holiday season reflections + camerons coffee

This Brown Kitchen x Cameron's Coffee

As we begin to round out the year, I like to take these last couple of weeks to reflect on all that these last twelve months have brought into life and what I want to take into the new year. It’s been one for the books, that’s for sure. Between moving cross-country, starting a new job, taking This Brown Kitchen to the next level, having my bestie get engaged, and starting to plan for the new year, it’s been a whirlwind. I’ve been spending this last month or so at home in Texas and off from work as a chance to unwind and refresh, spend extra time with my favorite people, savor extra quiet morning-coffee time with my Cameron’s Coffee, and get off the grid.

This Brown Kitchen x Cameron's Coffee

Through so many big changes and momentous occasions, I’ve been lucky to have friends and people in my life who make me realize that it really is the little moments from this last year that have made it amazing. Some notable ones…..

– Galentine’s Day/Girls Night with my fave Minneapolis ladies, we ate lotsa chocolate and cheese.

– those last few cold winter mornings in Minneapolis, cozied up to a cup of this coffee while watching the snowflakes from my window.

– landing in San Francisco in July as I began my move from Minneapolis to Sacramento, and getting up early on that first Sunday to be the first one at the Golden Gate lookout point. That first quiet and foggy California morning will forever be etched into my brain.

– wandering around Lake Tahoe by myself and literally being in awe of how gorgeous the views were.

– spending Halloween night with Alicia and her friends who welcomed me into Sacramento with open arms, really making me feel like I had people to turn to in this new city.

– watching The Mindy Project with Emily while eating Twizzlers and goldfish.

– sitting outside at Elizabeth Street Cafe on my first trip back to Austin in a year, realizing that some of the best memories will never change.

This Brown Kitchen x Cameron's Coffee

I do think the holiday’s are a time of reflection – to be extra mindful in our practice gratitude to those who are in important in our lives. To be able to sit down with pen and holiday cards in hand, curled up with my coziest blanket and a cuppa of Peppermint Coffee (I mean, it is the holidays after all!), and try to put into words how grateful I am to the people in my life is a ritual I look forward to each year. I don’t send out all that many cards, about 15 each year, to the people who really have an impact on my life, so I can really focus my energy and thoughts into writing out meaningful messages to all of these people. To think back on all the memories from just one year with these people is always an amazing practice, and really just puts the biggest smile on my face. I hope you get the same feeling when you send out your holiday notes. (:

So now I’m here prepping for Christmas morning – we’re doing date-paste cinnamon rolls and coffee for the present opening, and Italian food for dinner – and then it will be another holiday season wrapped up. Here’s wishing you and all your loved ones a beautiful holiday week and Happy New Year! 

*Thanks to Cameron’s Coffee for sponsoring this post!

10 best cookies to bake this christmas

December is here, let the over-the-top holiday treat baking begin!

I’m a sucker for all things holiday-treat related. I’m seriously the biggest fan of this season and the excuse to eat all the sweet treats. I mean how can anyone pass up on all the festive cakes and peppermint candies, gingerbread men and fudge squares, and all those cookies!! Last year we had a little cookie exchange at the office and it was so much fun to try everyone’s favorites and of course take home a little goodie box filled to the brim with extra cookies to take home. I made Molly Yeh’s linzer cookies and they were a smash hit (recipe link below!). This year I’m working on a cookie recipe for a little virtual cookie exchange, and I can’t wait to share the recipe with y’all. I drove my mom crazy during the recipe testing on that cookie, so here’s hoping that y’all love it enough to make all the mess I made in her kitchen worth it.

Below are 10 cookie recipes that I’m loving and are full of festive vibes – I’m currently planning on making a batch of the Almond Blossoms and Oatmeal Cookies as my Christmas movie watching snack! Let me know what your favorite seasonal treat is, hope y’all have a beautiful week!

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies from Half Baked Harvest

Linzer Cookies from My Name is Yeh

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies from Heartbeet Kitchen

Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies from A Cozy Kitchen

Gingerbread Cookies with Salted Caramel from Donna Kay

Almond Butter Blossoms from Fit Freedom Lifestyle

Chocolate Truffle Cookies from Flourishing Foodie

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies from Canadian Living

Iced Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen

Lavender Cashew Shortbread Cookies from Will Frolic for Food




This is how to make a delicious pistachio and rose buche de noel (yule log!) cake for the holidays!

pistachio and rose buche de noel cake (yule log)

This is how to make a delicious pistachio and rose buche de noel (yule log!) cake for the holidays!


Isn’t this just the most wonderful time of year? There’s just this super light and happy mood out in the air and everyone is wishing each other a happy holiday. It makes me smile just to think about it. What’s on your holiday agenda? Did you finish all of your holiday shopping? How many Christmas cookies have you eaten? I’ve been living in my PJ pants and oversized Texas t-shirt while watching The Santa Clause on repeat and living in denial of the fact that 2017 is right around the corner. (!!!!)

This is how to make the perfect yule log for the holidays!  This pistachio and rose yule log cake is a holiday hit!
Make this yule log - be the hit of your christmas party!

There’s a lot of fun things I have in store for this space in the new year, and I’m jazzed about getting everything together. My last recipe for y’all for the year is this sweet treat. Have a gathering tomorrow and need a last minute dessert that’s also super festive? This yule log is perfect. Just a couple simple ingredients, some special ingredients for a fun twist, and a little rolling around a kitchen table will yield you one buche de noel. I love this cake for obvious reasons :: the cake is spongey and light and filled with a pillowey, sweet, and floral-y cream that kinda makes you want to do a little dance in the kitchen with your fuzzy socks on. You’re welcome for that visual.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday week filled with good treats and great company!

