Thursday, December 18, 2008

Triple Threat Cookie Dough

Yes that's right, triple threat!

This is the second year that I have made one simple dough and ended up with three amazingly rich and yummy cookies. It is and easy and quick, simple (but rich) sugar cookie recipe that I have jazzed for the holidays - and now I am sharing it with you.

6 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 T. evaporated milk
1 T. vanilla

3/4 C. pistachio meats
1/2 c. dried and diced cherries
1 c. white chocolate chips

1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 c. dark chocolate chips
Cream sugar and butter on low speed until smooth. Add milk and vanilla and eggs and continue to mix on low speed. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add mixture to wet ingredients until incorporated and a stiff dough forms.

Divide the dough into thirds. In one third, mix pistachios, cherries and white chocolate chips into the dough by hand. Roll the dough into a tube shape, wrap in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until dough is very firm, 1-2 hours. Once firm, preheat oven to 400 degrees, slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices and cook on a greased cookie sheet for approx. 7 minutes or until dough begins to lightly brown and is set.

Repeat the above directions for a second third of the dough.

The final third of the dough can be chilled and sliced for plain cookies, or you can get creative with it and add your own mix ins. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amazing Gingerbread Cookies!

This weekend was spent in the kitchen with my beautiful daughters. We had our annual gingerbread cookie baking day. Each year the recipe seems to change. For some reason, I can't hold onto the recipe from year to year. But, this year the recipe I modified from a basic recipe is going into my recipe box and up here on my blog.

Amazing Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 c. Butter
1/2 c. sugar
1t ginger
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1t bkg. powder
1/2 t bkg soda
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 C. robust molasses
1 egg
1T vinegar

Beat butter and sugar till combined. Add baking powder, baking soda and all spices. Beat until combined. Add molasses, egg and vinegar and beat until combined. Slowly add flour to mixture and blend until it is all incorporated. Dough will be thick.

Split dough and form two balls. Refrigerate until stiff. Roll to 1/8 -1/4 inch thickness and bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes until dough golden brown and set. Yields 3-4 dozen cookies depending on size of cutters. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Betty Crocker....Move Over!

So this is my big baking weekend for the Holidays.

On the very sugary, sticky sweet culinary line-up for this Christmas season:

Gingerbread cookies
Gingerbread house
Cream Cheese Cookies
Marshmallows (the marshmallows recipe is in a post from earlier in December).

Now I may be overly zealous, but for some reason, I bake my buns off - hot crossed of course - every Christmas. We are in cookies, candies and confections from mid December through April. I have even found an occasional baked good, usually a pie around the 4th of July.

Baking, for me is an important part of the holidays. It's a time that I get to spend doing something family oriented with my kids. We make memories while we are making cookies. We create homemade gifts that are always a hit with the receiver.

So this weekend, I will be wiping off the counters, tying on the apron, eating lots of cookies, lacing up the sneakers and running my buns crossed of course!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Inexpensive gift Idea! Stamped T-shirts For About $10

I had to repeat this gift idea in a written post.

With money being tight for almost everyone right now, what better way to save money than to give a great homemade gift?

The T-shirt you see in the picture attached to this post (also the one I am wearing in the sidebar pic) cost only $10 to make. It is a shirt that can be worn all winter long. But the technique can be used on other clothing items as well and can be used to create gifts for other seasons as well.

The items you need for this project are:
T-shirt (long sleeve or short sleeve)
acrylic craft paint
fabric medium (found near the craft paint in stores)
Large stamps
gem-glue (optional)
crystals (optional)

Mix 2 parts paint to 1 part fabric medium. Paint the stamps evenly with the paint brushes. Stamp the fabric where desired, repainting stamp after each use. Let dry. Affix crystals with gem glue. The T-shirt can be laundered, however, wash in cold water with garment turned inside out. Lie flat or hang to dry.

For a demonstration, check out the Crafty-Cam video tutorial.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fluffy Little Pillows of Joy......

