Tuesday, December 21, 2010

$45 CSN Giveaway


The new year will soon be upon us, and what better time to be able to get rid of your old stuff and buy some beautiful new things to brighten up your home. For example, how about flat screen TV stands?

The good folks over at CSN have once again offered me the chance to hold a giveaway on my blog and one lucky person will win a $45 CSN Gift Certificate to help make your New Year's wish come true.


One lucky Sweet as Sugar Cookies reader will win a $45 CSN Gift Certificate to spend on anything they choose at ANY of CSN's 200+ stores!

Open to residents of U.S. and Canada (sorry, no international entries due to shipping constraints). Winner will be chosen by random.org and announced soon after the contest ends. Winner will be notified by e-mail. Winner then has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. If your e-mail address is not included in your Google profile, please make sure to include it in each of your entries. Any entry that does not follow these rules will be deleted.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit CSN Stores and tell me something you might buy if you win this giveaway. If you do not complete the mandatory entry first, all your other entries will not count.

EXTRA ENTRIES: To qualify for extra entries, you must complete the Mandatory entry. Please leave a comment for each one.
  • Follow my blog on Google reader (1 entry - old followers count too, just say so in your comment)
  • "Like" Sweet as Sugar Cookies on Facebook (1 entry)
  • Subscribe to my blog (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this contest. Please leave the tweet status in your comment. (1 entry)
Contest ends Friday 12/31 at 11:59 PST. Good luck!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Three Types of Fudge and a Winner

There are just certain recipes that tend to scare cooks/bakers more than others due to the fact that there are just so many problems inherent in the process. Take for example bread, caramel, or (my personal fear) homemade fudge.

So, you can imagine my glee when I encountered Tracy's fudge recipe on her blog, "Midwestern Girl with a Texas Address," while participating in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies group. As you probably know, most fudge recipes require you to use a candy thermometer, wait for that magical temperature, and add things in at just the right moment, all the while worrying about things like graininess and crystallization of the sugar. But, not Tracy's. With just a few ingredients and a method that's as easy as 1-2-3, I found myself staring at an entire panful of glorious, mouthwatering, REAL fudge.

Her recipe is especially good because it allows you to make several types of fudge all at once. I made her chocolate version, the peanut butter version, and combined both of them for a chocolate-peanut butter marbled version as well. The plain chocolate one was a little sweet for me, so I might use bittersweet chocolate chips next time instead of the semisweet for a deeper, darker flavor. The peanut butter, however, was spot-on perfect. It was so creamy and had just the right amount of sweetness. As for my sister, she loved the marbled version. I'm sure that if you try this fudge for yourself, one or all three will be your favorites as well.

Fudge (Mid-western Girl with a Texas Address)

1 pound powdered sugar
6 tbsp butter or margarine
1/3 package mini marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp milk

Heat ingredients until smooth. For peanut butter fudge, add 1 cup peanut butter to mixture. For chocolate fudge, add a cup of chocolate chips to mixture and heat until melted and smooth. Pour mixture into 8" greased pan and refrigerate until cool and able to cut into bite sized pieces.


The Orglamix Organic Makeup Giveaway was a big success. Thank you to all those who entered. The winner is #193 Camelia. Congratulations Camelia!!! An e-mail has been sent to the winner.

I will also be holding a Christmas giveaway starting this Tuesday for a CSN gift certificate, so don't forget to check back on my blog at that time for a chance to enter.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Avalanche Bars - Final Week

Well, all good things must come to an end. After nearly three months, we are on the final week of our 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies group. It has been a wonderful time for me. I found so many new and delicious recipes, tried and loved them, and got to know an amazing group of talented, kind, and awesome bloggers. A big thanks to April for starting the ball rolling and allowing us all to have this memorable opportunity.

They say that chocolate releases endorphins and you become happier as a result. So, I can think of no better way to raise my spirits than to share a delicious chocolate treat with you all. They're called Avalanche Bars.

I found them on Cookies and Cups' website. They are originally made with white chocolate and peanut butter. But, being a dark chocolate kind of girl, I changed the recipe to suit my own tastes. I used a combination of dark chocolate and butter and added chopped up pretzels and marshmallows to the mixture. To top them off, I used some chocolate covered toffee bits.

I also made them in a silicone muffin tin instead of a pan. It worked out so well. Not only did they pop out perfectly without a fight, but they also had a cute little shape to them, just perfect for a handheld treat.

The result was fantastic. It's like eating a delicious candy bar. You get a

CRUNCH from the Rice Krispies

CHEWY from the marshmallows

SALTY/SWEET from the pretzels and chocolate.

So, although this baking event is coming to a close, you don't have to feel sad. Make these Avalanche Bars and get happy!

Avalanche Bars (adapted from Cookies and Cups)

12 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate if you prefer)
1/4 c. butter (or peanut butter)
3 c. Rice Krispies
1/2-3/4 c. chopped pretzels
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
chocolate covered toffee bits (for sprinkling on top)

Lightly grease a 9x9 pan. In a microwave-safe bowl, dump in chocolate chips and heat on medium power for 1 minute. Stir and continue in 30 second increments until chips are melted.

