Friday Things


1.ย Duke hit a milestone this week – he turned 6 months old on Monday! I can’t believe how much he’s grown – he looks like a little man now!

2. How did you ring in the new year? My Chief Culinary Consultant and I enjoy staying in and relaxing at home, so I whipped up a couple of dishes for dinner, we had my mom over, watched Skyfall, and then watched the ball drop. We clinked some glasses of champagne, then downed some chocolate cake. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a new year!

3. One of my goals for this year is to get more creative about my photography outside of the kitchen. I take so many pictures of food, but the rest of my photography has really fallen off. I’m hoping to jumpstart my general photography habit again, and am using some monthly photo challenges as a guide. Here is one for January if you’d like to follow along:

January Photo a Day

4. Within the last two weeks, I have made THREE batches of homemade Chex Mix. I hadn’t made it before, but started seeing some folks talking about it on social media, so I whipped up a batch. It disappeared in what seemed like seconds. Everyone loved it; no wonder, it’s totally addicting stuff!

5. A friend of mine is overhauling her photography equipment and has a ton of stuff for sale on eBay right now. It’s all gently used and in great condition. If you’re looking for some camera equipment at a discount, definitely check it out!

6. While I think everyone is totally over holiday baking and eating, I wanted to recap the recipes that I made during the month of December (I will, without a doubt, forget all of this within another week!).

Cookie tray!

My cookie trays were made up of Buckeyes, Peppermint Bark, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Snowball Cookies, Zia Lena’s Date Bar Cookies, Mini Cheesecake Cookies, Classic Thumbprint Cookies, Italian Sesame Seed Cookies, Decker Cake, Italian Walnut Pillow Cookiesย and Reindeer Chow. On Christmas Eve, I made Tiramisu for dessert and we sipped White Chocolate Steamers while we opened presents. I baked up Ho Ho Cake for a Christmas Day dessert. Dinner on New Year’s Eve was Sesame Chicken and Cajun Shrimp Mac and Cheese (yep, two, why not?!). Finally, I served up a veggie pizza appetizer to much on New Year’s Day while we watched the Winter Classic and waited for the pulled pork to finish up in the slow cooker.

What did you make over the holidays?!

7. Speaking of eating, I was doing a fabulous job with my clean eating habits up until the weekend before Christmas. In the three weeks prior, I had managed to lose six pounds and was feeling great. Then the holidays came, and although I tried not to indulge too much, I’m still left feeling pretty crappy. The good news is that I’m actually craving fruits and vegetables. I never thought that day would ever come ๐Ÿ˜‰

8. I’m sorry, was I somehow transported to the arctic?


A HIGH of -3 degrees next week? In case you need me, I will be in my fleece pajamas, wrapped up in my fleece blanket, and will not be leaving my house.

9. I’m excited for the Olympics to start up in a few weeks! Naturally, I watch as much of the hockey as possible, and I love the figure skating and skiing.ย Do you have any favorite events that you like to watch?

10. TGIF! Stay warm this weekend! (I declare it still officially Christmas until January 6th, so Santa hats all around!)

Einstein Santa!


37 Responses to “Friday Things”

  1. Jaclyn on January 3, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Seriously, can I have that entire tray of cookies :)! Why do the holidays have to be over. And those negative temperatures, I feel your pain. Gotta love the bitter cold right.


  2. Annie on January 3, 2014 at 2:38 am

    I also discovered homemade chex mix this year and made 2 batches over the holidays. That stuff is dangerously easy to make and is so addictive! I might have had it for breakfast and dinner too woops! But I’m now craving fresh fruit and vegetables as well so it can’t be all bad ๐Ÿ˜€


  3. Linda Dubois on January 3, 2014 at 5:50 am

    Happy New Year Michelle!
    LOVED the pix of Duke (what a hunk!) and your Christmas cookie tray. YUM! Thank you for reminding us about Chex Mix, as I had not made up a batch yet this year either.With the NE Pats in the NFL playoffs, that will make a great game-watching snack. We agree that it should officially still be Christmas until January 6th–in my Italian family , we always called that date “Little Christmas”. Santa hats, indeed!



  4. Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness on January 3, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I’ll take those cookies off your hands! yum!! Your dog is so adorable!!
    I’m feeling sorry for your weather forecast though….if you need a get-a-way I’m in Florida with an extra room! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happy New Year!


  5. Always Wright on January 3, 2014 at 7:13 am

    I made several cranberry cream pies (a new recipe for me). Also made some peanut brittle for the first time. Everyone loved both recipes. Yes, now it’s time to eat lots of veggies! Love your recipes and photos, especially the ones of Duke. Hope you’re having a wonderful new year. It will be a great one for sure!


  6. mary on January 3, 2014 at 7:56 am

    here in the Midwest we are reeling from 3 days of snow!! at least 18 inches! also, not looking forward to a high of -15 on Monday!
    please post your recipes of chex mix. love all the variations.
    stay warm and safe!


