Tag Archive: 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats

Oct 18 2012

Week 4 #12WksXmasTreats: Coconut Nut Balls

Life is flying by these days at an impressive rate. Just when I think I may be able to catch up, grasp the moment and wring everything possible out of it, I”m falling behind again, watching it all whiz on by.

Coconut Nut Balls

Like the month of October. It seems like it was only yesterday that I celebrated my 35th birthday, yet here we are, over two weeks later, and I can’t figure out where the intervening time has gone. Before we know it, Christmas will be here. It slips away so much faster the older I get.

Coconut Nut Balls

Take some time. Revel in the moment. Grab your kids and hug them til they beg you to stop. Someday, they won’t be there to hug at will anymore and you’ll miss that. Despite all the hand prints on the walls and crayon on the floors, the lack of their echo in the hallways will be a too-obvious absence, something to be wistfully wished for again. Love every moment of every day; life is too short to spend it unhappy.

Here’s a little bit of mirth for your mayhem: coconut nut balls. It’s fun just saying what they are. They’re even better in your mouth. Enjoy!

Coconut Nut Balls

Coconut Nut Balls
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 15
  • ¾ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • ½ cup almonds, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus ¼ cup for rolling
  • 8 pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut butter
  1. Combine the toasted nuts and ¼ cup of the coconut in the bowl of a food processor. Process until nuts are chopped.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the ¼ cup additional coconut for rolling. Process until it comes together somewhat.
  3. Line a plate with parchment paper and pour the ¼ cup shredded coconut into a bowl.
  4. Using a Tablespoon and your hands, gather the mixture and roll into balls (it may take some work to get them to stick together).
  5. Roll the balls in the coconut and place on the prepared plate.
  6. Refrigerate to set, at least 1 hour.
The original recipe said it would make 10, but I ended up with at least 15 nut balls.

Meal Planning Magic‘s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats gets you ready with plenty of ideas for your Christmas festivities! If you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us! And don’t forget to follow our Pinterest board to keep track of all the yummy recipes.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012

Oct 11 2012

Week 3 #12WksXmasTreats: Key Lime Pie Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie Bars grace just about every holiday table, desirable not only because they’re very quick and easy to assemble, but also because the blending of flavors is pretty darn fantastic. Whether you call them Hello Dolly Bars, 7-Layer Bars, or Magic Cookie Bars, the base is pretty much the same: butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, and sweetened condensed milk.

Key Lime Pie Magic Cookie Bars

This base leaves room for infinite possibilities in variations, thankfully, so you can change them up depending upon your mood. Key Lime Pie is a new one for me, though!

Key Lime Pie Magic Cookie Bars

My husband thought this was a bit too strong, but I felt it was perfect and paired quite well with the Chardonnay that accompanied them last night. Maybe too well… Key Lime Pie in a hand-held form with a little bit of a kick, thanks to the white chocolate chips and almonds. Impressive!

Key Lime Pie Magic Cookie Bars

5.0 from 1 reviews

Key Lime Pie Magic Cookie Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Cookie/Bar
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2½ cups Nilla wafers (roughly), finely crushed
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 15-ounce can organic sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup fresh or bottled key lime juice (if using the latter, Nellie & Joe’s brand is very good)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (go with real white chocolate, not artificially flavored!)
  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the butter in the bottom of a brownie pan and put it in the oven while it’s preheating to melt. Be careful not to burn it.
  3. Sprinkle the Nilla wafer crumbs over the melted butter and mix it up, then press into the pan to create the base layer crust.
  4. Sprinkle the 1 cup coconut over the crust evenly.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice until well blended.
  6. Drizzle ⅓ the sweetened condensed milk mixture over the coconut.
  7. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips and then the almonds over that. Press down to spread evenly.
  8. Drizzle the rest of the sweetened condensed milk mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the ½ cup coconut over that, pressing down a bit so it doesn’t fall off after baking.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  11. Cool completely before cutting.