Combine the butter with the melted chips. Add the Rice Krispies. Let cool a little and add the marshmallows. Press into the pan and spread evenly, pressing lightly with the back of a spoon, but do not compact too much, otherwise they will get hard. Top with toffee bits.

  • You can also use peanut butter in place of the butter and substitute any candies or mix-ins you wish.
  • I noticed that the chocolate tended to seize when I added in the butter (there was no water anywhere so I'm not sure why this happened). To fix this, I stirred in a little oil and it softened up again.
I have a whole lot of other variations of this recipe that I intend to try one day.
  1. Dark chocolate + peanut butter + marshmallows and peanut butter chips + PB drizzle
  2. Dark chocolate + butter + mint chips (or Andes chocolates)
  3. Dark chocolate + butter + milk chocolate chips + toffee pieces or caramel bits
  4. Dark chocolate + peanut butter + pretzels + honey roasted peanuts + PB drizzle
  5. Peanut butter chips + butter + marshmallows + chocolate or butterscotch chips

Week 12 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Snacking Cake

Well, I finally finished my pumpkin quest (at least until next year) and have now shifted gears into holiday mode. To kick it off, I made Martha Stewart's gingerbread snacking cake.

Just the scent of it alone is heavenly and, like all spicy baked goods, the aroma and flavor deepens the day after you bake it (so if you can exercise a tiny bit of patience, it will be worth it). It's the kind of treat that just says, "Christmas." Even more importantly, it's delicious. I took it to my church's "Break the Fast" activity and the people there ate it up. I would definitely recommend putting the white chocolate on top. Not only does it look pretty, but it really adds something to the flavor of the cake and makes it twice as good.

On another note, I'll be celebrating my birthday tomorrow. While I won't say how old I'll be, I will say that I'm one year closer to thirty. Hopefully, that means I'm a year wiser too.

Gingerbread Snacking Cake
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (I substituted 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
white chocolate chips, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch cake pan; set aside. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light. Beat in brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in molasses and grated ginger, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in eggs.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and decorate with the melted white chocolate.

This recipe is linked to:
Prairie Story's Recipe Swap

Week 11 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Well, I did it. I finally got around to making these pumpkin swirl brownies that I've seen on so many blogs. What can I say? All of you who made this finally convinced me.

I can't say that it was the easiest recipe I've ever put together. For one thing, it requires you to mix up two different batters in addition to making the pumpkin and chocolate mixtures that go into them. Consequently, my sink was full of used bowls that now needed to be washed.

I also wish that I had read the reviews of other people before making these brownies. If I had, I would have known about the problem that occurs in baking these up. Here's the thing, this recipe makes a LOT of batter but directs you to pour it all into a small 9-inch pan. I did so and found that the entire middle section of the pan was still incredibly gooey even after baking it for the specified 45 minutes. No, not good gooey, completely batter gooey. So, I ended up baking it for half an hour longer which helped the center bake up but also made the edges way too dry instead of moist and chewy. I realized afterward that a 7x11 pan would have been a much better idea.

But, you ask, was it still worth it? Oh YES. The chocolate brownie part was fudgy, rich, and delicious. The pumpkin portion was chewy and dense and I think it could stand alone and be an excellent pumpkin blondie. Together, the pumpkin and chocolate worked really well together and the swirled look was just really pretty.

The only thing that disappointed me was that I couldn't taste the cayenne pepper in these brownies and I had been looking forward to that nice spicy kick. So, the next time I make these, I'll probably add 1/4 teaspoon more of cayenne pepper to the brownie batter. But, other than that, this was definitely a keeper.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for Orglamix Organic Mineral Makeup

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
(original recipe by Martha Stewart can be found by clicking on the link)

1 stick margarine
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger powder (I added this)

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish (I'd recommend using a 7x11 rectangular pan). Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, butter lining.

Melt chocolate and margarine in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3-5 min. Beat in flour mixture.

Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 1 1/2 c. per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. Stir the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into the other bowl. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan, smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.

With a small spatula or table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Bake until set, 40-45 min. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

This recipe is linked to:
Meatless Mondays
Midnight Maniac's Meatless Mondays
Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesdays
A Beautiful Mess Tasty Tuesdays
Tuesday Twister
Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays

Friday, December 3, 2010

Orglamix Organic Mineral Makeup Review & GIVEAWAY


I am so excited about this giveaway. For one thing, I've just reached 200 followers! Secondly, my birthday is coming up in a week. So, as a way to celebrate all of that, and say "thank you" to all of you for making my blog so special, I've decided to give one of you a very special gift from Orglamix Organic Mineral Makeup.

What's that you say? This is a food blog? Well, that's true. But, I also know that no matter how much we all love spending time in the kitchen, we do eventually have to leave it, if only for a short time. And, when I do, I know I like to dust the flour off my face and put on some makeup instead.

