Category Archives: holidays

Mini Easter Cupcakes

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MINI EASTER BASKET CUPCAKES. Do you see that mini mini mini mini chocolate bun? DO YOU SEE IT??? I’m freaking out. Cute overload.

True life confession: I go into CVS/Walgreens every other day to look at the Easter candy display and I AM NOT ASHAMED. It’s something about the pastels and the 75 different kinds of marshmallow/caramel/coconut eggs and the cute bunnies and alllllllll thaaaat chooooocolate that makes me want to hippity hop for joy.

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So you can bet your bottom dollar that when I saw a bag of teeny chocolate bunnies while waiting in line to check out at Walgreens I literally had to restrain myself from yelling with glee. So teeny-tiny! So itty-bittyl! So perfect for perching atop a mini Easter cupcake!

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I must know: what’s your favorite kind of Easter candy? Are you a jellybean or chocolate kinda person? And what are your thoughts on PEEPS?! (It probably goes without saying but: love, love, love. Especially stale.)DSC_0173

DSC_0193Note: you could really make any kind of cupcakes, since the toppings/decorations are the most important part, but I went with banana + greek yogurt cupcakes since I had an extra-ripe banana lying around!

Mini Banana Greek Yogurt Cupcakes

yield: 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the mashed banana, oil, greek yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat on low (or fold with a rubber spatula) until just combined.
  2. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack. Top with your favorite buttercream or frosting, then dip in sweetened shredded coconut that has been mixed with green food coloring. Add jellybeans and mini chocolate bunnies (if you can find them!) to the center.

M&M Candy Cane Cookies

M&M cookies3.jpgThe best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

M&M cookies5.jpgAnd baking cookies for all to eat.

All the cookies. All the cheer. All. The. Time.

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Lately the kids in my class have been fa-reak-ing-out over Christmas. Yesterday one of our Christmas angels brought in a picture of herself sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall and when I showed the class the picture one extra-excited Christmas lover screamed “SANTA!!!!!!!!” EXACTLY like Will Ferrell does in Elf. I literally waited for him to follow it up with “I KNOW HIM!!!!” because it was so, SO perfectly Buddy the Elf. Full of Christmas cheer and unadulterated CHRISTMAS-IS-COMING-AND-SO-IS-SANTA excitement.

I feel the same way kid, I feel the same. way.

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This sparked a 20-minute discussion of all the kiddos’ interactions with SANTA!!!!!! and their Elf on the Shelf’s recent movements. One Elf was discovered in the refrigerator this morning, “…eating all our food!”

Finally, one of the munchkins told us that when he went to visit Santa this past weekend, as he was saying goodbye Santa said, “And don’t forget to leave me some cookies!!”

Four-year-olds are THE best for spreading Christmas cheer. M&M cookies1.jpg

Wayfair recently contacted me to see if I wanted to be a part of the Wayfair/Peapod holiday bake-off, and since I can’t really go around screaming “SANTA!!!!!” like my cutie little class full of Christmas elves, I figured I would spread my Christmas cheer by baking up some [more] super festive cookies. Wayfair sent me a couple recipes to try (as well as a snowman cross-stitch which I am diligently working on every night. Hello skills learned in Girl Scouts circa 1997) and I adapted their “Festive Drop Cookies” to make them extra festive (Christmas M&Ms) and deeeelicious (candy canes). I brought half the batch into my school and sent the other half in to work with Mike – all the cookies (and all the cheer) were ingested in under an hour.

I heard Santa would REALLY like it if you left him these cookies on Christmas Eve ;)

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Festive M&M Candy Cane Cookies (adapted from Wayfair & Peapod’s “Festive Drop Cookies”)

yield: about four dozen cookies, depending on size

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat (or regular whole wheat) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups holiday M&Ms (I used minis but regular sized M&Ms will work too)
  • 1/4 cup candy cane bits (you can just crush up a couple candy canes or look for candy cane bits in the bulk section of your grocery store)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, shortening, and sugars on medium high until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until it starts to come together; turn the mixer up to medium and beat until fully combined.
  3. In a small bowl, combine M&Ms and candy cane bits. Shape tablespoons of dough into balls; dip the top half of the dough balls into the M&M/candy cane mixture to coat. Place the dough, M&M side up, onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

The Adventures of M&M: Christmas Tree Hunting

IMG_5759Fa la la la la, la la la CHRISTMAS.

This past weekend Mike and I went Christmas tree hunting with our pals Liz and Dave. We jingled all the way to Grafton, MA to pick out the most perfect Christmas trees at Highfield’s Farm, and throughout the course of the day, no less than four Christmas miracles occurred.

IMG_5751Christmas Miracle Number One: When L&D picked us up in the morning, it was rainy and gray and I was being a Debbie Downer because I believe that you CAN’T chop down a Christmas tree in the rain. This is Christmas Law #2, closely related to my other irrational belief that it’s not Christmas if there isn’t snow on the ground (you know you grew up in upstate NY when…) But somehow, miracle of miracles, as we pulled into the Christmas tree farm it started snowing huge, fat, fluffy, stick-to-the-ground flakes. Walkin’ in a winter wonderlaaaand…!

