Entries Tagged as 'eleanor'

Family Barbecue

October 23rd, 2012 · 2 Comments


Liz with her sister Shannon and mom Toni


Uncle Dee and Jordan


Liz with Uncle Dee and Cousin Casey


Time to eat!


Jose and Caroline


Uncle Dee, Casey, Aunty Kathy


Uncle Mel and Aunty Wendie. Aunty Wendie’s quote of the day: “I never ate poi with chopsticks before!”


Xavier, Janet, Aunty Helen, George, Larry, Eleanor


Eleanor, Uncle Bob, Steve, Kathy, Xavier, Janet


Uncle Mel, Aunty Wendie, Uncle Dee, Jordan, Aunty Kathy, Jose, Caroline

The night of Liz and Jordan’s wedding we had a family barbecue. Well, family and some very close family friends. A lot of the food was from Joe’s on the Green, where we had our wedding last year. Uncle Dee also picked up a lot of local favorites like lau lau, poke, poi, kalua pig and Chinese noodles.


Casey


Dallas


Uncle Mel

Actually, a few people picked up poke. I think we had about 8 or 9 different ones to taste test! All of the food was so good. The lau lau that Uncle Dee brought from Da Imu Hut was getting rave reviews. Even the vegetarians ate it! For dessert we had cupcakes from Cakes by Kristin in Kapa’a.


Jackson and Savannah swimming in the pool.


A little frog that Jackson and Savannah found.


Liz and her family: Steve, Toni, Shannon, Kathy, Charlie, Savannah and Jackson

We had some drinks and visited. It was all very relaxed. At one point Savannah and Jackson, Liz’s niece and nephew, went back to where they were staying to get their bathing suits and take a dip.


Looking through old family photos.


Just a sample of what we found: This is Caroline, Jordan, and Dallas!

We also spent a lot of time looking at old family photos that Aunty Kathy brought from Dallas’s grandma’s house. I have only seen maybe two photos of Dallas as a child so it was so fun to look through books and books of his childhood. And very good to spend time with the family looking through grandma and grandpa’s adventures. Dallas never realized how much they loved to travel together. It was nice to see them so young and happy and having some great adventures. I think it helped the family a lot.

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Our Wedding Day

March 19th, 2011 · 13 Comments

We were told many times and it is true: You spend months and months, in our case over a year, planning this day and it is over before you know it. Honestly, I had so much fun and enjoyed seeing everything we planned come to fruition and seeing everyone there, but it really did feel like the wedding lasted 30 seconds. This is one of the reasons I was so happy to have our friends in Hawaii for more than just this one day… so that we could hang out multiple days and spend time together.

Here is how it all went down (Warning – I thought this was going to be short and concise, but once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.):

At about noon my stylist, Mia Moriguchi came over to Ho’Onani Estates. At a little after noon, Steve Koo, our photographer came over and was with us throughout the day. I didn’t do a hair and makeup trial, but I had a lot of photos of hairstyles that I liked. For makeup, I told her that I wanted something natural – I didn’t want it to look like I wasn’t wearing any makeup, but I didn’t want it to look like I was going out to the club. She did great. I think the final look was pretty much just what I was going for.

Also, Mia was nice enough to apply coverup to my legs and feet because my bites were still pretty noticeable. During this whole time my mom was with me and Jordan’s girlfriend Liz. Also, Kristin was a huuuuuge help with getting everything ready and organized for us. She’s also really good at making mimosas with POG instead of OJ! Later on Jess G. and Jess B. came by just in time for me to put my dress and jewelry on, which was awesome because Jess B. made my jewelry! So she put it on me. Also, my dad came over to get a sneak peek.

I got ready in the rental house where our bedroom was located and kicked Dallas out to get ready in the other house. Dallas wasn’t sure up til the wedding day which shirt he was going to wear. He bought 3 and ruled out one. I ended up picking the dark blue one. Good thing, because later on Danny was wearing the other shirt, Dallas’s same new leather slippers and tan shorts! Once we were both ready, Steve and his brilliant assistant (and wife) Laura, had Dallas stand across the street from our estate. There’s a nice wall with some gorgeous lava rock and a beautiful view. They told Dallas to look out towards the water and whatever you do, don’t turn around. Then I walked across the yard, across the street and tapped him on the shoulder. This was our “first look,” our first time seeing each other in our wedding garb. After our initial first look, we took a moment for ourselves, which was nice.

