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31 December 2013

Favorites of 2013




I cannot believe 2013 is almost over. In 6 hours and 25 minutes to be exact. I do not know about you, but it just flew by for me. I feel like I just wrote my Favorites of 2012. But yet, here came December 31st, 2013. Although Thanksgiving is usually when people reflect on what they are grateful for, so is New Year's Eve. It lets me reflect on the year to see what my favorite moments were, what I am grateful for and what I look forward to in the New Year.

What was my favorite moment? By far, my favorite part of 2013 was my trip with the hubby to Southeast Asia. I LOVED it. Being able to soak in the incredible culture of Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand was beyond amazing. I mean just AMAZING! Such a once in a lifetime cultural experience. It has definitely sparked the hubby and I's interest in continuing our travels around the world and to experience other cultures.

So what do I look forward to in the New Year...a few things: I would love another big cultural trip. I want to go to Italy and Greece but the hubby wants to visit South America. So we shall see. But I am excited to go visit Cancun, Mexico and Puerto Rico (which we are definitely going). I am excited to see my one best friend get married and having the honor to stand by her side as she does! And hopefully see my other best friend get engaged. And I am looking forward to applying for internship and hopes that brings a wonderful, promising new step in my professional career!

And what I am grateful for: An amazingly supportive, loving and just all around wonderful hubby who I have been beyond blessed with. And though he may get on my nerves sometimes (that stupid toilet seat ;)...I know I am one lucky gal! I love being a mom to my Ninja face. He has been on the best and happiest parts of my life. A wonderful and sweet family, who provide me with love every step of the way. Two best friends who are my family and always will be. Getting closer with friends who have been such a blessing in my Texas life  (Ashely, this would be you :). Another year of self-discovery and growth. And, always, another year baking, cooking, blogging and being For the Love of Dessert ( and you for taking the time to stop by and making this blog so worth it)!

2014-- I am excited for you! But to wrap up 2013, I thought I would share my top 10 favorites recipes and the hubby's top 10 favorite recipes! We don't share our favorites until I am about to post...and we have two of the same favorites...which I guess means they are extra awesome? ;) These are in no particular order.

MY FAVORITES

1. Mac n' Cheese Pizza


2. Roasted Vegetable Mac n' Cheese


3. Spicy Chicken Poblano Risotto


4. Chicken Fried Rice, Take 2


5. S'moreos 


6. Soft Dark Chocolate M&M Fudge


7. Chocolate Chunk, Graham Cracker Muffins


8. Brownie Pudding


9. Mr. Goodbar Pudding Cookies


10. Hot Chocolate Muskateers Fudge Brownies

 

THE HUBBY'S FAVORITES 

1. Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich


2. Sour Cream Noodle Casserole


3. Tater Tot Casserole


4. Roasted Poblano & Corn Grits with Chorizo


5. Pizzatinis


6. Oatmeal Fudge Bars


7. Brownie Pudding


8. Strawberry Mascarpone Layer Cake

 
9. Cinnamon Pecan Pudding Cookies


10. Hot Chocolate Muskateers Fudge Brownies


Happy New Year,
Chika 

30 December 2013

Cinnamon Pecan Pudding Cookies



Welcome to the 12th Day of Christmas recipe! Only I would share my last Christmas recipe 6 days after Christmas. In all fairness, Christmas with my in-laws was on the 29th and I am sure we were not the only family to have a delayed holiday party. Plus, we can blame it on my Indian Standard Time (yes, I'm Sri Lankan, but it still works)...and yes, I did say that and yes, that is so a real thing :) I really wanted to post this recipe before the year ended because each December (and by each the last two years my blog as been "alive") the hubby and I pick our favorite recipes of the year. Well...spoiler alert...this recipe was on the hubby's list and it would be really awkward to have a recipe on his list that I did not even post yet. Sadly I have yet to post my Thanksgiving recipes, but I'll just have to do a Thanksgiving recap in 2014...I ask that you still love me.


