Daily Archive: December 17, 2012

Holiday Cookie Swap!

Posted by Lauren

On Sunday I hosted a Holiday Cookie Swap at my house. Before the hoopla got underway, I made sure to go on my long run!

cookie swap run

I ran by tech companies and the bay marshes, both scenic in their own ways. My Garmin died somewhere between mile 0.5 and mile 1.0; I always forget to charge it! After a quick shower and last minute changes to my fantasy football lineup, I got to work on another batch of cookies, recipe below!

red velvet crumb cake cookies

Red Velvet Cake Crumb Cookies
A great way to use up leftover cake or cupcakes! Just don’t include the frosting when blending the cake into crumbs!

3 1/2 cups red velvet cake crumbs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Prepare two baking sheets.
  2. Place leftover cake crumbs in a food processer and pulse until you get fine crumbs. Pulse the flour and baking powder until fully combined. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fully combined.
  4. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time and then add the cold water and vanilla.
  5. Add the cake crumb flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Beat well.
  6. Drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

red velvet crumb cake cookies

They may not be the prettiest cookies, but they tasted great! I loved re-purposing the leftover red velvet cake into cookies.

Laura was the first girl to arrive. She brought fabulous wafer cookie sandwiches. Imagine this: two wafer cookies, marshmallow and peanut butter in the middle, chocolate coating. Ummmmm, amazing!

laura wafer cookies

Laura actually arrived 4 hours before the party started. Her sister flew in a couple days early from London, so Laura decided to drop off her cookies and then drive to her family’s house for a big welcome home dinner. I’m so glad she stopped by (especially with such yummy cookies in tow!)

Here’s my set up: wine from Healdsburg, Napa, and Paso Robles (I keep it Californian), a festive gingerbread house, chalkboard classes with red + green chalk for labeling, and tea just in case.

chalkboard glasses

Krizia and Sarah got very festive with their glasses… I wish I would have taken a photo :(

chalkboard glasses close up

The cookie table!!!!!!

cookie table

And another table with way less sugar… veggies, hummus, tortilla chips, crackers, and cheese. Like the gourds? Borrowed them from my mom!

savory table

Below, you’ll see Megan’s white chocolate and cranberry oat cookies, which were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle (the best way to be IMO).

megan cookies cranberry white chocolate

In the background of the above photo, you can see Krizia’s chocolate chip walnut cookies – very good!

megan rugelach

Megan also brought rugelach. We popped a few in the microwave for ~20 seconds to soften the outsides and make the chocolate and walnuts inside warm. Perfecto. You can just barely see the red velvet cake crumb cookies that I made on the left and the peanut butter blossoms that Luci brought over. I really went to town on those – peanut butter is my weakness. Thanks, Luci :)

sarah raspberry shortbread bars

Sarah brought iced raspberry shortbread bars. She followed a secret recipe from her boyfriend Mike’s family cookbook. The recipe was labeled “not-so-secret,” so I think we’re okay :) We’ve got to respect data privacy laws! I need to get that recipe from her and share it on the world wide web because they were reallllyyyyyyy good and quite festive!

wafer cookies display

There are those wafer sandwich cookies again…. drooling! On the left you can see a few of my Better-Than-Brownies cookies. They were so so so so chocolaty.

Kelley (left) stopped by after working (on Sunday!!) with some tasty lemon cookies and PB/chocolate cookies. I made sure to try one of each – no cookie left behind.

holiday cookie swap crew

After a few hours of chit chat and catching up, the girls assembled to-go boxes and plates. Despite all the cookies they took home, I still have an enormous cookie stash! I brought three plates to work and have one ready for Kyle and one for my mom. (And a secret container for me MUAHAHA.) It was so fun to have everyone over! Why can’t cookie swaps happen once a month??

Happy Monday! Just a week until Christmas Eve!


Rainy Day Shopping

Posted by Nicole

It’s Monday, the weekend is over, and it’s crunch time before my last two finals. But let’s talk about more exciting things………

venice beach

Sunday was such a fun day! I met up with two of my dance team friends, Erin and Kimberly, for a morning shopping trip at 10. We drove from South Central to Venice Beach, parked, and browsed the beachfront shops for a couple hours. It was drizzling, but luckily the rain held off while we walked around.

venice beach

The mission of the trip was to pick up Secret Santa gifts for our dance team gift exchange this Thursday, but it ended up being a bigger shopping trip than expected. I bought a sweater for myself, but also got a present for the gift exchange. Isn’t it the best feeling when you find a perfect gift for someone? I’m so excited for our dance team party later this week!

