Monday, December 31, 2012

Espresso Crinkles

I've been working on my goals and resolutions for the new year

One of them is to experiment with more non-dessert recipes.   You know, entrees, soups, salads.  Things that you can (and should) be eating for lunch or dinner.    Today I commented on facebook that I was pretty sure that the socially acceptable window of eating cookies for breakfast was closing.   It seems a lot of my friends feel the same.

But it's only New Year's Eve Day.    There is still time to splurge before you dive into your vegetable-loving, gym-visiting, latte-skipping resolutions.   Every one knows that New Year's Day is your day to recover and get it all out of your system before everything really starts on January 2.

So here you go.  

What You Need

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup) - I added another 1/4-1/3 of a cup for altitude
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 1/4 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso (or instant coffee) granules
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites

What You Do

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.

Combine oil and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Add espresso granules to pan; stir until blended. Remove from heat. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl; cool 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla. Add egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring gently just until combined.

Cover; chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

When it's time to bake:  Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dredge balls in remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar; place balls 2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets using your silicone baking mats.  Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until tops are cracked and almost set. Cool cookies on pan 2 minutes or until set; remove from pan. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snickerdoodles & Snurtles

I did most of my Christmas baking early this year, so I had cookies ready at the drop of a hat for any situation.   Unexpected drive by cookie-ing?  Did it.   Cookies to work.   Cookies to friends.   Cookies in the mail.     And then right before Christmas I felt it was time.
Time to make more cookies.
My goal with holiday baking is that I give all the treats away and start the new year fresh.   Last night I took the last of these cookies to a friends house.
Mission:  Accomplished
So what is a snurtle? 
It's a snickerdoodle with caramel and a pecan.   A snickerdoodle turtle.   Deliciousness.
I finally visited Hammond's Candy, and they offer some of their candy in "Oops" format.   It's not pretty, but it's tasty.    During their Candy Cane Festival, they offered Oops bags of their vanilla caramels for $1.   That's a lot of soft, creamy caramel for a steal.     So I had caramel on hand for snurtling. 
You can use your favorite snickerdoodle recipe...or use this one.
What You Need
For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (I use skim)
3 1/2 cups flour (I used 3 cups regular and 1/2 cup whole wheat just for fun)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped - throw them in your food processor to make it easy
For the coating:
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons regular white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
To turn a snickerdoodle into a snurtle:
soft caramels
pecan halves
What You Do
Beat the butter until light and creamy.   Add the sugar and vanilla - keeping it light and fluffy.   Beat in the eggs and then the milk.   
Sift the flour and baking soda over the butter mixture and stir (or use beaters on low) to blend.   Stir in the finely chopped pecans.   Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes.   
Preheat the oven to 375 and put silicone baking mats on your baking sheets.
Combine all the ingredients for the cookie coating in a small bowl - you will use this to roll your cookies.     
Roll your chilled dough into balls (about the diameter of a quarter) with your hands and then roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.     If you're just going to make snicker doodles, set them on the baking sheet.
If you're going to make snurtles, press a small ball of caramel (no bigger than a dime) into the center of the cookie and top with a pecan half.    Press the pecan and caramel into the cookie - if you just let is rest on top the caramel and pecan will slide to the side while the cookie bakes.
Check out this picture to get the snurtle idea:

Whether you snickerdoodle or snurtle it up, bake your cookies for about 8 minutes.   Let them rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then let them cool on a wire rack.    They will be soft (yum!). 
Store in an airtight container until all cookies are devoured.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Candy Cane Joe Joe's

Yet another amazing Trader Joe's treat just in time for Christmas!  
I open Mom's freezer and these just "fell" at my feet.   Sandwich cookies with crushed up candy canes in the filling.   I've only known these existed less than 24 hours, and I've already crushed them up on top of my Whitey's Peppermint Stick ice cream (with fudge, of course) as well as dipping them in my coffee.  
Oh Christmas food.   How I love you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Toffee Bars

