Entries Tagged as 'amanda'

Christmas at our House

December 29th, 2014 · No Comments



My parents were visiting for the Christmas break from Wednesday (Christmas Eve) until Sunday. Then on Friday Jess and Stephanie came down. On Sunday Richard and Amanda joined everyone and we had our Christmas party.




I guess I didn’t get any photos of the fine meal that Dallas made. It was a Portuguese roast with vegetables. The recipe is from Dallas’s Aunty on Kauai and she makes it for him every time we go home. Amanda also made a nice salad and for dessert we had the homemade candy that my parents brought. ALSO, while Makai was taking his after-lunch nap, I had a fun (and delicious!) project for Jess and Steph. We made reindeer from Nutter Butter cookies. I thought they were going to be like Pinterest wrecks, but once they were dried and everything, they were pretty cute (and delicous!).









Later on we opened gifts. This was the first year that Stephanie joined the gift exchange between the adults. We just draw names, so we don’t have to buy for everyone. I had Steph’s name and she had mine! I got her an electric blanket for her cold dorm room and she got me a nice perfume that I’ve been wanting, some kind of new fangled Coke, and an awesome calendar personalized with photographs I’ve posted on Facebook over the past year or so! Even though Steph was in the name drawing, I could not resist buying her some small gifts. One of these was a selfie stick, which was fun to play with. I got Jess one too, since they don’t live in the same house any more!


Jess and I did not forget to take our photos by the hats we drew in 2010. We tried to take our photo with the selfie stick but after a lot of misfires, we just had mom take the photo. Look how much we’ve grown!


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Christmas Dinner at Aunty Gail’s

December 26th, 2014 · No Comments

Photo by Heather

Photo by Heather

Photo by Heather

This was the 10th year in a row that we have gone to Dallas’s Aunty Gail’s house for Christmas dinner. My parents are visiting from Wisconsin this year and we contemplated not going, but in the end we did and dragged my parents along. I’m glad we did because it is so nice to see all of the family, including many who fly in and we don’t see very often. Of course, everyone made my parents feel right at home and they had a great time.


Photos by Heather





Photo by Heather

Last year Makai was just a baby. This year John was the smallest baby. Makai was running around and trying to get right in there with the bigger kids. That was fun to watch. He and his pal Hana are getting to the age when they can finally play together. When they were hugging I almost died. Cuteness!! Also, we keep Makai away from our stairs at home as much as we can, but at Aunty Gail’s tri-level home, there are a lot of stairs and they’re carpeted with VERY plush carpet and Makai would not hold back on going up the stairs. He’s a pro now.


Photo by Heather

Every year Aunty Gail makes beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole and her mom’s lettuce/mayo/crab/pea salad. It never varies. Dessert varies because other people always bring different desserts, but Aunty Gail always makes her signature cookies. Someone made brownies, my parents brought a tray of their homemade Christmas candy and Naoko made a delicious yule log.



Photo by Heather

Every year Aunty Gail reminds you a hundred times to bring your grab bag, “no junk!”. The gift exchange was a little more lively than it had been in the past couple years. Maybe because with my parents and Marty’s new wife, there were a few newbies. I just wanted the bottle of wine, dangit! My gift ended up including a bottle of wine, though, so that was nice.

Christmas Dinners Past:


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2014 Cookie Party Recipes

December 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Here are the recipes from the the 2014 Cookie Party. See also, recipes from other years: 2012 recipes, 2011 recipes, 2010 recipes, 2009 recipes, 2008 recipes, 2007 recipes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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1st Place
by Katie

1 family size package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 (8 ounce) package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2 packages Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1 package Baker’s White Baking Chocolate, melted

Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in the food processor; reserve for later use. Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Melt semi-sweet chocolate in small batches in microwave. Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Melt white chocolate in microwave, drizzle over truffles. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

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2nd Place
Cinnamon Spiced Hot Chocolate Cookies
by Amanda

Yield:36 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Mexican cocoa powder (or substitute by adding 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Generous pinch ground black pepper
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/2 cup dulce de leche, optional
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped, optional

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and set aside. Combine the sugars in a small bowl and mix well with your fingers pressing out any lumps. (Combine in a food processor if lumps are stubborn.)

In a medium mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the butter and margarine until creamy. Add sugar mixture, cinnamon, peppers, and vanilla. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute. Beat in the egg white and until the mixture is smooth. Stop the mixer. Add the flour mixture, beating on the lowest speed, just until incorporated. Gather the dough together with your hands and form it into a neat log, 9 to 10 inches long by 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Fold or twist ends of the paper without pinching or flatting the log. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes, or until needed.

Put the oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Use a sharp knife to slice rounds of chilled dough, a scant 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the cookies, 1-inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through. Cookies will puff and crackle on top, and then begin to settle down slightly when done.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing or stacking. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 2 months.

To spice things up, after the cookies are baked, let them cool on a wire rack, drizzle with dulce de leche and sprinkle chopped almonds on top.

Recipe from: Food Network.

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3rd Place
by Loden

Makes about 20 cookies.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Mascarpone Glaze
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and beat until combined (it’s okay if small clumps form), then beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until combined. Use a spatula to stir in the chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, just until it’s slightly less sticky and easier to roll into balls. Roll into golf-ball sized balls and place about 2 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are set. Let cool completely before covering in the glaze.

