Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

Soft, chewy and full of cinnamon goodness, these cookies are perfect for Christmas!


Gingerbread is one of those quintessential Christmas sweet treats. This one is flavorful and a cinch to bake up.

No-Fail Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

This recipe makes great cut-out sugar cookies, and the royal icing is perfect for decorating.

Eggnog Cookies

Soft and cakey cookies with the perfect amount of nutmeg and all the flavor of eggnog.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

This recipe is sinfully simple, full of the flavor of Nutella and can be prepared in the microwave (or on the stovetop) in minutes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Make Your Own Take-Out - Sweet & Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food, but wouldn't say that I have varied tastes when it comes time to order take-out. Unless I'm at a Chinese buffet, which is rare, I tend to eat the same few things: Seasame Chicken, Fried Rice, occasionally Lo Mein, and Mr. Picky Eater's favorite Sweet & Sour Chicken. I enjoy an eggroll from time to time too, but typically I can take those of leave them. If I do eat eggrolls, duck sauce is a must for dipping. That little bit of sweetness just does it for me.

It's not a frequent meal at our house, but I love doing what I call "MYOT" (Make Your Own Take-Out) Chinese for dinner from time to time. Occasionally I'll do Teriyaki Chicken or Beef, but usually I go with Sweet & Sour Chicken. I've tried a number or variations on the sauce, everything from the stuff in a bottle to the packet of powdered stuff you mix with vinegar and soy sauce. I've seen quite a few different ways to do baked Sweet & Sour chicken, with plenty of rave reviews, so I decided to give it a try, with my own spin, of course. Based on the recipes I've found, the chicken is typically breaded and fried before being covered in sauce and baked. And, although I know when I order it in any Chinese restaurant it's always breaded and fried, which is decadent and fantastic, I decided to skip the mess of frying and make it healthier in the process. My way has no fat, other than what is in the boneless skinless chicken, which we all know is minimal.

Of course, I'm sure the fried and then baked versions are amazing, but my version is pretty darn great too, if I do say so myself. I can't decide if the best part is the awesome flavor or knowing that I can eat a plate full and not feel guilty that I've just consumed way more fat grams in one sitting than I should in an entire day. When comparing sauce recipes I saw everything from 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I decided to go with 1 cup, and that was a tad sweet, but I love adding soy sauce to mine after the fact so the added sweetness worked out fine for me. If you don't typically add soy sauce to your meal after it's plated up or you aren't a big fan of sweet I would cut the sugar back to 3/4 cup.

This would be great served with fried rice, but since I didn't plan ahead or have any leftover steamed rice in the fridge I served it with plain ol' white rice. When I make Sweet & Sour Chicken in the skillet I always stir-fry some veggies and add those in, but since this version is baked in the oven I added some carrots, green peas and broccoli to the rice cooker while I was steaming my rice. If you don't have a rice cooker or opt to steam your rice on the stove it should work just as well to add the veggies that way too. I added the carrots when I started the rice, then added the peas and broccoli in the last 5 minutes of cooking so they would remain a bit crunchy.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50-60 minutes

Total time: 60-70 minutes

Yield: 5-6 servings


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 to 1 cup (depending on desired sweetness granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the sauce add all ingredients except chicken to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. Rinse and pat chicken breasts dry. Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes and add to 8 inch square baking dish.
  4. Pour sauce mixture over chicken cubes, stir so that all chicken is completely coated with sauce.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Stir every 15-20 minutes while baking.
  6. Serve over steamed white rice or fried rice.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Channeling Nana - Perfect Southern Cornbread

I'm a southern girl through and through, from my overall style to my taste in music, and I am most definitely a totally southern girl when it comes to the foods I love. One of those southern foods I love so much is cornbread. When I was little it was a food I liked, but given a choice I would pick a biscuit over cornbread. It seems that the older I get the more I love cornbread though. I remember my Nana baking a big ol' loaf in her cast iron skillet. My Daddy aka Mr. Picky Eater? He bakes corn muffins. I don't care what form it's in, just give me cornbread.

