Festive Foodie: No-Bake Sugar Cookie Truffles

Festive Foodie: No-Bake Sugar Cookie Truffles

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

Today’s post is coming at you all a little later on in the day than usual- since this morning and mid-afternoon were pretty busy for me. For starters, I was live on-air for “Morning Glory” at Indie617 bright and early this A.M. talking about some of my favorite albums, shows and indie music headlines from 2018. There was a lot of good music and a lot of laughs. If you missed the action or want to hear the audio- CLICK HERE.

Following the segment, I headed back towards Central Massachusetts to have a pre-holiday luncheon with some of my friends/co-workers from the office, where we had a mini gift exchange and got a chance to talk about normal, non-work related things.

Now that I’m home and able to catch up on some e-mails (and touch up my makeup) before I get together with my family to have a little Tree Trimming party- I thought I’d share one of the bites I’m preparing for tonight. With limited ingredients and no baking required for this quick, easy dessert- these truffles are a go-to during the hectic holiday season.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups sugar-cookie crumbs (from about 15 medium cookies)
  • 6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles, for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cookies until they are fine crumbs. Add the cream cheese and mix well to combine. The mixture should hold together when pressed.
  2. Scoop the mixture into heaping tablespoon-size portions and roll into balls. Transfer the balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Add the white chocolate chips to a medium-size microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is smooth and melted.
  4. Dip the cookie truffles into the melted white chocolate to coat fully, returning to the baking sheet as you go. Before the chocolate sets, decorate with sprinkles.
  5. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator until the chocolate is set. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

These truffles are delicious- and can be tweaked a bit for those with different tastes (using dark chocolate instead of white chocolate, for example)– but the’re festive and fun- and no hassle at all!

This coming weekend is going to be filled with time with family and friends (and a long overdue touchup of my hair for the season) as Christmas continues to draw closer.

On Sunday, I’ll be heading out to Easthampton to catch a holiday performance from one of my favorite theater groups- Paintbox Theatre– who will be putting on their annual ‘Santa Show’ for adults and kids alike! Tonight’s first performance is at 7:30 PM, while Saturday and Sundays’ performances are at 10:30 AM and 1 PM.

You can purchase tickets directly through Paintbox’s website or at the Williston Theater- but be sure to get there early to snag a good seat!

And be prepared to sing along to a lot of holiday classics and laugh along to a lot of crazy antics!

But for now- I’m off to prepare for tonight. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful and safe weekend. I’ll be back on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Festive Foodie: Gingerbread Pancakes

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Mine was very relaxing- with my time divided between getting some Christmas shopping done from the comfort of my couch, setting up some decorations around the house- and going on little drives with friends through the Western Massachusetts’ countryside to marvel at the snow and festively illuminated farms around the area.

And, of course- getting into the holiday spirit means cooking up some seasonally appropriate dishes, too! Case in point? These sugary gingerbread pancakes I served (with hot chocolate!) during Sunday brunch with some of the girls yesterday morning/afternoon before we hit the road for a day out together to catch up while getting some errands done.

These pancakes take about 30 minutes total to prep and bake- making them a perfect option to serve when it comes time for that last-minute holiday craziness to kick in. Don’t stress yourself out with a big breakfast. Just make these!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, as needed for serving (optional)
  • Whipped cream, as needed for serving (optional)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the molasses, egg and vanilla extract to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until well combined.
  3. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, spritz it with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Working in batches, pour scoops of batter (about ½ cup each) onto the hot griddle. Cook until the pancakes are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip and cook until golden on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with confectioners’ sugar and whipped cream, is using.

A dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on top- and these pancakes looked *and* tasted magical. I would gladly make these again- probably for when all the girls in my family get together to bake cookies and wrap gifts a few days before Christmas Eve! These were a big hit yesterday- and I know they’ll be a big hit then, too!

And now with another work week ahead of me, I’m off to get started on sifting through my e-mails, voicemails and caseload for the day. Here’s wishing you all an easy and stress-free start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: November 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m so very excited for my half day today- since I’ve been trying to get a head start on my holiday shopping early this year so I’ll have more time to truly savor the Christmas season without all the last-minute gift buying stress. While I’ve definitely utilized some of the great deals that were available this past “Cyber Monday”- sometimes it’s nice to go window shopping and browsing in-store to find that perfect gift for a special someone.

I’ve still got some work to do at my office before I take off at noon today, and before I jump into it- I wanted to share some of my favorite things/odds & ends from this past November now that December is on the horizon! Goodness, there’s a lot to do in the coming weeks, isn’t there?

You all know the drill by now! The photogenic things come first, and then it’s all the miscellaneous bits and pieces I’ve been obsessing over all month!

But enough of the introduction- let’s get into it!

Late Fall/Early Winter is a beautiful time in New England- and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even particularly like the snow- but the scenery, the fashion options, and the fragrances all over (think pine, cinnamon and sugar cookies wherever you go!) are intoxicating. That’s why I’m particularly fond of the ‘Maple Remedy’ hair care line from Garnier.

Not only does this shampoo and conditioner make my curls smell like Vermont maple syrup- but it’s deeply conditioning and smoothing, too! It’s the perfect in-shower pick-me-up on those cold days where I just want to put my pajamas back on and crawl into bed to sleep through any impending snowstorms. I love this stuff!

With my hair care changing for the more frigid months- there’s no reason my makeup can’t be upgraded, too! Gone are the days of bronzer and gold-tones (until next Summer, anyway) and in are more natural and rosy shades. I’ve recently replaced my shimmery gold highlighter with this light pink/iridescent one from Milani Cosmetics, instead.