(This traveler is preparing to head out for the holidays and is hoping to share one or two more recipes before leaving one land of snow for another)
Toffee Bars have been a Christmas tradition in my family for years.   Probably because they are much easier than making toffee.    I found this recipe two years ago and it my new fave.    They are easy and are the first to be snagged out of the cookie tin.
Merry Christmas!
What You Need
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts, if you prefer)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted and divided
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 (14oz can) sweetened condensed milk (regular or fat-free)
2 teaspoons vanilla
*check out my new Mexican vanilla below....yay!
1 (12oz) bag of chocolate chips
chopped pecans for garnish
What You Do
Preheat oven to 350.   Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.   
In a large mixing bowl combine oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans and 6 tablespoons butter, and baking soda.   Press firmly on bottom of prepared pan.   Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the milk.   Cooki and stir until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.   Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.   Pour evenly over crust.
There are two fun new things in this photo.    When I was on my cruise in November, I picked up a bottle of vanilla while in Cozumel.    It is so good and this huge bottle was less than $10.     As a part of OXO's blogger outreach program, OXO sent me a free set of 4 mini beakers, which are perfect for measuring liquids.  Like vanilla.  Or alcohol.   You know, whatever you need at the time.   I've had fun using these new cooking toys this Christmas.  
(and now back to the recipe)
You've poured the milk/vanilla mixture over your crust, now you're going to bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.     When you pop those bars out of the oven sprinkle the bag of chocolate chips over the top, let them stand for a minute or two until they melt.   Spread with a knife or offset spatula and then sprinkle with chopped pecans.    
Let bars cool completely then cut into small bars for sharing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012!

Today's the day!    All the food bloggers who participated in the Food Blogger Cookie Swap are posting their pictures, recipes and sharing the cookie love.   
My cookie choice:  Peppermint Mocha Cookies.    Dark chocolate, cocoa, peppermint, white chocolate drizzle....all good things.  
What You Need
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
2 eggs
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups flour   (add an extra 1/4 cup of flour if you're baking at altitude, like I am)
1  10oz bag of Nestle's Dark Chocolate Morsels
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
crushed candy canes for garnish

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add peppermint extract.

In another bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, coffee, baking powder and salt. Add to wet ingredients and fold in chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto silicone mat lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Let cool.

Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave (use low heat and stop and stir every 20-30 can go too far and it will burn and start to smell before you know it) .  Use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over cookies.  While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle cookies with crushed candy cane. 

Recipe Source:   I found this great recipe over on Eat Live Run.   I made the adjustment in flour due to altitude and made smaller cookies, I ended up with about 45.

Where Did These Cookies Go?
Every blogger participating received the contact information for three other bloggers.  
All my cookies went east of Colorado:  North Carolina, South Carolina and New York. 

Wine and Plum  (picture on twitter)
Bonbons and Biscotti     
This Is For You  (and a special cookie shoutout

And I Got Cookies Too!

My first gift of cookies arrived courtesy of Mercer and Sage.  

My second gift of cookies arrived courtesy of CopyKat.

My third gift of cookies arrived courtesy of Sweet Jeanette.


Cookie Love and Merry Christmas from Traveler in the Kitchen!

FB Cookie Swap: 3rd Arrival!

The cookie madness continues!   Today I got my third and final arrival of cookies.    These praline cookies from Sweet Jeanette arrived today.    They had a long journey from warm Florida to snowy Colorado but were worth the wait.     Will there be any left by the time I'm done watching The Voice tonight?  I couldn't even spare a whole cookie for the picture, I had already started snacking.
These cookies didn't travel simply by luck.    All these cookies are being sent to and from food bloggers participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.   All participants made a donation to support Cookies for Kid's Cancer in partnership with OXO.
In other good news on a Monday, Passports with Purpose successfully raised $100k for wells in Haiti in partnership with   This holiday season if you have a few extra dollars, please consider donating to a charity that you believe in.      Giving to someone you may never meet is one of life's greatest gifts.
Peace.  Love.   Cookies. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jake's on the Lake (Tahoe, that is)

(humming to self:  "oh the weather outside is frightful....")
For some reason, I had Lake Tahoe on the brain this weekend.   Maybe it was the cold, snowy weather, reminding me that although I love mountains in the winter (hello skiing, hot tubs, and cocktails), they are also beautiful in the summer.    When I lived in Tahoe, I loved the summers so much more than the winter. When I went back this summer for a long weekend, I wanted to stop at some of my favorite summer places.    Including Jake's on the Lake.  
Nothing like sitting on their patio overlooking the wonder that is Lake Tahoe and enjoying a cocktail and lunch.
And now we return to our regular winter weather.
(resume humming "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....")

