ultimate chocolate chip cookie

Do superlatives such as "best" and "ultimate" pique your curiosity?  Or do you roll your eyes?  What comes to my mind is one of two things: You're really cocky and are prone to exaggeration.  Or, you've got quite the item on hand and can't wait for everyone else to try it.

This chocolate chip cookie falls in the latter category. Fabulous, decadent, delicious. The texture is perfectly crispy on the outer edge, chewy as you move towards the middle, and then just a little soft in the center.


felt fortune cookie

Chinese New Year is next Monday. I thought The Son could bring in these cute little felt fortune cookies. The irony of the fortune cookie is that it originated in America, not China, but why quibble over that piece of trivia.

These would work well for Valentine's Day too, with sweet little sentiments tucked inside.


triple chocolate cream cheese brownie

The whole tray disappeared before I could grab one. That's how good these are. Or maybe, The Piano Students were ravenous and these were the first treats upon entering the reception. Regardless, it's a great brownie, with lethal combination of chopped bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate chips, topped with a creamy layer of cheesecake.

The hungry hordes and I thank David Lebovitz for this great recipe.


hot and sour soup

If you're feeling sugared out from the past few weeks three months, (let's face it, for some of us, it starts in the weeks leading up to Halloween— nibbling on that candy I swore I was keeping for the trick-or-treaters,) this soup is a perfect start to cleansing your system a bit. I saw it on the kitchn site and knew I had to give it a try. Healthy, low-fat, sugar-free, spicy, tasty AND simple to throw together.


cranberry ginger scones

Yes, cranberries have been the lead actor in my kitchen this past month. What can I say. I love them. They're red, cheerful, tart, and SO festive. I know it's post-Christmas/New Year's now, but I say, let the festivity continue. Why not?!

And I'm sure, you, like me, love not just a good party, but also a good scone. {Party at breakfast!} I saw a recipe that called for all cream, and though I was tempted, I opted for this one, which included both cream and BUTTER.


bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed dates

The Illinois BFF has been telling about these little bites for many, many years. I've been a dolt and completely ignored her raving accolades. And boy, have I missed out! This gem covers all the bases—


happy new year!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by
the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain
My Illinois BFF and I frequently lament that we didn't travel more when we were in our twenties. Two decades ago, I was thinking Kilimanjaro. (Never mind that I've got flat feet and get winded on the second flights of stairs.)  Maybe I could have handled a safari... that was an unrealized big dream.

The great thing is that dreaming and discovering doesn't have to be huge and grandiose. It can be on a small scale. For me right now, trying new recipes is my exploration, and blogging about it takes it to new heights. For you, it might be taking a class at the local college. It could be learning a new language on tape, perhaps volunteering at the local shelter, or figuring how to hug your porcupine/tween daughter.

Whether your aspirations are large or small, I hope that the New Year brings with it a chance for you to expand your world. And thank you, readers and fellow food lovers, for sharing in my adventures here and making it fun for me. I love getting your comments and appreciate your support!

Happy New Year!


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