My Nana, never used a mix when she made hers, and my Daddy has always used a mix. He is of the opinion that if you can shortcut it and it's still good then why go to the trouble of making it from scratch. I agree with that about somethings and I won't knock cornbread mix because some brands are good, and sometimes I want it fast and easy so I'll reach for a mix too. But, I'm one of those people who feels like if I love something I want to learn to make it from scratch, whether it is a chocolate cake, biscuits, scallop potatoes or cornbread. I mastered the chocolate cake long ago, and yes I'll admit that sometimes I still go with cake mix, it all depends on my mood and the amount of time I have to spare. I won't lie I haven't mastered biscuits yet, although there have been no failures to date, I have yet to turn out a biscuit that's tall and super soft in the middle like I want. Mine usually turn out a little crumbly and a bit on the flatter side. Cornbread was a similar story for me.

I tried a recipe for "southern" cornbread a few weeks back that seemed promising, but didn't hit the mark for me. The taste was decent and thanks to a pretty large amount of oil in the batter as well as the skillet I didn't have a problem with it being too dry, but my cornbread came out super flat, nothing at all like the recipe assured it would be. Oh, well, I figured it was time to try again. After some searching, and arguing...umm debating with Mr. Picky Eater I was determined to try again. After all the searching I went back to a recipe I tried long ago and remembered as pretty good. So, I pulled out my bag of House Autry corn meal, and started tweaking because I can rarely leave well enough alone. The recipe said to bake in an 8" square baking pan, but I felt it was a must to use Nana's cast iron skillet, so I upped the measurements, and substituted buttermilk for plain milk and hoped for the best. Mr. Picky Eater's only complaint was that it needed salt, which as you will see the recipe calls for (and I did not forget to add), so perhaps I would go with 2 teaspoons of salt next time. I, however, did not notice a need for more salt, so who knows.

I think I was channeling my beautiful Nana and she was smiling down on me as I baked this cornbread, because it came out nice and tall, with just the right texture, perfectly moist, and a beautiful golden brown. Yes, I'm pretty much in love with this cornbread. That's not weird to admit is it? It is? Oh well, I'm a food loving girl, it just can't be helped.

If you don't have a cast iron skillet or want a slightly smaller batch scroll down past the first recipe and you'll find the original measurements for baking in an 8" square baking pan. Muffin tins would work well too, (the original recipe states 10 servings). Also, I haven't tried this recipe with regular milk yet, but I would probably add a little less milk if using regular since it is thinner than buttermilk. Once I try it with regular milk I'll give an update on whether the measurement needs to be adjusted. The batter should be pourable, but not runny.

Southern Cornbread


  • 1 1/2 cups plain cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • additional oil to coat skillet

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Add just enough oil to 10-inch cast iron skillet to lightly coat the bottom. Add to preheating oven.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients, and set aside.
  4. Whisk together eggs, then along with oil and milk, add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Gently stir until all ingredients are combined (I find a whisk works best for this.)
  6. A few lumps will remain in the batter, make sure not to overmix.
  7. Add a tiny amount of batter to preheated skillet, and if the oil sizzles you are ready to add the batter. Pour batter into the skillet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. When a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean it is done.
  8. If you are using an 8-inch square baking pan, muffin tins, an 8-inch cast iron skillet or just prefer a slightly thinner cornbread, use the measurements listed below. If using an 8-inch square baking pan or muffin tins omit adding oil to pan, instead spray with non-stick cooking spray, and skip preheating the pan.

Smaller Batch Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • non-stick cooking spray

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hey Crafters! Cricut Sale Through Friday

Eventhough I have yet to share any of my craft projects with y'all and sadly I am way behind on my scrapbooking these days I do love crafts. Just check out my Pinterest and you'll see proof of that. Not to mention my never ending supply of crafting goodies. One of my very favorite craft goodies is my Cricut Expression along with the super cute cartridges. I've had my machine for a few years now and was in love with it from the start. It's a wonder I don't have more of the cartridges than I do. Somehow I've managed a bit of self-control when it comes to purchasing them! My absolute favorite cartridge though? The Cindy Loo Shape Cartridge. It has the most adorable letters and characters, and I just love the name!

