Monday, December 22, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Cookie - Snickerdoodles

My very favorite cookie, especially around Christmastime, are these wonderfully soft Snickerdoodles. Based on a recipe from The Kitchn, they're always a big hit. Soft and buttery with a cinnamon-sugar crust, I love them with a steaming mug of black coffee, preferably shared with family or friends. Throw in a Christmas tree and a crackling fire, and you've got yourself one heck of a cookie!

P.S. Sorry that I don't have a pretty picture of the cookies...we forgot to take one before eating them!
(photo from WooHome)

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tb cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat. 

While the butter cools, mix together your dry ingredients (brown and white sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt).

Whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract, and then stir in the cooled melted butter (you don't want to scramble your eggs).

Stir together the wet and dry ingredients, just until combined. 

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tb cinnamon. Roll the cookies into 1 inch balls, roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat, and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

All I Want For Christmas - 2014 Edition

Ok, it's that time of year again! Christmas is almost here! Our tree has been up for weeks, a wreath is on the door, and lights are on the house, but I'm scurrying around doing last minute shopping. Here are some things I'm loving this year! Happy Christmas shopping to those of you who, like me, still have a couple folks left on your list!

How cute is this Julia Child cookbook bookmark? She never fails to make me smile.
(Photo from Food52 Provisions)

I'm a sucker for just about anything from Rifle Paper Co, and these Floral Coasters are no exception.
(Photo from Rifle Paper Co)

Wouldn't this 2015 calendar be perfect in the kitchen?
(Photo from Food52 Provisions)

I'm dying to add this East of Eden print to the collection in our library.
(Photo from  FRAMEDVINTAGE Etsy Shop)

A cheery monogrammed Ring Dish would look great on someone's nightstand.
(Photo from Anthropologie)

Have you seen this Coloring Book? What a perfect way to spend dreary winter afternoons!
(Photo from Amazon)

Who doesn't like a cozy pair of PJ Pants?
(Photo from Old Navy)

Even though I have no room for new cookbooks, I would love to have David Lebovitz's newest, My Paris Kitchen. He's just the best.
(Photo from Amazon)

I know I asked for a pretty copy of Little Women last year too, but have you seen this In Bloom version?! Swoon.
(Photo from Rifle Paper Co)

Finally, how about this completely gorgeous Smeg Toaster? How can someone make a toaster that pretty?
(Photo from West Elm)

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Reunion in Dallas

This past weekend, our friends Nate and Kate came to town to visit us along with our friend Joseph! As I've mentioned before (and again here), Nate, Joseph, and I came to be good friends while studying abroad in Toulouse, France. We even gave ourselves a cheesy nickname -- The Trio!  We've been scattered across the country over the past few years, but upon our recent relocation to Dallas as well as Joseph's, we figured it was high time for another reunion. We had a great time catching up and exploring our new home together.

We kicked off the weekend in McKinney. We took them to some of our favorite spots, tried a few new ones, and spent some time at our house playing with Charlie and mixing cocktails in the kitchen.
  • We sipped wine at a cozy corner table at Lone Star Wine Cellars.
  • We devoured breakfast sandwiches at Snug on the Square. The spinach mushroom melt with their homemade green salsa is the best.
  • We brosed shelves piled high with rare and vintage books (including some cool signed first editions) at The Book Gallery.
  • We had pie for lunch at Emporium Pies. Our favorites from the winter menu were the Father Christmas (peppermint cream pie with chocolate cookie crust), Buttermilk Blitzen (chai-spiced buttermilk pie), and Merry Berry (cranberry pecan topped with a layer of chess pie)
  • We went wine tasting at Mitas Hill Vineyards right outside of McKinney in a little town called Squeezepenny.  We loved the "Sip and Savor" deal where you could try four different wines while chatting in the tasting room and admiring the lovely grounds.
The whole gang at Mitas Hill:

Next, we headed into the big city. It was time to explore Dallas with Joseph's apartment as our home base. We rolled into town just as the sun was setting Saturday!

