Hot Chocolate Cheesecake Dip

I made my signature Christmas cookies and brought them into work (where they got rave reviews, of course), but I was looking for something a little different to make for holiday parties. This recipe was just what I was looking for. There’s no baking involved, and it only takes a few minutes to come together, which makes it a perfect last-minute dessert. It’s not Christmas themed, so feel free to make this all Winter long!

hot choc cheesecake dip

Hot Chocolate Cheesecake Dip (recipe originally from Inside BruCrew Life)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff (or Kraft’s marshmallow creme)
1 c powdered Swiss Miss Dark Sensation hot chocolate mix *I’m sure any kind of powdered mix would work in this recipe
3/4 c Cool Whip
Optional for garnish: mini marshmallows, crushed candy canes, peppermints

1. Beat cream cheese until creamy.
2. Add the yogurt, fluff and hot chocolate mix and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Fold in 1/2 cup Cool Whip (gently) until completely mixed in.
4. Top with remaining Cool Whip and garnish as desired.
5. Keep refrigerated (and covered) until serving.

Serving suggestion: Serve with graham crackers, pretzels, cookies or “dunker” cookies from Trader Joe’s.

This might as well be called Hot Chocolate Crack Dip. It is SO good. You will be tempted to eat it with a spoon (no judgments). You have been warned.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I was super busy last week, but refused to miss my chance to use the Halloween sprinkles that I bought at Target! I made these cupcakes to bring into work on Halloween and they were a huge hit. This is a simple recipe, but you can do a lot with it if you have some food dye and fun cupcake decorations!

cupcakes3

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe originally from The Gold Lining Girl)

1 c milk
2 tsp white vinegar
3/4 c butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 c cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 3/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Fill muffin cups with liners.
2. In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs. Beat until well combined. Mix in vanilla.
5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda.
6. Add dry ingredients to wet, alternately with the milk mixture.
7. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a few cupcakes comes out clean.
9. Cool completely.

For the frosting:
1. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Beat until fluffy.
2. Mix in vanilla.
3. When cupcakes are cooled, frost and decorate as desired.

These came out great!  The cupcakes were moist and the cream cheese frosting was a good compliment to the sweetness of the cake. They were the perfect Halloween treat!

A Perfect New Years Eve Dessert

I had a pretty low-key NYE and it was awesome. As you probably read, I’m not the biggest fan (understatement) of New Years, so when Tall Guy suggested we make a nice dinner and stay in, I was all for it. We ended up cooking dinner for my roommate and her boyfriend and then had a couple of friends over later in the night to watch the ball drop. Tall guy made lobster tails and filet mignon, I made the side salad and mashed potatoes. Dinner was absolutely delicious! And since New Years isn’t complete without champagne, I made champagne cupcakes for dessert! There’s champagne in both the cupcake and the frosting, but the flavor is subtle and they turned out awesome. I made mini cupcakes and they were all gone by the end of the night!

champagne cupcakes

Champagne Cupcakes (recipe originally from The Simple, Sweet Life)
makes about 24 mini cupcakes

1/2 stick butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c champagne
1 c flour

For the frosting:
1/2 c vegetable shortening *I used Crisco
2 sticks butter, softened
3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c champagne

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with liners. I sprayed my cupcake tin with PAM for baking. 
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add granulated sugar and beat until mixture becomes slightly chunky.
3. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and champagne. Beat the mixture until all ingredients are combined. This takes slightly more time than a normal recipe since the champagne is bubbly and doesn’t mix well. You can use any kind of champagne you want, even pink champagne. I used Korbel Brut.
4. Add flour and beat until all ingredients are just combined.
5. Spoon the mixture into cupcake tin. Fill cups about 2/3, batter will rise when cooked.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean, about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes, about 18-20 minutes for regular sized cupcakes (baking times may vary).

For the frosting:
1. In a large bowl, beat vegetable shortening and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until mixture is smooth and creamy.
2. Add vanilla extract and champagne and beat until the mixture is just combined.
3. Frost cupcakes and decorate as desired. Tall Guy got me piping bags (with all accessories) for Christmas, but I was in a time crunch and couldn’t quite figure out how to easily get the  frosting into bag liner (I blame the time crunch cause it really should have been a no brainer, right?), so I just piped my frosting on with a large ziploc bag. I’ll have to play with the new piping bags for my next cupcake recipe. I decorated the cupcakes with edible black and white glitter. 

I have a bunch of frosting left over and it’s so good that I haven’t been able to let myself throw it away. I’m trying to figure out something else to do with it, but in the meantime I’ve been “taste testing” it periodically… It’s that good.

2013: A Year in Pictures

Disclaimer: I hate New Years. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spirit that the New Year brings and thinking about resolutions, but I hate the hype surrounding everyone’s New Years Eve plans. It’s right up there with birthdays and Valentine’s Day- everyone wants to have the perfect day/night and do something SO SUPER FUN that you’re almost always disappointed that things usually end up being so-so.

Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to take this opportunity to look back on all of the adventures I had this past year!