Cricut is running a sale through tomorrow and I thought I'd share the deals with y'all.

If you already have have one of their lovely machines they are offering 25% OFF Digital Cartridges!

Cricut is also offering the super cute Pink Cricut Expression for ONLY $189.99!

And last but not least: Get $100 OFF the Reconditioned Cricut Expression Machine!

There are some really cute project ideas, as well as the Cricut Community with message boards, so poke around the site and I'm sure you'll find lots of great things. I know I have!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Super Simple Ways To Use Rotisserie Chicken

I rarely buy Rotisserie Chicken, but when I do I remember how delicious and how much of a time saver it is. Recuperating from last weeks flu I haven't really been in the cooking mood this week beyond easy, almost effortless meals. That along with a huge bowl of my delicious rice cooker Mexican Rice sitting in the fridge sparked my desire for a Rotisserie Chicken. Y'all remember the super easy Mexican Rice I told you about a while back right? It's pretty spot on with what you find in many Mexican restaurants and I absolutely love the stuff!

But, I'm getting a little off track talking about the amazing Mexican Rice. There are a ton of ways to use a Rotisserie Chicken and depending on how many mouths you feed one may very well last you for several meals. Since I'm only feeding two mouths, and occasionally a five pound Poodle, when he's being stubborn at breakfast (yes I have TWO Mr. Picky Eaters to feed!) a Rotisserie Chicken will usually last us a good 4-5 meals, so I look for creative and simple ways to use one. My favorite way meal with Rotisserie Chicken is shredded chicken burritos or tacos. The meal can be on the table in a matter of minutes, it's totally satisfying and has a nice fresh flavor with the lettuce, the salsa and yum, the sour cream!

An obvious use is Chicken Salad, which I love, but haven't managed to get the flavors just perfect for our tastes yet, so I don't have a recipe to share, sorry! Wraps, salads, chicken noodle soup, barbecue chicken pizza, those are all simple ways to use up that chicken. I went to Pinterest real quick and typed Rotisserie Chicken in the search and came up with tons of pins that give multiple uses, such as:

"10 ways to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken"
"24 ideas for Rotisserie Chicken" (all Betty Crocker recipes)
"52 uses for a Rotisserie Chicken"

And, as I was rummaging through the fridge yesterday looking for lunch I remembered a simple sandwich my Dad aka Mr. Picky Eater would sometimes make for me when I was a little girl. It was his version of a Chicken Melt, and was totally simple but delicious and satisfying. His version used canned cooked chicken, mayo and a slice of American cheese. I changed it up a little and used some Rotisserie Chicken, mayo and Extra Sharp Cheddar. It's so simple I can't even really consider it a recipe, but it's a sandwich I found myself craving again today.

How To:

For one sandwich toast two slices of bread in the toaster, then slather one piece of bread with mayo to suit your taste(both slices if you like lots of mayo). Top one slice of bread with a generous amount of warmed shredded chicken, and follow that with a generous amount thinly sliced cheese of your choice - my favorite is Extra Sharp Cheddar (or you could grate the cheese). Place the chicken and cheese topped slice of bread in the oven under the broiler and heat until the cheese is completely melted. Make sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn. Remove from oven and top with the other slice of bread.
If you have chicken salad on hand that would work great in place of the mayo and shredded chicken. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet Snackin' - Churro Chex

I'm a sucker for pretty much anything cinnamon related. Chances are when a recipe calls for cinnamon I double the amount, and have yet to say, "Whoa, I added a little too much!" Naturally, with my love of cinnamon I'm a huge fan of churros. Being in the south we don't find many around these parts, but I have occasionally been known to call one lunch while shopping at Costco. The snackbar has the most amazing HUGE churros, they're warm, soft and chewy and covered, I mean covered in cinnamon sugar.

I've seen a lot of recipes in the last year made with cinnamon chips, and have searched high and low with no luck. Finally, not too long ago I found them at Wal-Mart and grabbed up a bag without a second though. Since I have only found them in the one store and I think my Wal-Mart only stocks them seasonally I have since stocked up and have a few bags to last me until next fall.

