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Christmas Magic Bars

Can we talk about Santa for a moment?

I am not a fan of Santa. Every year I bust my butt Christmas Shopping, creating fun surprises for the kids, keeping the idea of Santa alive. The whole charade is exhausting and expensive. I do all the work. Santa gets all the credit.

Not only does he get all the credit, I have to bake him damn cookies, and leave his ridiculous reindeer  carrots.

Maybe my husband and I take it a step too far... we nibble on the cookies leaving crumbs, make a bit of a mess because apparently Santa is a fat messy man. We even leave chewed up pieces of carrots out on the deck so the kids think the deer were nibbling on them outside. Yes I said chewed up.


Mocha Almond Toffee Cookies (Originally posted in March 2012)

Rich fudgy mocha cookies filled with buttery bits of toffee and almonds. 

I have been sorting through old blog posts and my draft folder, to see if there are any great winning recipes that I have failed to share with you all.

These cookies, were originally from a guest post I wrote for Crumbs and Chaos a couple of years ago. I have completely forgotten how much I adore them. Last night a made a half batch, and boy am I glad I did!

These are a must make this holiday season, your cookie swaps or cookie tins are not complete with out them.

Mocha Almond Toffee Fudge Cookies
Recipe inspired by HowSweets It Is
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature 
  • 1  ½ cups sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • ½  teaspoon vanilla 
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • ½  cup chopped almonds 
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup of toffee pieces

In the bowl of your electric mixer cream your butter and sugar together until light and creamy. 

Add in your eggs one at a time mixing on medium/low speed. 

Mix in your instant coffee and vanilla and almond extracts.

Sift together you flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add it into your butter mixture slowly, mixing on low speed.

Once everything is incorporated fold in your almonds, chocolate chips, and toffee pieces. 

Roll dough into 12-14 large balls they should be the size of your palms.  

Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 3 inches apart and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.   

The longer you bake the less fuggy they are and more chewy they become. So it is your preference how long to leave them in the oven. 

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No-Roll Eggnog Doughnut Holes with Butter Rum Glaze

An easy to make fried doughnut that requires no rolling or rise time. Perfect recipe to use up that last bit of eggnog or perhaps to enjoy on Christmas morning! 

The following blog post contains sponsored content.  A huge thank you to my friends at Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs. Without the support of brands like theirs, we bloggers would not be able to take the time to create recipes for you all!  

I have an obsession with eggnog. The extra pounds I put on through the holidays can solely be blamed on my nog consumption. Funny part is, I never tried eggnog until two years ago. I went years without trying it. The idea always gave me the willies. I like so many others assumed it was gross. 

Then one day my sisters boyfriend (now ex) talked me into trying a sip of his. Boy am I glad I did. It tastes like ice cream you guys! Imagine my surprise when I realized I had been missing out for close to 30 years.

My obsession has now passed on to my three kids. They all call it "Ice Cream Milk". When I told them I was going to make homemade doughnuts with eggnog in them, they were over the moon. Two of their favorite things all in one bite.


Mini Cookie Dough Chocolate Cheesecakes (made without a fancy pan)

Mini chocolate cheesecakes topped with cookie dough frosting. 

Did I tell you all I got a new puppy?? If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, I am sure you have been flooded with photos of him. For whatever reason I keep forgetting to write about him on here. 


Betty Crocker and Toys for Tots Cookie Exchange

~The following blog post contains sponsored content.  A huge thank you to my friends at Betty Crocker. Without the support of brands like theirs, we bloggers would not be able to take the time to create recipes for you all! ~  

Every year during the holidays, as a family, we like to do something to give back to our community. Not only are we helping those in need, we are teaching our kids valuable lessons in giving and compassion.

I was on the fence this year what I wanted to do, should we volunteer at a soup kitchen?  Donate money to the local food bank? When I received an email from Betty Crocker asking me to host a cookie exchange and toy drive to help support Toys for Tots, I knew this would be a fun way to give back to those children in need. 

As I was planning the cookie exchange over the last couple of weeks, I started to see local stories on our news station about how in need New Hampshire's Toys for Tots chapter was. Last year they needed an estimated 150,000 toys so that each child in need could receive just two Christmas gifts. This year? They need an estimated 300,000 toys just in New Hampshire alone! So far they have only had 10,000 toys donated, they seriously need the help this holiday season. 

I am so happy we participated in this event with Betty Crocker. It was such a valuable lesson for my three slightly spoiled kids. They are so used to being on the receiving end when it comes to gift giving. It was refreshing to see how eager they were to collect the toy donations, knowing they were going to other kids. Even my two year old, who I thought would not understand, grasped the concept.  I was so proud of my little cookie monsters and their big hearts. 

 For our exchange we not only asked our guests to bring a dozen of their favorite cookies to share, but an unwrapped children's toy to donate. During the party we  enjoyed hot chocolate complete with candy cane stirrers, listened to holiday music, played in the snow, decorated cookies.... and of course ATE tons of cookies. 

