Life Lately

I’m having a hard time believing that we are already halfway through December and Christmas is just a mere few days away.  I feel like the month (year) is flying by and I’m not even prepared.  I still need to bake cookies and watch all my holiday favorites! That being said, here’s a glimpse into life lately:

I never blogged about it but after we ran the Big Sur Half Marathon we drove down to Solvang to hang out at our favorite winery and stay for the night.  We had dinner at Succulent Cafe and these brussels sprouts were amazing and I can’t stop thinking about them.

brussels sprouts and bacon

The restaurant also had these cool little lights in mason jars and I want to re-create this in my house.

mason jar lightsNow that it’s FINALLY feeling like winter here I’m all about the tea, all the time.  Holiday teas are in full rotation around here but I also love matcha green tea with almond milk. With a side of Christmas tree.

tea and christmas tree_1I’m also still on the rose train and love throwing together a little cheese/fruit/nut plate and enjoying a glass on the weekend.  It’s my own little happy hour.

wine and cheese

I’m currently trying to come up with more recipes to use Dark Chocolate Dreams so I don’t just eat it straight from the jar…

flourless chocolate peppermint cookies

We had friends over for a paella party and I didn’t snap a pic of the paella!  But I did get a shot of our half-eaten appetizers.

paella party tapasKarla got me the Thug Kitchen cookbook for Christmas (because she’s the coolest) and I made the maple oat banana bread from it.  Amazing.

thugkitchen

I made peppermint bark this weekend so now I can officially say the holidays are here.  I think I need to make my salted coconut almond bark next.

peppermintbark_slabAnd just for good measure, here’s a pic of Pip.

pippageNow who’s ready for Christmas?

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Christmas is just a little over a week away, so obviously we need to talk cookies! This year I participated in the great food blogger cookie swap and not only was it a lot of fun, but by participating you helped raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which was the main reason I signed up for the swap.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

I’ve done a few cookie swaps already with some of my fellow blogger friends, but for this one we were assigned people based on our dietary needs which was awesome.  Since the bloggers I had couldn’t have nuts, I went with my favorite tried and true recipe: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies adapted from the Tartine cookbook (seriously, if you haven’t made these yet, DO IT).

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies Close UpMy first set of cookies I received came from Heather from Majorly Delicious.  She made salted caramel bars, and as expected, they were amazing.

My husband pretty much devoured two right on the spot, and we ended up freezing a couple to have as a frozen treat when the mood strikes as well.  Heather was also SO great in listing out all the ingredients she used as well as the brand so I could double-check to make sure there weren’t any hidden allergens in there.

Our next batch came from TammyJo from the Chocolate Cult, and they were chocolate banana cookies. Banana and chocolate are pretty much a harmonious combo (as is banana and pb) so these were great.  Loved the tin they came in as well!

Last but certainly not least, Betsy from Java Cupcake sent her easy chocolate chip cookies with holiday sprinkles!  And really, you can’t go wrong when sprinkles are involved.

I loved that the 3 batches of cookies I received were all so different and I felt really reflected each blogger’s personality.  The cookie swap definitely got me in the holiday spirit and I can’t wait to do some more holiday baking this month.

Chocolate Oatmeal Pecan Cookies (adapted from the Tartine Cookbook)

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup coconut oil, softened
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl blend your flour, baking powder, baking soda and oats and set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer (or you can whisk by hand) beat your coconut oil until creamy and begin to fold in your sugar. 4. Add your eggs one at a time and continue to mix until well blended.
5. Add your milk, vanilla and salt to your wet mixture and then slowly fold in your dry ingredients.
6. Lastly add your pecans and chocolate chips and continue to mix until everything is nicely combined.
7. Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet and flatten. You may need to wet your hands a bit since the dough will be sticky.
8. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove cookies from oven and let cool, then enjoy!

Chocolate Oatmeal Pecan CookiesInterested in participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap?  Learn more here.

Flourless Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I don’t really love peppermint.  There, I said it.  I’ll pass on peppermint mochas, I’ll never order mint chip ice cream, and we all know that Samoas rule over Thin Mints.  But when the folks at Peanut Butter & Co. asked us to come up with our favorite #candycanehacks using candy canes and peanut butter, I decided to take the plunge and created flourless chocolate peppermint cookies (P.S.- check the bottom of this post for a fun little giveaway!).

flourless chocolate peppermint cookies

Peppermint and peanut butter? I know, the combo sounded weird to me too, but when you pair peppermint with Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, it’s actually quite the delicious combo.

