Monday, February 18, 2013

Current Addiction: DOWNTON ABBEY!

I've heard the chatter about Downton Abbey for a couple of years. I even downloaded season one to entertain me on my fourteen hour flight over the summer and failed to watch one minute. It wasn't until a Friday night at home two weeks ago when our beloved Dateline (nerds!) was a rerun that I asked my husband if he wanted to try watching episode one of Downton. One episode turned into two and after a season two marathon of sorts yesterday we are just about on to season three.

WHY have I not been watching until now? I am willing to go as far as to say that is is my favorite series I have ever watched. Well-written, humorous, sad, engaging - it's all there. I got so into it yesterday I even proposed a trip to Hampshire, England to see Highclere Castle in person. (Not kidding.)

Sadly I saw some spoilers on Facebook this morning and while I am not happy about what I saw, it will not stop me from watching.

Here's to my watching more TV in the past two weeks than I have in the past six months combined!

Who else is watching??

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Animal Baby Shower Cookies

Recently a friend sent me a Noah's Ark baby shower invitation as inspiration for the event's cookie favors. The invitation included elephants, monkeys and giraffes and was trimmed in zebra print so it was easy to come up with a fun collection:

Thank you Jen!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl & Berger Cookies Copycat Recipe

HAPPY Super Bowl Sunday!

Super Bowl Sunday has always been a fun day for my family. Growing up, my mom would let us choose what we wanted to eat during the game and to this day that remains a topic of conversation leading up to the big day. In my adult years I have hosted Super Bowl parties several times, taking great pride in customizing the menu to the playing teams' city specialties. One year there was jambalaya and king cake for the Saints, several years there were Primanti Brothers copycat sandwiches for the Steelers and one of these years I hope to be able to make Cincinnati chili for the Bengals.

This year there was not all that much that I thought of for our small group of four watching the game together. Not being a crab eater, nothing much came to mind. However recently I did learn of Baltimore's famous Berger cookies and came across a copycat recipe to try. Though I have never eaten an authentic one, after just eating the copycat version for breakfast I can personally give you my approval.


Berger Cookies Copycat Recipe via The Washington Post


For the cookies
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole or 2-percent milk
For the frosting
3 1/2 cups (21 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Stop and scrape the bowl down once, or as needed.

Add the salt, vanilla extract and baking powder; beat on medium speed to incorporate, then add the sugar and beat to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low (or do the following step by hand); add the flour to the bowl alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Use an ice cream scoop to drop 6 mounds of dough on each baking sheet, spacing the mounds at least 2 inches apart. If you use a standard ice cream scoop, the yield will be 16 cookies. For a yield of 24 cookies, use a slightly smaller scoop, usually sold for the purpose of scooping muffins and dough.

Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and there is just barely a golden edge showing from the bottom, but not colored on top. (These cookies are meant to be soft and caky, so don't overbake them.) Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat to use all the dough.

To make the frosting: Combine the chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate, corn syrup, butter and cream into a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes, then stir to combine. Return the bowl to the microwave; microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the mixture can be whisked together so it is smooth. Do not overheat the mixture or it may scorch. Let cool to room temperature; this may take a few hours.

When the chocolate mixture has cooled, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand-held electric mixer to beat it on low speed for 1 minute, or until the color lightens and thickens a little to form a frosting. (If you prefer a thinner coat, skip this step of whipping air into the frosting.)

Spread the top of each cookie with a generous 3 tablespoons of the frosting (about 1 1/2 ounces), leaving a margin around the edges. If you are making these in cool weather, the frosting will be firm enough to set almost immediately. In warmer weather, you may need to allow the cookies to set for about 20 minutes before storing.

Store in a single layer in an airtight tin for 2 days, or wrap them in plastic wrap for up to 1 week.

Recipe Source:

Adapted from a recipe (Baltimore's Finest) at

Friday, February 1, 2013

Two Years

Today marks TWO YEARS since I enjoyed my last soda. While I was never what you would consider an addict, I did have at least one diet soda on most days. (Not to mention for several years my weekend go-to cocktail was a vanilla vodka and Diet Coke.) However I was going through a major battle with migraines and on 2/1/11 gave up soda, artificial sweetener and coffee all on one day. I may never know exactly what my trigger was, but thankfully ever since my migraines have been the exception instead of the norm they once were.

So for the foreseeable future, these will be the only "sodas" I'll be consuming.

No caffeine or artificial sweeteners so I suppose they're in the clear. :)

Thank you MaryJo!