Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas everyone! Christmas is a wonderful time of year. A time away from work. A time to spend with family. A time to catch up with old friends. A time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) The whole reason for Christmas is to celebrate Jesus coming down to earth as a human. Fully God and fully human.

I remember 3 years ago that verse was the main them of Urbana ’09. I was a junior in college and had no idea where my life was headed. Now, three years later I’m headed to Urbana ’12 and I’m still not so sure where I’m going in life. I think this time though I’m going in with more of a purpose so I’m pretty excited for how God’s going to speak to me this time!

Anyway, it’s Christmas, and in my family we had this tradition where my brothers and I made breakfast for my parents. At some point that tradition died because we started sleeping too late and couldn’t get up before my parents. This year I decided to start up that tradition again. Back when we were kids we used to make “egg mcmuffins” which consisted of english muffins, a slice of Kraft singles, a slice or two of ham, and a microwaved egg. I thought it was gross (I used to not like ham or eggs) and never actually had one. Recently I tried making my own version and it turned out really well.

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First off, I used sharp cheddar cheese instead of Kraft singles. I’m not sure Kraft singles should ever be used for anything. Real cheese is so much better. Secondly, I fried the egg instead of microwaving it. I’m still perfecting my egg frying technique, but a fried egg with a nice and runny yolk is just infinitely more delicious than a microwaved egg. So I broiled the english muffin, ham and cheese until the cheese melted, then added the egg. Yum yum! Blows fast food breakfast sandwiches out of the water!

In addition to the traditional sandwiches, I also decided to make banana nutella bread (we also happened to have some bananas that were a little past ripe). I pretty much used this recipe from allrecipes.com so I’m not going to repost. I decided to add some nutella because a) nutella is delicious, b) I kept seeing recipes that involved bananas and nutella and c) I wanted to switch it up from the usual of chocolate chips.

The picture is pretty bad and I clearly didn’t swirl in the nutella very well (too much on the top half, none on the bottom half… oops!), but I like banana bread and nutella, so I still thought it tasted pretty good.

Double Chocolate Espresso Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

Today’s the day! Today is the last recipe I have in my arsenal. So after today I won’t be posting until I try something new. Sadness. I know you’ll all miss me.

But! Today’s recipe is a good one! I made these with my friend at her house when I was in Singapore. You can just just from the name that these cookies are intense. For those of you out there who don’t like coffee, don’t worry I couldn’t even taste the coffee… in fact, I’m pretty sure it can be omitted. For those of you who like coffee (or are addicts like me), don’t worry chocolate and peanut butter are a good enough combination to make up for the fact that you can’t taste the coffee.

I ended up making a decent amount of changes, mostly to simplify/shorten the preparation, but they were still delicious!

Recipe adapted from Jules Food.

Ingredients
For the cookies:
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant coffee
¾ cup milk chocolate chips

For the filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Preparation
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars with a hand mixer. Fold in egg and vanilla extract. Slowly mix in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and coffee. Stir in chocolate chips.

On a greased baking sheet, spoon out heaping teaspoons of dough and form flat discs. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix all ingredients for filling together.

When cookies have cooled, assemble sandwiches.

Makes around 20-25 sandwiches (40-50 cookies).

Turkey Avocado Melt

So I’m headed to Hong Kong early tomorrow morning (in about 13 hours) and will be there for 4 days, so no updates for a little while (try not to miss me too much, haha).

In the meantime, to make up for yesterday’s post (my guess is you didn’t try it), here’s something that truly is delicious. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until a year or two ago that I started to like avocado. But now I love it. Especially in guacamole. In this recipe, I don’t use a whole lot of stuff because I didn’t really have anything in the house. Normally I’d add real onions, real garlic, and some diced tomatoes. But for a guacamole recipe that doesn’t require any dicing or mincing, it tasted pretty darn good.

One more thing to note. Since this only calls for half an avocado, I’ve found that the best way to preserve the other half is to wrap it in plastic wrap such that there is no air between the plastic wrap and the avocado. So don’t pull it tight, but let it bunch up around the pit to fill any gaps. This should keep it from turning brown. I’ve heard lemon/lime juice helps too.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this!

Ingredients
1/2 avocado
garlic powder
onion powder
salt
lime juice
2 slices smoked turkey breast
2 slices bread
1 slice cheese
butter

Preparation
To make simple guacamole:
Spoon out avocado into a bowl and use the spoon to mash it. Add a dash of lime juice and salt, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste (I use a fair amount).

Spread guacamole on a slice of bread. Place turkey, then cheese and top with second slice of bread.

Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan. When hot, grill sandwich until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown.

Grilled Cheese with PB&J

No, you didn’t read incorrectly. No, PB&J is not an acronym for something else. This is actually a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly.

First reaction: gross. Second reaction: gross. Third reaction: maybe it could be? … no, it can’t. Well, at least that was how I reacted. My friend who was my entrymate freshman year, my suitemate sophomore and junior year and my roommate senior year swore it was good. And always meant to make some for me and our other friends to try. Of course we never got around to this (or the W-town pub crawl for that matter), so one day when I was home alone and bored, I decided to try it out.

Verdict: not as gross as I imagined, but definitely not something I would eat again. Surprisingly enough, the peanut butter and cheese combination was not bad… it was the addition of jelly that caused the taste to make an odd turn.

Ingredients
2 slices bread (white or wheat)
2 slices cheese (I used American, but whatever you prefer for grilled cheese)
peanut butter
strawberry jam
butter

Preparation
Place cheese between slices of bread. Melt butter in a nonstick frying pan. When hot, grill the sandwich until the cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown.

Remove from heat and place on a plate. Top with peanut butter and jam.