  7. Laura Dembowski on January 3, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I crave fruit and vegetables all the time. This weather is ridiculous! I am barricading myself in the house. I actually cancelled a dentist appointment! Definitely looking forward to the Olympics. It will make February fly by. I love watching speed skating and figure staking.


  8. Michelle on January 3, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Duke looks so grown up for just 6 months! He’s one handsome puppy ๐Ÿ™‚ Einstein is not so sure about donning that Santa hat though. You can just tell from your pics that he has such a sweet personality. I can not wait to get my 19 month old Golden a little buddy . . . I think I have a Golden Retriever addiction ๐Ÿ˜‰ For the first time ever I made Shortbread this Christmas season. I bought a beautiful NordicWare shortbread pan which increased my motivation to give it a try. I was surprised at how easy shortbread is to make. The success seems to lie in finding the right recipe for flavor & there are many recipes out there – whew! Do you know of any shortbread pans that have smaller squares? I’m going to have to make my mission scouting out the great kitchen stores we have in Pittsburgh for one before next Christmas season rolls around. Happy New Year!


  9. Bea on January 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I started making Chex Mix when it was the rage in the 1960s. My husband has been making it now for over 20 years for the Super Bowl festivities and has developed his own special version. He actually mails it to our daughter in Naperville every year fron NJ. I discovered your blog after seeing your recipe for gingerbread men on Pinterest. Wow! What a great recipe. I made them twice with my grandsons and read them the book. We had such fun decorating them and they are the best I have ever eaten. I was born a cook and foodie and love following you. I too, however, watch very carefully what I eat and go for small portions and healthy food. I would love it if you could post nutritional info on some of your recipes. Love your dog Duke!


  10. Erin Leigh on January 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

    1. temps over here are -13 for a high on Monday. Real Feel is -60. And yes I spend some quality time out doors caring for my cows.
    2. I refuse to learn how to make chex mix. My dad makes the best stuff ever and if I were to make it I’d be 400 pounds
    3. I love watching Olympic curling. I used to curl with a couple of the ladies that were on the Olympic curling team in the 90’s. My coach is also an Olympic curling coach for the men.
    4. Pictures. I’m trying to do a 365 project so I love all of the prompts as I’m not likely to think of something on my own.


  11. paule on January 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

    You must have some metabolism…….all those wonderful things you made and ate over the holidays and you still look great…..lucky you.. Thank you for all the sharing you do such a generous spirit…have a wonderful 2014…..


  12. Jillian Crosby on January 3, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Every New Years my family makes seafood gumbo, have you tried it? Unfortunately this year my brother had the task of making it and after 6 hours he got side track and left the fire on too high burning the roux!!! We still ate it but it tasted like smoked gumbo lol…. I am from Los Angeles so I have no idea what -3 degrees feels like. I don’t think I could survive lol, do people still work in those freezing temps??


    • Michelle on January 3rd, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Hi Jillian, I’ve never had seafood gumbo, I need to put it on my list! Yep, people still work, just bundle up when venturing out ๐Ÿ™‚ Although, the schools will delay or cancel because they don’t want kids standing outside at bus stops in such extreme temperatures. Although, it seems that kids in places like Minnesota and North Dakota still make it to school!


  13. Lynne on January 3, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Do you use the microwave method for the Chex mix? I didn’t realize that there was one until I went to make it on NYE and saw that version of the recipe. I was afraid to try it even though I was tight on time. The microwave is not usually kind to grain-type things. My batch was gone by EOD 1/1. I didn’t even take it out of the pan!
    Your cookie plate looks wonderful – what is the hit? What cookies is the last to be eaten? I think I would have devoured the peanut blossoms with the snowballs (which I assume are the same as pecan puffs/Russian tea cookies) a close second.
    We also keep Christmas until the 6th (Epiphany) when the tree comes down. Thank goodness the goodies don’t last that long!


    • Michelle on January 3rd, 2014 at 11:58 pm

      Hi Lynne, I saw the microwave version for the Chex Mix, but I made mine in the oven. I don’t know how I would find a container big enough to hold everything and still fit in the microwave! As for the biggest hits of the cookie plate – by far, the first to be gobbled up and fought over are the peanut butter blossoms and buckeyes. I’m not alone in my love for chocolate and peanut butter ๐Ÿ™‚ The mini cheesecake cookies and thumbprints were also pretty quick to disappear.


  14. Kate @ Coffee with Kate on January 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    TGIF is right! Glad to hear about your clean eating ways … what a good idea to lose weight prior to the holidays so that you could feel as guilty during them!


  15. Anne on January 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I feel your cold pain…not normal for Jan. even in the Burgh. I got one better for you than chex mix it is called goldfish bowl bites… addictive. Same idea only use gold fish and spicy ranch dressing mix. We leave out the nuts. Google it, make it and devout it. Repeat.


  16. Joel Smith on January 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Just took our 6 month photo of our puppy too. Love watching Duke grow each week…and all of the other great things you share!


