When the Process Matters More than the Product

I recently stumbled upon an old blog post of mine from last March where I outlined a few projects I was juggling at the time. I’m embarrassed to say that a few of those projects are still works in progress with no end in sight.

Needlepoint Cat Collar

It can be frustrating to look back on the past year and wonder where the time went. How have I made so little progress on so many projects? It turns out that a lot has happened since last March (moving, getting engaged, traveling for 8 weddings, adopting Onyx), much of which has pulled my attention away from my stitches and that’s okay. Life gets busy and hectic and stressful but that’s why I started stitching in the first place, to help me relax and de-stress.

I had a productive President's Day weekend stitching the cat collar! 

I had a productive President's Day weekend stitching the cat collar! 

As one might have expected, instead of wrapping up the projects I had on hand, I recently decided to start on a new one. There’s something exciting about starting on a blank canvas, especially when I know the project is a quick one. Plus, how can I call myself a crazy cat lady if I haven’t stitched a collar for my kitten!

Onyx wasn't overly helpful when it came to finishing the canvas. 

Onyx wasn't overly helpful when it came to finishing the canvas. 

The chances of Onyx wearing this collar for longer than it takes for me to take a picture of it on him are slim. That being said, this is one of those cases where it is more about the process than the final product. Stay tuned for said pictures, I’m really close to finishing the stitching portion of the collar so I’m hoping to send this away to be finished by the end of the month. With a little help from my favorite panther I’ll (probably) make my deadline.

Needlepoint canvas and cat

Now that I’ve made needlepoint super fast-paced and exciting, I’m sure there are at least a few of you who are ready to pick it up as a hobby. Before doing that, ask yourself these 3 questions to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Still keen? Great! Tell me all about your projects! One of my absolute favorite things is getting messages through the blog from other stitchers with stories of their projects so don’t be shy!

The Best Cookies and Cream Oreo Upgrade

Confession time: I have not been able to get last week’s Oreo icing out of my mind. Seriously. That’s probably why I grabbed another pack of Oreos at the grocery store, fully intending to indulge.

For starters, let me just say, this cookies and cream cream cheese filling is amazing on its own. Once added to chocolate cookies and dipped in more chocolate, it becomes out of this world. I made these a few days ago and had to immediately share them with my friends and coworkers so that I wouldn’t eat them all. I stopped myself at two in one sitting.

Have you seen the movie Inception? These cookies are kind of like that. A cookie in a cookie. I think the kids are calling it ‘meta’ these days. I’m turning 28 this year and honestly, I’m feeling rather old compared to the next generation. I joke about what language the ‘kids’ are using but the truth of the matter is, I have no idea what they are talking about half the time. I sat next to the thirteen year old daughter of a family friend a few weeks ago who tried to explain the concept of a ‘finsta’ to me. As someone who’s pretty conservative with my social media content, the whole thing left me confused.

All you need to know about these delicious and drool-worthy treats is that if you like Oreos (or any similar chocolate cookie), you will LOVE these. Want more Oreo?  Try some peppermint Oreo ice cream!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Oreos
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 bar of Ghirardelli white chocolate

Recipe

  • Pulse 1 cup of Oreos in a food processor until fine. Combine the Oreo crumbs with the cream cheese and icing sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. Start speed on low and slowly bring up to medium speed. Once combined, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  • When ready to stuff the Oreos, take about 16-20 Oreos and carefully separate the tops from the bottoms, removing the white middle. You can either mix it into the cookies and cream filling or just eat it. No judgement on whatever you decide. Take one tablespoon of cream cheese filling and roll it into a ball. Place on one cookie and press second cookie gently on top to secure it. Repeat until all the cookies are filled.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Roughly chop up 4-5 Oreos. These will be used to top the melted chocolate in the next step. Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for about a minute, or until melted, stirring every 15 minutes. Dip the now stuffed Oreos into the chocolate to cover half of each cookie in chocolate. Sprinkle with the chopped up cookie crumbs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. Once done, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.

Mint Shortbread with Coffee Glaze

Do you ever like a flavor more than an actual food? I don’t drink coffee unless it’s full of milk and flavors (looking at you vanilla latte) but I love coffee flavored sweets. Coffee ice cream? Coffee beans covered in chocolate? Coffee donuts? Yes to all of it.

