Tag Archives: Kat from Tenaciously Yours blog

OKMH: The Secret Santa Project

The OKMH Gang (clockwise from top left) - Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Allison & me

The OKMH Gang (clockwise from top left) – Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Allison & me

As 2012 draws to a close (that seems so unreal) so does our first year of One Kitchen Many Hearts boxes. This little ‘boxes of love’ project has been one of the greatest joys of the year for me. Not necessarily for what I received, but for how much fun I had hand-picking items to send to each beloved friend. I anxiously waited, every other month, to see how those gifts would be received. And when a box of love was a success, it made the whole world seem brighter.

For December, our final exchange of 2012, we decided to draw names Secret Santa style and surprise each other. No teasers. No hints. No “wait until you see what I’m sending you” tweets. Until that box showed up on each porch, there would be no clue as to who was sending to whom. My Secret Santa was Kirsten (my twin separated at birth) from Comfortably Domestic in Michigan. And true to her ‘kindred spirit’ form, she totally nailed it.

Perfect theme. Perfect choices. And SO…. MUCH…. LOOT!

OKMH Dec - A Sleigh full of Gifts

Check out this card. Clearly, she’s on board with my exercise regime.

OKMH Dec - Front of Card

OKMH Dec - Inside the Card

Yup. She gets me. She knows that I pine (whine) over her glorious abundance of snow while we languish in shorts and sip iced drinks well into January. I covet her snow. So she sent me a Winter Wonderland in a box, and it was perfect. Perfect timing, perfect selections… just perfect in every way.

My first squeal came when I discovered the tub of Mayan Hot Cocoa Mix. She posted this recipe on her blog and I swooned, but then she sent me some! AND she even sent a fabulous snowflake mug and a tub of miniature freeze-dried marshmallows. How fun is that? They’re so tiny & cute!

OKMH Dec - Cocoa Marshmallow & A Cup

So of course I immediately made a cup so I could enjoy it while I unpacked the rest of the box. Evidently, I am all about instant gratification when it comes to hot cocoa. Kirsten’s is even more decadent because it has a hint of cayenne pepper in it. Not enough so that you taste it, but just enough that you feel a slight burn in the back of your throat. I love that sweet little burn.

OKMH Dec - First Cup of Cocoa

SO. GOOD. If that wasn’t enough, she included these cute ‘cup’ cookie cutters.

OKMH Dec - Cup Cookie Cutters

I haven’t made cookies with them yet, but I’m going to. Soon. Until I get around to it, here’s a suggestion of how they would work. Just imagine it’s a chocolate almond shortbread cookie. Or a cranberry orange sugar cookie.

OKMH Dec - Cup Cookie Cutter

Get a load of the Winter Wonderland goodies she sourced for this baking kit:

OKMH Dec - Holiday Baking Bonanza

It’s a virtual baking blizzard up in here! That snowflake spatula is sturdy, man! Even the stiffest cookie or bread doughs will be conquered with that beast. I love it! And a girl can never, ever have too many cupcake wrappers. There’s just no such thing as ‘enough’ cupcake wrappers.

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Baking Cups

And there were sprinkles. Snowflake Sprinkles, y’all!

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Sprinkles

This snowflake cookie cutter is sturdy, too. This ain’t no flimsy aluminum cookie cutter, my friends. This cutter says ‘I could do this all day.’ It laughs at flimsy cookie cutters. At nearly 4″ across, if this made actual snowflakes, they could kill on impact. Can you just imagine giant buttery snowflakes falling from the sky? I can, and I’m catching them in my mug of hot cocoa.

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Cutter & Spatula

One cookie, and you’d be stuffed to the gills. I would pretend to be a dainty eater. You’d be all like, “Can I offer you another holiday treat?” And I’d be all like, “No thanks; I just ate a snowflake. I couldn’t eat another bite!”

But I saved the best baking surprise for last. It’s this little unassuming bottle:

OKMH Dec - Nectar of the Gods

It’s unicorn tears. I’m just kidding. It’s actually fiori di sicilia and it’s a baker’s secret weapon. A blend of citrus & vanilla, it brightens everything from ice cream to cookies to bread dough. I cannot WAIT to crack that puppy open! I just have to find the perfect recipe. Something truly worthy. Suggestions?

Also included in the box – two sweet winter-themed hand towels (who doesn’t love a penguin, seriously) and a snowflake ornament. Ah-door-ah-bull.

OKMH Dec - Cute Ornament & Towels

But wait, there’s more! No OKMH box is complete without something girlie and Kirsten went for mani/pedi fun. As a south coaster, Kirsten knows I’m a slave to humidity. When winter comes and the heaters click on, I begin to shrivel like a lizard. There’s nothing pretty about it, either. So for my dry lizard skin, there is Carmex healing cream. As soon as I put it on, my skin said, “Ahhhhhhhhh.” And there was polish! I love these two sparkly, frosty colors together. So pretty!

OKMH Dec - Hand Care

And for those days when sweet & frosty won’t cut it, she included this wild OPI set as a tribute to my Day of the Dead Mask post from October. So much fun, and they even came with little DOTD stickers for your nails, too!

OKMH Dec - DOTD Nail Polish

These are going in my Tub-O-Polish for girlie nail painting parties like Hoegarden. Or when I want to spice up my toes (even though no one will see them this winter). It’s like wearing racy underwear under a boring business suit. Hypothetically speaking, of course. {giggling}

Always a mom at heart, she included these reuseable snack bags for the grandkids – Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug. They’re going to love them. I’ve already stuffed them with snacks and juice boxes. No kidding.

OKMH Dec - Reusable Snack Bags

I love that these are washable, and the kids are going to love the cute prints. Lilly Bug is all girl with a pink fetish and Jonah Bear is all about the super heroes. Thanks for thinking of them, Kirsten. So thoughtful.

But I saved my very favorite surprise for last.

Did I mention Kirsten is a knitter? I wish I knew how to knit. We made a deal recently. She’ll teach me to knit if I’ll teach her to sew. We just need a few weeks together. That’s all. Or maybe a month. A month would be much better.

Lucky for me, Kirsten is a gifted knitter and she made something special just for me in the most beautiful shade of blue. Seriously, I died.

OKMH Dec - Hand-Knitted Gloves

Fingerless Victorian-inspired gloves. Fingerless because she knows it never gets cold enough down here to wear a heavy coat. Victorian because we share a love of antiques. Some day we will wear gloves and sip chai tea together as we browse antique shops. It’s a dream of ours, and one I’m determined WILL come true. Some day. Until then, check out the details on these beauties:

OKMH Dec - Glove Details

Not just ruffles, but ruffles with contrasting trim in black. And those buttons. They kill me. I don’t know how she did it. Well, actually there’s a story behind the gloves. If you look at the photo of the inside of the card again, you’ll see that little note on the top left corner about a funny story. It turns out that Kirsten crafted these gloves while they were traveling by car for Thanksgiving. She was so excited to get them done on the drive, she showed them to her husband, who commented “Did you mean to knit two left-handed gloves?” To her surprise, she’d accidentally made two lefts. She had to rip one apart and re-knit it into a right handed glove. She calls that a funny story. I would have cried.

OKMH Dec - gloves & a heart

Those gloves are a symbol of how nothing gets in the way of our devotion to make each box as perfect as possible. I can’t speak for all the ladies, but I believe the preparation and care and love that goes into crafting each OKMH box is the best part of this project. Well, that and hearing how much each box meant to those who received them. And although 2012 is almost behind us, I have a feeling One Kitchen Many Hearts will continue for years to come.

I’m sending a big bear hug to Kirsten, along with a very special thanks for my Winter Wonderland extravaganza. I could not imagine a better holiday surprise. As Kirsten so eloquently puts it, I love these ladies more than cake. And if you’d like to see what everyone else received, drop in on them at the links below. In case you’re curious, I sent my Secret Santa box to Mads. {squee!}

Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic

Megan at Country Cleaver

Kat at Tenaciously Yours

Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World

Mads at La Petite Pancake

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love

Cookie Week: Turtle Thumbprints

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumprints - Drizzled
It’s Cookie Week! That’s great news if you’re a cookie lover; even better news if you’re a supporter of Cookies for Kids Cancer. This year, my blogging friends and I will again be baking to support this very worthy cause. For each cookie baked, sold, exchanged, or gifted Glad will donate $1 (up to $100,000). In addition, OXO (one of my favorite brands) has initiated the “OXO Matching Gift Program” and will match all proceeds from registered bake sales as part of their $100,000 pledge to Cookies for Kids Cancer. I’ve loved these brands for years, but I love them even more for their unwavering commitment to ending pediatric cancer. I’m sending a big thank you and hug to OXO & Glad.

And now on to the cookies! I chose Turtle Thumbprint Cookies this year. Risky, since I’ve never made them before, but when I saw them on Pinterest, I couldn’t resist. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations – chocolate, caramel & toasted nuts. I love turtles – whether in cookie, brownie or ninja form. These are no exception. It all starts with a rich, truffle-like dark chocolate dough.