From there we went with Steve and Laura to Poipu Beach. We were not getting married on the beach and I wanted just a few beachy photos. It was so hot at the beach that day and so crowded, too. I was nervous about staying on schedule, though, which is why I picked Poipu Beach. It was the closest. In hindsight, we probably should have gone to Shipwrecks. It’s less crowded, plus that’s where we hang out most on this trip. Also, we ended up having time to spare! Whatever, though. Steve directed us, we got a few photos, and we were on our way. We went back to the house, freshened up a little, and then we hung out wtih housemates as they were getting ready for a while.

At about 4:00 p.m. we headed over to the wedding site. It’s funny, we were totally early for our 4:30 p.m. wedding. Our wedding planner, Marlene Mira, said this never has happened before. She had us just sit in the car with the air conditioning on. Steve and Laura waited it out with us. All of our guests were arriving and walking past us, like a red carpet show. We surprised some of them by rolling the window down and saying “hi.” Funny. At about 4:20 Marlene came out to get the show on the road. It was almost time and she said our guests were getting hot from sitting in the sun. But our guests were still arriving, so we kind of hung back and at least let those who just pulled in or were in the parking lot get to the ceremony area before starting. Marlene was definitely not on “Hawaii time.”

We had the wedding at Joe’s on the Green. It’s a bar and restaurant, a clubhouse, at the Kiahuna Golf Club. This sounds fancy, but Joe’s is a locally-owned business and we were planning a very casual event. How casual? Dallas was wearing shorts and slippers! We told everyone to dress “aloha casual,” meaning wear something nice, but fun and casual. We suggested ladies wear sun dresses and that guys wear aloha shirts. For guys and girls, sandals and flip flops were both acceptable, but socks with sandals is never acceptable!

The ceremony was held on a grassy knoll to the rear Joe’s on the Green. It was pretty much the putting green with the flags removed. Our wedding officiant was Julie Wirtz, who we found online. We liked Julie’s style. She’s spiritual, but not religious and was had a really laid back and personable style. Plus, she was willing to give us kamaaina rates. We worked with Julie to come up with a ceremony that had some Hawaiian flair, but was not over the top. We had a lei exchange with our parents (my niece Stephanie brought the leis up) and we also talked about the meanings of the word “aloha” (hello, goodbye, love, etc) and at one point had everyone say “aloha” together. I thought the ceremony went by fast. Little did I realize that our wedding videos are only about 9 minutes long and that includes the walking part! Yes, fast, it wasn’t just me!


Caroline & Tammy recorded the ceremony

During the ceremony we had the lead musician for Papa’a Bay Boys, the Papa’a Bay Duke, play. The Duke! Dallas and I chose not to have a wedding party. For our ceremony, Dallas escorted his parents down the aisle, then my brother escorted my mom and finally my dad escorted me and handed me over to Dallas. During this procession, the Papa’a Bay Duke played the Hawaiian Wedding Song. For our exit, the Duke played Henehene Kou ‘Aka (For You And I), a traditional Hawaiian song made popular by Israel “Bruddah Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole. The Duke continued to play Hawaiian traditional and island contemporary songs throughout cocktail hour and dinner.

After the ceremony, our wedding planner, Marlene, kind of herded us off to the side, on the golf path, by the musician. She knew that if we started mingling that she’d never get us seperated from our guests. We needed to get our marriage licensed signed and make it all official. In Hawaii you don’t need to have witnesses to make a marriage valid, but we had our moms sign as witnesses anyway. We also had just a few posed, family wedding photos that we wanted to take.

During this time our guests were welcome to begin cocktail hour. We also had a reception table set up. Marlene did such a great job setting this up using things we gave her and things that she just had. This is where our guests got their table assignments, wrote in our guestbook and picked up some photo sharing cards that we had made up. Each table was named after a different Kauai natural site or attraction. Table assignments were inside little beachy frames. It was a box with all of these frames that we’d sweated it out about. The box was mailled a month in advance and only arrived two days before the wedding! Our guestbook featured photos that Steve took during an engagement photoshoot in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, where we live. The photo sharing cards also featured our engagement photos on one side. On the other side these cards had instructions on where people could view and upload digital photos and videos after the wedding.