This being a party filled with children under the age of 7, there was a lot of sticky going on. I think after everyone left there was 283,480 candy sprinkles on my floor and bits of red and green frosting on every surface of the house. But it was so worth it, the kids and adults all had a blast, we had great treats to eat, and most importantly we collected a ton of new toys to be donated to Toys for Tots. 

Want to learn more about Toys for Tots or make a donation? Click HERE for more info. 

Want to know how you can host a Betty Crocker Cookie Exchange? Click HERE to sign up. The first 1000 people to host a cookie swap will get the kits sent to them from Betty Crocker. 

Need some holiday cookie baking ideas? Don't fret! Betty has you covered! Click HERE for some great cookie exchange ideas.

Or you can enter to win my Betty Crocker Cookie Exchange Kit Giveaway! Each kit contains Betty Crocker cookie mixes, frosting, a Betty Crocker spoon, an apron, a train cookie cutter, and the best part? A copy of "The Betty Crocker Big Book of Cookies". This book contains every cookie or bar recipe you need to get you through the holiday season. Not only that there are so many fun, creative ideas and cookie baking tips!

To enter to win follow the directions on the widget below. Make sure you leave a blog comment telling me what your favorite Christmas cookie is!

(Disclaimer: Betty Crocker compensated me to write this post and also provided me with a cookie exchange kit as well as sponsored this giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.) 

Blackened Tilapia Tacos with a Citrus Beet Slaw

Seasoned and fried tilapia fillets on top of a tangy and sweet citrus beet slaw lend this taco some winter flavors and adds a unique twist to the fish taco. 

Taco night is one of my favorite nights of the week. My husband and I are pretty obsessed with anything wrapped in a tortilla. We have tried so many variations to try and spice up our week and get away from the traditional taco recipe.
First I season both sides of the fish and then pan fry them in some butter to create that Cajun inspired blackened crust. I lay the fish on top of a bed of fresh spinach and a sweet and tangy beet slaw. The beets are tossed in a citrus vinaigrette made up of lime and tangerine juices. I then drizzle any remaining dressing/beet juices over the tops of each taco and serve with avocado and a tangerine wedge.

They may just be a new dinner favorite in this house!

Blackened Tilapia Tacos with a Citrus Beet Slaw

4-6 Tilapia fillets
1 tbs smoked paprika1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
4 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs light olive oil
For the Slaw: 2 medium beets washed and peeled
The juice of one lime
The juice of one tangerine
pinch of salt 
1 clove of minced garlic
2 scallions diced (the greens and whites)1 tbs fresh cilantro diced
A couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach
Diced avocado  for serving 
4-6 flour tortillas

Prepare your slaw, shred beets and toss with lime and tangerine juice. Toss with salt, garlic, scallions and cilantro. Set aside until it is ready to assemble.
Heat a skillet over high heat. Add in butter and olive oil. 

Meanwhile mix your fish seasonings in a small bowl. Sprinkle each fish fillet with the mixture.
Add 2 fillets at a time to your hot pan. Fry on high heat until deeply browned and crisp on each side. Approximately 2 minutes per side. When fish is opaque and crusted it if finished.

To serve,  place a small bed of spinach on the bottom of your tortilla. Top with your slaw, avocado pieces and finish it off with a fillet of tiliapia. If your fillets are too wide, slice in half and fit into your taco. Drizzle with any remaining juices in your slaw bowl.

My friend Kelly at Nosh and Nourish has also  created a fun fish taco to share with you today! Be sure to go check out her Honey Sesame Fish Tacos with a Lime Greek Yogurt Sauce.


Supporting our Small Business Owners: 25 Holiday Gift Ideas

Noble Pig is a small family owned vineyard and winery in Western Oregon. Their Crown Club would be the perfect gift for your wino friends and family members. Heck... gift this to ME! Please?? 

100% natural, paraben and GMO free. dEVOLve Organix has a variety of skin care products such as lip balm, body scrubs, lotion bars and manicure/pedicure sets. I've had the opportunity to try many of their products and I am head over heals in love with them. My skin feels moisturized, radiant and I smell fabulous!

Unique handmade gifts for your little "bird". Fledgeling is my go to for creative, cute children's accessories. Anything from cloth diapers, burp clothes, hair clips, mitten clips... all in super adorable prints and colors. My daughter owns several pieces from Fledgling and looks super duper cute in them!

Toot Sweet Artisan Caramels is owned by my friend and fellow food blogger Gerry from Foodness Gracious. These caramels are homemade in small batches, made to order AND shipped in recyclable packages and jars. How great do flavors like Roasted Pistachio with Rosemary or Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels sound? 

Keep it Sweet Desserts is not a new one for any of you who read my blog regularly. I've teamed up with the Owner/Baker to bring you guys a couple giveaways. They are an online bakery specializing in cookies and dessert catering. Send a gift basket of home baked goodies that are beautifully packaged to sweeten up your friends or family's holiday!

