Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cookies For Santa

    Every year my son and I bake cookies specifically for Santa on Christmas Eve. My little guy wants Santa to have the freshest cookies possible. For the past four years, these Santa Surprize Cookies have been the cookies we make.
    I made them for a Cookie Exchange one year and everyone loved them. Not only are they chewy and delicious, but once you decorate them people seem to be all the more impressed. It's amazing what a little drizzle of chocolate can do.
    I am posting this recipe today, in case any of you are looking for a new cookie to leave Santa tonight.

Santa Surprise Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter, plus 2 Tbsps. for chocolate drizzle
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups white flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
4 boxes of "Neilson's" slowpokes or 2 large boxes of "Turtles
confectioners sugar, optional

2 greased cookie sheets

1) Beat together the butter, peanut butter and sugars with an electric mixer on low to medium speed, until light and fluffy.

2) Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.

3) In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the sifted flour, baking soda and salt.

4) Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient in the mixer. Mix until fully combined.

5) Cover and chill the dough in your fridge for 2-3 hours.
6) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the dough from the fridge.
7) Begin assembling the cookies. Scoop 1 Tbsp. of the dough out, and flatten it. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of the flattened dough. Scoop out a second Tbsp. of dough, and flatten. Take the second piece of dough and cover the chocolate. Mold the dough around the chocolate.

8) Continue until all the dough and chocolates are used.
9) Place on a greased cookie sheet.

11) Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges have set and the cookies are lightly browned.

10) Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a piece of parchment/wax paper to cool and decorate.
11) Meanwhile in a double boiler (or a metal bowl placed over a pot of boiling water like I have done), melt the chocolate chips and the remaining 2 Tbsps. of peanut together until smooth.

12) Pour the melted chocolate into a re-sealable bag. Let the chocolate cool for a moment, so you can handle the bag comfortably. When you are ready to decorate the cookies, snip a small corner off the re-sealable bag with a pair of scissors and "pipe" the chocolate over the tops of the cookies.

13) Dust with confectioners sugar, and let the chocolate dry.

*When using "Turtles" the cookies will be quite large, and the recipe will yield approximately 36 cookies.
* When using the "Slow Pokes", you will get approximately 48 cookies.

You may also like:
Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Cookies

Friday, December 23, 2011

Using Last Years Christmas Cards

    Every Christmas I get a pile of greetings cards from my thoughtful and loving friends and family. For many years I've tried to save them, but they collect so quickly and I always ended up having to put them in the recycling bin. It just seemed so wasteful.
    A few years ago, I got the greatest idea from my Grandmother. Instead of purchasing Gift Tags from the store, she would use the greeting cards from the year before to tag her gifts. Isn't that just the smartest idea ever? Not only are you saving money, but your reusing a product that close friends and family members took the time and care to send you.
    You can make these as simple or as fancy as you want. I kept it on the simpler side today to show you how it can be done without a bunch of scrapbooking supplies.
Homemade Gift Tags:


Old Christmas Cards
Label stencil
Hole Punch
Assorted Stamps
Assorted Ink Colors
Ribbon, optional

1) Trace a label stencil onto the unused portion of the greeting card.

2) Cut along the line you have created.

3) Using a stamp, decorate the label to your liking.



5) Add embellishment, such as ribbon.

Add ribbon

Curl ribbon


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Morning Breakfast Idea

    Every year I try to find a new recipe to make on Christmas morning. A recipe that comes    together with minimal effort, and where most of the work is done the night before. The last thing I want to be doing on Christmas morning is slaving over the stove. I would much rather be enjoying time with my family. Especially since most of the afternoon will be spent making Dinner.
    Earlier this month I came across this recipe for Overnight Eggnog French Toast and thought I would give it a tryI put everything together in about 15 minutes after Dinner. Then when I woke up the next morning I turned on the oven and grabbed the casserole dish and the streusel topping out of the fridge. While I was drinking my morning coffee, I sprinkled the streusel over the bread and then popped it into the oven. From here I had about 55 minutes to get showered and watch the news, which was a fairly good indicator that there will be plenty of time to open presents and enjoy Christmas morning.
    The original recipe called for quite a bit more sugar, so I cut that down. But if you have a sweet tooth feel free to adjust it to your taste.

Overnight Eggnog French Toast:

Overnight Eggnog French Toast with
Breakfast Sausage and Grapefruit.

1 loaf stale French Bread, cut into cubes
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups eggnog
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsps. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cubed

1) Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add the bread cubes.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, eggnog, sugar, vanilla extract, and nutmeg.

3) Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover pan with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for  overnight.

4) In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
5) Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture using a pastry blender or a fork. Combine until the mixture resembles sand with a few pea sized chunks. Cover and store mixture in the refrigerator until  morning.

6) When you wake up the next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove French toast from refrigerator.
7) Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the French toast is set and golden brown.

Into the oven...

Mmmm...baked and ready to eat.

*Serve with warm maple syrup. Recipe makes 8 servings.

You may also like:
Gingerbread Pancakes
Triple Berry Parfaits

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Crafts from the Kitchen

    Last year I got the greatest idea from a girlfriend of mine (If you're reading this you know who you are). She made a batch of Gingerbread Cookies and turned them into Christmas Tree decorations. I thought it was the cutest thing.
    So this year I decided to do the same and share the idea with all of you...

Gingerbread Christmas Tree Ornaments:

1 batch of Gingerbread Cookies
1 batch of Confectioners Frosting
Approximately 6 feet of twine
medium sized Ziploc Bags
Assorted icing tips and couplers
Assorted food colors
1 - straw

1) Bake a batch of Gingerbread Cookies. While making the Gingerbread Cookies, be sure to add a hole for the twine using a straw.

2) Slice a corner off the bottom of a ziploc bag. Fit with icing tip and coupler.
You will need as many Ziploc Bags,
as you want colors of icing.
3) Fill the ziploc bag with colored icing.

4) Begin decorating.
5) Let the frosting dry for a few hours and then add the twine.

* I made these cute Gingerbread men for the pine Garland in my Kitchen...

...and these Christmas Tree's, for my Christmas Tree.

*Alternately you could use these for Gift Tags. Just pipe names on the cookies, and add them to the gift.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Christmas Tradition

    Mmmmm....Gingerbread Cookies are my favourite. Not a year goes by where we don't make a big batch. I've grown fond of the time I get to spend with my little guy baking and decorating these, and he's grown fond of the time he gets to eat the icing and the cookies.
    By the time the cookies are finished my kitchen is usually a disaster zone, and it's takes me an hour to clean every thing up. But we're left with delicious cookies in our tummies and wonderful memories to look back on.

Gingerbread Cookies:

Cookie Dough:
3 cups of flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (margarine will also work well)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup molasses

Confectioner's Frosting:
2 cups confectioner sugar (icing or powdered sugar, sifted)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsps. milk or light cream
assorted food colors if desired

1) In a large bowl sift and whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.

2) In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand held mixer), with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses, beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture beating until incorporated.

3) Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.

4) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the dough.

5) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Use a gingerbread man or other assorted cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. With an offset spatula lift the cutout cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch apart. If you are hanging the cookies or using them as gift tags, make a hole at the top of the cookies using a straw or the end of a wooden skewer.

6) Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Small ones will take about 8 minutes and larger cookies closer to 12. When they are firm and the edges are beginning to brown, they are done.

7) Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. When the cookies have completely cooled, decorate with Confectioners Frosting.

Confectioners Frosting:
1) In an electric mixer (or with a hand held mixer), cream the butter until smooth and blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sifted sugar.

2) Scrap down the sides of the mixer and the beaters. Add the milk and beat on high until fluffy. (Add a little more if it appears to dry)

Divide the icing into as many containers
as you want colors.

Remove a small amount of the corner from
as many resealable plastic bags as you have
colors of icing.

Fit each bag with a coupler and various
icing tips. Fill each bag with a different
color icing.

Frost the cookies, and let dry. Place in an
air tight container.
*The amount of cookies produced by this recipe is determined by the size of the cookie cutter used.

You may also like:
Gingerbread Cookies in a Jar
Gingerbread Pancakes
Gingerbread Pancakes in a Jar