Around noon, we decided to get lunch in Santa Monica. My tummy was grumbling because I woke up too late for breakfast, and I sure was ready for a tasty lunch at True Food Kitchen in the Third Street Promenade. Erin has mentioned how “omg so good” this restaurant is a few times, and it sure didn’t disappoint! True Food Kitchen buys mostly local and organic ingredients, provides vegan/vegetarian/GF options, and serves fresh juices instead of soda.

I had a hard time deciding what to order (everything sounded amazing), but eventually decided on the Harvest Chop Salad – Squash, Apple, Pomegranate, Walnuts, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Vinaigrette.

true food kitchen harvest chop salad

The salad was perfectly light, but also filling. For the next couple of hours, we shopped around the Promenade, making successful stops at Starbucks and Brandy Melville.

santa monica promenade

santa monica promenade christmas

santa monica converse

Time to retire my debit card for a while… Oof.

Back at school, I made some oatmeal and then went to study with Charlotte and Lindsey. We learned that we are great study buddies, and managed to study for 5 hours straight…. with a few breaks of course ;)

At midnight, Charlotte and I took our study materials over to DG for some snacks. The extra fuel helped us memorize/cram for a couple more hours. Brain power requires calories!



All of today will be spent studying, cleaning my room (it’s getting bad), and going to the gym (I’m ready to get back at it after yesterday’s rest day).

Hope your week is off to a good start!

– Nicole

Question: Are you a solo studied or a group studier?

Slow Cooker Saturday

Posted by Lauren

I’m currently overcoming an intense sugar coma from my Holiday Cookie Swap. Please excuse any grammar errors or typos that might result from shaking hands and/or crumbs stuck in my keyboard.

I’m not kidding.

Question: Can I talk about Saturday’s slow cooker amazingness before I tell you about the delicious cookies of Sunday??

Greul. So on Saturday around 4 pm Kyle came over to my place with his slow cooker. The roast inside had already simmered for 5 hours with red wine and cream of mushroom. We plugged the slow cooker in so the meat could cook for about 2 more hours and then put another coat of chalkboard paint on my little glasses…

chalkboard glasses

Those babies needed a coat of gray primer and three coats of chalkboard paint. I really appreciated Kyle’s help painting all 16 glasses… painting can kind of be monotonous.

Instead of watching paint dry, we worked on the dinner sides: roasted brussels sprouts and potatoes…. they came out perfect!

brussels sprouts potatoes roast

Once the roast reached 7 hours in the slow cooker, Kyle took the slab of meat out and placed it on a plate to “set.” Steamy….

roast crockpot

I was like…


Meanwhile, Kyle had onions and mushrooms in a saute pan….

roast crockpot gravy

…and then he added liquid from the crockpot (wine, cream of mushroom, roast drippings) with a little cornstarch to thicken. The “gravy” was OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD.

roast crockpot gravy making

Dinner, served!

slow cooker dinner roast

This is one of the best meals we’ve ever put together… and I really can’t take any credit for it at all! The roast and mushroom gravy was extremely flavorful and tender. The slow cooker does wonders!

After dinner, Kyle and I went to the movie theater to see Lincoln. I’ve wanted to see this movie for a while now, partly to scope out Lincoln’s ensemble. I’ve always wanted to dress up like Abe Lincoln for Halloween, even before Schmidt made it popular.


As if the date night could get any better, Kyle ALSO had candy for the two of us during the movie… sour patch kids and the best-ever chocolate-covered raisins! (from Kim’s company)

movie candy linoln

So… before the captivating movie, before the perfect dinner, and before the glass painting, I baked a few dozen chocoooolate cookies. The key to great chocolate cookies is using great chocolate. Duh. See those slabs of bittersweet chocolate on the kitchen scale in the photo below? That’s Guittard 72%… solid stuff.

brownie cookies bittersweet chocolate 1

I followed this Brown Eyed Baker recipe exactly and ended up with 30 gooey “Better-Than-Brownies” cookies.

brownie cookies bittersweet chocolate 2

Next time: Holiday Cookie Swap details!

Question: What’s your go-to slow cooker meal?