What I love about this highlighter is that it still gives me an ethereal glow, but it looks a lot more natural against my dark Winter wardrobe and accessories as opposed to the warmer, more Summer-esque tones I wore through the Fall- and the coverage is easily build-able depending on the occasion!

So I know everyone is probably sick and tired of looking at food after Thanksgiving, right? Well that’s too bad- because Trader Joe’s delivered the GOODS this month and I can’t stop snacking on them.

First up is TJ’s ‘Carrot Cake Spread’- for those of us who love the taste of carrot cake but can’t be bothered to bake one. This spread, which I put on toast (surprisingly good!) or use as a dip for plain shortbread cookies- takes all the great flavors of the dessert and puts it in a convenient and mess-free jar. I’m addicted.

And then there’s TJ’s seasonal offering- their turkey and stuffing flavored kettle corn potato chips. Now, I’m always fascinated with some of the flavors that Lay’s comes out with every year when they host those “create a flavor” contests since many of them are pretty spot-on- but these chips are freaky levels of accurate- and delicious, of course. They legitimately taste like turkey and stuffing. I’ve been (reluctantly) sharing them just so I can gauge the reactions of people trying them for the first time- and the results have been really funny.

Finally, switching over to beverages instead of food- ever since I tried Idle Hands Craft Ales’ “Undead Red” at the Indie617 Halloween party last month- I’ve been taste-testing a ton of their other creations. My current favorite is their Thanksgiving release- “Crantastic”- a sour ale that combines cranberry and blood orange. It’s like a hard cider or a very fruity wine- and I love it! It’s perfect for the season and goes well with those Thanksgiving leftovers.

Idle Hands will be hosting another Indie617 party within the coming weeks for the impending holidays- and I’m so excited to see what they’re brewing next!

And that’s it for the photogenic goods- but as they say in the infomercials- wait, there’s more!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

IT’S CHRISTMAS MOVIES AND MUSIC SEASON, FINALLY – With Thanksgiving and Black Friday in the books- it’s now, *officially* okay to binge-watch your favorite holiday films and crank that Christmas Classics Spotify playlist. AMC have started to air my favorites, including the original ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ and ‘Christmas Vacation’- and I’ve been blasting a beloved Frank Sinatra Christmas album in the car while driving to/from work- so needless to say I am ready for the month ahead!

‘The Walking Dead’ – After a few disastrous seasons at the hands of former show-runner Scott Gimple, the reins have been taken over by Angela Kang for the show’s ninth season- and her fresh perspective and genuine respect for the story and it’s characters have given us some of the best episodes we’ve seen in years.

The show has, in many ways, been saved- even with Rick Grimes’ departure- and for the first time in what feels like a long time- I’m actually longing for it’s return in February!

And I think that’s everything! A month that essentially celebrated food had my favorites consisting of, well- mostly food or beauty products that smelled like food!

As always, if you’d like to share some of your own favorites- feel free to drop me a line on social media or leave a comment here!

I’m off to get some work done and enjoy an afternoon off. Have a great “Hump Day”, everyone! I’ll be seeing you again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Friendsgiving 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far! Today is a half day at my office before I head out for a pre-Thanksgiving cocktail hour with my co-workers and then start off for home for a long weekend spent with my family. I’m excited to see everyone, excited to be lazy- and excited to eat a feast- which will be my third one since this past weekend!

Saturday night marked our annual Friendsgiving- this year spent in Somerville at my friend’s new apartment. 32+ of us arrived, bringing an array of dishes and desserts in a potluck fashion- and spent an evening dining, drinking, occasionally dancing, playing Jenga and ‘Catchphrase’- and winding down with a Bob Ross marathon on Netflix as our numbers started to dwindle down after midnight.

It was so much fun seeing familiar faces, meeting new ones, and eating a ton of good food- and on Sunday, after dragging my sleepy self out of bed- the second Friendsgiving in Western Massachusetts took place with just as many incredible people and recipes!

I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to eat anymore this week, but my mom’s cooking tomorrow will definitely change my mind.

This year, like every year- I’m thankful for my friends, my family, my career, my health and the fact that I have shelter, food, and clothes on my back. It hasn’t always been easy- and sometimes things looked downright bleak- but I’ve been fortunate to keep my head above the water and keep pushing forward. I’m very, very grateful- for everyone and everything.

Here’s wishing you all who are celebrating a fun, lovely, and safe Thanksgiving spent with people you love and who love you right back!

I’ll have a post up on Friday after I awaken from my food coma (there’s no way I’m going Black Friday shopping. Nope.) before it’s off for a weekend in my hometown!

See you all then!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s a short work-week for me, with Wednesday being a half day, Thursday being Thanksgiving- and then my office remaining closed on Friday so we can all recover from our food comas (thank God)– so today and tomorrow are pretty packed with pre-holiday/long weekend paperwork and preparations.

In the spirit of alleviating any last minute stress and hopefully assisting some of you with a quick, “set it and forget it” recipe- I wanted to share an incredibly easy, packed with flavor vegetable side dish you can make in your crock pot while you tend to other, more important matters on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (like watching the parade- which I’m determined to wake up in time for this year!)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 lbs. carrots peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ cup butter melted
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Place the carrots in a slow cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the carrots and toss to coat.
  3. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or until carrots are tender. If you’d like to thicken the glaze, remove the cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

So simple, right? And believe me when I say this ridiculously easy recipe is delicious. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty- and the tender texture of the carrot slices is savory- not sloppy. If you’re feeling extra creative (and no nut allergies permitting)– you can even add some sliced almonds to the mix for an extra bit of crunch. I’ve done it before- and it’s awesome!

But I’m off to try and stay ahead of my caseloads today and get another cup of coffee. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –