Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 Challenge!

Happy December 27th everyone!  I hope that you have made it through the holiday season without any major kitchen catastrophes.  I got to spend a few days in the original Wilde Kitchen, my parents home.  We baked dessert, prepared a French toast casserole and waited for five pounds of stollen dough to rise. 

I'm back in my adopted (for now!) state of New Jersey and enjoying some much needed time off.  Boyfriend still has work this week, which means I have run of the entire kitchen for the whole day.  I've been using this time to fight off the last of the bronchitis that I picked up a while back and make plans for next year.

This year was the year of Why Bother.  My 2012 challenge had me making some of the things that I would usually only buy from the grocery store.  We had fun making bagels and nut butters and had a little less fun with homemade coconut milk and potato chips.

Now that 2012 is winding down, it's time to starting thinking about 2013 and the challenges that await.  Due to my recent streak of bad luck in the cold/flu department, I have three Why Bother challenges that have been pushed into the new year.  Once these are completed, we begin the new 2013 challenge, Restaurant Wars

See it up there in the header?  This coming year is all about recreating the restaurant experience in your own kitchen.  Boyfriend and I will be eating out and then heading home to make it ourselves.  I still need your input!  I've filled in the first few weeks of challenges with restaurants that popular, nationally reaching and near my apartment.  I need your help to finish scheduling the rest of the year!

Do you have a favorite restaurant or dish that you would like to see featured in the Wilde Kitchen?  Drop me a message either here or on the 2013 challenge page.  Let's have a delicious year, at home.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Brownie Cupcake Sundaes

We are only days away from Christmas.  It's been really easy to tell how many days are left before the holiday weekend begins because of the following.  Each day this week...

My morning train has been emptier and emptier.  Friday morning promises to give me a three-seater all to myself!

There have been fewer and fewer people in the halls at work.  My company is closed next week for our winter shutdown and some people choose to extend this vacation by taking a few days this week as well.  I'm pretty sure there will be 10% of the people in the building and maybe 1% of them will be doing actual work.

My evening return to the city each night has become more packed with families.  They are all dressed up in their winter best, heading to the city to see the Rockefeller tree, shop at Macy's and view the holiday windows.  Oh yeah, and be loud and noisy on the train.  Shhhhh...

T minus five days - Boyfriend has fled the cold weather to visit his parents in Florida.  This is a good thing.  While we will be spending Christmas apart (I'll be heading to Buffalo this to visit my own parents), I get to use this time to shop and wrap for the guy. 

I finished my holiday shopping last night after work.  My antibiotics have helped me kick the bronchitis that took up residence in my chest.  And Perry's Ice Cream sent me two containers of holiday flavors.  It's time to celebrate!

Actually, the container of ice cream pictured is not the original one that they sent me.  I accidentally ate all of that one.  All by myself.  Don't worry, it took me almost two weeks to eat the whole container.  BF and I had to make our way to the New Jersey Wegmans and buy the last container of peppermint ice cream.

Before I ate all of the ice cream, I had plans to make these little brownie cupcakes.  These dessert treats are really simple and perfect for a complicated holiday dinner.  Make some brownie cupcakes, top them with your favorite mint/peppermint ice cream and add a dallop of whipped topping.  Hello delicious.

Happy Holidays everyone!  I hope that you get to spend some time with the ones you love.

Many thanks to Perry's Ice cream for helping it feel like home, all these miles away from Buffalo.  I've also found that if people know about Perry's Ice cream, they love it.  If you can find it, give it a try!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Eggnog Mallomars

Happy Holidays everyone!  Can you believe that we are less than a week until Christmas and two weeks until we bid adieu to 2012?  This year has gone by so quickly, I'm not quite ready for 2013 just yet.  I haven't really had a chance to enjoy the holidays and the end of this year!

Over the past four weeks I have been struggling with the cold that would not leave.  This past weekend I headed to the doctor who told me I had bronchitis!  I was hooked up with some medicine and have been crashing at home for the past few days.  I'm hoping to kick this out of my system before I head home to Buffalo this weekend.

The exact same thing happened last year, I got sick just before the holidays.  I was laid up for weeks and missed out on so much fun while I was napping.  I think that BF and I went to sleep around 10:30 on New Years Eve. 

After three days on my medication, I'm feeling much better.  Hopefully I'm on the mend for real this time.  I was feeling healthier this Saturday and made some holiday mallomars!  Last year was peppermint, this year I made you some eggnog flavored sweets.  Though I am concerned about feeding them to anyone, what with my bronchitis diagnosis a day after I made them!  I can tell you that these guys were tasty and I was the only one to have any.  Maybe being sick while making cookies is a good thing?  All for me!