And since I am still in holiday mode, I wanted to share two extra holiday gifts I got. The first was from Ashely. She was so sweet and got me things I could use for baking and blogging. I got these adorable penguin measuring cups and a penguin spatula :) I love, love, love penguins. For one they are adorable...they are like black and white sea otters. Second, they remind me of Stephanie. In high school she used to do this adorable penguin impression by flapping her arms which used to crack Paulina and I up. Ashely also got me cookie tins for next year's 12 days of Christmas countdown. I'm excited! The second gift I got, was this gorgeous hand, knitted blanket that my grandmother-in-law got me. It was perfect, because the weather just got really cold, and by cold -- I mean Texas cold. So now I have this warm blanket to cuddle up with Ninja....okay and the hubby ;)


These cookies are so holiday yet so everyday. The hubby describes them as eating a cinna-bun, topped with pecans. And who doesn't love cinna-buns -- which you can also eat anytime of the year. Since the hubby loved them so much, I picked up some extra cinnamon chips during the after Christmas holiday sale at the grocery store. The hubby was like a cookie pusher at the party with my in-laws getting everyone to try these cookies, because he loved them so much. It was great because my in-law all really loved it, which made me smile :) They also thought it tasted like cinna-buns. They are soft with delicious bursts of cinnamon and a wonderful pecan crunch. Plus, cookies are always so easy to whip up and I am convinced that there is now way to ruin a pudding cookie...NO WAY...







CINNAMON PECAN PUDDING COOKIES
A For the Love of Dessert Original Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 (3.4-3.56 oz) box of vanilla pudding
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. of cinnamon chips + extra for garnish
1 c. chopped pecans + extra for garnish

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, vanilla pudding, and cinnamon- set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter and both sugars until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add eggs, one at time, followed by vanilla. Scrape down sides. Then reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients. Combine until just incorporated. Remove from stand mixer and fold in 1 c. of cinnamon chips and 1 c. of pecans (use the remaining cinnamon chips and pecans to press into the top of the cookie dough balls).

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 1/2-2 inch, cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand. Press remaining cinnamon chips and pecans onto the top of the cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Enjoy,
Chika

29 December 2013

Snickers Brownie Bombs




Yesterday we made the almost 6 hour trek to Louisiana to have a belated celebration with the in-laws. Although the journey was LONG it was a super nice and sweet get together. I am always a fan of spending time with family. Not only was it a fun way to extend the holiday celebration and enjoy deliciously amazing food (I mean YUM), we got to celebrate two engagements and a wedding (that we unfortunately had to miss this past September). I got to meet the new hubby and the two new fiances :) One of which I had been chatting with on Facebook and so it was great meeting her in person (and it's always great meeting someone you personality meshes well with). I wanted to be creative with our congratulations, so I made them this:


I really love doing cartoon like drawings. I used to do it all the time when I worked at the daycare. I would decorate these posters that told the parents what their kids did that day. Then when I came to work at Texas Children's hospital, I got to continue with my creative side. I would make cards, magnets, and posters for kids I work with. It was really fun. And since starting graduate school, I got to expand on my creative side by baking, cooking and blogging but I haven't really gotten to do much drawing, so it was nice to get back into it. I really hoped they liked it!



Since it was technically after Christmas I wanted to make my last two dessert, not so much Christmas only type desserts but more holiday inspired dessert but those that you can eat at any time :) I have been seeing these brownie bombs/brownie bites on Pinterest lately and wanted to make them because I love bite sized dessert ideas like truffles and cake balls. Have you ever heard of brownie bombs? They are basically a sweet treat, covered in a brownie layer, dipped in chocolate and garnished with sprinkles or mini-chocolate chips. I chose to use Snickers, but what is great, is you can switch it out with any other treat you like (Hershey kisses, Milky Ways, etc.).