Mascarpone Glaze
Whisk together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the glaze on the cookies or use a pastry bag (I did!) to pipe it across.

Recipe from: How Sweet Eats.

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by Jess

Makes 16 cookies

For the cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup raisins

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
pinch fine salt

Make the cookies: Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture; stir until just combined. Fold in the carrots, pecans, and raisins. Chill for 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Heat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Shape the dough into balls (about 11/2 tablespoons each) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until golden brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling and assemble the sandwiches: Beat the cream cheese, honey, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Form sandwiches with the cookies and about 1 tablespoon of filling each.

Recipe from: Real Simple.

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by Caroline

Recipe not available.

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by Stephanie

39 oreos, crushed into smaller pieces
2 cups white chocolate, chopped (or white chocolate chips)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs butter
1 tbs milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk

In microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate, butter, milk, and condensed milk. Microwave for about 30 seconds and remove and stir until chocolate is mostly melted. Microwave again for another 30 seconds and stir again. Chocolate should be completely melted and smooth. If not, microwave slightly longer. Careful not to overheat in microwave.

Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until smooth. Do not over mix.

Spread 1/2 of the crushed oreos across bottom of a 9×11 aluminum disposable pan. Pour chocolate mixture on top. Sprinkle remaining Oreos across surface, spreading evenly. Press down on Oreo pieces on top so that they go into the fudge and attempt to smoothe out top. Place in fridge several hours to set, then cut with sharp knife into bite-sized squares.

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by Kristin

1-2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
chocolate chips (I never really measure this – it’s probably a half bag or so)
nuts (optional)

Cover a jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Then layer with a layer of saltine crackers.

Melt 1 stick of butter with 1 cup of brown sugar. Boil gently for 3 minutes or so. Stir it constantly and don’t let it boil too fast or it will begin to caramelize so much you won’t be able to pour/spread it.

Pour melted butter/sugar mixture over saltine crackers. Spread it around to cover the crackers. It may make the crackers swim a bit and shift around.

Bake in the oven (350 degrees) for 3-5 minutes.

Take out of the oven, gently sprinkle chocolate chips on the “bars”. Put back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the chips.

Take out of the oven and spread the chocolate chips so they cover the saltines/toffee evenly. Add nuts if desired.

Bake for another minute or two (optional). I just sort of wing it based on how melted the chocolate is and if I’ve added nuts that I want to adhere to the chocolate.

Let set for an hour and then break apart or cut it  into small bars (it’ll be messy as bark usually is). And, the parchment paper is key or the bark will stick to your pan.

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by Mary

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix
1 box (4-serving size) pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 cup dry-roasted salted pistachio nuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper; set aside. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix, pudding mix and flour. Stir in melted butter and eggs until soft dough forms. Add pistachios and cranberries; mix well.

Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheet. Press with fingers to slightly flatten.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

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by Rachelle

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 package (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 package (8 oz) toffee bits (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, melted butter and egg until soft dough forms. Spread dough in bottom of a 9×13-inch ungreased pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave sweetened condensed milk uncovered on High for 1 minute. Stir in instant coffee until coffee is mostly dissolved; set aside.

Sprinkle warm crust with chocolate chips, toffee bits and pecans. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture evenly over pecans.

Bake 23 to 27 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly in center. Cool completely, about 2 hours. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered at room temperature.

Expert Tips
You can use semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips for the milk chocolate chips.
Cut bars into bite-sized squares and serve in mini paper or metallic liners.

Recipe from: Betty Crocker.

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by Liz

2 c. sugar
½ c. crisco
1 stick butter
2 eggs
½ c. molasses
4 c. flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Roll, cut, bake @ 325, 10-12 min.

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by Jill + Halle

1 3.5oz of instant chocolate pudding
1 box (18oz) brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c water
1 c white chocolate chips (melted)
1 c of canned cream cheese frosting
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/2 – 3/4 t peppermint extract
1/4 c crushed candy canes (3-4 candy canes)

Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass pan). Grease 9×13 pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix and brownie mix. Add eggs, vegetable oil and water. Stir until well blended. Pour into pan and bake 20-23 minutes. Cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together melted white chocolate chips and cream cheese frosting. Add confectioners sugar and peppermint extract. Mix until smooth.

Frost cooled brownies and sprinkle with crushed pieces of candy cane (or sprinkles). Cut and serve.

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by Kristin

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 cookie sheets)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips $
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted $
1 (15-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; cut off excess parchment paper around top edge of pan.
Place crumbs in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and 1 tablespoon water; toss with a fork until moist (sometimes I put a bit more butter). Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly – the milk needs to seep into the crumbs so it’s ok for it to be a little bit loose). Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Note: These bars can create a sticky mess in the pan so it’s important to line the pan with parchment paper. The milk needs to seep into the graham cracker crumbs so don’t pack the crumbs too tightly in the bottom of the pan.

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by Rachelle

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in orange peel, vanilla and orange extract. On low speed, beat in flour and salt. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half; shape into 2 flat disks. Wrap 1 disk in plastic wrap.

On floured surface, roll unwrapped dough about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with plain or fluted cookie cutter (or cut into desired shapes). On ungreased cookie sheet, place cookies about 1 inch apart. Repeat with second disk.

Bake 15 to 19 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

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by Stephanie

Recipe not available.

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