Back and Ready to Bake!

We’re back from our first vacation in 2008 and boy, do I ever miss being in the kitchen. Not baking for a week is tough, but then again, we were at Disney World Orlando so who am I to complain?

Disney was great, even though a front arrived the day we did and the parks were windy and bone-chillingly cold. Based on all the “Hey y’alls!” and Texas logo shirts, I believe half of the crowd was from here. Our schools don’t start up until Jan. 8, so it would make sense — we’re all on the same family vacation schedule which makes for a loud but polite group. So despite the weather, we had tons of fun. I’ll try to post a few pictures today or tomorrow, but I need to head to the store and buy butter and flour…..oh, and food.

I think the first recipe this week will be Giada’s Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe is on Food TV, but I was reading an article about Giada in Redbook where she said the recipe was one of her favorites. I’m not exactly sure how I missed this one.

UPDATE: Picture From Trip. Fuzz and I are sitting by Minnie’s fireplace trying to get warm.

minnie picture

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  1. Judy says

    I make her Amaretto Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I don’t make the sandwich type – they are just about my favorite cookie. A nice change from the regular chocolate chip cookie

    Amaretto Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches

    Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

    1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (1.25 oz)
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (11.25 oz)
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (8 oz)
    1 cup granulated sugar (7 oz)
    2 large eggs, room temperature
    3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
    1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
    1 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped
    3 pints vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
    1/3 cup amaretto liqueur

    Line heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

    Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

    Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs and almond extract. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts and stir just until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped almonds.

    For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 13 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    To make the ice cream sandwiches: Place the ice cream in a large bowl. Mix in the amaretto. Cover the ice cream mixture and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.
    Arrange 12 cookies, flat side up, on a baking sheet. Top each with a scoop of ice cream, then another cookie, flat side down, pressing slightly to adhere. Cover and freeze the sandwiches until they are firm, at least 3 hours. Sandwiches can be made up to 4 days ahead. Wrap each sandwich with plastic wrap and keep frozen.

  2. carole says

    Welcome home. Glad you all had a good time in Orlando, diepite the cool temps.


  3. says

    Welcome home! I’m in the midst of finishing up the planning for our WDW trip this year (it was my gift to Jeff for Christmas)… where did you guys end up staying?

  4. says

    Anna, welcome home! And I find it kind of funny that you encountered so many Texans on vacation there and it was cold because for about the last week it’s been like the middle of summer here – at least in Dallas. 🙂

  5. says

    Judy, I am really starting to love Amaretto and will definitely try that recipe soon — sans the ice cream. Did you notice that the amaretto version is almost the same as her hazelnut version.

    Hi Carole! Yes, I’ll be back in the kitchen tomorrow.

    Lewis, I heard some grumbling about it being “warmer at home” from what I took to be Texans, but people seemed to take it in stride. I felt bad for the Florideans because they REALLY did not seem use to that. At least in Texas, we’re kind of use to unpredictable weather swings. I think this was Florida’s coldest temp in 3 or 4 years.

    Joe, you and Jeff are so lucky to have this trip ahead of you. I’m kind of sad that ours is over, so I’ll live vicariously through yours now. Let me know where you’re stayiny. As for us, every year we vow to stay at The Grand Floridian, but when trip planning time comes around, we inevitably go with a less expensive option. As Starwood Preferred Guests, we get great deals (50% off sometimes) at the Sheraton-owned Dolphin, which is walking distance from Epcot but not owned by Disney. The Dolphin is really nice and it has some excellent restaurants like Blue Zoo and Shula’s Steak House. It’s child-friendly and the staff are great. My only complaint is that it doesn’t seem as homey and hospitable as some of the Disney resorts. For instance, the vibe in The Yacht Club, where we ate dinner and where I got my hair done, is just completely different than that of The Dolphin. It’s more leisurely somehow. So as much as I love Dolphin, I’d like to branch out a bit on our next trip. We’ve stayed at The Contemporary before, but not since they remodeled it. There are many, many, nice off-property hotels and I like the idea of renting a car and staying at one of those properties. However, the times we’ve stayed off Disney property I’ve had this sad feeling of not being where the Disney action is… we stay close. Ideally, we’ll stay at The Contemporary and rent a car for one or two days just to get out and explore a bit….or we’ll splurge and try Grand Floridian. I’m going to start planning early.

