Pretty Christmas cookies: Chocolate Candy Cane Pinwheels

Roughly 95% of the time I make cookies, I go for chocolate chip. They’re sure to please, I pretty much have the recipe memorized and I just drop scoops of dough onto a cookie sheet before—ta-da!—gooey chocolatey deliciousness. But for a Christmas cookie exchange party, I wanted to up my cookie game a bit. So I got all inspired and created these tasty, festive and pretty Christmas cookies: chocolate candy cane pinwheels!

Chocolate candy cane pinwheels are PRETTY Christmas cookies—and so festive! Ten Thousand Hour MamaVersion 2These chocolate candy cane pinwheels are festive, pretty Christmas cookies—perfect for a cookie exchange party! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Dark chocolate, sugar cookie dough and candy cane chunks come together in something that tastes just right at the holidays.  Read more

How to bake with kids

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Warm muffins, melt-in-your-mouth rolls and all the pumpkin spice you could wish for: hello fall! Now that autumn days are cooler and crisper, I’m ready to take my oven out of its summer retirement. It’s no wonder that Peeper has been wanting to help me in the kitchen, too: She asks to help me make muffins at least once a week.

Of course a preschooler’s “help” in anything, especially an activity that involves dumping large quantities of messy flour, requires a certain amount of air quotes. But she loves it—and inviting a child to participate in choosing, preparing and serving food can encourage her to make healthier food choices in the future, according to research. (Um, do chocolate chip cookies count as a healthy food choice?)

Through plenty of experience, I have come across tips on how to bake with kids—without them losing a finger on a hot oven (or you losing your mind).

How to bake with your kids - fall cookies & pumpkin spice muffins, here we come! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Sugar Cookie Paint: The no-frosting way to decorate cookies

Sugar cookies no frosting decorationsA few times a year when I was growing up, my mom would break out the cookie cutters and we’d decorate sugar cookies.

It always seemed like a big event. We’d sort through the mountain of semi-misshapen airplanes, giraffes, gingerbread men and stars, picking out the ones for my mom to use. (There was never any question whether we’d select the Mystery Cookie Cutter, which looked kind of like California and kind of like a stretched-out stocking, of course.) She would lay out the raw dough on cookie sheets, and we kids would go at ’em.

Fluorescent sprinkles, those silver balls that I’m pretty sure were supposed to be inedible, and red hots—which everyone liked to use but no one except my older sister liked to actually eat—were all fair game.

We’d sweep up silver balls and wipe up sprinkles for weeks to come, but the mess was always worth the fun. (Isn’t it always?) Read more

Super-protein quinoa enchiladas and coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies

When you have a baby, all your attention hones in on feeding the newest member of your family. Moms keep track of feeding times and lengths, visit the lactation clinic, figure out latches or bottle flows, and worry if Baby is getting enough to eat.

Brand-new moms spend a lot less time working on feeding themselves, and that’s no good: Parents have enough on their plates without being hangry on top of everything.

So when two friends had babies a few weeks ago, I took the first opportunity to bring them each a meal. Since I’m not terrific at feeding myself, either, I chose recipes that would feed all three of our families!

These precocious baby buddies are already perfecting their secret handshake.
These precocious baby buddies are already perfecting their secret handshake.

When flipping through my Pinterest boards, I looked for functional foods. I decided on this super-protein-packed quinoa enchilada slow-cooker dish because research shows protein is crucial in repairing damaged tissues—something especially important for mothers who had c-sections.

I also made these coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies. Yes, it’s important for dinner to meet all your nutritional needs, but in those early weeks of raising a newborn, sometimes a bite of something sweet can get you through that moment when your munchkin poops all over you the second you’re showered and wearing clean clothes for the first time in a week. I added a salad, threw in some tortilla chips and called it a meal. Read more

Nutella pielettes: RIP Michele Ferrero [recipe]

If you’re a billionaire who brought the world Tic Tacs, Ferrero-Rocher and—even better—Nutella, what better day to die than Valentine’s Day?

Michele Ferrero, who invented the delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread, passed away over the weekend, leaving a world that much more delicious thanks to his sweets empire.

A while back, I made a batch of Nutella pielettes—basically, tiny tart-pies—for a friend’s pie-off party. Alas, they didn’t win, but I think they turned out pretty phenomenal.

In honor of Ferrero and his mouthwatering legacy, here’s the recipe. Don’t forget to toast to the late real-life Willy Wonka when you pop one of these morsels into your mouth.

Nutella pieNutella pie crust Read more

The taste of Christmas

You know when a recipe includes the instruction “stir like the devil” that it’s going to be good.

My grandma (on my mom’s side, Edith’s daughter) baked and sent my family two tea rings every Christmas since I had memories of carols and presents under a tree. We all knew what treat was inside the box addressed with carefully printed letters that arrived on our doorstep every December.

We never dug into the homemade pastry until Christmas morning. We each ate a slice—or several—as we unpacked stockings. I carefully licked my fingers before pulling out a toothbrush, lotto cards and an orange so I wouldn’t smudge my stocking with sticky cinnamon filling.

For me, the soft bread made gooey by butter and baked brown sugar is the taste of the holidays. So when I learned that Grandma wasn’t planning on baking tea ring this year, I knew I had to step up. (Recipe below.)

One of the best things about baking tea ring is your house smells like cinnamon rolls for days.
One of the best things about baking tea ring is your house smells like cinnamon rolls for days.

Read more