All of the flowers at the wedding, including the flowers for my hair and our leis, were collected and assembled by Dallas’s Aunty Helene, her daughter Lei Lynn, Aunty Wendie, Dallas’s mom Kathy, his sister Caroline, and Caroline’s friend Tammy. The flowers turned out fabulous. So much more than I was expecting. And they matched our color scheme and style perfectly. I can’t thank these guys enough for taking this on and doing such a great job! For our leis they did white dendrobium orchids for me and maile leis for the dads and Dallas. The moms leis were made of a fragrant puakenikeni flowers.

Our family photos really did not take a long time, and so in no time at all we were free to join all of our friends and family for cocktail hour. We had a full bar available, but Dallas and I were only paying for beer, wine, and soda. We had purchased our own wine from Costco and then were paying a corkage fee for each bottle opened. The wines we chose were Menage a Trois California White and Mirassou Pinot Noir. For beer we had local brews, a keg of Primo and a keg of Kona Brewing Fire Rock Pale Ale. Our friend Tweeny had been to the Kauai Museum earlier in the day and made a haku lei (read her story here). It took 4 hours to make it! Sometime during cocktails Dallas tried it on… and left it on for a couple hours! It matched his maille lei perfectly!

I heard someone say that pupus were ready, so I grabbed Dallas and headed off. I wasn’t super hungry, but one of the other most advised things before the wedding was “Make sure you eat.” We headed off to stand in line for the buffet of pupus and that’s when we saw our bride and groom table, complete with a plate of pupus for each of us! Have I mentioned how much I love Marlene, our planner/coordinator? She thought of everything.

As far as the food goes, we worked with Joe, the owner of Joe’s on the Green, to have a custom, local menu. We wanted to make sure that all of our guests from the mainland could experience our local Hawaiian favorite foods. For pupus we had won tons, poke and three different kinds of maki sushi, including the local style, which is with canned tuna in the roll. For salads we had local greens with papaya seed dressing, lomi lomi salmon, and a potato mac salad. Our main entrees were kalua pig, chicken katsu, and grilled mahi. White rice, fried saimin, and local purple sweet potatoes were the accompaniments. For dessert we had tropical fruits and macadamia nut brownies. We loved the food and if it wasn’t our wedding, we would have been going up for more, but we had other things to do! That said, I think all of our friends are poke converts. They loved it. Actually, all of the food. People were coming up to us in the following days and without any prompting, telling us that our wedding had the best food they’d eaten all week. Yay!

After we were done eating, Steve grabbed us quick because there was a beautiful sunset. We took just a few minutes out to walk out onto the greens and get a few photos. Steve got some really great photos and I’m anxious to share all of our professional photos in another post.

For our MC, we chose Dallas’s brother, Jordan. He announced us before dinner and announced that it was time for dinner. After dinner he surprised us by saying that he and my brother were going to do a couple of toasts. My brother gave a really sweet toast, that he said was brainstormed in about 5 minutes, and it was the only time of the day when I almost started crying. Dallas’s brother gave a pretty typical Crowell toast, which was like “hey, Dallas is kind of a lot to deal with, I don’t know how you do it, I got your back.” After toasts Dallas said our mahalos to everyone for coming, for those who worked on the flowers, to our planner for making it all happen, to our parents.

Ross was our DJ for the night and now was his time to queue up the music. The first reception song of the night was “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and Dallas and I danced together. At one point Eleanor came up and surprised us by putting a $10 bill in my mouth. I had no idea what was going on but Billy told me later on that it is a Filipino tradition. Makes sense. Eleanor’s husband is Filipino. There were so many little traditions mixed in our wedding. Hawaiian things. Some people put Chinese lucky money in our cards. And we had that whole Chinese luck and longevity table in Honolulu. So fun to learn about everything.