  6. says

    I printed out this recipe a few months back also…I can’t wait to try it – the grounded up oats sound like a great idea for chewy cookies. Plus toffee candy? – sounds delicious! Can’t wait to see what you think.

  7. Abi Jones says

    Yay, more recipes. Now if only I had a SideSwipe attachment for my KitchenAid mixer (not that using a spatula is that hard).

    I’m particularly looking forward to this one because I have a not-so-great (seriously buttery to the point of extreme oiliness) batch of toffee sitting in my freezer waiting to be incorporated into a recipe.

  8. Angie says


    Welcome back! I’m glad you had a great time but we missed you! Giada’s hazlenut chocolate chip cookies are terrific and I have a feeling you will like them a lot. I have substituted other nuts…hazlenuts are good but so are walnuts. The base of the cookie is good. She stated on her show that she makes them and keeps them in her freezer so she can indulge whenever she wants to. I think they are an exceptional cookie. Glad to have you back. We are going to Disney in the spring and we cant wait till then! I

  9. Chris says

    I’m like you Anna – we vow to stay at a Deluxe every year then I see the price and we change our minds. We leave on the 17th and this year we’re staying in one of the family suites at the All Star Music. It’s our first time at a Value resort, but we decided we could do a suite at a value or a regular room at a Deluxe and we opted for the suite. We are so looking forward to our trip. My son (4 years old) has been watching YouTube video of attractions and rides to get him all prepped. I just hope we don’t have to resort to warming up at Minnie’s fire place.

    Glad you’re back!!

  10. nicole says

    My family and i are going to disney work Jan 10th. how was the weather for swimming (hotel pools). were you even able to do that?

  11. says

    I’m dying to know what qualifies as “bone-chillingly cold” in Florida or Texas! Anyway, glad you had a good trip. Very cute photo.

  12. says

    Sorry I’ve been slow responding to comments lately. School starts back up today, so maybe I’ll be faster one the draw this week.

    Debra, just so you know — these aren’t really chewy. Mine came out tender, but rather crisp on the outside. I guess you could make them chewy by underbaking a little. They’re good either way.

    Chris, before our first trip, we ordered Disney’s promotional DVD and Fuzz watched it over and over again. Great idea to use You Tube.

    Abi, I don’t have a side swipe on mine and for some reason, I don’t want one. I kind of like scraping and doing that part myself.

    Nicole, the first few days no one was swimming, but on Saturday, people were. It was about 70.

    Tracy, I do not do well in cold weather. 55 degrees F is cold for me but 30 is bone-chilling. I think the wind made it much worse….and there was a lot of wind.

    Jenny, I remember when you took your big trip. Didn’t you stay at Grand Floridian?

    Amy, thanks! I am super self-critical about pictures so I only posted the one that was good ;).

  13. Michele says


    I’m from Austin and was at WDW at the same time as you. I agree that the first day was “bone-chillingly cold.” We had actually planned ahead and bought the kids long underwear at REI for the trip. We stayed at the Polynesian which was absolutely beautiful. Plus, it was a very short walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center — maybe even closer than walking to the monorail station in the hotel’s lobby. It’s probably the most conveniently located hotel for transportation.

    At Disney Hollywood Studios, we were handed Dream FastPasses. It’s part of their Year of a Million Dreams, and entitled us to use the FastPass entry on all the rides that had it.

    I spotted you on the flight out to Orlando. Actually, I recognized Fuzz first, then saw you with her. I wanted to say hi since I love this blog but didn’t want to bother you. (Or maybe I was too star-struck,)

  14. says

    Michele, when you saw me on the flight out did I look kind of agitated? The only seats we could find together (it was Southwest Airlines) were near the back of the plain. I get very motion sick near the back – especially when the flight is bumpy, and wasn’t doing very well! The flight back was better.

    Anyway. I’ve heard great things about Polynesian and want to stay there one day. We had a great meal once at Kona Café, but we didn’t venture any further into the hotel. I will do some more research on that one.

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