Top 10 Recipes of 2011

Am I the only person who is shocked that Christmas just passed? I can’t believe it. Neighbors are taking down lights, and our tree looks SO empty without gifts under it. My favorite holiday is over, and crazy enough, it’s time for a new year. 2012.

Time to take the shrink wrap off of the new planner and get used to writing “2012″ on papers/emails/etc. This is just crazy.

Also crazy…sometime in 2012, my 4 year blogiversary is happening and my 3 year wedding anniversary is happening too. WHAT?

It’s a lot to look forward to, but before everyone rings in the new year, I just wanted to share with y’all the top 10 posts of 2011. :-)

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

10. Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream – This was my first time making SMBC, and I swear, if you haven’t tried SMBC before, just do it. Please?

Pecan Pie Macarons

9. Pecan Pie Macarons – Gotta love macarons. These were really a huge favorite for Thanksgiving, and the star shape (which was a happy accident) made them super cute and festive!

Queso Blanco

8. Restaurant Style Queso Blanco – This is it. The ultimate queso blanco. If you’re as addicted to queso as me, you’d understand how wonderful it is to FINALLY have a recipe for this!

Strawberry Cream Cake

7. Strawberry Cream Cake – I’m actually glad I compiled this top 10, because I sort of forgot about this cake. Since it’s currently strawberry season in Louisiana, I think I MUST make this cake again. Yum!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

6. Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles – This is the recipe that made my year, basically. I still can’t believe I won that recipe contest, and I’ve been told by a few friends who made this that these little truffles were a hit at their holiday parties! So happy to hear that!

Banana Nutella "Ice Cream"

5. Banana Nutella “Ice Cream” – Two ingredient “ice cream”. It’s basically awesome and couldn’t be any easier. Your food processor does all the work!

Corn Grits

4. Grilled Corn Grits – I can’t be from the South, and not have a post about grits. I promise you if you make this, your hips may never be the same again, but your taste buds will tell you it’s completely worth it!

3. Easy Pasta Salad – My first (and so far, only) vlog. I might get the courage to make one again, since you guys seemed to like it so much!

Diet Cupcakes

2. Cooking For Kids – The infamous post. Yup, who’da thought that a soda cupcake would get so much response from you guys (both good and bad)…yikes!

Homemade S'mores

1. S’mores for a Shower – Nutella S’mores. I can see why you guys loved this one so much. I’m sort of craving s’mores right now, actually. :-P

I hope you have a wonderful New Year with your family and friends, and thank you so much for reading The Nifty Foodie! See y’all in 2012!

Merry Christmas!


I can’t believe it’s Christmas Day! This is my favorite holiday of the whole year, so of course, I had to make cookies for the occasion.

I know this is random, but I just wanted to share a local Christmas carol that just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me unless I watch this during the season. If you’ve been to NOLA (or, of course, lived in NOLA), you might have heard of a few of these things/places.

Hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas!

Fortune Cookies

Christmas Fortune Cookies

Christmas Vacation is my all-time favorite Christmas movie. To me, it’s not Christmas without hearing cousin Eddie say “Merry Christmas! Sh***er’s full!” or watching Aunt Bethany bring the beloved (meow mix) jello mold. I remember watching it as a child, pretty much missing half of the comedy and dirty jokes (since they went over my head), and just enjoying the funny family bloopers. However, it makes me laugh that my mom let me watch that movie every year as a child, especially since she thought Ren & Stimpy was “trash TV’. (love you, Mom) Ren & Stimpy has nothing on Christmas Vacation, “trash TV” wise.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends brought up the idea of a cookie swap. This would be the first one I’ve attended, so I was super stoked about this! I thought about how fun it would be to make these cookies with Christmas movie quotes inside. I decided to feature “Christmas Vacation” and “Elf” quotes. Elf has quickly become a recent favorite of mine, and really, how could it not? It’s such a cute Christmas movie AND Will Ferrell is in it!