SNICKERS BROWNIE BOMBS 
Adapted from Skinny not Skinny

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven o 350F Degrees

1 family size boxed mix of fudge brownies
18 oz. chocolate bark or candy melts
1 tsp. vegetable oil 
26 Snickers bites or 13 fun sized Snickers (cut in half) or other candy of choice
Sprinkles or mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Bake brownies according to package directions for "fudgey" brownies. Allow to completely cool. Once cool, cut the edges of the brownie off (i.e., the dry parts). Cut the remaining brownie into 1 1/2 inch squares.

Roll each brownie square into a ball. Continue kneading, pressing and rolling the brownie in your hand until the the dough is smooth. Flatten the dough and place a piece of Snickers in the middle. Gently wrap the brownie around the piece of Snickers. Then roll between the palms of your hands until the entire piece of Snickers is covered and the ball (or bomb) is smooth. Repeat with remaining brownie squares.


Dipping the brownie bomb:
Melt either chocolate bark or candy melt according to package directions. This is my secret, once the chocolate is melted I stir in the vegetable oil. This makes the chocolate have a smoother and shinier coating :)

Now, I am going to tell you how I get perfectly dipped brownie bombs but if you have your own method that works-- you are more than welcome to do it that way -- this is just whats worked best for me: 
  • Once chocolate has melted, take the brownie bomb and while holding the top half, dip the bottom half into the chocolate, then dip a cake pop stick into the chocolate (about 1/2 inch) and push into the center of the cake ball until about, no more, than half way through (this may be hard because the stick may hit the Snickers -- just try your best). Let cool. This will make it much easier to dip the rest of the cake ball. Otherwise I have found that the cake balls get stuck in the  chocolate or falls off the stick.
Once cooled, dip the top of the brownie bomb and a little part of the bottom, that was already coated into the chocolate. Shake off excess chocolate. Garnish with sprinkles (while chocolate is still wet). Allow to cool by sticking into flower foam. Once dried, holding the brownie bomb with one hand, gently twist the cake pop stick with your other hand and pull out. 

Enjoy,
Chika

27 December 2013

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites



How was your Christmas morning. I was excited to share with the hubby the presents I got him (i.e, the video games). BUT for the first time, I did not get the hubby what he wanted. And I could tell. He usually loves it and starts smiling, this time, he kinda half smiled. And was more excited about the things I put in his stocking-- seasonal food items that I thought he would enjoy. He really liked the Pepperidge Farms Caramel Apple Cookies I got him. He ate those up. And I loved the deep fryer I got (to make doughnuts and tempura) and the new clothes! Can't wait to wear them! Finally got some Chevron pattern outfits! It was a nice Christmas.

He really thought I got him paper ;)


I have never been a huge fan of peanut butter. Wait let me correct that. I love peanut butter in desserts but I just have not been one to eat peanut butter independently. Like how I eat Nutella ;) I know a ton of people who can just eat peanut butter by itself...I am not one of those people. But that has all changed. I have discovered dark chocolate peanut butter! mmmm...that I can eat by itself, but what I love more? Is to scoop animal crackers into it and EAT! Who knew that dark chocolate peanut butter existed?!? I did not. Weird thing is, the hubby did and said he tried it a long time ago? WHAT?!? Well, I am glad I found it and then stumbled on this recipe for dark chocolate peanut butter bites! They were so easy to make and so yummy to eat! Trust me, if you haven't had dark chocolate peanut butter...do so...quickly!







DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BITES
Adapted from Uni Homemaker

INGREDIENTS 

Preheat Oven to 325F Degrees 

2 c. of dark chocolate peanut butter (I used Skippy but you can also use Peanut Butter & Co. brand)
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. holiday chips

DIRECTIONS

Line a mini-cupcake pan with liners (24 mini-wells in each tray). Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together dark chocolate peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. Once smooth, scrape down sides of bowl and stir in flour. Remove from stand mixer and fold in holiday chips. 

Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, spoon batter into each mini baking cup. Sprinkle extra holiday chips on top. Bake for 10-12 minutes (on bottom rack of oven) or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake these bites -- they will taste very dry if you do. Allow to cool before eating.

Enjoy,
Chika