I also have a bit of an obsession with Chex mix, no particular variety. Well, there are some that I don't find appetizing, but there are plenty of sweet and savory varieties that tempt me. So, I figured pairing my love of cinnamon with my Chex mix obsession was the perfect idea. I found a couple versions on Pinterest, one seemed to use way more cinnamon chips than I thought wise, so I opted for the other, a recipe from babble.com. I've found some really tempting recipes there, so if you've never been check em out y'all.

The recipe was super simple, and the only cooking required was a little time in the microwave to melt the cinnamon chips. This is a recipe that is better after it's had a little time to sit so the Chex have dried a little and aren't gooey, but I couldn't resist so I had some immediately and they tasted great, gooey and all. I knew I would likely be the only one eating them so I cut the batch in half, but the recipe below is the full batch version.

Churro Chex is great eaten solo, but I found that my favorite way to eat them was with vanilla greek yogurt. Does that sound weird? I love granola in my yogurt so I thought I'd give it a try and I found it to be a great snack, and fairly healthy to boot! Give these a try and let me know what you think. And, please, please don't hold the not so great, bordering on horrible photos (especially that first one) on these yummy little gems, it's really not their fault. All mine, and the dark gloom day.

Churro Chex


  • 9 cups corn or rice chex (The original calls for rice, but I used corn which was great.)
  • 1 cup cinnamon baking chips
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cooking Directions

  1. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave cinnamon chips and butter for 1 minute; stir until smooth.
  2. Microwave about 30 seconds longer if needed.
  3. Drizzle mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  4. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.
  5. Toss the coated Chex cereal into the sugar mixture.
  6. Spread on a piece of wax paper until cooled.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Searching for Craft Room Inspiration

I know I've been a bit MIA as of late, please forgive me y'all. We've been sick with the flu at my house, and it hasn't been fun. Not even a little bit! It started with Mr. Picky Eater over two weeks ago now and hit me last Tuesday. We've both had the flu shot, which we do every year, but it seems we've been bitten by the nasty strain going around that the shot doesn't cover this year. I will say that for me, unlike Mr. Picky Eater, I think the flu shot drastically lessened my symptoms because it hasn't felt much worse than a head cold along with a total lack of energy for me. But, I imagine the Tamiflu has had something to do with that. I swear I think it's close to a miracle drug! Anyway, enough of the sicky saga, let's talk about my craft room.

My craft room is a work in progress that doesn't see much activity these days, but once I get it organized I hope that will change. I have a wonderfully large bar height table that Mr. PE, aka my renovation specialist built for me. I painted the table a lovely taupe/cafe au lait color, and love that it's L-shaped so I have lots of room to for my Cricut and other most used items and can still spread out with a project. I've got a large bookcase packed full of books along with a few of my crafting supplies. My biggest need for organization is in my closet. Right now it's pretty jam packed with boxes and a couple large plastic bins where most of my supplies are crammed away. So, if I actually want to tackle a project I have to drag all the bins out and search for my needed supplies. I plan to change that with an inexpensive wire 3 shelf unit from Target. I found some lovely organization and decor ideas on Pinterest I'd like to incorporate and I thought I'd share those with y'all. What do ya say, want to take a look?

First off, I'm a bit of a mason jar fanatic, so I'm thinking this stacked mason jar idea would be perfect for my craft table. I could stick my most used markers, pens and scissors in them and add a little cuteness.

From Homemadesimple.com

Another idea I found on Homemadesimple.com is perfect for the scrapbooking paper crafter in me.

Reuse shipping boxes for paper storage

I spotted this cute little hand-painted piece on Etsy and although all the words don't describe me, I think I could use it for inspiration to create something similar that does describe me.

By whimsystudios

At present my walls are a little on the bare side, and I was thinking I might make a couple of these cute clipboards, which double as chalkboards to hang above my craft table. They would be perfect for writing myself little notes as needed and could do double duty as inspiration boards. Besides, I've been looking for a way to use chalkboard paint for a while now!

Found on scrapbooksetc.com

Do you have any cool ideas you've used in your craft room or plan to use that you'd like to share? If so, email me or leave me a comment, I'd love to hear em!