Meal Planning Magic‘s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats gets you ready with plenty of ideas for your Christmas festivities! If you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us! And don’t forget to follow our Pinterest board to keep track of all the yummy recipes.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012

Oct 04 2012

Week 2 #12WksXmasTreats: Not Quite English Toffee

It’s been one of those push-push-push yourself weeks. I decided to challenge myself by committing to a few more projects, but they all converged this week–along with my birthday–and I had to set some limits. Including taking my birthday off to just enjoy the day and all the wonderful food that was a part of it, between the party my awesome coworkers threw for me, the stuffed pepper party other coworkers hosted at lunchtime, and dinner and cake with my family. It was a day to celebrate me, and celebrate I did, quite thoroughly!

But now it’s time to get back on track, even if my butt is dragging a bit. I decided for this week’s edition of Meal Planning Magic‘s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats that I would go with something that’s relatively quick and doesn’t take a lot of dishes. Because I know I’m not the only one who needs a go-to sweet that you can turn to when you have no more go left in you.

Not Quite English Toffee

Other than the stirring, there isn’t a whole lot you have to do with toffee. Toss the sugar, butter, and salt in the pot, attach the candy thermometer once all the sugar is dissolved, and stir until it reaches the right temperature. It’s pretty mindless, which can be a good thing when you’re trying to watch TV while finishing up your recipe. Not that I would do that or anything. You know, just in case.

For my family birthdays party last month, one of my brothers gave me a bottle of Pinnacle Cookie Dough Vodka. (My other brother gave me Kraken Black Spiced Rum… does that mean something?) Given the success of putting Frangelico in my Bacon Toffee last year, I thought a shot of Cookie Dough Vodka couldn’t hurt. I toasted some walnuts for the topping, since that reminded me more of chocolate chip cookies than using the typical pecans. A slight hint of cookie dough flavor comes through, but it isn’t strong. I’m not sure if it made a difference or if it’s psychosomatic, but I’m not complaining. And I doubt anyone I’d give this to would complain either.

Not Quite English Toffee
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Candy
Serves: 8
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups turbinado (raw) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, ground fine
  • 2 Tablespoons cookie dough flavored vodka
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnut, toasted
  1. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil or parchment backed foil and set aside.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan (I used one of my Le Creuset enameled cast iron pieces) over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Swirl around the mixture but try not to stir it until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Once the sugar is dissolved, attach a calibrated candy thermometer to your saucepan and begin stirring.
  5. Stir, stir, and stir. You’ll be stirring the whole time, so get comfortable.
  6. Once the mixture reaches hard crack stage (it’s marked on my candy thermometer at 320 degrees Fahrenheit, but I believe the general consensus is somewhere between 300 and 310 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your source), remove from heat.
  7. Add the vodka and step back for a moment–it WILL bubble up fiercely.
  8. Stir vigorously to incorporate the vodka, then pour into the prepared pan, tilting the pan around after to ensure even distribution.
  9. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and leave them be for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the now-melted chocolate chips evenly over the surface.
  11. Sprinkle the walnuts over the melted chocolate.
  12. Let sit until chocolate is set again, which could take some time. You can also pop it in your refrigerator after an hour or two to help speed it up a bit.
  13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
You need to be very careful in your stirring that you do not introduce an environment where the sugar will crystallize during the cooking. That’s why it’s important to try not to stir until the sugar dissolves and to not insert the candy thermometer until then either. If some sugar does start to crystallize on the walls of the pan in the beginning, you can wash it down with a wet pastry or silicone brush, but scraping will only aid in the crystallization and then you’ll end up with an odd texture.

What other great ideas do we have for you this week in planning for Christmas?

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012

Sep 27 2012

Happy Blogiversary! Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Today is a big day. Not only is it the start of another year of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, but it’s also my 2-year Blogiversary! Yay! Two years of delicious goodies coming out of my kitchen and onto your screen. I hope you haven’t had to replace your keyboards because of all the drool!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This past year was, in many ways, more difficult than the first. After taking almost 5 years off to stay home with my kids, I returned to the working world in December 2011, taking up a lot of the time I previously used to plan, bake, photograph, and blog with commuting and being a regular ole person in the real world. It took quite a few months to adjust. Add to that our decision to move on from our apartment after 10 years of living in its cramped quarters, and it became a really hectic year. There were times when I wondered if I could make it another month, if I had any more baked goods left in me to share with the world. I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore. Those were dark times.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Luckily, the dust finally settled in late August and the baking bug bit me again. I was back on track! I stopped being so hard on myself and started going with the flow. Why let something like the quest for perfection hold me back from what I would otherwise do? It’s more important to enjoy what you’re doing than worry about optimal lighting conditions and whether your cupcakes look like they should. I’d really prefer to just eat them anyway. Case in point:

Gingerbread Cupcakes - fail!

