Buddy the Elf Cookies

Unlike some people, I never really had any strong Christmas traditions of watching a particular movie. When my brothers and I were little, we would watch Christmas specials that my mom recorded (on VHS!) – the Smurf’s Christmas Special, Frosty the Snowman… the homemade movie had all of those amazing Coca Cola polar bear commercials (seriously, why did those every go away?).

But at a certain point, we got too old for the Christmas specials. I don’t know when we stopped watching – junior high? High school? It wasn’t until college that those Christmas specials were replaced with a movie. Elf.

I remember coming home from college and talking about the movie. My mom rolled her eyes at me, but my brother jumped right into the conversation about what a great movie it was. Needless to say, Mom had to watch it with us. Several times that Christmas vacation. Thus began my newest Christmas movie tradition.

These cookies are inspired by that movie. For those of you that don’t know the movie, stop reading right now, and check out Netflix, On Demand, whatever. Watch it, and then finish reading this post. You should be picturing the scene where Will Ferrell is making a breakfast of pasta, candy, and maple syrup for his father’s wife. These cookies aren’t as sickly sweet as I imaging that breakfast would have been.Not surprisingly, I felt like I was eating a handful of candy when I ate a cookie.

I can’t wait to turn my Christmas movie tradition into a movie + baking event with my daughter!

Buddy the Elf Cookies

Buddy the Elf Cookies

Adapted from Spoon or Foon

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Ingredients for the Cookies:

  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 14 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. M&Ms
  • ½ c. mini marshmallows
  • 1 c. Sno-Caps
  • 4 S’mores Pop Tarts, chopped

Ingredients for the Maple Glaze

  • 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper an set aside.2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.Treats

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla, beating until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mixing well and scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and add oats, Sno-Caps, Pop Tarts, M&Ms, and marshmallows. The batter will be very thick. You’ll want to finish stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure the candy is evenly distributed.
Using an ice cream scoop, portion out cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 14-16 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack (set on top of a paper bag to minimize the mess) to cool completely.
Make the Glaze. While cookies are baking, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over cooled cookies.
Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate-Flecked Babka

What's_Baking_BadgeThis month is my first to participate in a blogging event called What’s Baking? Every month or two, a blogger will choose a theme, and the rest of us will bake something that fits in with the theme. It’s a great way to try out new recipes, sometimes out of your comfort zone.

This month, the theme of “Heritage Dish” was chosen by Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen. This theme couldn’t have come at a better time, as I recently saw my Polish grandparents. What’s Baking? was the perfect excuse to make something that my grandpa always enjoyed – babka.

Babka is a sweet yeast bread or cake from Eastern Europe. Growing up, my family served the Jewish version, a bread (the cake version is associated with Christian Easter and other holidays). I don’t recall anyone ever making it but it was ordered from bakeries a time or two around both Easter and Christmas.

This version is streaked with semisweet chocolate. My coworkers polished off two loaves of this bread before noon one day. My grandfather, however, was not as impressed. He reminded me every time he had a slice, that I should have used raisins in it, and that it was a little heavy. But he ate two or three slices a day, so it couldn’t have been that bad. 🙂

Baking Note: The original recipe made 4 loaves of bread. I halved the recipe below, because even though it’s freezable, four loaves is quite a lot. If you choose to freeze the dough, it can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge 24-hours before using. Then roll out the dough, allow it to rest and rise, and bake.

Chocolate-Flecked Babka

Chocolate-Flecked Babka

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois), p. 221

Makes 2 loaves


  • 1 1/2 c. lukewarm milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 Tbs. granulated yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. finely chopped or shaved semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate
  • 1/8 c. rum, divided (for soaking the bread)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together milk, yolks, salt, and butter with a wooden spoon until fairly well combined. Attach bowl to mixer and fit with dough hook. Add flour and stir on speed 2 (the highest speed my mixer could handle using the dough hook) until all of the flour has been incorporated. The mixture will be fairly loose.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), about 2 hours. (I tend to place the bread near the oven/stove, when it’s turned on to help it along a little).

When the dough has risen, brush with half of the rum and refrigerate (still covered loosely with plastic wrap) until chilled.

Here, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to a month. If using dough from the freezer, allow to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before resuming recipe below. 

On baking day, grease a standard loaf pan and set aside. .

Lightly flour a work surface with flour. Remove dough from fridge and cut dough in half. Dust with flour and shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the below around to the bottom. Roll out into a rectangle, approximately 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle the entire piece of the dough (including edges) with half of the shaved chocolate (1/2 c.). Roll into a log, starting at the short end. Fold the ends of the log into the middle, so that the ends meet. Place in prepared loaf pan and allow to rise and rest, about 2 hours.

Repeat with the second portion of dough, if you’re baking both at once.

Shortly before before baking, ensure that a rack is in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and firm.

Remove from the oven and brush with rum. Allow to rest for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve at room temperature.

Store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

{Menu} Holiday Party 2013

I’m a bit behind in my holiday posting and am playing catch up. This week, stay tuned for some holiday menus – be sure to bookmark or pin them for next year!