In case you haven't heard about it, Orglamix is becoming one of the hottest makeup sellers around. It makes the most gorgeous eye shadow colors, not to mention blush, foundation, and more. Plus, the best part is that it's all organic. Really, it doesn't get any better than this.

The Review: Cheri, from Orglamix, also sent me three colors of my choice to review. I chose eye shadows in Chai and Teak as well as the Tourmaline Mineral Glow. Let me tell you, all of these products were fantastic. The eye shadows matched me perfectly and the mineral glow added a beautiful sun-kissed sparkly shimmer to my cheeks. I just fell in love with this makeup and I know you will too. (Disclaimer: I was not paid by Orglamix to do this review and all opinions are my own.)

Buy It:
All Orglamix products can be purchased directly from Orglamix's Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/orglamix.

Win It:
Cheri, from Orglamix, has agreed to give the winner of this giveaway not one, not two, but THREE colors (your choice) from the following formulas: Pure Organic Mineral Eye, Blush, Glow, Foundation, or Color Corrector. How great is that? So, if you want to win this super prize, make sure you follow the entry requirements below. Thanks so much Cheri and good luck to all of you!


One lucky Sweet as Sugar Cookies reader will win THREE colors of their choice from the following Orglamix formulas: Pure Organic Mineral Eye, Blush, Glow, Foundation or Color Corrector! (APR $20)

Rules: This giveaway is open to everyone (US, Canada, and international). Any entry that does not conform with the rules below will be deleted. A winner will be chosen by random.org and will be notified by e-mail shortly thereafter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Mandatory Entry:
  1. You MUST be a follower of my blog in order to enter. To follow me, just go to the Google follower on the right and sign in.
  2. Go to Orglamix's Etsy website. Come back here and leave me a comment telling me which three colors you would choose if you won. (you can always change your mind later)
  3. If your e-mail address is not included in your Google profile, please include it in your comment so that I will know how to contact you.
Optional Entries: You can earn extra entries by doing any or all of the following after you have completed the mandatory entry. Leave a separate comment for each one that you do.
  1. Leave a comment on ONE of my other non-giveaway posts and leave a comment on this post telling me which post you commented on (or, if you've commented on a post in the past, say that too). (1 entry)
  2. Blog, facebook, or tweet about this giveaway using the #Orglamix hashtag. (1 entry for each one that you do)
  3. Follow Orglamix on Twitter by clicking here. Please include your Twitter username in your comment. (1 entry).
  4. Follow Orglamix's blog by clicking here. (1 entry)
  5. "Like" Orglamix on Facebook (1 entry)
  6. "Like" Sweet as Sugar Cookies on Facebook (current followers count too) (1 entry)
  7. Subscribe to my blog (on the right below "Followers"). (1 entry)
Contest ends on Saturday, December 18 at 11:59pm PST. Good luck!!!

Festive Oat and Candy Cookie Bars

Week 10 already? We're really flying. I just can't believe Christmas is right around the corner. Speaking of Christmas, I'll be having a great giveaway starting tomorrow for Orglamix makeup. It would make a great gift for someone or, if you want to gift yourself with it, be my guest (I'd do the same).

Thank you also for all your congratulations last week. I felt so loved.

For my pick this week, I made these Festive Oat and Candy Cookie Bars.

After seeing them at Louanne's Kitchen, I just couldn't resist. I'm definitely glad I gave in to the temptation because these bars were everything she said they would be. They were gooey and chocolatey and yummy to the very last bite. Like Louanne, I made these with M&Ms because that's what I had on hand. I also like how the M&Ms give the bars a really festive look for the holidays. But feel free to use other types of candies too if that's what you have in your pantry. According to Louanne, Snickers, Almond Joy, and Twix are all heavenly as well.

One word to the wise - she recommends lining the pan with parchment paper. So, what's wrong with the picture below?

Yup, I thought I could get away with simply greasing the pan. I realized what a mistake that was later on when I had to practically chisel my bars out of it. Lesson learned.

Festive Oat and Candy Cookie Bars (Louanne's Kitchen)

2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (I omitted these)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups M&Ms, divided
1 14-oz can condensed milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray a 13x9 pan, then line with parchment paper, so that paper extends over long-side of pan; set aside.

Mix oats, flour, pecans, brown sugar, baking soda and salt together. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle melted butter into oat mixture; mix until crumbly.

Remove 2 cups of mixture and pat remaining mixture into prepared pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool; lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 cup of the M&M's in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds; remove and combine with condensed milk, stirring well. Pour over crust and set aside. Combine reserved crumb mixture with reserved 1/2 cup of M&M's; sprinkle over M&;M and condensed milk mixture. Bake for 28-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Note: I'd definitely recommend chilling these bars overnight in the fridge before cutting them. If not, they'll be a little too gooey and won't hold their bar shape very well.

This recipe is linked to:
Prairie Story Recipe Swap Thursday
Friday Potluck
Friday Favorites
Foodie Fridays
Feature Yourself Fridays
Homemade Holidays Recipe Swap
Saturday's Party

Week 10 Twelve Weeks of Christmas: