Vanilla Bean Eggnog

Vanilla Bean Eggnog // Notwithoutsalt.com

When the kids were little I was sort of panicky about holiday traditions. “Quick! We have kids now! We have the make this time of year the most freaking amazing, absolutely epic, filled with candy canes and gratitude and making sure they don’t turn out to be entitled jerks all with a smile on our face holiday season!!” I sound fun, right?

While showering (which is when I get the chance to do all my deep thinking) I started to make the mental list in my head of all the fun things I wanted us to do this season. And then it hit me. There was never really a need to force the traditions and holiday cheer. The tree will be decorated, we’ll have many cups of hot chocolate, I’m sure we’ll see some Christmas lights, we’ll open our stockings just as we’ve done for the past 3 years, I’ll have a tea party for my nieces (and nephews if they’re brave enough to join us) we’ll watch my niece dance in the Nutcracker, we’ll watch Home Alone (already done!) and Elf and we’ll eat lots of cookies.

Without my even realizing it our family has our traditions. They may be a bit wonky and they don’t necessarily happen every year and there are some that I’d rather we not repeat. But in spite of my frazzled “let’s force the kids to love this freaking season otherwise I’m going to feel like a complete failure as a parent!” which as you can imagine doesn’t bring joy to any of us, we love this time of year and we do it all right.

I don’t think there is any one way to avoid the frenzy at some point or another in a month where we have something “festive” planned nearly everyday but I’ve learned to not force the joy and just feel it instead.

Vanilla Bean Eggnog // Notwithoutsalt.com

Let’s put this Eggnog into the category of sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t but every year it does make an appearance I’m so glad it did. It is the quintessential holiday party punch bowl cocktail and is fun to have around for those late night present wrapping sessions. Traditionally it’s made “adult” with bourbon but you know what? I’m partial to rum. It is absolutely indulgent and for me a little goes a long way but it is just the sort of thing that reminds me that this time of year is special and can be celebrated in simple ways such as sip after sip of creamy, vanilla-flecked and nutmeg topped Eggnog.

Get the recipe for this cocktail and my homemade Ginger Beer over at Live.Love.Lux. by Electrolux. Sara (SproutedKitchen.com) and I have been building up quite a delicious database of recipes over there so take some time and check them out.

Vanilla Bean Eggnog // Notwithoutsalt.com

 

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Homemade Do Si Dos

Do Si Do // Notwithoutsalt.com

Yesterday (Thanksgiving day) was the first time that I can remember where scrolling through my Facebook feed produced nothing but delight and joy. Friend after friend recorded long lists of thanksgiving. There were pictures of family and of tables filled with food following gleeful descriptions of all the good in their lives. There were also some friends whose thankfulness transcended sickness, loss of family, pain, and suffering. I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with my own gratitude as I read the gratitude of others. I could then easily see passed the sickness that rocked our own family and the annoyance of a car accident (no one was hurt!) that happened the day before.

The day before Thanksgiving I read this fantastic article about the science of happiness. It’s great, I’d highly encourage you to read it. It turns out my mom was right, when you smile, even if it’s forced, you’ll start to feel better. My value in authenticity often forces me to tell the whole story, to suppress the smile when I don’t feel like wearing it and to not hold back the good, the bad and the ugly. I think at times that’s fine and okay to not withhold your truth but this line in the article really hit me: “This Thanksgiving, don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Rebel against the emotional “authenticity” that holds you back from your bliss.”

I want to be a rebel. Especially when that looks like giving thanks in all things.

Do Si Do // Notwithoutsalt.com Do Si Do // Notwithoutsalt.com Do Si Do // Notwithoutsalt.com

The turkey has been put away, the lingering can of cranberries tucked away for another year and the leftover pumpkin pie is now reserved for breakfast, but I’m determined that our day of thanks transcends the days to come. Even if my Facebook feed returns to its normal political fanatics and everyday grumblings, I hope to continue in the mindset of thankfulness.

Let’s start with cookies. It’s quite easy to be overcome with gratitude with a plate of cookies in front of you. These ones are special. Transformative even. You see these humble looking sandwich cookies transformed a friend from one who “doesn’t like peanut butter cookies” into a friend who “really loves THESE peanut butter cookies.”

They’re really my version of the well known Girl Scout Cookie call the Do Si Do. Usually I stick to the Thin Mints and Samoas (best when frozen) but this year Gabe snuck in a box of the Do-Si-Does and it was the first one emptied. So naturally my next move was to figure out how to make them myself because these cookies need to happen more than once a year.

First of all a sandwich cookie is always a plus as really it’s two cookies in one. Perhaps it was the sweet, salty and buttery filling that converted our friend or the crisp and crumbly cookie that is packed with oats for a pleasant heft. One can never know for certain but the whole sandwich is a sweet and salty delight. So much so, in fact, I think your holiday cookie platter just found a new friend.

Do Si Do // Notwithoutsalt.com Do Si Do // Notwithoutsalt.com

Homemade Do Si Dos

1 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies

 

3/4 Cup all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

1/4 Teaspoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup butter, softened

1/2 Cup /125 g creamy peanut butter

1/2 Cup white sugar

1/2 Cup packed dark brown sugar

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Cup quick cooking oats

 

Filing

6 tablespoons / 85 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

3⁄4 cup / 190 g smooth peanut butter

1⁄3 cup / 40 g confectioners’ sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon flake salt

 

For the cookie:

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

 

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir. Add oatmeal and stir.

 

Drop by teaspoons onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12- 15  minutes, or until cookies are a golden brown at the edges.

 

For the filling:

Cream together the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar. Add the salt then stir to combine very well.

 

Let the cookies cool before adding 1 teaspoon peanut butter filling to the bottom of 1/2 of the cookies then sandwich with another cookie.

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