Archive | December, 2010

Twas the morning before Christmas

24 Dec

Twas the morning before Christmas and all through the house, every creature was stirring….well, you get the point. Let’s just say it’s busy around here.

If you’ve ever considered doing kitchen renovations around the holidays, I would strongly consider revising your plan. My parents are currently in the process of remodeling and to say the least, it makes a mess. Baking cookies and watching Christmas movies is not quite the same with sawdust in the air and an air compressor running in the dining room.

Remodeling aside, today is Christmas Eve! Amongst the chaos in the house,  between yesterday and today I have managed to get my presents made and wrapped, cookies baked and decorated, room cleaned, and I plan to do some yoga before I get ready for the Christmas festivities this evening. It’s been a pretty productive couple of days, I’d say.

Yesterday I made five presents in the form of Toffee Blondies in a Jar. Yes, I did make a mess on top of the mess that the kitchen already contained; flour and sawdust are an interesting mix, let me tell you. However, I got some pretty cute gifts made, which are very cost friendly. Perfect for [currently jobless] me.


Toffee Blondies in a Jar (recipe courtesy of food gifts magazine)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (see below)*

1/2 cup toffee pieces or butterscotch-flavor pieces


In a quart jar (I bought an inexpensive 12-pack of mason jars this size at Walmart), layer brown sugar, chocolate pieces, flour, baking powder, salt, nuts, and toffee pieces. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you of the mess this might create :). You can try using a kitchen funnel to insert the ingredients into the jar, or do as I did, and just pour them in over the sink, very carefully. I found that the flour wouldn’t go through the funnel very well, hence the mess.

Once layered, the jars will look like this. *I used a different type of nut in each jar, including pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts. I chose to use Heath bars for the top layer; the hazelnuts, especially, will go nicely with the milk chocolate toffee.

Once you have added all of your ingredients, fasten the the lid. I chose to add some fabric and ribbon for a little extra touch. Just cut the fabric out in the shape of a circle, put it over the metal lid, and then fasten with the metal ring. Cut ribbon to the length of your choice and tie a bow around the center of the jar. The ribbon is also a nice place to stick the recipe card, which should be included with the gift:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking pan.

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 lightly beaten eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Stir in contents of the jar.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set and golden brown and edges just begin to pull away from pan.

Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

The finished product will look somewhat like this. You can choose to hand write your recipe on an index card, as I did, or type it up and print it out. Either way, your end result will be a cute, homemade gift that will bring lots of baking fun into someone’s life :).

Off to yoga I go. Merry Christmas Eve!





It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

9 Dec

Is it weird that I associate finals with Christmas? Well, I do. I am officially two school days away from being free from the semester, and therefore, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! I am currently sitting in a pile of articles and books, pretending to write my final research paper for a class. Keyword there being, “pretending.”

Two school days away from baking Christmas cookies, wrapping presents, decorating the currently (not so festive) house, and hopefully more of this:

and, ankles allowing, this:

and last, but not (well, actually, kind of) least, this,

That last one is least important. Although, that particular gift was homemade and from the heart. Personally, my favorite part of Christmas morning is watching other people open the gifts that I make for them :).

And…did I just post a picture of myself in pajamas, practically just rolled out of bed? I think I did. It’s an authentic image of Christmas in my household.

‘Tis the season.