Dark Chocolate Dreams happens to be one of my favorite Peanut Butter & Co. flavors, so I knew I wanted to keep these cookies as simple as possible without messing with the integrity of the flavor in Dark Chocolate Dreams (I take my pb pretty seriously).  Just an egg, some cocoa powder, crushed candy canes and peanut butter and you are pretty much set to go!

dark chocolate dreams jar

I based this recipe off my flourless honey peanut butter cookies from last year with just a few additional tweaks for maximum chocolate goodness.  The best part about this recipe is that the cookies cook super fast, so you’ll have a delicious chocolate peppermint treat in no time!

While peppermint still may not be #1 on my list, I’ll definitely be making these cookies again.

Flourless Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (makes a dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup crushed candy cane pieces

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper so your cookies don’t stick!

Unwrap your candy canes and place in a plastic bag.  Cover the bag with a towel and use a hammer or mallet to crush them (not the most graceful way I know, but it gets the job done).  Pour your candy cane pieces into a bowl and set aside.

flourless chocolate peppermint cookies

In a large mixing bowl add your peanut butter, sea salt, egg, cocoa powder, baking soda and vanilla and mix well.  The mixture will be quite sticky so make sure it is all well blended.

Gently fold your candy cane pieces into your cookie batter and continue to mix.

Place spoonfuls of batter onto your cooking sheet and flatten into a cookie shape (or keep as a cookie ball if you want!).

flourless peppermint chocolate cookies tray

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly brown.  The inside of the cookie will be deliciously gooey from the peanut butter.

Serve with milk or just on their own.  Pro tip: these cookies taste great frozen as well!

flourless chocolate peppermint cookies

Thanks for Peanut Butter & Co. for sending me the pb + the candy canes!  I’m so excited to have a new cookie recipe for the holidays!

Peanut Butter & Co. wants to share the holiday spirit by offering a discount to Sweet Potato Bites readers!  Simply enter code YUMSQUADLOVE at checkout for 25% off! (offer good through the month of December)

AND of course it wouldn’t be a Peanut Butter & Co. post without a little giveaway fun!  One lucky winner will receive a jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams and Old Fashioned Crunchy (my personal favorites), which is perfect for all of your holiday baking!  Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway open to U.S. residents only and closes on 12/17/14 at midnight.

Commissary at the Line Hotel

When I lived in LA, I never took enough advantage of all the wonderful food options that the city has to offer.  And now that I live in Orange County, I find myself lusting after many of these places that would be deemed a foodie paradise, one of these being Commissary at the Line Hotel.

commissary green houseI’ve been a big fan of Roy Choi since he first had the Kogi truck, and after reading Lynn and Emily’s reviews, I knew I had to check out Commissary at the Line Hotel myself.  The Englishman and I made our way up to LA to join one of our favorite couples who are always down to go on a foodie adventure.

The Line Hotel is located in the heart of Koreatown and Commissary is located on the second floor.  The inside of the restaurant looks like a giant greenhouse, but we ended up sitting outside on the terrace for dinner.  Upon being seated, I was quite amused at the mismatched silverware.

commissary at the line hotel silverwareWe were presented with our “menu,” which from reading prior reviews I knew was just a card with different pictures of proteins and vegetables on it.  I should also mention that I did tell the waiter beforehand that I had some food allergies and he was quite helpful in steering me in the right direction.

commissary at the line hotel menu

Commissary also has an eclectic drink menu, but since I was the driver for the evening I kept it simple and stuck to a glass of wine.

commissary at the line hotel wineThe table decided to order a bunch of dishes and share them family style, which was perfect. Our first dish was poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.  And it was fabulous.

commissary at the line hotel eggsI had been craving grilled cheese ever since the movie Chef, and after hearing Commissary had the grilled cheese from the movie, we knew we had to order it.  We actually ordered two to make sure everyone could indulge in cheesy goodness.

commissary at the line hotel grilled cheeseThis wasn’t a fancy grilled cheese by any means, but it took me straight back to childhood. American cheese on buttered bread and grilled to perfection.  Loved the pickle on the side as well.

No grilled cheese is complete without a side order of fries so we got those as well.  They were seasoned perfectly with just a little salt and pepper.

commissary at the line hotel friesOther items that we ordered but I didn’t photograph included the roasted carrots (order these if you ever go), fresh tomatoes and roasted sea bass.

Of course no meal is complete without dessert so we decided to go for the lemon curd with rhubarb and the stone fruit with what I think was flavored crushed ice (not too sure since it was a surprise!)

commissary at the line hotel rhubarbBoth desserts were fabulous but I loved the lemon curd with rhubarb.  You don’t see rhubarb often in restaurants so it was a treat to be able to order that.  The menu changes pretty frequently at Commissary since they stay in season, but if you ever see a rhubarb dessert on the menu order it.

I really enjoyed my experience at Commissary at the Line Hotel.  It was refreshing to just point at images and then have dishes be brought out.  I’d like to return to try brunch too!