Sunday, December 9, 2012

White Chocolate & Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies

Cooking and Baking can be filled with failures as well as successes.    Since most people (including myself) don't like to broadcast our failures, we don't share that particular recipe and go on with life like it never happened.   

Sometimes I blame culinary mishaps on the elevation here in Denver.  
Sometimes it's user error - like me not reading the recipe correctly.  
And sometimes the recipe is just plain bad.   

Every time I try a new cookie recipe, I need to remind myself to bake just one cookie the first go round to see how it looks.    Not every recipe needs adjustments for altitude.   But if I bake a whole tray and they do need a little somethin-somethin (like an extra 1/4 cup of flour), I have 12 sad, flat cookies that aren't always suitable for sharing.     Sad, flat cookies still taste good.  For sharing, I'd really prefer that they look as good as they taste. 

This recipe is from the brilliant people at Cooking Light.     I did have to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour after my first tray fell into the "sad, flat" category.   Then they perked up into the tasty treats you see in the picture.  

There aren't a lot of options when it comes to dried strawberries.   I found a 3oz package near the craisins and raisins at King Soopers.  I chopped them smaller than "coarse."    I made a double batch of cookies, so I probably should have bought two packages.   The cookies were still great, so I don't feel too sorry.  

What You Need

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup regular oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried strawberries
1/3 cup premium white chocolate chips
What You Do

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in the bowl; beat at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until blended. Add strawberries and chips; beat at low speed just until blended.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets (use your silicone baking mats!).
Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; cool on pan 1 minute. Remove cookies from pan; cool completely on wire racks.

FB Cookie Swap: 2nd Arrival!

You can never get too many cookies in the mail!
My second "installment" of cookies came in the mail on Friday as a part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.    These sweet goodies came from Stephanie over on    
Not only are baking cookies and sending them to complete (food-lovin' bloggin') strangers, all participants made a donation to support Cookies for Kid's Cancer in partnership with OXO.
Quick plug for another good cause....
Over on Traveler for Good, I'm participating in a travel blogger fundraiser called Passports with Purpose, raising money for to build wells in Haiti.  Tuesday, December 11, is the last day to make a donation with the chance to win a prize.  For every $10 you donate, you can pick another prize you want to win.   Good luck!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FB Cookie Swap: 1st Arrival!

I'm participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year! 

In addition to baking cookies and sending them to complete (food-lovin' bloggin') strangers, all participants made a donation to support Cookies for Kid's Cancer in partnership with OXO.

I was really excited to get my first gift of cookies in the mail.   They are lemon slice cookies of awesome - and were packed smartly in this gift wrapped tin, courtesy of Susan at Mercer and Sage

I also got word from one of the bloggers that I sent my cookies to that they arrived safe, sound and delicous.    Caitie posted a picture of them on her blog This Is For You.  

There is nothing like getting treats in the mail.    Hooray for cookie swaps of all kinds!  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sausage Salsa Dip

Something about Thanksgiving got me on a sausage kick.    I made sausage rolls.    I made stuffing with sausage.     With the remaining sausage,   I made this dip. 
(pause:   looking at the spelling of sausage is driving me crazy.   It looks incorrect in every way, like there are too many letters.    I hate when that happens.    Overthinking.)
Going crazy here, making things that have 4 ingredients.   That's right.  4.
When Wisconsin came to Colorado in October, they brought cherry salsa from Weinke's Market in Door County.    They also brought two bottles of Frozen Tundra white wine from Parallel 44 Vineyard.   Oh Wisconsin, you have a soft spot in my heart.   And my stomach.  Hello, cheese curds?    
In this recipe, you're just drinking wine, not cooking with it.  
Here we go!
What You Need
1 cup crumbled, cooked breakfast sausage
1 package (8oz) of reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice, I used sharp cheddar
1/2 cup salsa - if you have Weinke's Cherry Salsa in your house you're a whole new level of cool
What You Do
Put all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.    Microwave for 2-3 minutes.   Stir every minute and when the cheese is melted and the dip is creamy.
That's it.    
Make it and eat it. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Safe Drinking Water & Chances to Win!