  • We explored the Bishop Arts District! After reading about this trendy part of town flourishing in the Oak Cliff neighborhood, we were excited to see what all the fuss was about!
  • We snacked on appetizers and clinked cocktail glasses at Stock and Barrel. This place was phenomenal. We loved the goat cheese dumplings and the caramelized Brussels Sprouts doused in chili oil. I can't wait to go back for a full meal sometime soon!
  • After sampling the BBQ at Lockhart Smokehouse, we sipped cider at Bishop Cider Co. The boys preferred their peach and pecan-laced cider, but Kate and I loved the OC Funk, an unfiltered and wonderfully funky (as the name implies) cider.
  • We poked around the crowded shelves of M'antiques. What a cool antique store, targeted toward the men-folk, but just as enjoyable for the women.
  • We took a little hike along the Katy Trail on Sunday morning and stopped for breakfast at the Katy Trail Ice House. The outdoor tables are plenty warm thanks to blankets, heaters, and wood fires, and we loved introducing our Buffalo friends to breakfast tacos! The classic bacon, egg, and cheese was great, but our favorite was the brisket, egg, and cheese that they made for us upon special request. The Paloma cocktail was pretty delicious as well!
  • Lunch found us back in Bishop Arts at El Corazon de Tejas for our TexMex fix. Along with $1 mimosas (!!), my lunch combo of a sour cream enchilada and a cheese taco (doused in queso) was ridiculously good. The atmosphere is also lots of fun for TexMex newbies and veterans alike.
  • After lunch, we popped into the Zoomos Pop-Up Shop where we posed for photos with their fantastic "You + Me = Love" mural. Super cute, right?

This was our last stop before delivering Nate and Kate to the airport, and what a perfect way to wrap up a fun weekend with such special friends!  I'm so glad they came to visit!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My 10 Favorite Things in November

Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving? Are your Christmas decorations up? We have Christmas trees decorated, lights hung outside (a fun first for us), and I have the NSync Christmas album on in my car. The Christmas season is upon us, but before I get too swept up into the most wonderful time of the year, here are some highlights from the past month!

1) Decorating our first big Christmas tree!
 Our little Christmas tree served us well over the years in our cozy Boston apartment, and it will continue to bring festive cheer in our library, but this year, we graduated to a full-sized tree in our living room. I'm pretty excited about it! 
2) Thanksgiving with the family
As I mentioned, this was our first year to spend Thanksgiving with family since moving away from Texas. We drove to Austin to spend the day with my husband's wonderfully large and boisterous family. We ate well, we chatted and laughed, we watched football, and we played with puppies and little children.  Later at my in-laws' home, Charlie had the best time playing in the lake bed of Lake Travis, intrepidly jumping in and out of the chilly water (a little stream through the lake bed is all that's left on their part of the lake)!
3) Our first fire in our first fireplace
 November brought unseasonably cold weather (and even a little snow!!) to the Dallas area, so we enjoyed the excuse to put our new fireplace to use. Curled up on the couch in pj's, dog curled up on the rug, and Apple-Ginger Hot Toddies in hand, it was pretty great.
4) Pie Night!
 Do you know what else I was thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Living within driving distance of our friends Liz and Peter, who hosted their annual Pie Night celebration on Thanksgiving Eve. This year, Liz baked 17 pies from scratch, and we happily helped her eat them. My favorite (besides her classic French Silk Pie) was a Lemon Sour Cream Pie. Delicious!
Wurstfest is one of my favorite places on earth, and we had the best time this year with my husband's family. Beer, bratwurst, and polka music -- what's not to like?
6) Breakfast Date at the Allen Café
Both my husband and I have work schedules such that every other Friday, we have the day off. On one of our off Fridays this month, we went out for a "Breakfast Date" as an excuse to try the Allen Cafe. It's the cutest little local spot serving up classic diner fare...and one of my personal favorites, Chicken Fried Steak and eggs!
7) Catching an Allen Americans game
Why are minor league sports so much fun? I love minor league baseball and hockey games, so we jumped at the chance to go see the Allen Americans take the ice. They won the game, and there were a couple good fights, so it was quite a success!
8) Wine and Star Wars Mad Libs
I can't say this is one of the fanciest date nights we've ever had, but gosh did I enjoy sipping on a glass of wine and laughing over silly Mad Libs stories about lightsabers and the Force. (Speaking of Star Wars, everyone saw the Episode VII trailer right? I went from cautiously excited to very excited).
9)Paying a visit to perennial Longhorn Band favorite, Posse East 
My husband and I went to the Texas-TCU game on Thanksgiving, and beforehand, we grabbed a beer at this wonderfully dive-y bar, a much-frequented haunt of Longhorn Band kids (and plenty of other UT folks), and it was great to be back! We also ran into friends at the Unofficial Official Longhorn Alumni Band tailgate on our way to the stadium! Despite the score, it was great to be back at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium (our first time back since graduation).
10) A good bowl of Pho!
Last but not least, we found good pho in Fairview at Pho Crystal! It seems to be a little family-run place, and the food is wonderful. I've been hooked on pho ever since trying the (admittedly unorthodox) vegetarian pho at Happy Veggie in Redondo Beach, and I've been missing Pho #1 in Woburn, so finding this little gem was pretty exciting news.