Our second and third songs, which everyone was invited to join in on were “Better Together” by Jack Johnson and a special live-from-Chicago version of “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. Following that we had one more special song, “Crazy” by Kapena, a Hawaiian band that we like, and then it was straight into the dance music. Dallas worked for months on our playlist and it seemed like everyone loved it. We had such a fun time dancing all night. The playlist started out with 90s dance songs, and then had a few slow songs, then on to some current dance favorites, then a few more slow songs, and then we had an 80s section. Fun parts of the night – my dad really got into dancing and everyone was having fun dancing with him. He even got Dallas’s mom to dance with him to to “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark. And my nieces, who swore they were not going to dance, danced all night too!

At 10 p.m. sharp we had to cut off the music. I mean, we weren’t even told “It’s almost 10, the next song is the last one.” It was more like “This song that’s playing now? That’s it!” But that’s ok. It was a Hall and Oates song and we knew that it’s a Kaua’i rule that we had to end at 10. Still, it felt like we could have gone on for hours longer! Everything went by so fast.

I must give one last shout out to our wedding planner Marlene Mira, of Mira Mira Events. When Dallas and I began planning our wedding we thought we could do everything ourselves. Afterall, Dallas grew up on Kauai and I’d been there to visit several times. We wanted a really simple wedding. Why would we pay someone to plan things when we could do it ourselves? Well, I found out really quickly that trying to sort everything out and get things coordinated was more difficult than we’d anticipated. After Tien and Shannan’s wedding, and after talking to Shannan the next day about the stresses of getting everything done, Dallas was really convinced we should hire someone to help us out. I’d seen Marlene’s site and was really impressed. I just had a good feeling about it, compared to the other stuff I’d seen out there. And? She was from Waimea, Dallas’s home town. I gave Marlene a call and from the very beginning I knew we’d done the right thing.

When we contacted Marlene we already had our venue, photographer and our officiant but we didn’t have anything sorted out. Marlene was very professional and knew just what needed to be done. She was always very responsive to us and always had good, cost-effective suggestions. It was so nice to have her “on the ground” in Kauai. She helped us plan everything ahead of time, coordinated the rentals, suggested the musician and the stylist, and helped us figure out our food and drink menus. She and her staff were there all day on the wedding day. All we had to do was show up and have a great time! We could not have pulled off this wedding without Marlene and we cannot recommend her enough!

And one more technical note. Ha. Dallas and I created a wedding website for all of our guests before the wedding. It had all of our information about the wedding, Kauai, what do do on Kauai, how to get there, recommendations on where to stay, even a list of Dallas’s favorite local beers and golf courses. We bought our own domain, RachelleandDallas.com, but just forwarded it to a MyWedding.com templated website that matched the style of our save the date cards and invitations. I think that having this was invaluable. And then the other interwebby thing we did was to set up a Flickr account where people could upload their photos after the wedding. At the wedding we had cards printed up with instructions on how to log in and upload. So now we have like 700 photos of the wedding and they started pouring in the day after the wedding. I got a 3rd party batch downloader, so now I have all of the photos saved on my hard drive. When we were walking down the aisle it was like a papparazzi audience! So happy for all of the people who have taken the time to upload their photos and share!

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2009 Cookie Party Recipes

December 16th, 2009 · No Comments

Here are many of the recipes from the cookie party this year. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of any of the winning cookies! I think they all got eaten up before I could get in there… that good. All of the cookies were so delicious!

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cookies1st Place
TOFFEE CHOCOLATE WALNUT BAR
by Caroline

Base
2 cups Nilla Wafers, crushed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Toffee
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Topping
1 cup chocolate chips (um… I always add like 1/3 cup more)
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Mix together the ingredients for the Base and pack them evenly in a 9” x 13” baking pan.  Bake at 350F for 8 minutes.

Heat the ingredients for the Toffee in a small sauce pan, continuously stirring.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute.  Pour evenly and spread over the Base. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Right after removing from the oven, spread the chocolate chips on top and wait about 2 minutes for them to melt.  Then spread the chocolate evenly with a spoon and sprinkle the walnuts on top.  Refrigerate for several hours, until it cools and solidifies.

Cut or break into squares, eat and become addicted.

*Note: I added a little bourbon to the toffee (yum!). My sister made these and used course sea salt instead of nuts, she said it was a great substitution.  

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2nd Place
SWEDISH OATMEAL COOKIE
by Kristin

The recipe is from my grandma’s family in Sweden. It’s just about one of the only things my brother and I will eat at our traditional Swedish Christmas dinner.