IMG_5750Christmas Miracle Number Two: Mike and I found a tree we agreed on.

(You should know that growing up, my family got a normal 6 1/2 foot tree and Mike’s family got a monster 11 foot tree. So we settled on [what appeared to be] 8 feet.)

IMG_5763Tiiiiimberrrr!

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Christmas Miracle Number Three: Let’s do some math here: one car, two trees, four people, seventy five feet of rope, zero roof rack. How did we expect to get these trees home, you ask??? Brains and brawn, people. Brains and brawn.

While Liz and I scurried away to the farm’s cute little log cabin to get some hot cider, Mike and Dave worked on tying down the trees. When we returned to the car they had successfully tied one tree to the roof. We all high-fived and moved on to the second tree only to realize….our genius men had tied half the doors shut.

At least the tree was secure?

We managed to attach the second tree (using the “wrap the entire car in rope” approach), and headed on our merry way. While driving back through Boston we were so delighted that people were pointing at our car and smiling; we thought we were spreading so much Christmas joy!

And then we pulled into the driveway. And the trees were precariously perched DIAGONALLY across the car.

But we still had both, AND they didn’t fall off while we sped down I-90! Fa la la la la, la la la…miracle.

IMG_5760Christmas Miracle Number Four: After praising Santa and his reindeer for helping our trees miraculously make it home, Mike and I hopped in our elevator with the cute and perfectly-apartment-sized tree.

And then we brought it into our apartment. And it was two feet too tall. And four feet too wide.

(Dear landlord, please don’t check our ceiling for tree sap scratches. And if you do…sooowwwwwyyyy.)

Though buying a saw to chop two feet off of the bottom of the tree inside our apartment can hardly be considered a Christmas miracle, the fact that we managed to rearrange our living room furniture to fit a two-sizes-too-big tree certainly is.

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DSC_1014It’s a woooonderful feeling, feel the love [and the tree] in the room from the floor to the ceilin’ ;)

Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

chocopeppermint.jpgA few weeks ago, I freaked out over these peppermint bark baking bits from Trader Joe’s (new vlog coming soon!!) and immediately invented a cookie recipe to shove them in. I’ve now made these cookies 18 (okay, 3) times in the past couple weeks and I can’t. get. enough. They taste like brownie batter with the slightest hint of peppermint and are dangerously addictive.

chocopeppermint4.jpgI made the mistake of bringing the entire first batch of cookies into work, leaving only one cookie for Mike to try, which officially makes me the meanest – I KNOW. So, the other night, we’re finishing up dinner and Mike has dropped roughly 1,000 hints about how much he would just looooove a chewy chocolate cookie and it’s toooo bad  all the cookies ended up in someone ELSE’S belly, and I decide to redeem myself by whipping up another batch. At this point it’s 9PM and my bedtime is rapidly approaching, so I’m trying to make these cookies AFAP (as fast as possible. invented for the sake of this story), speeding around the kitchen like a Tazmanian devil. While the butter and sugar are spinning around inside the mixing bowl getting fluffy, I fling open the cabinet to grab the flour like a whirling dervish – thereby knocking the metal lid of my flour canister INTO THE MIXER WHICH IS ON. HIGH.

COOKIE DOUGH EXPLOSION. MELANIE CRYING. THE SOUND OF METAL SCRAPING METAL (a sound one hopes to never hear whilst BAKING). HELP. HELP. HELP.

If you have ever wondered what a cookie crime scene might look like, just imagine this:

Dough splattered onto every surface of your kitchen. Cocoa powder (which is im.poss.i.ble. to clean) sprayed across the counters and floor. Flour in your hair, eyes, and life.

chocopeppermint5.jpgAfter screaming for five seconds I had the clarity of mind to TURN OFF the mixer before it died a sad and messy death. Somehow I managed to salvage the few scoops of dough left at the bottom of the bowl to bake up a couple cookies, and all was well in the MJM household.

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The moral of the story? Make these delicious cookies, but don’t try to do it AFAP.

Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peppermint bark baking bits (if you can’t find the bits, you could use a combo of chocolate chips and candy cane pieces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add vanilla, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides to incorporate ingredients as needed.
  2. In a separate bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir on low speed until combined. Add the baking bits; stir until incorporated.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes – do not over bake, or the cookies will be crispy instead of chewy! Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Hi friends! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. I was home in upstate NY for a few days – here are some pictures from my turkey-pie-family-filled weekend!

I. Am. Moving. Into. This. Kitchen. BE MIIIIIIINE.

My brother looks like a hoodlum and my dad is being “MomDad the Two-Headed Parent”. Can’t take us anywhere.

Fa la la la la, la la la la! Christmas season is here!!

Bring on the Christmas cookies!