These cookies put the average fortune cookie to shame. They have a fabulous vanilla flavor, and heck, homemade is always better, right? While this recipe can be tedious, since you can only make 3-4 at a time, the results are so worth it. I had fun putting these little quotes in the cookies, and watching my friends see which quotes they got. :-)

Fortune Cookies
Source: AllRecipes


  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • Food coloring, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place parchment paper or a silicone mat on a cookie sheet. Write or type fortunes on strips of paper about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
  2. Mix the egg white and vanilla until the mixture is foamy. In another bowl, sift the flour, salt and sugar. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add food coloring if you’d like and mix until well blended.
  3. Doing this in batches of 3-4 cookies, place 1 teaspoon of batter for each cookie on the baking sheet, at least 4 inches apart. Using a spoon, spread the batter in a circle, about 3 inches in diameter, making sure the batter is as even as possible (to avoid thin spots).
  4. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes or until cookie has turned a golden brown color around the edge of the cookie. If you want, you can use 2 cookie sheets and prepare the other sheet with cookies while the other one is baking.
  5. Once the cookies are done baking, remove the sheet from the oven and working quickly, flip the cookie with a spatula (it might take a bit of work to get the spatula under these cookies). Then, quickly put the fortune on the middle of the cookie and fold the cookie in half. Pull the pointed edges together and place in the cups of a muffin tin for them to hold their shape as they cool. Once they have cooled, enjoy!


Pecan Pie Macarons

Pecan Pie Macarons

It’s one of the hugest compliments when someone asks you to bring the same dish for a holiday, year after year. When it comes to my coworkers, they always just expect that I’m bringing a cheesecake again. Cheesecakes are easy, so I have no problem with making them for work potlucks.

However, with my family, I decided to take a leap last year and make eggnog macarons. Little did I know that these would be a hit. I was intimidated by these cookies, and there was a great reason. When you live in humid place like Louisiana, you can’t help but be intimidated by something that relies heavily on egg whites. So, fast forward to November. I asked my mom if my husband and I should bring something for Thanksgiving, and at first, she said that nothing was necessary. Then, three days before, she, along with my aunt, requested macarons. Guess they’re spoiled now!

I didn’t want to repeat eggnog macarons, since it’s Thanksgiving. So, I looked through a few sites until I decided on this idea: pecan pie macarons. Living in the South, pecan pies are a staple in the Thanksgiving feast, so this was going to be absolutely perfect!

So, the day I start to make the macarons, I go to look for my round piping tip. Uhhh…turns out it was another victim of the move since it’s gone. :-(  So, I tried the star piping tip. I figured it would flatten out within the hour that the macarons had to sit out before baking, but they didn’t. I’m sort of happy they didn’t flatten out though…the star shaped macarons turned out pretty darn cute!

Instead of doing both the caramel sauce and pecan brittle for the filling, I ended up using the caramel sauce with chopped pecans in the filling. These were definitely a popular item on Thanksgiving Day, since by the time I was picking up leftovers, they were pretty much all gone. Yay!

I guess that means I should start thinking about what macarons to make for the next holiday get together with my family, eh? :-)

Pecan Pie Macarons
Source: Tartelette


Note: With macarons, it’s definitely important that your ingredients are weighed, so all measurements are in grams. :-)

     For the macarons:

  • 3 egg whites (about 90 grams)
  • 40 grams granulated sugar
  • 200 grams powdered sugar
  • 55 grams almonds
  • 55 grams pecans

     For the filling:


  1. For the egg whites, 2-3 days before separate your eggs and store the whites in a covered container in the fridge.
  2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they foam, gradually adding granulated sugar until you reach a glossy meringue. Be careful not to overbeat, since the meringue can easily dry out.
  3. Place the almonds, pecans and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse the mixture until the nuts are finely ground.
  4. Add the mixture to the meringue, give it a quick couple of folds to break down some of the air and then, slow down and fold the mass gently until the batter flows like magma or thick ribbon. The whole folding process shouldn’t take more than 50 strokes.
  5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (or star one if you’re crazy like me) with the macaron batter and pipe small cookies (about 1.5 inches in diameter) onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes – 1 hour to allow the shells to harden a bit. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Once the shells have hardened, bake the macarons for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Allow the macarons to cool a bit (until the pan is warm) before removing the macarons. If your macarons are stuck to the pan, pour a couple of drops of water under your Silpat or parchment. This should help the macarons lift off the pan more easily, due to the moisture. However, don’t let the macarons sit with the water for too long or you’ll risk the macarons becoming soggy.  
  8. Once the macarons are fully cooled, spread some of the caramel sauce on the bottom of each of your macarons, add chopped pecans on top of the caramel on one of the macarons and sandwich the two macarons together. If you want to be super fun, brush some pearl dust on the top of the macarons.

Just a small side note….Did you win the Butterball giveaway? You have to email me to claim your prize and you have until tonight! Neither of the winners have emailed me. :-( You want free turkeys, don’t you?



Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars

As much as I love baking, sometimes it’s good to find a recipe that’s quick and convenient. I didn’t have time on my side this past weekend since we were hosting our housewarming party, so I wanted to bake something that was quick, but would also feed a crowd. This definitely fit the bill.

As you can see, I dyed them a nice LSU gold color and sprinkled purple Halloween sprinkles on top (gotta love Halloween clearance). Geaux Tigers! (Sorry, can’t help it!)

Back to the bars. I decided to add almond extract to the recipe, because I usually use a combination of almond and lemon for decorated sugar cookies. It’s just the perfect combination for sugar cookies, in my opinion. :-) I have to say that the texture of these cookies is slightly cookie-cakey, which made for the perfect soft, chewy bar and the icing was pretty classic. I highly recommend trying these bars out if you love sugar cookies, but want something that is as quick as possible. :-)

Sugar Cookie Bars
Source: mildly adapted from Annie’s Eats (originally from The Repressed Pastry Chef)


For the bars:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 5 tbsp. milk
  • Food coloring (optional)


  1. To make the bars, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.   Grease and/or parchment paper line a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, making sure to scrape down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.  Whisk to blend the mixture.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.
  2. Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Keep a bowl of water near you so you can dip your fingers in and prevent dough from sticking to your fingers  Bake 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
  3. To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the milk a tbsp. at a time.  Tint as desired with food coloring.  Spread over the cookie bars in the pan, cut into bars and serve.


Candy Corn Cookies

Candy Corn Cookies

Happy 4 days until Halloween!!

While Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday (I’m sure most of you can guess what my favorite holiday is. ;-) ), I feel like it’s fun to get in the spirit of it all. We decorated our house for Halloween, and I was thrilled to notice that in our new neighborhood, we aren’t the only ones who like to decorate. :-) I also noticed that our new neighborhood has LOTS of kids, so potential for Trick or Treaters? Wahoo! In the old neighborhood, we usually got a handful of kids, but some of them were way too old to Trick or Treat, in my opinion.

While we’re not dressing up for Halloween, I do have to admit that Millie has a costume haha! A yellow submarine. I was going to scour Goodwill for Ken dolls and paste them on the costume to have The Beatles and their Yellow Submarine, but alas, this whole moving thing has my energy devoted to unpacking and settling in the new house. :-) So, Millie will just be a submarine, and a very cute one at that.

Of course with Halloween being a few short days away, I had to take out my KA mixer for the first time since moving in the new house and whip up something festive. I found this idea on Kathie Cooks (via Pinterest) and it couldn’t be easier. It’s one of those ideas where you sit there and ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of this?”

Since I used a recipe that I’ve already blogged (linked below), I’m just going to share how these are made.

  1. Whip up your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe (I used this one for rolled cookies so they hold their candy corn shape without spreading.), divide the dough in 3 equal portions, dye one portion yellow, one portion orange and leave the last one undyed.
  2. Take out a bread pan and line it with saran wrap. Roll out the undyed portion and place it in the bread pan, spreading the dough evenly throughout the whole pan. Then, roll out the orange portion, press it in the bread pan on top of the undyed dough, making sure to spread that evenly as well and then lastly, the yellow.
  3. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Then invert the pan on a cutting board (releasing the dough), and slice across the block in 1/4″ pieces. Cut the dough into triangles and bake according to your recipe’s instructions.


Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

I remember the first time I tried a black and white cookie. It was at Starbucks, and I really had no idea what this cookie would taste like, but I knew it had chocolate and I was craving chocolate at the time! It was a pretty decent cookie, for a Starbucks snack. I really never had a desire to eat one again, and I had no idea where this cookie idea came from. I really thought it was a Starbucks idea. Whoops!

Fast forward a few years. I noticed my food blogger/Weddingbee buddy Serena of Big Apple Nosh would tweet a lot about these cookies and she’s in NYC. So, I got to googling and found out that these cookies are VERY popular in NYC. (Shame on me…never been to NYC.) So, when Serena offered to bring me an authentic black and white cookie when she came to NOLA, how could I say “no”?

I ended up bringing the cookie home to my parents’ house, and of course, I offered my family to try a piece. This is all that was left for me to try after they had their “piece”. Ugh…

The piece that was left tasted MUCH better than the OK cookie that I had at Starbucks a few years ago, and from what I was told, the cookie that Serena brought wasn’t even the BEST cookie in NYC (that bakery was sold out). Crazy..I thought that cookie was yummy!

Since I didn’t get an adequate amount of cookie, I decided I wanted to bake some up! So, being the baking addict that I am, I started searching for a recipe to make these myself. I came across this one on Epicurious, and I went to town.

This recipe only makes 8 cookies, but black and white cookies are HUGE cookies. They came together pretty quickly, and while they puffed up more than the cookie that I tried, they tasted really good! I think I need to make them again, actually. :-)

Black and White Cookies
Source: Gourmet


For cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

For icings

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
  3. Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and cool, about 5 minutes.
  4. Make the icing while the cookies cool. Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.
  5. To ice the cookies, turn them flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half. Allow the cookies to set for a few hours until the icing is completely dry.

S’mores for a Shower

Homemade S'mores

I really think the idea for virtual blog parties is so great. I sort of wish food bloggers could have real life parties/potlucks/etc., because it would be some SERIOUS good eats! I was so flattered when I was asked by Amy of Sing For Your Supper to participate in this virtual bridal shower for Kelsey of Apple A Day, but of course, the dilemma was what to bring?

I wanted it to be a simple finger food, but also something that is pretty familiar to most people. That’s when the idea of homemade s’mores somehow popped in my head. I’ve made marshmallows before, so I knew that wouldn’t be a problem and homemade graham crackers? How hard could that be?

Of course, my assumptions were wrong. While cooking my first batch of marshmallows, my candy thermometer somehow SHATTERED in the pot. And before you ask the obvious, no, the thermometer was not sitting at the bottom of the pot. Things like this only happen to me, heh. Because of this, I ran out of one of the ingredients while measuring out my second batch, so the marshmallow flavor was completely an accident. Mixed berry. Not a bad accident, though. I promise. :-)

To make the s’mores a little different, instead of using Hershey bars, I spread on a dollop of Nutella! Yummy…majorly…just sayin’.

If you’d like to check out the amazing food that other bloggers are making for Kelsey’s shower, check out Sing For Your Supper and Apple a Day!

Graham Crackers
Source: Smitten Kitchen


  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup  mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons milk, full-fat is best
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
  3. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Use a cutter to get the shape desired or cut into squares.
  6. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
  7. Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
  8. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Mixed Berry Marshmallows
Source: mildly adapted from Martha Stewart


  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for pan
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam or jelly
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam or jelly
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • Dash of salt
  • Red food coloring
  • Cornstarch, for dusting


  1. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil. Line dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides; oil parchment. Set dish aside.
  2. Pour 2/3 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle with gelatin; let stand until softened, 5 minutes.
  3. Stir together granulated sugar, jam, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Continue to boil until syrup registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).
  4. Add syrup to gelatin. Beat on low speed until slightly cooled. Gradually raise speed to high, beating until mixture is cool and peaks form, 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in red food coloring, one drop at a time, to achieve desired shade of pink.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan; smooth surface. Let stand, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours or overnight.
  6. Dust a cutting board with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around edges of marshmallow to loosen; un-mold onto cutting board. Peel off parchment. Lightly coat a large sharp knife with oil; cut marshmallow into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces, coating knife with more oil as necessary. Dust with cornstarch; toss to coat completely. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Eggnog Macarons


The macaron. These are probably one of the most intimidating cookies out there. I’ve made them before, but it was in the summer, and humidity was raging. I guess the extra moisture in the air attributed to my macarons ending up with no feet. They tasted wonderful, but they were pitiful flat little cookies. :(

I sort of forgot about these little treats until my sisters and I visited Sucre in New Orleans. It was love at first bite. Pistachio was my absolute favorite out of all the flavors we tried.

That evening, I was asked to bring all desserts for Christmas. I knew that I had to give these macarons another attempt. I mean, dew point was in the 30s and that’s SUPER rare in Louisiana. So, bye bye to the humidity for this attempt!

That first picture….yep, those were the macarons that I made! I was yelling in excitement to the hubs as I stared into the oven, watching those little feet happen. I totally had my first macaron success!! Best of all? My family thought they tasted just like the ones from Sucre! Win! :)

This was also my first time making some form of a meringue buttercream. Seriously y’all, I thought this was a massive fail, but I remember reading on blogs that it does take a while to come together. After several minutes, just like that, it went from a separated mixture to a gorgeous frosting! I’m in shock that a frosting with so little sugar tastes so much better, too! Definitely making a meringue-type frosting again soon! I ended up filling a few with plain buttercream to see how it would taste (as you can see in the bottom row), but after tasting both, I felt that the spiced eggnog frosting was the way to go here.

Eggnog Macarons
Source: Tartelette

For the macarons:


  • 90 gr egg whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge)
  • 25 gr granulated sugar
  • 200 gr powdered sugar
  • 110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.
  2. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
  3. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
  4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F.
  5. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy.
  6. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

For the eggnog filling:


  • 1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 sticks (180gr)(6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream.
  2. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
  4. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the buttercream.. Fill he shells with the buttercream and enjoy!

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

I’m so excited that I can pull out the Christmas tree, blast my Christmas Pandora station and start the holiday baking (without getting judgey stares from others)! It’s officially CHRISTMAS SEASON!

I pretty much sang Christmas carols the whole time while making these. My sous chef, aka my four legged friend who just lays on the cold kitchen floor as I work, probably was not very pleased. I will say that the sous chef really couldn’t care less about the Christmas tree so far…whew! :-)

Back to the cookies. The hubs LOVES a good chewy sugar cookie, so when I saw this recipe on Christen’s blog, I couldn’t wait to make these happen! The ingredients sound a little weird at first (cream cheese in sugar cookies?!), but trust me, it works. The hubs said these were probably the best cookies I’ve ever made! SCORE!

Chewy Sugar Cookies
Source: mildly adapted from Cooks Illustrated (Nov/Dec 2010 issue), as seen on Cooking with Christen


  •  2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling the cookies in
  • 3 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted and warm
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a baking sheet with silicone mat.  Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, place the 1.5 cups sugar and the cream cheese, then pour the warm butter over it and whisk to combine.  It will be slightly lumpy.  Whisk in oil, mix well then add the egg, milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth.  Add flour mixture and mix with a scraper spatula until dough forms.
  4. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop cookies onto a baking pan, leaving adequate space for baking. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, gently flatten each cookie to make them uniform in size. Sprinkle additional sugar on top of each cookie (and sprinkles, if you’d like).  Bake 11-13 minutes, until edges are just set. (This step is much different from Cooks Illustrated, because I found the resulting dough to be too sticky to work with.) This made about 30 cookies.
  5. Cool on wire rack.