Batch #2 of Attempt #2

I’ve always said that it’s taste that matters most. The other stuff–the beautiful piping, the placement of each little accessorizing morsel just so–is window-dressing. It’s nice and it may get someone to stop and pay attention who would have otherwise walked on, but if what you baked doesn’t taste good, what difference does it make? There’s nothing worse than biting into a gorgeous slice of cake and finding it resembles cardboard. I’m looking at you, wedding cakes draped in fondant! No, thank you!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

When life gives you ugly cupcakes, cover them with frosting and eat them anyway.

So to celebrate my 2-year blogiversary and usher in Meal Planning Magic‘s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, I present to you…Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Which are a tad sad looking, I know, but I baked them twice in an attempt to get them to look pretty for you. And I failed miserably both times. I am no pastry chef yet. The taste, however, is amazing. Christmas itself, if Christmas were a cupcake. Sweet, sticky, spicy gingerbread slathered with a cream cheese frosting that is to die for. I ended up with that very same frosting all over my hands, being the graceful specimen that I am, and did not mind at all, for now I had the perfect excuse to lick it up all by itself. And I could have eaten more.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Because I love you so much for toughing it out with me during the dark times this year, I also have a VERY quick giveaway, something to tide you over til Saturday’s really big deal. From the bottom of my heart, I have for one lucky reader a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours that I bought with my very own money and will ship all by myself. You’re worth it! This enormous cookbook is one of my favorites, full of yummy treats and a fun dialogue. You’ll feel like you’re in the kitchen with Ms. Greenspan herself, taking a lesson from a pro. Every kitchen should have this!

Dorie Greenspan - Baking: From My Home to Yours

See! I even have it in hand! Or in my room, anyway…

I will make this easy. All you need to do is share in the comments which post I’ve written over the last 2 years is your favorite. There are 294 to pick from, so you have a lot of material to work with. :) One entry per person, please, and I will accept them until Friday, September 28th, at 8:30 PM ET, at which time I will randomly select the winner with my newfangled contest app (because I have to test it out anyway). Does that sound good? I thought so. Make sure you provide your email address so I can get in touch with you. If the winner does not get back to me within 48 hours, I will select another winner. (For rules and information on poet in the pantry giveaways, click here.) Entries for the contest have closed and a winner has been chosen. Thank you.

Bake yourself some Gingerbread Cupcakes in the meantime. Then you won’t have to bite your nails while you wait!

4.0 from 1 reviews

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24
  • 2¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups molasses
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside. (Be ready to use another pan, if necessary.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each until well incorporated.
  4. Add the molasses, mixing on low until just mixed in.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the water for 3 additions. (So ⅓ the dry, mix, ⅓ the water, mix, ⅓ the dry, mix, ⅓ the water, mix, the last ⅓ of the dry, mix, the last ⅓ the water, mix.) Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Stir in the candied ginger.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, portion out the batter between the prepared muffin cups, filling no more than ¾ of the way.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back after lightly pushed.
  9. Leave in tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  1. Place ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  1. Using a knife or pastry bag fitted with a tip, spread/squeeze frosting onto fully-cooled cupcakes.
Because of the cream cheese frosting, it’s best to store these in the refrigerator for up to 5 days *** The original recipe said it would make 12 cupcakes, but I got far more out of them

Here we are… the start of year 3 and some big things on the horizon. More #FirstOnTheFirst and #MuffinMonday. Add to them #BundtaMonth #SeriousSandwich and #PiePartyGE. And that’s just in the next month! You’ll stick around for it all, right? I promise you won’t regret it!

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