A holiday yule log is easier to bake than you think! This one is pistachio and rose flavored and absolutely perfect!

pistachio and rose yule log cake
for the cake
  1. 3 eggs, room temperature
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/3 cup room temperature water
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 tsp rose extract
  6. 8 drops green gel food coloring
  7. 3/4 cup and 1 1/2 tbsp cake flour
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
  9. pinch of salt
for the frosting
  1. 1 cup butter, softened
  2. 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  5. 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  6. 1/2 tsp rose extract
  7. 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  8. chopped pistachios for garnishing
  9. powdered sugar for garnishing
  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. line a 10x15 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  3. in a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until lightly fluffy. pour the sugar into the bowl and whisk until combined. then add the water, vanilla, and rose extracts, and food coloring. sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl gradually while whisking to combine. the batter should be smooth. pour the batter onto the lined sheet into an even layer. bake for about 12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  4. lay out a clean kitchen towel and line the towel with another sheet of parchment paper. invert the cake from the pan onto the towel. trim the cake to be rectangle, removing any stiff edges. using the towel, roll the cake. let cool on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes.
  5. while the cake cools, add the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. whisk by hand or with a stand mixer until the buttercream comes together and is light and fluffy. in a separate bowl, whisk the whipping cream and rose extract together with 1 tbsp of powdered sugar until whipped cream forms. fold the whipped cream into the buttercream, being careful not to deflate the whipped cream.
  6. once the cake has cooled, unroll the cake from the towel and lay it flat. spread the frosting into an even layer on the cake. sprinkle the chopped pistachios onto the frosting. roll the cake back up and place on serving tray. using a small strainer, dust powdered sugar on top of the rolled cake. serve with holiday decorations!
this brown kitchen

This chai hot chocolate is so easy and so super delicious

homemade gift :: chai hot chocolate

This chai hot chocolate is so easy and so super delicious

Make this chai hot chocolate, feel exceedingly happy about it.

Happy December, y’all!

It’s already crisp and snowey outside and I finally broke out my snow boots this weekend – it was a momentous occasion. I really think this is one of the first times that the holiday season has truly felt like the holidays. I’ve experienced a lifetime of Houston Christmases – aka spending Christmas Day enjoying the 60 degree weather outside while wandering around in Nike shorts and a sweater while playing holiday movies and pretending that it’s actually frosty outside and a day worthy of gathering around a fireplace while wearing layer after layer of knit sweaters and plaid blankets and surrounded by green garlands and steaming cups of cocoa. Tbh if I did all that I would spend Christmas Day sweating buckets. We do drive around and check out the Christmas lights…with the one caveat of having the A/C going in addition to playing the Michael Buble Christmas album. You do what you gotta do.

BUT. This year has already been so different. I had my first snow experience and have been able to rock my sweaters all day everyday and even wear my beanie around town – it has been holiday AF. I even went to a Christmas Tree Ranch with Imani, made my first snowball, and hugged all the Christmas trees at the tree farm. It must’ve been hella obvious that I’m not a local Minnesotan. 

This chai hot chocolate will be your favorite winter drink  treat yo self with this rich and warm chai hot chocolate

chai hot chocolate

Since it’s the holiday season, what Christmas movies are on your must-watch list? I will forever stand by the statement that Home Alone 2 is arguably one of the best holiday movies EVER. Seriously, I don’t believe it’s the holidays until my family has watched the movie at least every other day during December. (The spider scene seriously has me crying laughing every single time.) I’m also obsessed with the Santa Claus 2 – Tim Allen is just my favorite Santa what can I say. I also recently added Christmas with the Kranks to my favorites list and Love Actually will always be a favorite too. So many choices and only so many days during the holidays to watch them all multiple times. On a more serious note, what is your go-to Christmas snack? Something peppermint-y like chocolate bark or something a bit more savory like popcorn with extra butter and red and green M&Ms? What about drinks? Mulled wine? Apple Cider? The forever classic :: HOT CHOCOLATE. Ugh it’s seriously so perfect. It’s like you’re just drinking chocolate, because we all need ways to consumer chocolate faster in life.

Of course what would a recipe on This Brown Kitchen be without a warm and spicy twist. I took my favorite flavors from my mom’s chai recipe and combined them with the silky smoothness of a cup of cocoa. It’s seriously a big ole’ hug in a mug. You and you Christmas movie night will thank me later. This cocoa mix also makes a super great holiday gift! Just package it up in a mason or milk jar, wrap it up in pretty ribbons with a little recipe tag, and watch your giftee’s face light up with glee! Here’s to a wonderful week, friends!

chai hot chocolate
for one batch of cocoa mix
  1. 1/2 bar good dark chocolate, broken in small pieces
  2. 1/2 bar good milk chocolate, broken in small pieces
  3. 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  4. 4 - 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
  5. 1/4 heaping tsp ground ginger
  6. 1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  7. 1 tsp cinnamon
  8. 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
for the hot chocolate
  1. 4 cups of almond milk
  2. 1 batch of cocoa mix
for the cocoa mix
  1. 1. add all of the ingredients into a food processor. pulse until the chocolate is in pea-size pieces and everything is combined.
  2. 2. remove from food processor and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
for the hot chocolate
  1. 1. add the almond milk into a mid-size stove top pot. bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. add the cocoa mix to the warm milk in two parts, incorporating the mix into the milk with a whisk between halves. stir entire batch of cocoa until there are no lumps and hot chocolate is smooth.
  2. 2. serve warm and top with desired accoutrements - whipped cream, peppermint, cinnamon. merry christmas!
this brown kitchen