1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 c softened butter
2 eggs (well beaten)
1 c oatmeal
1 c coconut
1/2 c chopped pecans
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 T baking soda
1 T baking power

Cream butter and sugars. Add remaining ingredients and mix until blended. Spoon 1 tsp of dough on well greased cookie sheet (parchment paperdoesn’t really work as a replacement). Lightly flatten each teaspoon of dough on the cookie sheet with a fork dipped in water. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. Be careful not to over cook or they will get crispy. Let set on a cookie sheet out of the over for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

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3rd Place (tie)
PEANUT BUTTER TRUFFLE
by Cory

4 oz milk chocolate chopped
2 cups. Peanut butter
1/4 cup. Sugar
2 teaspoon. Kosher Salt
6 oz. Unsalted butter at room tempurature

1 lb milk chocolate for dipping. Amount will vary.

Truffle filling:  Place chocolate in a double boiler and heat gently while stirring.  Melt chocolate and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature.

Place peanut butter, sugar and salt in food processor and blend for 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate into mixture And blend well. Scrap down sides of bowl and add butter. Mix until blended. Pour truffle mixture into container, cover and refrigerate until firm.

Make truffles with melon baller and place on parchment lined pan. Refrigerate truffles for an hour before dipping.

Melt remaining chocolate.  Place melted chocolate in bowl and bring to room temperature. Line baking sheet with parchment. Dip truffles one at a time into chocolate and place on parchment. Heat chocolate during dipping as needed.  After chocolate is set, dip a second time. Refrigerate to harden chocolate. They can be served immediately or refrigerated for several days.

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3rd Place (tie)
MINT CHOCOLATE WAFER COOKIE
by Jen

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
36 chocolate mint wafer candies

In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.

At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. While cookies are baking unwrap mints and divide each in half. When cookies are brought out of the oven, put 1/2 mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread the mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!

Original Recipe Yield 3 dozen

Adapted from AllRecipes

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choc_truffle_saltCHOCOLATE TRUFFLES WITH HAWAIIAN SEA SALT
by Rachelle

8 ounces, weight (up To 9 Oz.) Good Semisweet Chocolate
8 ounces, weight (up To 9 Oz.) Good Bittersweet Chocolate
1 can (14 Oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
8 ounces, weight Meltable Milk Chocolate
Hawaiian Sea Salt

Heat dark chocolates and condensed milk in a double boiler over medium low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir—mixture will have a slight marshmallow texture. Stir in vanilla.

Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate for two hours.

Once chilled, roll in balls, then roll in melted milk chocolate coating. Sprinkle with sea salt or other fine, coarse sprinkles.

*Note: I used locally made chocolate from Blommers.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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red_velvet_bon_bonRED VELVET BON BONS
by Rachelle

1 (18.25 ounce) package Red Velvet cake mix
1 (16 ounce) container prepared cream cheese frosting
White chocolate

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.
2. Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the cake mixture. Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set.

I also sprinkled mine with chopped toasted pecans before the chocolate dried and set.

*Note: These are also known as “cake balls” but bon bons sounds so much more appealing! Combinations of cake, frosting, chocolate are endless – check out some ideas here. Recipe adapted from All Recipes. Lots of tips and step by step photos and instructions here.

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walnut_thumbprintWALNUT THUMBPRINTS WITH PUMPKIN APRICOT MARMALADE
by Joanna

Walnut Thumbprints 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups walnuts, chopped finely

About 1 cup of your favorite jam 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until it is fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until it combines and forms a dough. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper (optional). Remove dough from refrigerator. Place nuts in a shallow bowl. Scoop out about a teaspoon of dough, roll it into a ball and roll it in the walnuts. When the baking sheet is full, make a small indentation with your thumb or the back of a small spoon on the top of each ball. Fill the indentation with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of jam. (Note: if using pumpkin apricot marmalade, you can be more generous with it because it won’t melt and spread out like regular jam)

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cookies are firm. Cool. Eat. 

Makes about 3 dozen.

Adapted from Gourmet.

