Throwback | diy holidays

Christmas sled

We found this vintage sled in the garage when we moved in – I knew it would be a perfect to add a little holiday spirit to our porch!

This holiday season has varied a little from our norm…

Usually, we’d be knee-deep in greenery and cookie baking by this time in December. But, this year, we have no place to put a Christmas tree yet because apparently it’s not super simple to renovate a 145-year-old kitchen, or something. And, obviously, cooking is hard when your new oven is still shrink-wrapped in the garage. So, my living room still looks like the pic below, but, with some help from my awesome mom who has been visiting (who, side-note, will paint your kitchen cabinets until 6am for you, and do your laundry…) at least the outside of the house is looking festive!

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The filter makes this pic look way more serene than it feels irl… But, the end of our sea of boxes is near!

Things are different, BUT, I’ve found comfort in some old and new traditions – some of which I’ve shared on FreshlyMinted in the past! And, a white-and-grey-and-butcher block-and-harringbone – and subway tile- rustic farmhouse kitchen is now totally within sight… so I can be patient a little longer ;)

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite throwback holiday posts and projects:

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Handmade Holiday | Rustic Boxwood Garland & Mini Wreaths, Newsprint Tree, Perfect Christmas Bow and Popcorn garland (I used holly for my garland this year – much more prickly, but just as lovely!)

Salt Dough | Gift Tags & Ornaments 

Secret Holiday Treats | Aunt J’s Top Secret Chocolate Mint Cookie Recipe

A Cookie-Swappers Daydream | Salted Mudslide Cookie Recipe

Enjoy!

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{Biscoff} Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

There is just something about Thanksgiving.

The family, the history, the stories, the shopping, the parade, the naps…

<;– My mom's amazing dry-erase art from my family's visit last weekend! If you couldn't tell, that's me,the husband and a plate of cookies…

Oh yeah, and the FOOD!

This year, go beyond the pumpkin pie and turkey… not too far (let’s face it, grandpa won’t dig tofu or quinoa), but far enough to make people think you’re fancy.

It’s nice when people think you’re fancy. Particularly when it takes very little actual effort. Kind of like these cookies.

Most people have tasted those lovely, sweet, slightly spicy little cookies that are handed out on Delta flights – Biscoff. What you may not know is that you not only can find the cookies at your local grocery store, but you can also find Biscoff spread.

This creamy concoction tastes like pulverized cookies mixed with peanut butter – Totally dreamy, and full of possibilities. Put it on your oatmeal, toast, yogurt, apple slices or pancakes. OR, you could make these fluffy perfect-for-Thanksgiving little cookies.

From cookie, to spread, and back to cookie again. You’re just completing the circle of life.

Biscoff Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

From this recipe – yet another great Pinterest find!

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup Biscoff Spread (or Trader Joe’s Cookie Spread)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • Optional Add-ins: Chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries…

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and Biscoff spread and mix until combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Stir in the oats.

5. Form the cookie dough into rounded tablespoons and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden and just firm around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sea {Salty} Cookies, Eat Cookies

Oh, sea salt.

I love you on my roasted veggies, but mostly I love you on my chocolate… because The Husband doesn’t like you so I get to eat it all.

True story.

These cookies are not my invention, but I wish they were. I picked them from a sea of photos on Pinterest for a cookie exchange because they looked impressive, easy, chocolatey and involved salt and Kahlua. Perfection, am I right?

Not too sweet, I could really taste the rich coffee flavor of these little guys (and the bite of the salt on your tongue is a fantastic complement!). Go on, give ’em a try!Salted Mudslide Cookies

Recipe created by: How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10-15 minutes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur + 1 teaspoon (Godiva, Kahlua, etc)
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • sea salt for topping

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Mix the flour, cocoa, coffee powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stream in coffee liqueur and mix.
  • Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to help at one point. If you find you absolutely need more liquid add in a teaspoon of coffee liqueur, but it should come together. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  • Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Try not to eat it. I suggest distracting yourself with a cheesy Christmas special on TV.
  • Remove dough from the fridge and roll into golfball sized balls. Set on a non-stick baking sheet with 2 inches between each. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the edges are set and the middles are still soft (depends on your cookie size). The centers should be puffy. Do not over-bake. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool completely just enough so you don’t burn yourself, then dig in!

These are great for Christmas… and for freezing and eating on long drives to Grandma’s house. You might even want to save one for her.

Enjoy!

On a side note:

  • My hairdryer decided to get festive and burst into a shower of sparks over the weekend… I keep forgetting to buy a new one until I’m dripping in my towel at 7:30a.m. before work.
  • I am in a brace for a tendon injury in my right foot and I have to wear tennis shoes everywhere for three weeks. Work. Shopping. I want to sob quietly every time I look at my stupid shoes with a cute outfit. And, I can’t run.
  • It’s only Four days until Christmas, so the above doesn’t really matter.
  • The Husband made his second “Annual Dinner” last night (Yes folks, this was the second dinner he has made in our 2.5 years of marriage. It’s about quality, not quantity, people).  It. Was. Fabulous. Recipes to come!

{Top Secret} Family Recipe

Random life lesson #642: Sister-in-laws know best.

In my naivety, I attempted a classic family cookie recipe for the Ugly Sweater party over the weekend (don’t worry…photo below). I knew it was simple. I knew how to google. I thought I was set.

Wrong.

Jessica, one of my dear sister-in-laws, makes totally killer mint chocolate chip mini cookies for just a few events throughout the year. I inhale them with abandon.

{This is Church camp, circa 2007. The cookies in question… in that unassuming box on the table. Not for long!}

They are like thin mints on steroids. Fudgy-fresh. Best eaten chilled.

Well, long story short,  my googled recipe didn’t turn out as good as Jessica’s. They were fine out of the oven (a little fluffy, perhaps) but, once they were cold, they just didn’t have the magic… In fact, my coworker Elizabeth said they were like rocks. (In my defense, they had been open on the counter at the office for two days…). Thanks for the reality-check, Elizabeth. :)

Soooo, I crawled humbly back to Jessica for the real recipe, which she generously gave me.

Folks, this is a closely-guarded FreshlyMinted family secret…. feel privileged. Very privileged.

And thank Jessica next time you see her for saving this post. Even though when she emailed the recipe to me she started her note with:

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here it is…

We love each other… we really do ;)

Top-Secret Mint Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (How cool is that?)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bag pre-chopped Andes mints (If you can’t find these, you can chop them yourself. Or, you can use seasonal mint chocolate chips…. heath bar, M&Ms…possibilities are endless!)
Directions:
  • Combine cake mix, oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in mints.
  • Drop by rounded teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.
  • Note:There is an art to baking these cookies to perfection. You underbake – they won’t hold their shape; you overbake – they are too crunchy; you find that very sweet spot in the middle – you’ve baked a soft version of the Thin Mint that tastes like heaven in your mouth.

Enjoy!

(And beware…there are a lot of imposter “Cake Box Cookies” out there. Listen to my Sister-in law,  and spare yourself the humiliation of breaking your co-workers teeth.)

Right, Carla?

Some more of our holiday fun for your enjoyment…

{Ugly Christmas Sweaters, The Nutcracker, Cookie Swap}

{Swanky Office Shindig…. yes, we did end the evening at Waffle House}

{The Little House}

It’s almost here… Merry Christmas!

Now my other SIL, Ashley, knows she is next on my hostile-takeover-recipe list… her famous rolls, maybe? No one is safe… Haha!