Holiday Party 2013

Menu: Holiday Party 2013


Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs
Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini-Quiche
Parmesan Artichoke Pesto and Tomato-Almond Spread
Rosemary Wreath with Marinated Olives and Bocacchini
Fresh Bread


Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Pecan Pie Truffles
Buddy the Elf Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
Seven Layer Cookies


Assorted wine, beer & sodas

Hot Chocolate Bar: Peppermint Schnapps (an nod to this Liquid Thin Mint we all love), Kahlua, Candy Canes, Marshmallows, Thin Mints, and Pirouette Cookies

Holiday Party 2013

The above menu was planned for 30-40 people. In addition to the above, guests brought Guiness Bailey’s Cupcakes (similar to this recipe), Christmas crack (saltine toffee), brownies, and macarons. Almost all of the savory items were gone but a good number of sweets remained. Note to self: more savory items next year!

Menu: Christmas Week 2011

Merry Christmas!

This holiday season is a full house for my family. The hubby and I spent the holiday with my family up north. For a week, we had friends and family in and out of the house every couple days. It made for a fun week, although a bit chaotic. It was hard to keep up with so many people coming and going, everyone at a different times. As a result, we kept our meals fairly informal and flexible. We stocked the pantry to accommodate a couple extra batches of cookies, and the freezer, which was full of ready-made appetizers and breakfast goodies that just had to be popped in the oven. Finally, family members volunteered to make a couple quick trips to the grocery store so that we could add two requested items (from this blog!). I just went with the flow (and tried to get Mom to relax and do the same).

In the end, the following ended up being the menu for the week – for most of the main meals. In addition to the below, we also had cranberry scones, orange pecan biscotti, and blueberry scones for breakfasts throughout the week.


Lunch for 9: Chicken Noodle Soup & Butternut Squash Soup

Dinner for 11:  Chicken & Eggplant Parmesan, Penne with Homemade Marinara Sauce, Warmed Italian Bread

Dessert/The Week’s Sweets: Seven Layer Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Babka


Dinner for 11: Crab Cakes, Roasted Shrimp with Tomatoes & Feta, White Rice, Roasted Asparagus

Dessert: Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce, Cranberry Pear Tart


Appetizers (for 5-11): Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Baguette, Assorted Cheese & Crackers, Mushrooms Stuffed with Pancetta

Cocktails: Champagne Cosmopolitans

Dinner for 11: French Onion & Fennel Soup Gratin, Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce, Twice Baked Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables

Dessert: Leftover cheesecake, fruit tart, and cookies. Tiramisu, an Italian cookie platter, and a ginger-pear pie, compliments of our guests.


Leftovers & Chinese food. Mom and I finally get a break from the kitchen!

THE TUESDAY AFTER (round two of visiting family)

Appetizers for 18: Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Baked Fontina

Dinner for 18: Crown Roast of Pork with Apple Stuffing & Cider Bourbon Sauce, Roasted Vegetables

Dessert: Leftovers (Sadly. I’ve been dying to make a coconut cream cake, but we just had way too many sweets in the house to make it).


Dinner for 18: Spaghetti & Meatballs

And because I can’t resist, a few photos of my favorite Christmas gifts :

1. A set of children’s books wine glass charms. I’ve never seen any book-related wine charms – can’t wait to try these out at the next book club dinner I host!

2. A gorgeous wreath made of pages from Jane Austen novels.

3. An ice cream maker with a copy of The Perfect Scoop – since my ice cream bowl for my KitchenAid began to ooze blue stuff this summer

4. From Plate to Pixel – so that I can work on my photography this year

Menu: Holiday Party 2011

This weekend was our annual holiday party. As usual, it was a fabulous time! We loved seeing everyone and are so grateful to our friends who took the time out of their very busy holiday season to spend a few hours with us.

This year’s menu was pretty much all new recipes for me. I know you’re not supposed to try new recipes out for company, but I always have cheese and crackers stashed away and grocery store down the road in case a recipe flops. I lucked out this year – everything got rave reviews. In fact, I think it turned out even better than usual. For the first time ever, almost everything was eaten!

A couple recipes are already posted (and linked to) and I linked those recipes that I won’t be posting, probably because I forgot to take photos. Any recipe without a link is something that I plan on posting in the next week or two. (Please let me know if you’d like any recipes sooner than others!)

Happy holidays!

2011 Holiday Party Menu



Nibbles around the House


  • Assorted White & Red Wine
  • Assorted Soft Drinks & Lemonade
  • Assorted Liquors

Serving Notes: I made double batches of the rocky road bark, the cookies & cream bark, the meatballs, and the crab cakes. This menu was designed serve approximately 50 people. We probably had closer to 60 people, many of whom look forward to this event and might save a lot of room in their tummies for whatever “The Bakery” might serve. I had had 5 cupcakes and a couple pieces of chocolate leftover – everything else was gone.

If you’re looking for more menu ideas, check out the 2009 Holiday Party or 2010 Holiday Party menus.