I had some good times this past year. What’s your favorite memory of 2013?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! x

Holiday Hiatus

As you may have guessed, the lack of posts the past week was due to my week-long holiday vacation at home. My boyfriend, who shall be referred to solely as “Tall Guy” going forward, and I got back to Philly on Saturday night and were perfectly happy doing nothing yesterday since we were so tired from our trip! Going home for the holidays is always really fun, but it’s also SUPER exhausting. On top of the holiday hubbub, it was Tall Guy’s first time meeting my family (yikes!) and seeing my neck of the woods, and only his second time in Boston, so we had a lot of bases to cover in a short amount of time. Hence the aforementioned exhaustion.

Not pictured: Tree trimming, parking at South Shore Plaza the weekend before Christmas, Amtrak station at 7:30 am the Monday before Christmas, breakfast at the Mug, a pottery shop sale, Tall Guy running on 2 hours of sleep, Christmas Eve Yankee Swap hot-ticket item Dirty Water rum tasting like grain alcohol, driving around looking at Christmas lights late Christmas Eve, looking at luminary-lined streets in Tinkertown with the car headlights off, snow falling exactly as the clock struck 12 on Christmas, the 2+ hours it took us to open presents on Christmas morning, watching A Christmas Story all day but still not seeing the movie in its entirety, tearing the basement apart in search of a lost TV remote, our hilarious Sam Adams tour guide Grace, playing Think While You Drink for 3 hours, tequila shots, a snowy owl sighting and flight delays.

I hope your holiday was as fun-filled as mine! x

A Martha Stewart Holiday Party… on a Broke Girl Budget

Holiday parties take a lot of effort, you guys! Don’t let the holiday season stress you out! (On a side note, I’m a complete Martha Stewart wannabe. Help.)

Broke Girls Go Out

October 27, 2012, approximately 2:00 pm eastern standard time: Heather and I are on a mission to finish errands that have us trekking all over Philadelphia, over-decorate our apartment, make themed food and look presentable by the time our guests arrive at 10 pm. That’s right, we were throwing a Halloween party and had left everything until the last minute. The party and decorations turned out great, but we swore to never again procrastinate our party prep.

We were able to keep that promise to ourselves when we threw an ugly sweater party this past weekend.

Helpful tips to keep your party planning and spending under control

– Give yourself time to decorate, and don’t forget to re-use last year’s decorations. We’re chronic procrastinators, so we made it a point to plan out when we were going to decorate, and had the whole apartment decorated a week in advance. Take…

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Christmas Tree Adventures

Since both my roommate and I had to slack on Halloween this year because we were crazy busy working at a haunted house during the month of October, we decided to put all of our decorating/party efforts into Christmas instead.

I never had a fake tree growing up, but I’ve just never saw a good enough reason to buy a real tree for any of the apartments I’ve lived in since moving out of my parent’s house 4 years ago. I’ve also never gone Christmas tree hunting without my dad, and I’ve certainly never had to put a tree in a stand or worry about keeping it watered. Well, all that changed this past weekend, when my roommate and I dragged went with our boyfriends to cut down a real, live Christmas tree.

We went to Indian Walk Christmas Tree Farm in Wrightstown, PA. I had never been there before, or even heard of it, actually, but it was super cute! They had a bunch of farm animals and cute shops, as well as multiple kinds of trees and all the other trimmings you can think of!

It didn’t take us long to find our favorite tree. As a matter of fact, we both spotted it as soon as we walked a few feet down the main path. We scouted for a little bit longer, but ultimately decided that the first tree we saw was the best.

And we even got lights up on the tree last night! Finishing touches (aka popcorn and cranberry garland) coming soon!

Have you gotten your Christmas tree yet?!

 

My Signature Christmas Cookies

I saw this recipe on foodgawker last year and ended up making these cookies at least a half dozen times before the season ended. They’re always a huge hit at holiday parties! (And if you’ve never had a Candy Cane Hershey’s Kiss before, do yourself a favor and go get a bag of them RIGHT NOW. They’re addictive, though, so you’ve been warned…)

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Candy Cane Kiss Cookies (recipe originally from Once Upon a Cutting Board)
makes about 14 large cookies

1/2 c + 2 tbsps butter, room temperature
1/2 large egg (whisk egg in a small bowl, then divide in half an only use one half) *I usually double the recipe so that I can use a whole egg and not waste any!
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c chopped Candy Cane Kisses (about 10 kisses)
Additional 14 Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped
Optional: Decorative sugars

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with PAM. I used PAM baking spray. 
2. In the bowl of an electric mixture, combine butter, powdered sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 additions, mixing thoroughly each time, until well blended.
5. Stir in chopped kisses.
6. Scoop about 1 tbsp of dough and press an unwrapped kiss into the middle of it, covering the kiss completely and rounding the dough into a ball. Once Upon a Cutting Board tip: Try to smooth out any lumps; if the cookie looks lumpy before baking, it will look lumpy after being baked.
7. Repeat with remaining dough and kisses.
8. Pour small amount of granulated sugar into a bowl. Roll the finished dough balls into the sugar before placing them on cookie sheet. If possible, get a friend to help with this part. It goes a bit faster if you have one person forming the dough balls and another rolling them in the sugar. For the holidays, I use red and green sugar, as you can see in the picture.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cooking times may vary. My cookies only take about 8 minutes. I take mine out when the top of the cookie is set, but still soft. 
10. Cool on a wire rack.

This is my go-to cookie recipe for the holiday season. It’s easy to make these cookies stand out with different colored sugars and everyone loves the surprise candy cane kiss on the inside!

Do you have a go-to recipe for the holiday season? Share it with me in the comments!