A new way to spice up your meals, offering Recipe Packs that contain just enough spice to create a gourmet meal for up to four. They also offer all the tools you need to grind your own spices and how neat is the Spiceologist Block? SAVORx is the perfect gift for the foodie in your life. 

This company is new to me, and I am so obsessed with it. The Root Collective offers ethically sourced, artisan gifts. They also give 10% to it's non profit partners.

Bona Fide Green Goods is a local (to me) based store that also offers great online shopping. They have every environmentally friendly green item you can think of for sale. My favorite? These silicon wrapped glass water bottles. 

Treat Bake Shop offers spiced and candied pecans. These are great gifts for the sweet tooth in your life. Or perhaps to have on hand during the holidays... we can all use some extra sweets this time of year right?

 Also another blogger owned small business. Olive Tree Handmade Jewelry and Accessories offer gorgeous handmade jewelery as well as upcycled vintage items.   I adore these earrings as well as this Letterpress Jewelry Hanger. Super neato right? 

Bless This Mess is owned my sweet blogging bud, Melissa. These Cut Natural Wood Ornaments are so cute your tree needs them! She sent me some for Christmas this year, and I adore them so much I then ordered some more for my  Nana. I just know she will flip over the cuteness!

A Vermont Rolling Pin has been on my wish list for years. These are hand turned and shaped rolling pins  all from a single block of wood. Each pin is unique and deserves to be showcased, as they are not only useful but a work of art.

Indiana based company Best Boy and Co offers gourmet sauces for almost any occasion.  Not only do they create some delicious products but they also give back. 100% of all profits are distributed to qualifying 501-c3 charities and organizations benefiting children and families.

Hand made wrought iron gifts that are so unique and fun. I can think of several people (myself included) that would love some of their candle holders and coat hooks.

Easton Place creates the most adorable and fun fine paper products. Check out these stand mixer recipe cards. These are on my Christmas list for sure!! In fact I may just order some right now...

This is a great foodie gift for your Paleo friends. Gluten and grain free snacks and treats that everyone will love!

Popcorn Passion is a favorite of mine, locally made here in NH. All natural, GMO free gourmet popcorn. Their flavors are so delicious and creative. How great does their December flavor of the month sound?

Hand crafted all natural sauces and salsas made in Keene, NH.

Marmalade Jewellery is owned by a  Canadian designer... I discovered her work through my friend Vijay and his business partner Alex. Alex just so happens to be the brother to the  creative mind and owner of Marmalade Jewellery! They specialize in custom handmade silver fabric pieces like these coffee and doughnut cufflinks! I mean COME ON! The husband might get a pair of these....

Unique earrings, pins and necklaces that are light, often colorful, and fun to wear.

Red Kite Candy is based out of Thetford Vermont- specializing in caramels, toffee, and nougat. There is something here for every sweet tooth this holiday season!

Based out of Connecticut, Joyful Art offers a variety of colorful art, prints, calenders and much more.

Voted Best of New Hampshire 2013 by The New Hampshire Magazine for their Gluten Free and Vegan Granola.

Small batch, locally sourced jams and jellies based out of Austin Texas. A couple years ago another blogger shipped me some of their Salted Pear Jam as part of the Austin to Boston food swap. It was love at first taste. This stuff is pretty popular in the Austin area, and you all should give it a try as well! Paired with some homemade scones or bread, their jams and jellies make the perfect gift!

Based out of Gilsum, New Hampshire. They offer a variety of honey bee products. Anything from candles, hand cream, lip balm and of course raw honey! My kids are big fans of picking up these honey sticks as a special treat from time to time. They will each be getting a pack of them in their stockings this year. 


Santa Hats Made with Homemade Oreo Cookies and an OXO Baking Prize Pack Giveaway

Oreo cookies are probably the one food my husband can not resist. My kids on the other hand are not a fan, they lick the filling out and toss the chocolate cookies. However.... when I make them from scratch they eat far too many of the cookies and the frosting.

I have tried making my own Oreo Cookies from time to time, they are always fab. However they do not taste just like Oreos. I have been on the hunt for a great recipe for a long time. Then last winter my Sister In-law made a recipe from Boston bakery owner, Joanne Chang. I guess she had visited the bakery before and fell in love with these cookies and then later went home to hunt down the recipe.

 After one bite of her homemade Oreos, I fell in love too. They taste spot on but the texture is better and they are made with household ingredients and not some factory made junk. 

After making a batch of Joanne's Oreos I just had to decorate them... all in the holiday spirit right? They are so easy to make and they are for sure a kid pleaser.... I mean just look. My kids couldn't keep their fingers off them as I was shooting the photos!

A new cookie recipe every day in December- a virtual blogger cookie swap!  
For the full recipe, go check it out on In Katrina's Kitchen. Also be sure to enter in this super fun giveaway!