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Pumpkin Apricot Marmalade 
1 cup cooked fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup apricot marmalade
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. lemon juice

In a sauce pan, combine pumpkin, marmalade and ginger over medium heat, stirring often. When it starts to bubble, turn down heat a bit, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, continuing to stir. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice. 

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

See Joanna’s post on her cookies.

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pbutter_clusterWHITE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CRISPY BALLS
by Kate

4 Cups Rice Crispy Cereal
1 Cup creamy peanut butter
3 Cup mini marshmallows
1 Cup roasted peanuts
3/4 bag of Reeses Pieces mini baking chips (optional)
2 bags white chocolate chips

Place cereal, peanut butter, marshmallows, peanuts, and Reeses Pieces into a large mixing bowl. With a large rubber spatula, gently mix until peanut butter is well combined.

Melt white chocolate chips in microwave or over a double broiler until melted smooth. Stir into cereal mixture until well combined. Scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm.

Keep refrigerated until serving.

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ding_dongDELICIOUSLY DANDY DING DONGS
by Natalie

1 whole recipe For Chocolate Cake Batter (See below)
½ whole recipe For 7 Minute Frosting (See below)
½ bars Gulf Wax (that’s 2 Oz), chopped
12 ounces, weight semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces, weight milk chocolate chips
6 ounces, weight white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and flour your cupcake pans. 

The Pioneer Woman says to feel free to use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, but she recommended using Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe and I listened to her! Fill each cupcake well halfway to the top. You want the cakes to be flat on top. Bake all of the mix and completely cool the cupcakes on wire racks. 

Begin your 7-Minute Frosting. Once again, feel free to use your own favorite. Only make half of the recipe, as you will not be needing very much. Once the frosting has come to room temperature, spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized star tip. 

Line a couple of rimmed baking sheets with parchment or silpat and set aside. In the top of a completely cooled cupcake, insert the tip of the pastry bag about halfway and squeeze in some frosting. Stop when it begins to bulge. If you go too far down, the frosting will probably burst out the bottom. Don’t worry, though. The mistakes can still be covered in chocolate! Place cupcakes on lined sheets frosting side up.

In the top of a double boiler set over medium heat, melt the chopped paraffin completely. Add the chocolates and stir until smooth and heavenly. Remove from heat and begin dipping. Place each cupcake into the chocolate, insertion side up. Push down on all sides so that the chocolate comes over the top a little. Don’t cover the frosting hole with chocolate. Remove from its bath with a couple of forks and flip it insertion side down onto your prepped sheets. When they are all finished, place in the fridge to set. 

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Hershey’s Chocolate Cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 3 cupcake pans (for 36 cupcakes). Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Fill cups 1/2 full Bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes.

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Paula Dean’s 7 Minute Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen.

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GINGERBREAD SPICE COOKIES
by Cinnamon

Cookies
3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
Optional raisins, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for “buttons”.

Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.

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Royal Icing
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria. With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture’s temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 Tbsp egg white powder with 2 Tbsp water. Proceed as you would otherwise. (Raw egg white alternatives from the 2006 Joy of Cooking)

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

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mint_cookie_gemsMINT COOKIE GEMS
by Mary (mom)

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. mint chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium-high, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg and peppermint extract. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture; blend well.

Shape dough into two 8-inch rolls; wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.

Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Quickly transfer cookies to a cooling surface.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine chips and shortening, heat on medium-high setting until melted; stir often until smooth. Using the tines of a fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies.

Makes 6 dozen.

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CHOCOLATE CRISPY COOKIES
by Gail

2 1/2 c. unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 c. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal
1 12 oz package (2 cups) Nestle semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

Beat margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in cereal and chocolate chips.

Drop in balls – flatten slightly will palm of hand. Bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets.

One batch makes 80 cookies. Bake in single batches only because it is hard to stir.

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MELTING MOMENTS
by Jill

Cookie:
1 c. soft butter
1 c. sifted flour
1/3 c. confectioners sugar
3/4 c. corn starch

Frosting:
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. orange juice
1 c. confectioners sugar

Cream butter and gradually add other ingredients. Drop by teaspoons on ungreased sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 – 17 minutes. Frost while warm.

Makes 4 dozen tiny cookies.

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OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
by Katrina and Narni

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended.

