Thursday, December 29, 2011

Templeton Rye Whiskey

After hearing that Templeton Rye Whiskey was a favorite of Al Capone's during prohibition, my family wanted to try it out. Templeton is made in the very small town of Templeton, Iowa and it sells out quickly. We spotted a few bottles at a grocery store in Fredricksburg, IA and we each decided to buy a bottle. I got a chance to sample my whiskey tonight and it's deliciously smooth.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Y'all

I'm heading home to Wisconsin to be with my family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter in New York

I've been able to stop by NYC a couple of times this winter and visit with Laura and Feifei.

A few of my new favorite things:
2. A view of Central Park in the winter
3. Walking along The High Line
4. Dim Sum at the Golden Unicorn in Chinatown
5. Shopping at Uniqlo (A Japanese store similar to H&M)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sweet Vintage Find: Reindeer

I don't have too many Christmas decorations, but when I found these sweet little reindeer at the Antique Village, I had to snag them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas on the Farm

Buster is spending his Christmas vacation with family on a farm in South Carolina. You can keep track of his every move right here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ladies Night: Cookie Baking

Each week a group of ladies and I get together to try out a new restaurant, sample an excellent happy hour, or discuss important literary works like Mindy Kaling's new book. Earlier this month, we got together to make a Smitten Kitchen favorite, Chocolate Toffee Cookies. The cookies were delicious and I highly recommend you try them for your next holiday cookie swap.

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped*

1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto sheets, spacing two inches apart. Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you’re using it. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

I know that it will be impossible to let them cool completely, but they really taste a lot better cool, as they continue baking once they come out of the oven.

Slice and bake option: After struggling a bit to scoop these cookies, I rolled the dough into a log 1.5 inches in diameter and chilled it. When I was ready to bake the cookies, I cut it into 1/2-inch slices. You can store the dough log in the freezer, wrapped in waxed paper and then two layers of plastic wrap for up to a month, just baking the cookies off as you need. Cookies baked straight from the freezer may need an additional minute or two in the oven, depending on their thickness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Desktop Background

I look forward to seeing Christiane Engel's illustrated desktop calendar each month. To see more of her calendars and other illustrations, visit her blog here.