Hope you are all enjoying these last few weeks of the year.  With my recent illness, the last few weeks of my 2012 challenge have fallen to the wayside.  I've pushed the final challenges into the new year, to be sure that I complete them all!  And don't worry.  A new 2013 challenge will be announced soon!  Stay warm and bright everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pinata Cookies

Clear your calendar, because you are going to want to make these cookies and it is going to take a while!  Boyfriend and I spent the week making these treats for his companies holiday bake sale.  BF is the creative mind behind these cookies.  He saw this post from "She Knows" and thought they would make a great holiday cookie.  We also thought that they would bring a pretty penny at the bake sale and raise lots of money for Hurricane Sandy Victims.

The process was simple, but involved.  It took us three days to complete these cookies.  You could finish these in one day if you devote the whole day to it.  BF and I worked on these at night after work for a few hours.  For someone who does little to no baking/cooking, he was a great kitchen helper.  I made the dough on my own and he helped will all the remaining steps.  Give these cookies a try if you are looking for a fun project!

Here are a few step-by-step instructions for preparing these steppy treat!

Not shown, prepare your dough and divide it up into three balls.  Place each dough ball between two sheets of  plastic wrap.  Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Place dough on a cookie sheet and put dough in the fridge for 1 hour.

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Preheat the oven to 350 F and grab your chilled dough from the fridge.

Lightly flour the countertop and remove plastic wrap from the dough.  Stamp out dough with your desired cookie cutter.  Be sure to choose a cookie cutter that is large enough to punch a hole in the middle.  And remember, for each pinata cookie you will need three cookies, so stamp out cookies in multiples of three.  Using a circular cookie cutter, punch a hole in the middle of every third cookie.

Place cookie dough cut-outs on the prepared baking sheets.  Chill the baking sheets in the oven for 30 minutes.  Bake the cookie sheets for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie.

Remove cookies from the oven once they just begin to turn golden brown.  Let cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets on a wire rack.  Remove from the baking sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Now would be a good time to call it a day.  You don't want to ice the cookies until they are completely cooled.  Once you are ready to design and draw, make a batch of royal icing (I used Bridgets from Bake at 350, no changes required because it's an amazing recipe!)

Since BF and I went with snowmen and snowflakes, we didn't have to worry too much about icing colors.  We piped and flooded the cookies with white icing.  The snowmen got black hats too!  Day two was completely taken up by piping and flooding the cookies.  Let them sit overnight or a few hours until the icing has dried.  Remember, you only need to decorate a third of the cookies.  Do not decorate the cookies with a hole in the middle.

We used parchment paper cones to add the final touches to our snowmen.  Check out this helpful video if you want to make parchment cones for icing too.  I made tiny ones and we used them to pipe the carrot noses.  Okay, to be honest...  I piped the scarves and noses.  BF gave them eyes using a toothpick.

While your final decorations are drying, begin the cookie sandwiching.  Take the completely undecorated cookie and the cookie with the hole in it.  Pipe some royal icing on the back of the holey cookie.  Place the holey cookie on top of the undecorated cookie.  Do this for all of your cookies.  Let the icing dry for 30 minutes.  Now fill the hole with mini M&Ms.  Don't overfill, just a single layer of M&Ms should do it.

To finish your pinatas, pipe some more royal icing on the top of the holey cookie.  Place the decorated cookie on top and gently press down.  Ta Da!  Sandwiched, snowman, pinata cookie!

Maybe you want to see it done with the snowflakes?  These bad boys were edged and flooded with white royal icing.  Once the white icing was dry, some stiff icing was tinted blue and piped onto the tops of the cookies.  You don't have to be perfect, remember, every snowflake is unique!

We got a little fancy with these cookies and piped the holey cookie too.  Just a little...

Here comes the M&Ms!!!

This time we offset the cookies when sandwiching them together.  The icing on the center cookie shows through to the top and makes our snowflakes extra special!

I hope all of BF's coworkers like these cookies and they help raise lots of money for Hurricane Sandy victims!  All I know is they smelled delicious and I wanted to eat all of them.  It was difficult to let them leave the house without me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Triple-Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks the following...  This is the best time of year because you have such a great excuse to bake dozens and dozens of cookies.  Seriously!  You bring a batch of cookies to the office in June and people are all "Cookies?  Were you bored this weekend?"  Even holiday-themed cookies through the year (heart cookies in February, pumpkin cookies in October) raise an eyebrow of some people. 