That's how I would describe these marshmallows that I made from a recipe by The Homesteading Housewife

I took a plate of them to work and within minutes, they were gone. I had co-workers asking me for the recipe and telling me that they were the most amazing marshmallows they had ever had.

The recipe was very simple. It takes a few steps and a little patience, but was very easy to follow and had great results.

So, here is the recipe if you want to give it a shot!

Dana's Homemade Marshmallows

4 envelops unflavored gelatin
3 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 c. water

In a sauce pan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 c. water over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, bring to a rolling boil and let cook (not stirring) for 1 full minute or until mixture reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over remaining 3/4 c. water in the bowl of an electric mixer and let stand to soften (approx 5 min).

Slowly pour hot mixture into gelatin and mix on low speed. Gradually raise the mixer speed to high and beat for approximately 5 minutes. Slowly add vanilla and continue to beat for 5-6 more minutes or until very stiff peaks form.

Pour mixture into a greased 9x19 pan and let set uncovered for about 3 hours until set. (Mine set overnight).

Once set, prepare a work surface with powdered sugar, turn marshmallow out onto it, and cut into squares using a sharp wet knife. (hint: use a sharp blade knife and cut straight through. Do not "saw" at the marshmallow, it will stick to the knife.) Roll each in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

I will definitely make this recipe again to give for holiday gifts. I'll try some add-inns to the marshmallows - my daughter suggested "rocky road". Check out The Homesteading Housewife
blog on how to add all the extras.

I plan on making homemade hot chocolate mixes and pairing it with the marshmallows- an easy and inexpensive gift, given from the heart!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Black Friday Weekend

Did you survive it?

We did. In fact, we had a very productive weekend. We were able to get a huge jump on the Holiday season and had a lot of fun doing it.

We posed for our Christmas card photo - amazing what a digital camera, a tripod, and hubby who knows a bit about them both can do. The five of us took a bit of time after Thanksgiving dinner and took goofy, silly, and serious pictures. We had a blast, laughing and acting up as we spent the time together.

Friday morning, hubby braved the crowds as the 5am sales, and mercifully let me sleep in. He made his way to the sporting goods store and then to Target to get the "only" gift that our youngest daughter wanted. There he spent quality time with 300 other shoppers waiting to get in the doors. I almost didn't have the heart to tell him that when I returned to Target at 3pm to go shopping with my other daughter, the shelves were full of the item. I did tell him - it was kind of funny.

We spent Saturday putting up decorations. We joined the hundreds of other houses in our neighborhood to make our yard look like a "Winter Wonderland" here in the desert southwest. (Really, no matter how many lights you put up, you're not fooling anyone - for goodness sakes, we live in the DESERT!)

Sunday, we headed up north the the high country and cut down a Christmas tree. At 6 am we loaded into the car for the 2 hour drive. When we arrived, we found an amazing little diner and had a huge breakfast, and then made our way to the tree farm. After searching for a while, we came upon the perfect tree and cut it down. We anchored it to the roof of the car, headed back home and got the tree up.

All in all a pretty productive weekend.

How was yours?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Am Thankful For....

There are simply too many things that I am thankful for to list them all. Anyone reading this would be reading until next November. So, to save you time, I will only list a few....

I am thankful for my heath. So many that are close to me are struggling with health challenges. Every single one of them is an inspiration to me. When I start to gripe about things, I simple remember the battle that many of them are facing so bravely, and I realize that what I'm complaining about isn't that big of a deal.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head. In today's world, for what ever reason...people are wondering if they will have a home to live in. Some of them don't. I have been blessed in that my home is not in any danger. And even if it was, I have been even more blessed to have a family that would provide us a roof in a heartbeat!

I am thankful for my family. I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters that are all amazing people. They have tender but brave hearts, and are always willing to serve others. I am so proud of all three of them. I have an awesome husband who loves me - sometimes thats not always easy!

There are so many more things, but today I'll reflect on theses three.

As your Thanksgiving week progresses, I challenge you to think of three things each day that you are thankful for. Take a moment to share them with someone, e-mail, send a note, or leave a comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!
AZ Mom of Many Hats