Can I tell you how happy I am to be done with all the sweets that come along with the holidays? I don’t want to see cookies or candy for a very long time! I was so happy to get back in the kitchen with real food.

My husband got back to his normal workout routine this morning after taking a few days off and I wanted to have a good lunch ready for him when he got home. He was so excited to see a few of his favorites. I’d actually never made chicken marsala and was scared because the wine smelled so strong but it’s really delicious. The sauce was great over mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Chicken Marsala
adapted from Martha Stewart
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves about 5 ounces each, butterflied
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces white button mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large shallow dish; set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour, tapping off excess; set aside. Add oil to skillet. When oil is shimmering, add chicken, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn over, and cook 3 minutes more. Remove chicken to a plate; set aside and keep warm.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet. Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown and all the released liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Remove skillet from heat, and add wine and broth. Return skillet to heat, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add garlic, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and parsley. Cook for 2 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
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These might just be my favorite cookies ever. I made them a couple Christmases back and have thought about them frequently ever since. They are a light and delicious sugar cookies with dried cranberries and tons of orange zest. They’re also rolled in a mixture of sugar and orange zest which is what makes them so good. The sugar make them a little crunchy on the outside but they say so soft on the inside. Good stuff.

They are also super simple. My 2 year old and I did made the dough and baked them off in probably 30 minutes, and if you have kids you know everything takes longer with them helping.

Cranberry Orange Cookies
Ingredients
For the cookies:
  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
For the rolling sugar:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Using an electric mixer, mix butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Chill dough while you make orange sugar.
  4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the 2 together until everything is combined and mixture is fragrant.
  5. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in orange sugar. Place on baking sheet and flatten slightly.
  6. Bake 10 – 13 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on wire racks.



Cranberry Orange Cookies - I make these every Christmas! They are so delicious!
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I’ve been trying to go outside my comfort zone with my recent candy making and let me tell you, after making this delicious gingerbread caramel, I am leaping back into that zone and I don’t plan on coming out anytime soon.

There’s something very satisfying about taking sugar and water and turning it into caramel. It was a lot of fun, so much that I sent out tweet asking for more candy recipes. But then it didn’t set up. The recipe says to let it sit out at room temperature for 24 hours so I did and after those 24 hours, the caramel was almost there. Or so I thought. So I popped it into the freezer for a few minutes just so I could cut and wrap it.

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture but most of the caramel (I’m having real trouble not typing Camaro each time I have to type caramel, just thought you should know) was firm and the right texture. But when I cut into it, the bottom was almost liquid still! It was bizarre.

I used Martha’s recipe and I’m not going to post it here because, well, it sucked. And it’s not just me! I was talking to someone else who had pretty much the same problem except not even the top of hers firmed up. The spices are spot on though and totally tasted just like gingerbread. So if you’re looking to make these, I suggest finding a better caramel recipe and just using Martha’s mix of spices.

No more candy making for me, thank you very much.

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When I made my Starbucks knock-off mint brownies a couple weeks back I bought a bag of the Andes baking bits just to use for decoration. I had actually seen a great sounding brownie recipe or a cookie recipe or who knows what kind of recipe in a magazine recently that called for the Andes bits but, of course, once I actually had the bag in my hand I had no idea what magazine it was in and Google was absolutely no help.

These cookies are wonderful. They’re soft and chewy and have just the right amount of mint flavor. And crinkle cookies are among my favorites as far as appearance so obviously I love how they look. The only thing I don’t like is that the recipe calls for shortening but what do you do?

Mint Chocolate Crinkles
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour sifted
  • 3/4 cup cocoa sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cup 1 – 10 oz. package Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
  3. With a hand held or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter until creamy. Add the sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth. Fold in Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips.
  4. Roll the dough, by hand, into a 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll the balls in the powdered sugar to fully cover ball. Flatten the balls gently into 1/2” thick disks and place about 2” apart, spacing them evenly on un-greased baking sheets. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies set 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove from sheet and move to wire rack to cool completely.
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So far in the 25 Days of Holiday Goodies I have avoided using pumpkin for various reasons but mainly because my husband’s threatened divorce if he sees one more can of the orange stuff come into our house. Well, the good news is that the pumpkin in this coffee cake is hardly noticeable. That’s also the bad news. :(

The cake itself is beyond amazing. Like I mentioned, it’s a pumpkin cake but in the center it has a cinnamon streusel and then on top is a delicious caramel with pecans sprinkled throughout.

It’s a pretty simple cake. There are quite a few steps but nothing’s difficult. You don’t even have to make real caramel, it’s just brown sugar and cream. The batter was super thick and gave me a little trouble when I tried to spread it and tried to take the pecans and the cinnamon streusel with it, but other than that it was easy. And it looks pretty impressive if you ask me! And it’s delicious, of course!

You remember what happened to my cranberry upside down cake? How the whole upside down part kind of soaked into the cake instead of staying on top? Well, that happened here too which was great as far as the taste of the cake but I was really hoping the caramel would stay on top. I ended up just making a quick batch of caramel and drizzling it over the top. If anyone has any advice on that, please help me out. I’ve never had this happen before and now it’s happened twice within a month or so.

Pumpkin Caramel Coffee Cake
Ingredients
For the Caramel:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans toasted
For the Streusel:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Cake:
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Stir together the brown sugar, cream and salt for the caramel. Pour into a prepared pan and spread to coat the bottom. Sprinkle pecans over the caramel.
  3. In a food processor, process brown sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon and the salt for the streusel. Pulse until small clumps form; set aside.
  4. Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, pumpkin puree and eggs together and place into a large measuring cup with a pour spout. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer just until combined.
  5. Alternately add dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry. Blend each additions just until incorporated. Spread half the batter over the caramel, then sprinkle with half the streusel. Carefully spread remaining batter over that and top with remaining streusel.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake for 5 minutes, then run a pairing knife around the sides to loosen. Invert onto a serving platter while hot, then let cool slightly before slicing.
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