It's in December that I can freely bake to my hearts desire without question from my coworkers.  No, I'm not trying to slowly poison you/make you fat.  It's the holidays!  You're supposed to eat lots of cookies.  Although, I think that if I feed my coworkers lots of cookies, I will eventually look thinner in comparison... 

I was very happy to take part in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap again this year.  It gave me yet another reason to bake cookies... and raise money for charity!  Be sure to head over to Love and Olive Oil or The Little Kitchen and check out the whole group of cookie swappers!

For the cookie swap, I decided to make use my favorite flavor combination - chocolate and peanut butter!  Happy Holidays everyone and I hope you eat lots of cookies!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Acorn Squash and Sausage Bake

The holiday gift giving season is in full swing and I'm sure you're out there, trying to think of what to get that special someone.  Or perhaps you don't know what your sister-in-law could possibly need?  Maybe you've got a boss who has everything?  I thought I'd toss out a few ideas for fun (and sometimes totally useless) gift ideas for everyone.

How about an updated locket necklace from Kate Spade.  What girl wouldn't love to wear this around their neck?  You can fill it with pictures of their kiddos, puppies, kitties or special someone.
A little tough, a little sweet, this cuff is just the statement piece your best friend has been looking for!  Check it out at Wanderlust and Co.

You don't have to be a New Yorker to love this NYC subway map iPhone case!  Personally, I want it so that I don't have to keep opening up my app when I need to know where to transfer!  The NYC Transit Museum has a ton of fun transit related gifts, for city dwellers and suburbanites alike!
Do you know someone who always has a dead phone?  This handy (and adorable) gadget will charge your phone away from home.  Check out this (and a ton of other fun things) at Uncommon Goods!

Apparently featured in Oprahs magazine, I think any foodie worth their salt (HA!) would love this collection of gourmet salts.  If anything, they are super pretty and would make a great piece for their kitchen counter.  Find this set, or a smaller set of four, at The Spice Lab.

If you are all out of ideas, then you can always resort to making your friend, family member or coworker and nice homemade meal.  I suggest the following...

It's a simple, one baking sheet meal.  Perfect for days you just want to throw together a meal.  Acorn squash is the perfect gourd to go with because it doesn't require peeling.  Just de-seed and slice the squash and it's ready to go in the oven!  Sweetened up with some red onion and dried cherries, this meal will make a great dinner gift for anyone.

Or just head to, I want to buy everything I see on that website.  It's totally unhealthy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Apricot-garlic Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes and Fennel

Top Ten Ways
To Avoid Illness while Riding NYC Public Transit

1. Purchase a Hazmat suit.  Paint it to look like it isn't a Hazmat suit, as the NYC police might find you a little suspicious wearing a Hazmat suit on the subway.  Paint your Hazmat suit to look like a nice Italian three piece, wear at all times when riding transit.

2. Avoid licking the hand rails.  Seriously people, those are dirty.  Do you know how many thousands of people ride the subway everyday?

3. Listen before you sit down.  Hear any hacking coughs, snuffly noses or loud sneezers?  Don't sit next to those people, they want to share their virus with you.

4. Don't ride NYC public transit.  Walking is good for you, especially if you have to go fifty blocks and it's below freezing.  Think of how many calories you're burning!

5. Invest in face masks.  If anyone looks at you strange, just start speaking Japanese.  They'll realize you are from Japan, where face masks are totally normal.

6. Don't touch anything!  Don't even lean against the wall.  Just stand in the middle of the train car and maintain perfect balance until your stop.  This is especially easy when you are riding with a friend.  Let them hold the bar, you just grab tight! 

7. Keep your gloves on.  Make sure they are those big fuzzy ones.  You'll be less likely to itch your eyeball while wearing big fuzzy gloves.  Think muppet-like.

8. Get a train car all to yourself.  I've seen this technique done only once.  I'm going to warn you, it involves not showering for a long, long time.  Maybe this should be a "last resort" kind of suggestion.

9. Bring your own air supply.  This will most likely take the form of a scuba diving system.  Wearing a wetsuit is just optional, a fabulous option!

10.  Get a flu shot.  Don't tell anyone you got a flu shot as they will inevitably try to punch you in the arm.

If only I had this all figured out two weeks ago, when I contracted some form of NYC cold virus.  If I was going to be sick, I wasn't going to do it by myself.  I managed to get BF sick too!  The Wilde kitchen has been quiet and the Wilde household got extremely dirty.  Nobody wants to do laundry/dishes/pick up anything while sick, right?

We are both finally on the mend and I made us some dinner last night.  This was so delicious and simple, I might even make something similar to it for Christmas dinner.  It was so easy, I was actually able to get everything cooked and ready at the same time.  Give one recipe a try, or try all three!

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