I’m a big fan of shortbread made with fresh herbs but mint always seemed too sweet to me. I’ve stuck with basil and rosemary in the past, hearty herbs that added a savory twist to my otherwise sweet-heavy diet. Well, I finally took the plunge on mint and I’m so glad I did.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a trendy coffee spot in your neighborhood serving mint coffee, you may be confused about my choice to pair coffee with my mint shortbread. It might sound strange but the combination is heavenly. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use the espresso salt my brother gave me for Christmas so I figured topping a sweet shortbread with some delicious fancy salt was a fantastic idea.

The shortbread may be loaded with mint, but don’t expect it to taste like a mojito. Once baked, it has a deep earthy flavor, followed by a sweet mint aftertaste. The coffee glaze is with the espresso salt has a nice sweet and salty flavor that is bound to please your taste buds.

I love a good tea time snack so I’m definitely adding this to the menu. Plus with the coffee in the glaze and the espresso salt, it’s basically a double dose of caffeine - exactly what most of us need to make it through the day. Especially on Mondays.

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1¾ cups (220g) all purpose flour

Coffee Glaze Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of coffee
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of espresso salt

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x9 glass baking dish with parchment paper overhanging the sides of the pan and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugars for the shortbread on medium high until it becomes lighter in color. Mix in the mint. Slow the mixer down to low and mix in the flour until just combined. Press dough into prepared pan. Bake for 37 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • When done, remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Using the overhanging parchment paper, pull out the shortbread and finish cooling completely on a cooling rack.
  • Prepare the glaze to top the shortbread. Combine the butter, coffee and icing sugar into a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until fully melted and combined. Drizzle onto the shortbread and sprinkle with espresso salt.

Cookies and Peanut Butter Cream Cupcakes

Cookies and cream? Love it.

Peanut butter? I’m there.

Cookies and peanut butter cream? *Takes a few minutes to think this over* Yes please!

It’s always sad to say goodbye. This past week, one of my coworkers decided to move on to another opportunity and once I got over being selfishly so sad that my desk buddy will be gone, I moved on to the fun part of saying goodbye - the goodbye party! The date was set and I volunteered to bring dessert (obviously). 

My departing coworker couldn’t give me a definite answer on what her favorite flavor was so I could bake something yummy.  When I got her to narrow the list down to two, peanut butter and Oreos, I decided to combine them as a joke. Well, the joke was on me because they were delicious together!

The peanut butter cupcake base was moist with just the right amount of crunch from the Oreo cookies and the icing? I could eat that by the spoonful. It’s probably a good thing there wasn’t any icing leftovers or else I actually might have sat down and eaten a bowl of icing for breakfast. That’s what happens when I photograph food in the early morning before I eat breakfast, I get tempted by my own product. Don’t worry Mom, I just ate one cupcake for breakfast.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the delicious accident that was these cookies and peanut butter cream cupcakes it is this - don’t knock it ‘till you try it.

Cupcakes Ingredients

  • ¾ cups (150g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup (140g) peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ (187g) cup flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup roughly crushed Oreos

Icing Ingredients

  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed Oreos (You want these super crushed so I put them in food processor to get it very fine)
  • ¼ - ½ cup heavy cream
  • Optional: 6 Oreos cut in half for decoration

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter. Mix in the peanut butter until smooth and creamy followed by the eggs one at a time, the vanilla and the milk. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
  • With the mixer on low, combine the dry and wet ingredients. Once combined, mix in the crushed oreos. Scoop into the prepared muffin tray, filling the each mold ¾ of the way. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  • When done baking, remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the tray. Transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool. Meanwhile, make the icing.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (make sure to clean it while the cupcakes are in the oven), cream together the butter and the sugar. Start with the mixer on low so that the sugar doesn’t fly everywhere and slowly bring the speed up to medium-high. Mix in the vanilla extract and the oreos. The icing will be quite thick at this point. Mix in the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired thickness is achieved. My sweet spot was at about ¼ cup of heavy cream (or 4 tablespoons) but you may want to let your instincts guide you to your prefered icing thickness.
  • Transfer icing to an icing bag (or a ziplock with a hole cut in one of the corners) and pipe onto cupcakes!