And if you want, check out my Pinterest Craft Room board for more of the ideas that have given me inspiration and ideas.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Look Back - Eggnog Pie

Ever think you have a great idea, but due to poor planning or unforeseen circumstances things go horribly wrong, or at the very least just turn out to be a flop? Yeah, I tend to have that happen too. But, more often, I have moments where I think that's going to happen and things turn out okay. This Christmas Eve's dessert was a perfect example.

It has become a family tradition that I spend Christmas Eve with a little piece of my small extended family - my aunt Trish, her husband and my two favorite kiddos, my cousins, their son and daughter. Trish and I each make a few dishes apiece for the meal, and as with every event I am a part of, I bring dessert. Since the main mouth I feed other than my own is Mr. Picky Eater who is not much of a sweets eater I usually take our Christmas Eve dinner as a chance to try out a new dessert recipe. Last year was Eggnog Cheesecake which was amazing!

This year I see-sawed between Gingerbread Cheesecake and Eggnog Pie, so I took to Pinterest for a little inspiration. I decided on the Eggnog Pie, as you probably already guessed, and I found a few inspiring recipes. Since it is Eggnog, I wanted a custardy pie, but when it came down to it, I had a good bit of other cooking to do so I wanted to skip anything with eggs that was an actual custard and would require considerable cooking time. I found one recipe that involved a few minutes of cooking, but pretty much just needed a few hours to chill. Then I found another recipe that was two layers, required no cooking, but a container of Cool Whip, which I realized I didn't have to spare because I needed it for another recipe (which I will share soon).

Anyway, long story short, I planned on doing the cooked version, but due to unclear instructions I didn't realize until after I had done the grocery shopping and refused to go back out that the pudding it called for was probably not supposed be the instant kind. With that said, I decided to wing it and hope for the best. I admit, I was a bit nervous, but it turned out great. Both kids went back for seconds with my favorite boy claiming it was "Really good!" and my silly favorite girl claiming, "It's okay, I just want the crust." Trust me, the way that girl was eating that pie, she liked more than just the crust.

If you're an Eggnog fan with some leftover from Christmas give this pie a try, I bet you'll love it. Or, if you're all out of Eggnog, save the recipe for next year. It's too easy and too delicious to pass up. And, if you're interested in checking out the other Eggnog Pie recipes that caught my eye check out my Edible Christmas Pinterest board, they're all there.

No-Bake Eggnog Pie


  • 1 9 inch prebaked pie crust, cooled (store-bought works fine)
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened (I used low-fat)
  • 2 packages (4 servings each) instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 1 1/4 cup milk

Cooking Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together softened cream cheese and pudding mix, until smooth and cream cheese no longer has any lumps.
  2. Add eggnog and milk, beat until completely combined into a smooth mixture.
  3. Pour into cooled, pre-bake pie crust. Cover surface of pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 3 hours.
  4. Sprinkle with nutmeg and/or top with whipped cream if desired.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Partnered Up

I have an exciting little announcement to make y'all! I have joined a talented group of baking bloggers who call themselves the Baking Partners. If you know me even a little bit or have been following my blog you know I love to bake, so this opportunity is an exciting one for me, and I look forward to creating my first recipe as part of the Baking Partners. Below is an excerpt from Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen, the creator of Baking Partners.

"Baking Partners: A new Baking Group

A group of home bakers helping each other to achieve perfection. Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nooks and corners of baking. We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows. Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group.

The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critique the procedure if there are ways to improve, and to eat a delicious food.

The rules are simple, we will choose one recipe and send it out to the group by the 16th of every month and the reveal date will be the 15th of the next month. On that day we will blog about it. A linky tool will be open during that time and each member can link their post.

The first month we are going to do a recipe, the 2nd and 3rd months will be a theme and the 4th month we will be back at a recipe. By doing in between recipes, we will able to learn more.

All enthusiastic bloggers interested in baking are welcome, please email Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen at favoriterecipes12@gmail.com.

We appreciate the use of the logo or worded link that will help to spread the word. A bunch of thanks to Tina for designing this beautiful logo.

If you want to make it a gluten-free or vegan diet, you can do those modifications also."


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