Mix in the quick cook oats, walnuts and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

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TRIPLE CHIP PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
by Eleanor

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 cups mixture of semi-sweet, milk chocolate, and peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a cookie sheet or two with parchment.

Cream butter and sugars until creamy, then add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add Peanut butter and continue to beat until combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Add chips and stir again.

Drop small spoonfuls of dough onto parchment (you should get a dozen per sheet). Bake 12 minutes or until just golden.*

Remove from oven and allow to rest on the sheet 1 minute before removing with a spatula.

*Note: I found that after the cookies cooled they were a touch dry (sorry everyone!…I’m a baking newbie) so I think next time I make these I’d leave them in the oven for less than what the recipe recommended (so maybe 10 minutes?)

Adapted from Canary Girl

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godiva_tartGODIVA LIQUEUR CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE AND CREAM TART
by Amy

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 2 Tbsp.
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract, or liqueur of your choice, such as Bailey’s, Godiva, or Grand Marnier
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix the melted butter and sugarsSpread the ganache over the cookieMelt the chocolate chips in the whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan (or a 9″ round cake pan, if you don’t have one).

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla (or liqueur) and mix until blended, about 1 minute.

Add the flour mixture until just incorporated. (Note: mixing too much at this point will result in a tough and chewy cookie!). Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and spread using your fingers or a spatula so that the cookie covers the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden but the inside is still soft. Cool on a wire rack.

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Chocolate Ganache
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla (or liqueur)

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter melts. Taking your time on this step is worth it — be sure to heat the cream at a low temperature for longer, because you don’t want it to burn.

Add the chocolate chips and remove from heat. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir to combine.

Stir in the vanilla (or liqueur) and let the filling cool and thicken at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Spread the mixture on the cooled cookie tart with a small offset spatula or knife.

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Cream
1 c. cold heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (here’s where you can really have some fun, by adding up to 1/4 cup of liqueur*)

Combine cream and powdered sugar and beat or whisk until soft peaks form. (Make sure you don’t overwhip the cream; it will curdle and ruin the look, and will also begin to taste like butter.)

Fold in the extract or liqueur, then spread the cream over the ganache-covered cookie. Top with chocolate chips. Slice into triangles to serve.

*Note: Go light first. 1/4 c. sounds like a lot!

Adapted from The Humble Gourmand

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OUTRAGEOUS BROWNIES
by Amanda

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

*Note: Cut the recipe in half and use a 13×9 inch pan.

Adapted from FoodNetwork.com & Ina Garten/The Barefoot Contessa.

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SNICKERDOODLES
by Amanda

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.

Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

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spiked_trufflesSPIKED TRUFFLES (BAILEY’S, COFFEE, & RASPBERRY)
by Kelly

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls.

Note: Roll truffles in ground walnuts (or any ground nuts), cocoa, coconut, confectioners’ sugar, candy sprinkles, etc. To flavor truffles with liqueurs or other flavorings, omit vanilla. Divide truffle mixture into thirds. Add 1 tablespoon liqueur (almond, coffee, orange) to each mixture; mix well.

Adapted from All Recipes

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chocolate_chip_cookiesCHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
by Glenna

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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pebernodder_danish_christmas_cookiePEBERNODDER – DANISH CHRISTMAS COOKIES
by Molly

1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. grated lemon rind

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add butter first, then eggs, then lemon rind and knead together. When dough is smooth, roll into long ropes (about 3/4″ in diameter). I freeze them a short while before slicing. This makes them much easier to cut and they hold their shape.

Slice 1/2 inch thick slies and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 for approximately 10-12 minutes.

*Note: Pebernodder translates in English to Peppernuts

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naoko_strawberry_chocolateJAPANESE COOKIES
by Naoko

*Note – Naoko used a Japanese recipe.

Strawberry Cookie
Butter 60 g
sugar 50 g
strawberry 35 g
flour 95 g
corn starch 15 g
baking powder 1/4 tsp
egg yolk 1
salt pinch
vanilla 1tsp

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Orange Chocolate Cookie
flour 200 g
corn starch 30 g
baking powder 1/2 tsp
sugar 120 g
butter 125 g
vanilla 1 tsp
egg 1
orange peel 1 orang
semi-sweet chocolate 100 g

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