  17. Judy on January 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Can’t wait for the Olympics! Speed skating is my favorite! Love it so much…if I were going to be an Olympic athlete, that would be my event…


  18. Lois Edwards on January 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Winter Olympics my fav….skiing, skating & sledding. And I would like to thank you because you got me hooked on fms photo a day and I love participating in it. I do miss some of the days but love looking at others interpretations also. I also found it made me think outside the box when taking pics,


  19. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist on January 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Your cookie tray looks amazing!
    I can’t believe how friggin cold its going to get next week! I’m dying here!
    And I went with very healthy/clean eating during the holidays (except for the day-of) and lost a few pounds, but SEVEN?! Wow! I wish I could drop it like that by eating right! Lucky lady!


  20. Laura @ The Table blog on January 3, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Ok, I was feeling bad about the cold temps here in the South, but I feel better now. I’ll try to be grateful for our high of 12 on Monday. At least our number is positive. I am also trying to take better photos this year so I may use that picture a day challenge, starting a few days late! Thanks!


  21. judi on January 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Love the puppy dog pics. The top of your boots in the pic with Duke look super cute. What kind are they?


  22. Dani on January 3, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    I love your blog. I feel as if you’re my good friend!


  23. Mikki on January 3, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Happy New Year! Better yet, happy official start of a full new year in your brand new house!
    Duke? You’re growing up *way* too fast, little man!!! I do wish the baby stage lasted longer with the four-footed furbies! (reaches out to give Duke a good skritchin’ behind those soft ears)
    Einstein? You rock, dude. Thanks for being a great big brother and helping Duke figure it all out. (reaches out to give Einstein a good skritchin’ along his jawline)
    Question: When you make your Chex mix, do you use the original recipe or the ‘modern’ one? I much prefer the original and have it less often as a result (more butter).
    Olympic events I like to watch include bobsledding, luge (skeleton’s a *wee* bit too crazy for me), curling (hey, I’m from Wisconsin! LOL), figure skating (individual, mostly), ski jumping, alpine skiing (slalom, mostly), and snowboarding.
    Here’s hoping the Packers do well in the playoffs!


  24. Steph in Lex on January 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I too made buckeyes! The recipe made a TON. It was ridiculous. I also made homemade caramels, maple walnut fudge, peanut butter fudge, sugar cookies with royal icing, and holly candy (the recipe that is basically rice krispie treats only cornflakes and green food coloring). And pumpkin pie, of course. The caramels were by far my favorite…I ate way too many of them, resulting in me desperately needing to get back on the Zumba train…
    I love Chex Mix. I’ll get on a kick where I’ll buy the ready-made version in bags at the store. I love the pieces that have extra coating of seasoning. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve never tried to make it myself, but I should.
    I’m pumped for the Olympics. I love the figure skating and speed skating.
    Even here in Kentucky we’re facing a high of 6 degrees on Monday! I wouldn’t mind as much if it came with some snow, but we only got probably an inch last night and we’re just supposed to be frozen out at the beginning of next week–no white stuff.
    Oh, and my husband’s right there with you about how Christmas isn’t officially over until the 6th!


  25. Vicki @ WITK on January 3, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Look how big Duke has gotten! Though it doesn’t look like he enjoys wearing hats. My parents got two goldens and at puppy university they had to dress them up in clothes. Apparently it gets the dogs used to all the nonsense that we people put them through. Now they love wearing clothes and hats ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Michelle on January 4th, 2014 at 12:05 am

      That’s actually Einstein getting the Santa hat put on him ๐Ÿ™‚


  26. Linda T on January 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I also love chex mix, but with a new twist. Instead of a savory mixture, I cover with a caramel corn coating, and I make it in the microwave… unbelievably addictive!


  27. Char Riippi on January 4, 2014 at 10:57 am

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! Partying days are behind us…
    we watch TV (usually sports) and ABC countdown.
    I too will be watching Hockey once Olympics start…
    love ice skating and speed skating too.
    What an adorable pic of Einstein!!


  28. John on January 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Regarding #6. No wonder my Red Wings got clipped in the outside NHL matchup! I was seeing spots in my left eye in waiting for this tray of cookies…..anticipation can be troublesome.


  29. John on January 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    BTW..can’t wait for the dinner pix on my 57th birthday!


  30. Kira - HealthAble Old Soul on January 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Every time I read the ‘Friday Things’ here on browneyedbaker I ALWAYS look forward to hearing about you and your adorable dog!!! Animals bring great smiles!


  31. Kristi on January 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I need to start a photo a day. I don’t have a camera right now, besides my Iphone, but I definitely need to start taking better pictures.


  32. Tenley on January 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I do the fms photo a day too! Love it


  33. Beverly in Mississippi on January 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I love your Golden. We lost a very good member of the family in Oct.
    His name was Sebastian. He was almost 15 and the love of my daughter’s life. He was the best. They are beautiful dogs and so sweet.
    Sebastian thought he was a person, especially, one of the family and he was!!


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