yummy without it, too. I tire quickly of leftovers, but I ate this every day for lunch until it was gone. Delicious!

Chicken Artichoke Stew
Serves 3–4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1–2 cans garlic, chopped
9 oz frozen artichoke hearts
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2–3 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2–3/4 pound cooked, shredded chicken
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the scallions in the olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped garlic, white beans, and artichoke hearts and sautee 1–2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a low boil. Remove heat and blend with an immersion blender until no large chunks remain. Add heavy cream, worcestershire sauce, shredded chicken, parmesan cheese, and spinach. Cook an additional 5–7 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.