“How Much Longer???…”

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

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SUGARED: The Christmas Episode

Watch this step-by-step video for making my White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt.

Happy Holidays!!!

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‘Tis the Season to be Baking!

Looking for some last minute cookie recipes?  Here are my 4 favorites to make during the holiday season.  Just click on the highlighted names to be directed to the recipes.

My White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt are hands down my most requested cookie recipe.

Two I love to make this time of year are my Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies and The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And no Christmas is complete for me without sharing my favorite cookie from childhood, My Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies.

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Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies

If I get my baking talents from anyone, it’s definitely my Aunt Kate.  This is her recipe and these cookies were my favorite as a little girl.  I still remember dangling from my auntie’s bellbottomed pant leg begging her to make these whenever she came to visit.  As I got older, we made them together.  She shared with me what would become my most treasured recipe.

A few years ago, my aunt passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly.  She was my second mother and words cannot express how much I miss her everyday.

When I make her cookies now, I can feel her over my shoulder, going through the steps and making them with me.  I’m transported back in time to conversations we had, her gigantic laugh and her brilliant smile that could light up any room.  Food and cooking is something that truly connects us to the people we love, even when they are no longer with us.

Of all the memories I have with my aunt, and there are many of them, it’s when I make these cookies that I feel closest to her.  And now I share this recipe, and the abundance of love that comes with it, with you.  Happy Holidays, Xoxo, J

Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies

Servings: About 4 dozen


Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (not runny or whipped)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (not whipped)

about 2 cups powdered sugar

2 jars (12 -14 ounces each) of maraschino cherries

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix together flour and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Add flour mixture to butter and cream cheese and blend in just till combined.  Don’t overwork the dough.

Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk about 2 inches thick.  Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a cutting board or flat surface sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Using a ruler for accuracy, cut dough into 2×2 squares with a knife.

Place 1 maraschino cherry in the center of each square and fold 2 sides so that they meet and cover the cherry.  Be sure to secure dough to prevent opening up during baking.

Bake at 375 degrees on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for about 10 minutes or until bottoms are just lightly browned.  Do not over-bake.

Let cookies cool on a wire rack.

When completely cooled, sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar.

Baked cookies can be stored frozen for up to 3 months sealed in an airtight, freezer safe container or freezer safe baggie.

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How NOT to look like Santa’s stand-in this holiday season…

xmasjessica1

How do we food lovers indulge and have fun without paying the price of the dreaded holiday pounds at the end of the year? My New Year’s Eve little black dress will be VERY unforgiving should I go too far.

I decided to call on my dear friend and celebrity trainer Christine Hazelton to give us some tips.  Chris whips people like Matt Damon, Dane Cook, Sonya Walger, Thomas Jane, and yours truly into camera-ready shape right here in Los Angeles.

Here’s her advice for all of us:

1. Think eighty/twenty. Eighty percent of the time challenge yourself and make good choices, and twenty percent of the time allow yourself to color outside of the lines. Moderation is the key to long term success.

2. Eat slowly and stop when you feel ALMOST full, rather than eating until you feel “stuffed.”

3. Stop before you eat something and ask yourself. Is this worth it? Is this the best choice I can make right now?

4. Eat healthy before you go to a holiday party and decide that nothing tastes as good as being lean feels.  Keep repeating that to yourself.

5. Decide how you would like to look and weigh (body fat percent). Act as if you already weigh that amount NOW. How do you feel? How do you eat? How do you interact?

6. Make a contract with yourself and have a friend or your spouse sign it. Commit to certain rules for a given period of time -like having only a couple of bites of dessert at Christmas parties and/or completing a certain number of workouts over the holiday season. At the end of the contract period give yourself a reward (not food obviously) for completing the contract successfully. Only give yourself the reward if you complete the commitment.

7. Make a goal for January 1st rather than waiting to make a New Years Resolution. Write it down and place it somewhere visible along with a list of goals that you’ve accomplished in the past.  If you’ve done it before, you can do it again!

8. If you hear yourself say “Fu&% it!” when about to eat something, do the exact opposite of what you’re about to do!

Chris is also the creator of the amazing phone app BODYFATE: a fitness game that entertains and challenges you while getting you into the best shape of your life!  It’s a killer workout you can do anywhere, anytime.  I use it when I can’t get to the gym and I even use it at the gym as my “personal trainer” to help me with my workout.

Don’t let the characters in this cartoon fool you- this is one ass-kicking circuit workout! Featured in The New York Times, Men’s Fitness and ABC News, this app is like having your own personal trainer programmed right into your phone.

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Talking “Leftovers” on THE TALK…

Leftover Day: Cranberry Margaritas!!!

cranberry margarita

What to do with all that leftover cranberry sauce?  It will keep for two weeks in the fridge so don’t throw it away too soon!  Stir it in your oatmeal, swirl into greek yogurt, spread it on some toast.  And for something really fun, try these easy margaritas.

*Note: You can omit the tequila for your non-alcoholic friends and kids.

Cranberry Margaritas

Makes 2 drinks over ice

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons cranberry sauce (you can also use cranberry jelly)
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice
limes wedges for garnish

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 of the way full with ice. Add cranberry sauce, orange juice, tequila and lime juice. Cover shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass over ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.
*For a salt rim: Spread about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt on a saucer. Run a lime wedge over the rim of cocktail glass to moisten. Then dip rim into salt to coat.

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Leftover Day: Pilgrim’s Pie

The day AFTER Thanksgiving has become just as popular in my home as the actual event. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the last thing anyone wants to worry about on Friday is cooking.  Unless you’re making a Pilgrim’s Pie!  Forget cramming 47 leftover dishes into the microwave.  Instead, layer everything in one baking dish (much like a Shepherd’s Pie), heat it in the oven and serve.
Use whatever you’ve got in the fridge (turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, gravy, even cranberry sauce!) and no additional ingredients are needed.

PILGRIM’S PIE

Preheat oven to 350º.
Grease a baking dish with butter or non-stick spray.
Chop up turkey meat into bite size pieces.
Start to layer leftovers, one by one, into a baking dish. (I like to begin with the stuffing to give it a nice base.)
Add remaining layers and top with mashed potatoes.
Bake at 350º for about 20-30 minutes- until hot all the way through.  Let the potatoes brown a little on top.  If they start brown too much before dish is completely heated, cover with foil for the remaining time.

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Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie for Thanksgiving?  Oh yeah baby!  This light, citrusy dessert is the perfect balance after a heavy meal and one of my most requested dishes on turkey day.  It adds a whole lot of pizazz to the dessert table, no to mention, it’s one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make.

Key Lime Pie

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

5 egg yolks

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (squeezed from about 1 pound or 18-20 key limes)

1 teaspoon zest of key lime

1/4 teaspoon salt

*1 Graham Cracker Crust Pie Shell

** Whipped Cream Topping

lime slices for garnish

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, lime zest and salt and mix until well combined.

Pour into graham cracker crust and bake for 15 minutes until filling is set.

Cool completely, slice pie and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a lime slice for garnish.

*Graham Cracker Crust Pie Shell

Makes one 9 or 10-inch Pie Crust

Ingredients:

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter- melted

Directions:

In a medium to large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar.

Mix in the melted butter a little at a time, using your hands to combine all ingredients.

Press crust mixture evenly into a 9 or 10-inch pie shell.

 

 

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