Dark Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies:
(adapted from The Kitchen is my Playground, and America’s Test Kitchen)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s ‘Special Dark’ cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of unsalted Land O’ Lakes butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated + 1 extra egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 jar of dulce de leche caramel, for filling
6 ounces of chocolate chips, for drizzling

For the cookie dough:
Combine the flour, cocoa & salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, milk & vanilla; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the flour/cocoa mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour). Once firm, scoop 1 tablespoon of dough into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball. Continue until all the dough has been rolled into balls.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Tumbprints - Perfectly Shaped Dough Balls

To assemble the thumbprint cookies:
Whisk both egg whites until frothy. Place the chopped pecans in a separate bowl and keep nearby. Using a fork, lower each cookie ball into the egg whites, rolling to make sure they’re completely coated.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - Finish Prep

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - Egg White Wash

Remove from the egg wash and immediately drop it into the bowl of nuts. Roll or toss until the dough ball is completely coated in nuts.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - Pecan Coating

That last photo reminds me of “Where’s Waldo?” Can your find the cookie? Here’s an example of a perfectly coated cookie ball:

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - A Perfectly Coated Ball

Place the cookies 2″ apart onto cookie sheets (I recommend using a silicone mat or parchment). Using your finger or a round wooden spoon handle, press a divot into the top of each cookie. The bigger the divot, the more caramel it holds.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - A Perfect Divot

Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes, depending on your oven. You want them to just be done. Bake too long, and they’ll start to split and crack around the outside edges which will wreak havoc when you try to fill them with caramel. And we don’t want that. When they’re cooled to room temperature, grab your favorite dulce de leche caramel. I’m using this jar of unholy goodness sent to me by my friend Kat at Tenaciously Yours. It’s sea salt caramel from Trader Joe’s and it’s divine. Ima need a new jar soon. Or two. Or twelve.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - Trader Joe Caramel

Spoon just enough caramel into each cookie to fill the divot without running over the top. They get really messy when they run over the top.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumprints - Oh Sweet Caramel Goodness

Now grab your favorite milk chocolate and melt it; whisking until smooth. I like to scrape it into a plastic zip-style Glad bag so I can drizzle quickly and easily (plus it makes clean-up a snap). Just twist the baggie to press the chocolate into one corner, then snip the tip and drizzle like a pro. If you want to get all fancy-pants, you can top these with a toasted pecan. I tried it, but I’m not sure I like having my view of that sea salt caramel blocked. Caramel is meant to be seen.

Cookie Week '12 -  Finished Turtle Thumbprints

Notes from my personal experience with this recipe:
1. The dough balls (uncoated) can be made and frozen in advance in airtight freezer bags. Just thaw before coating with egg wash & nuts and baking.

2. The recipe called for regular cocoa, but I’m a dark chocolate lover so I substituted the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa and it rocked.

2. Almonds can be substituted for pecans. And if you’re a Snickers fan, I’m betting peanuts would be pretty tasty, too.

3. The original recipe (as seen on Pinterest) called for using 14 wrapped soft caramel candies, melted down with 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. I chose the jar of sea salt caramel because I had it on hand and it’s delicious.

4. This recipe says it makes approximately 30 cookies. I tripled the recipe for a holiday cookie exchange and it worked perfectly. It made exactly 90 cookies. You’ve got to love truth in advertising.

Speaking of truth in advertising, are you familiar with the OXO brand? They make some of my favorite kitchen gadgets – including my digital scale, measuring & cooking utensils, mandolin, etc. Their Good Grips utensils are my ‘go to’ products. I love them, and that’s the truth. Last week, this box of goodies arrived via the OXO Blogger Outreach Program. It contains two OXO items that came in handy for cookie baking. Perfect timing!

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - OXO Box of Love

The box included the OXO “Be A Good Cookie” spatula and the cutest set of miniature measuring cups I’ve ever seen. First, check out this spatula.

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - OXO Good Cookie Spatula

Proceeds from the sale of OXO Good Cookie spatulas help support Cookies for Kids Cancer and the good work they do. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers for the cooks/bakers in your family, this is perfect. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. You know what else would make a great stocking stuffer? These adorable and highly useful miniature measuring cups. I just can’t get over these. And did I mention they nest? Love, love, love them!

Cookie Week '12 - Turtle Thumbprints - OXO Mini Measuring Cups

Stay tuned for updates all week long as other Cookie Week bakers share their holiday favorites. For instance, Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic kicked off our Cookie Week shenanigans yesterday with decorated shortbread cookies and a King Arthur Flour giveaway. You’ll want to check out that giveaway!

Other Cookie Week bloggers will include Megan at Country Cleaver, Kat at Tenaciously Yours, Mads at La Petite Pancake, Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World, Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama, and Madeline at Munching in the Mitten.

And if you’re baking for your friends & family and would like to join our alliance to fight pediatric cancer, drop me a comment with your cookie count and we’ll include it in our total number. Help Glad & OXO and bakers everywhere support Cookies for Kids Cancer – one sweet treat at a time.

Cookies for Kids Cancer Button

Monday: Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Decorated Shortbread & King Arthur Flour Giveaway

Tuesday: Mads @ La Petite Pancake – Honey-Glazed Lemon Yogurt Cookies

Wednesday: Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Chocolate Chunkers & Megan @ Country Cleaver – Homemade Mint Oreos & Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Maple Bacon Sugar Cookies

Thursday: Allison @ Decadent Philistines – Sesame Plum Thumbprints & Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Colossal Cookies

Friday: Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Brown Sugar Toffee Cookies & Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Gingersnaps

Saturday: Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies & Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Egg Nog Logs

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Things I Love

One Kitchen Many Hearts – October

Oh sweet glorious gift exchanges, it’s that time again. The time when our little circle of blogging buddies send care packages to each other; just because.

The OKMH Gang (top, left to right) – Mads, Kirsten & Megan (bottom, left to right) me, Allison & Kat

And while we know who’s sending each box, we never quite know what to expect. For that reason, each exchange is like a little bit of Christmas all year round. This month my box came from Kat of Tenaciously Yours in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota. Check out all the fabulousness, including every non-perishable thing needed to make Cafe Latte’s Famous Turtle Cake. You heard me – gooey, fudgy caramel-coated Turtle Cake. {sigh; where are my fat pants?}

Dessert in a Box & all the pretties to serve it with


See that cute tea towel? If I’m not mistaken, Kat’s sweet mother has been hand-stitching these one-of-a-kind towels for all of Kat’s OKMH boxes this year. How sweet is that? Mine has purple plums framed in a cheerful yellow border. Absolutely lovely. And get a load of that silver server. I have an old dainty one that I have to use with caution. This one is fancy AND sturdy. I’m talking ‘lift a turkey from the roaster’ sturdy. I think that cut-out at the end may even double as a beer bottle opener. How’s that for an all-purpose kitchen tool?

A vintage cake server & a handmade tea towel

This next treasure really made my heart melt. I don’t even remember how it first came up, but Kat showed off this vintage 1940’s cookbook a few weeks ago and I immediately swooned. I have a deep abiding love for vintage cookbooks, as well as a long-standing love affair the JR Watkins brand. This book was like a long-lost star-crossed love at first sight thing for me. When I opened my box, I was stunned to find the book with its purple post-it note. Heart be still.

A vintage cookbook from 1946; heart be still

It’s a salad cookbook; copyright 1946. In case you’re wondering, yes there are ingredients listed that I don’t believe exist any more & yes, there’s a lot of mayonnaise throughout the book. But I’m not afraid of a little mayonnaise, and you should know by now that I always play around with recipes. So hello, 1946. Let me introduce you to a little thing called fat-free Greek yogurt. Booyah!

Salads from the 1940’s; how fun is that?

Another unexpected surprise: while flipping through the cookbook, this gem fell out. It’s a recipe from a magazine or newspaper circa the 1950’s, and it’s for Halloween Doughnuts. Just before Halloween, y’all! Talk about timing!

This bonus recipe was tucked inside. Perfect timing!

I’ll have to try those soon, but for now let’s get to the real meat of this OKMH Box – that Turtle Cake. Raise your hand if you want to help me eat this:

The star of the show – Cafe Latte’s Turtle Cake

What? Still not sure? What if I show it to you like this? All sliced up and ready to face-plant into? Does that help? Did I mention it’s all soft and gorgeous on the bottom, and all fudgy and caramel-coated on top? Now are you interested?

Yes, it is as rich and gooey as it looks.

Okay, I’ll put on a pot of coffee and wait for you. Who am I kidding?! This cake is GONE! G-O-N-E gone. Don’t despair, my lovelies. Kat included the link to the recipe on her blog and I’ll share it here, too. Just click here for the recipe. Note: the recipe calls for this to be baked in three 9″ round pans. I baked it in a 13″x9″ pan (baking time changes to 35 minutes, in case you’re taking notes).

Next month, in celebration of the holidays, we’re rocking OKMH “Secret Santa” style. Boxes will arrive in December with no advance notice of who will be shipping it. When I say “I can’t wait!” I mean it; I’ve already been crafting cute holiday things for my secret recipient. Until then, see what I sent to Allison by clicking here, and you can follow the chain from blog to blog to see what everyone else got, as well. Now… where did I hide that last piece of cake?

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Filed under Food & Recipes, Things I Love