The Best Holiday Shortbread Sugar Cookies, Ever

Shortbread Sugar Cookies; Holiday Cookies
Shortbread Sugar Cookies; Holiday Cookies

I don’t know about you, but nothing reminds me of my childhood more than iced sugar cookies! One day I came home after school from 3rd Grade and my mom had made heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink icing. I must’ve devoured half the cookies on the spot, and my sweet tooth was very satisfied. I was happy and my mom was happy, because she loves when we ask her for food. It’s a mom thing, wanting your kids to have healthy (and sometimes not-so-healthy) appetites.

The sugar cookies my mom made were from a Betty Crocker cookbook that our American neighbor had gifted her, after I kept asking my mom for all desserts American. Growing up in an American compound in Saudi Arabia means that my love for the sweetest of American sweets is well-developed. I’m talking about sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, fudge, toffee, caramel anything, pralines, pecan pie with ice cream, etc.

Shortbread Sugar Cookies With Icing
Shortbread Sugar Cookies With Icing

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Tahini Freezer Fudge

No Bake Salted Tahini Cookie Dough Fudge
No Bake Salted Tahini Cookie Dough Fudge from Ambitious Kitchen

Have you ever tried freezer fudge? It’s easy, quick, and no-bake — and, it’s my new favorite fudge.

I’ve always loved fudge: the texture, the bite-sized pieces, and the sweetness. And, I’ve made lots of fudge using condensed milk and chocolate, or using cream and butter and icing sugar. But, this freezer fudge, made with coconut oil, is just so simple and fast to make that I had to share it with you.

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Cookie Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cups – And, They’re No-Bake!

 

Cookie Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cups Made With Penotti Cookie Notti
Cookie Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cups Made With Penotti Cookie Notti

I love to bake, a lot, and recently I’ve been experimenting with cookie butter. I discovered cookie butter about a year ago and I’ve been busy developing new ways to bake with it.

Cookie butter is a spread that’s been popular in Europe for many years and is now available and gaining popularity in North America. Made primarily from speculoos cookies, cookie butter looks like and has a similar consistency to peanut butter.

When I did some reading on the origins of cookie butter and speculoos cookies in particular, I realized that I practically grew up on these cookies! Speculoos, or speculaas, cookies are a Belgian spiced shortbread cookie that are popular year round in Europe. You’ve probably seen them in old-fashioned type tins around the holidays and you may have seen them in the cookie section of your grocery store. Speculoos cookies are brown in color, crunchy, and often have a caramel flavor in addition to hints of cinnamon. In Europe and the Middle East, these cookies are served as tea biscuits and used for baking – they’re consumed and enjoyed all year round.

Speculoos Cookies
Speculoos Cookies

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The Best Banana Oatmeal Muffins I’ve Ever Made

Banana Oat Muffins
Banana Oat Muffins

This Banana Oat Muffins recipe is one of my new favorite recipes and I wanted to share it with you in time for the weekend.

I’ve been obsessed with oatmeal these days: steel cut oats for breakfast, dark chocolate oatmeal cookies, breakfast oatmeal cookies (recipe blogged here), and oatmeal waffles (recipe here)! There’s something filling about oats and the fiber content is a plus. So, I’m always on the lookout for all kinds of ways to enjoy oatmeal.

The other day I googled banana oat muffins and a few recipes came up. I spent time going through the recipe comments because I think that’s one of the best ways to know if the recipe works and how much people like it. Well, the Banana Oat Muffins recipe from Genius Kitchen had so many amazing reviews and comments, I just had to try it!

Banana Oat Muffins
Banana Oat Muffins

The best thing about these muffins is that they use about 5 bananas, or 2 cups.  I always seem to have ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and this recipe put them to great use. Continue reading

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Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Waffles

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Waffles
Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Waffles

I’ve been meaning to post this Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Waffle recipe for some time now and, given that it’s National Waffle Day, why not?

Oatmeal is a food and fiber that I’ve always loved, be it in cookies, for breakfast, or in granola bars. Now I’m loving oatmeal in waffles. It also seems like waffles are all the rage these days, so I’ve probably been craving them subliminally. Have you seen the chicken and waffle recipes on Instagram and social media? What about waffle sandwiches at brunch? I admit to partaking in the latter.

When I was looking around for an oatmeal waffle recipe, I came across lots of them: gluten free, vegan, sugar-free. I tried many versions and tweaked the sugar levels. Interestingly, many used maple syrup, but I just stuck to regular sugar, to keep the batter thick. I played around with the fruit ingredients, sometimes using applesauce from a jar and sometimes increasing the fresh fruit content to where I didn’t include any applesauce.

The thing about this strawberry banana oatmeal waffle recipe is that it’s pretty forgiving. As long as it’s not too runny or too thick, a waffle iron can handle it! I also make it in a big glass measuring cup, which makes pouring it onto the waffle iron very easy. Continue reading

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Apple Crumble Cups – So Tasty and Presentable!

Apple Crumble CupsIf you like crumbles, or anything with oatmeal, sugar, and butter in it, then you’re going to love these Apple Crumble Cups that are easy and oh-so-presentable!

I’ve written two posts on crumbles (peach/strawberry and peach) in the past. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a crisp, a crumble, and a cobbler, it’s that crumbles contain oatmeal. This recipe is from allrecipes.com and is originally called a crisp, but it’s technically a crumble!

The reason I wanted to share this recipe is because I’ve been searching for one that makes mini crumbles. I was served something like this at a friend’s house, and I loved how cute and compact it is. Yesterday I was talking to my mom about a recipe she had seen on TV, and it reminded me of all the uneaten apples sitting in our fruit basket. I had to make some type of crumble!

Apple Crumble CupsHere’s the recipe, as taken from Allrecipes, attributed to Debbie Eckstein. I’ve changed the name to call it ‘Apple Crumble Cups’ instead of ‘Apple Crisp Cups’. At the end, I’ve given tips on how I made my cups. Continue reading

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Chocolate Candy Box Cake – Sooo Easy To Make!

Chocolate Candy Box Cake Made With Kit Kat Border
Chocolate Candy Box Cake

Every once in a while, you come across the easiest wow-factor cake and you wonder why you’ve never tried to make it before! That’s how I felt about the chocolate candy box cake that I’d been seeing on Instagram for a while now.

I’ve heard this cake called: ‘chocolate candy box cake’, ‘candy box cake’, or ‘Kit Kat cake’ – the latter because of the border around it. It’s basically a chocolate cake that has a bunch of candy on top. It has a border made of Kit Kat or other chocolate finger treats or pirouline wafers. You can make it in the shape of a circle or a rectangle and you can put only chocolate on it or a mix of candy and chocolate. Once you’re done, wrap a ribbon around the cake, and you’re done.

I did some online searches and watched a few YouTube videos for tips on how to make the cake. There’s lots of inspiration out there, so have a look.

Here are the 5 easy steps I took for making my daughter a chocolate candy box cake for her 18th birthday. You can also read my last post on throwing a surprise 18th birthday party, where we served this cake. Continue reading

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Linzer Cookies- Something New For New Year’s!

Linzer Cookies with Black Cherry Spread from Bonne Maman
Linzer Cookies filled with Black Cherry Spread from Bonne Maman

Jam-filled sablé cookies have always been a holiday tradition in my family – it just wouldn’t be the holiday season without some kind of shortbread cookie in the lineup! In fact, when I used to come home from university, my mom had a box of these yummy cookies frozen and waiting for me. She still does that anytime I go home, no matter what time of year it is.

This holiday season, I tried a new version of jam-filled cookies: Linzer Cookies, from the Holiday Cookies* cookbook by Alice Medrich. The combination of almonds, almond extract, lemon and lime zest made the cookies unique, crunchy, and oh-so-tasty! Linzer cookies are, by definition, made with almonds, and originated in Linz, Austria.

Linzer Cookies made with Black Cherry Spread

Our wedding anniversary is between Christmas and New Year’s and, given that jam cookies are my husband’s most requested cookie, it gives me the perfect excuse to make one more holiday cookie (not that I need one) at this time of year. In fact, my husband reminded me earlier this week that I hadn’t made any this year! He also likes anything with almond flavoring, so these cookies were made for him! And, he loved them.

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6 Tips And Ideas For Packaging Christmas Cookies

Packaging Christmas CookiesIt’s as much fun to package Christmas cookies and treats, as it is to make them – wouldn’t you agree? All you have to do is search for  holiday gift wrap ideas online and you’ll find tons of creative and original ideas. I also love getting inspiration from magazines, books, and stores this time of year.
In my post on stress-free tips for holiday baking, I promised some tips on packaging baked goods. So…here are my 6 tips for packaging Christmas cookies.
Packaging Christmas CookiesTip 1: Keep in mind that it’s the thought that counts!
If you’ve spent lots of time baking or picking out the perfect edible gift, and you’ve gifted yummy food in the past, then you know that the receiver is really going to appreciate the time and effort that went into the gift. As my daughter says, it’s a more thoughtful gift when it’s homemade. This is another way of saying that there’s lots of food this time of year and that it’s about the thought behind the gift, not the quantity.

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8 Steps To Stress-Free Holiday Baking!

Holiday Baking TipsI love to bake and it’s something that I do several times a week, all year long! People ask me what I do with all the baked goodies, but the truth is that we eat most of them, take them for school lunches, and share them with friends. The latter is especially true around the holidays, because we end up gifting a lot of baked treats. It does take a bit of planning to get it done effortlessly, so I’m sharing my 8 steps for stress-free holiday baking!

Holiday Baking TipsStep 1: Make a list of what you want to bake
This step sort of starts itself around the beginning of October when you see holiday baking magazines in the check-out aisle. It’s easy to get inspired and reminded about what you want to bake. I usually take out holiday baking books from the library and do some online searches. I also ask my husband and kids what their favorite treats are, and I add them to my list. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes, because it’s always fun to find new favorites. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on some new treats I’m going to bake this year!

Holiday Baking TipsStep 2: Clean out the freezer and fridge
Although we have a frost-free fridge, I still find that there is some frost build-up in the bottom of the freezer. This is probably because of the uneven temperatures in our kitchen and because we open and close the fridge a lot. I find the beginning of the holiday season to be the best time to do a big clean. Purging expired and freezer-burned food clears space for storing all of the holiday goodies. This takes me 24 hours to do as I let the fridge sit overnight, but it feels so good to start the holiday season with a clean and empty freezer!

Holiday Baking TipsStep 3: Take an audit of your ingredients, spices, and flavourings
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