I posted this over on Traveler for Good on Wednesday. It's a great cause and a lot of fun.  Why not share the love with food friends as well?


Passports with Purpose is here!

This year travel bloggers are helping to raise $100,000 to build wells in Haiti in partership with

Access to safe drinking water is one of the most basic keys to good health. Right now, 780 million people, three times the population of the US, lack access to clean water.

In a world that can seem so connected and modern, it's sometimes easy to forget that the ability to drink a glass of clean water is not a guarantee.

If you're sick due to a water-borne illness or have to travel long distances to obtain water it's hard to
  • Go to work and earn a living
  • Go to school and get an education
  • Take care of your family
  • Spend time with friends and neighbors
  • Play sports or enjoy a hobby
  • Cook / Serve foods safely
You Can Help!

Click here to make your donation. The widget on the right column of this page will show you the progress we're making towards the goal of $100,000!

You Can Win a Prize!

The 2012 fundraiser with prizes started on November 27 at 11:59pm EST and ends December 11 at 11:59pm EST. During this time, if you donate $10 or more, not only will you feel warm and fuzzy about supporting a good cause, you will also have a chance to win a prize. A great prize. Most likely, a travel related prize.

In fact, every person blogging about Passports with Purpose has secured a prize. There's bound to be one that you'd be happy to win.

Including this great prize...

I live in beautiful Denver, Colorado.
If you live here, you know it's a great place.
If you don't live here, wouldn't you like to visit in 2013?

Enjoy the best of downtown Denver with Hyatt Hotels!

The Hyatt Regency Denver and the Grand Hyatt Denver each generously donated a one night stay just for Passports with Purpose. Read on to see what you could enjoy if you are the lucky winner.

I've stayed at both these hotels and enjoyed their service, restaurants and amenities. These are the hotels I recommend to friends and family when they come to visit or when they want to stay downtown or celebrate a special occasion.

These hotels are two blocks away from each other in downtown Denver and the winner will have a chance to stay at both properties. Or, if you're feeling generous, you could give one gift certificate to a loved one for the holidays, and still have one for yourself. Your call.

Photo Credit: Hyatt

One night weekend night stay at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center including breakfast for two. This Hyatt is right across the street from the Colorado Convention Center and one block away from the 16th Street Mall, within easy access to anything you want to do in downtown. Peaks Lounge on the 27th Floor has an amazing view of both the city skyline and the mountains.


Photo Credit: Hyatt

One night weekend night stay at the Grand Hyatt Denver including Grand Club access. The Grand Hyatt just started a $28 million redesign that includes the guest rooms, lobby, and much of the meeting space. The renovation finishes in June 2013, so if you visit in the second half of the year, you'll enjoy a "Grand" new hotel! The Grand also introduced a new restaurant, Pub 17, in July of this year including a lot of locally sourced food and craft beers (this is Colorado, after all, and we're serious about our beer).

Whether you give the gift of water or win the gift of a Hyatt stay, thank you in advance for your enthusiastic participation and support of Passports with Purpose!

The fine print:
The winner of this prize will receive two gift certificates by mail (they will arrive together in one envelope/package). Each stay must be booked following the directions on the gift certificate. Each certificate is good for a one (1) night weekend stay (includes room rate + tax). Parking and other incidental charges are not included. Certificates are not valid for December 31, 2012.

Hyatt Regency Denver Certificate: Good for a weekend night accomodation and breakfast for two.
Expires December 1, 2013.
Grand Hyatt Denver Certificate: Good for a weekend night stay for two with Grand Club access.
Expires December 15, 2013.

*Passports with Purpose will determine and/or draw all the prize winners. As the writer of this blog, I am not involved in any of that, but my fingers are crossed that it's someone awesome, like you. Good Luck!*
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