Friday, December 21, 2012

Special Little Gifts

  Here is a fun, easy way to send some holiday cheer...fill up a little basket with some cookies,cookie dough, and some hot cocoa! It can be either homemade, or is all in the packaging folks!!
  This one will be going to our neighbors, and hopefully the hot chocolate will warm them is cold tonight!!
  The containers for the cookie dough can be found at .

Cookies Cookies Cookies

   I just wanted to share a picture of some of the goodies I sent to school with my boys today! I think their friends and teachers will be smiling,don't you?

Most of the recipes for these cookies can be found on the blog.Here are some that I used;

Triple Chocolate Delights
Nut Cups
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Oatmeal Butterscotch
Chocolate Oatmeal Chip
Chocolate Rugelach
Eggnog Kringla
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Peanut Butter
Candy Cane Cookies

Just put any of the names above in the search area of the blog, and you will find the recipes. I'm still working on learning how to use the day I'll get it!  Happy Holidays!!

Snowman Soup

   Here is an idea I found on Pinterest, and thought it would be perfect for my children to give to their classmates. It is easy to assemble, just print the labels, place the items in little gift bags(I purchase mine at Michael's ), staple the label on top and you are done!! These make great stocking stuffers, party favors, and classroom gifts during the winter!I found these labels at , and they were free!

Small treat bags
Chocolate chips
Mini Marshmallows
hot cocoa packets
candy canes
white cardstock for printing labels

I placed the cocoa, 5 chocolate chips, and a handful of mini marshmallows in each bag, along with one candy cane. Print and cut out the labels, then fold them in half and staple onto each bag! Easy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Candy Cottage

 Who doesn't like a little bit of candy around the holidays? I made this candy cottage using candy melts, a sleigh mold, and a gingerbread house mold that I found at .  The best part of this is that when you are finished, you can fill it with candy, or cookies, or whatever you like. It makes a great showpiece, as well as a fun surprise for children. The peppermint tray has been on Pinterest, as well as The Chew, and is a fun,easy thing to make! This one, is about to be delivered to a family we love, but they have no idea it is coming! I hope they enjoy it!

Cottage Instructions:

 Using candy melts,( I usually use Merckens, but could not find it due to low supplies since Hurricane Sandy), melt down the color you are using in a double boiler, or in the microwave. If using the microwave, do this in 30 secinds intervals, taking care not to burn the chocolate.
   Once it is melted, pour into the molds and let it set for about 1/2 hour. Remove the pieces from the molds. One at a time, using melted chocolate as the "glue" , place the pieces together, holding them in place for a few minutes until they are set. Before I place the last part of the roof on, I filled this one with candy.

   Let the house set for a good hour, just to make sure all of the chocolate glue has hardened. If desired, add embellishments, as I did here....trees, gingerbread people( all part of the mold set), a sled, and some additional snow(white chocolate). Place on the peppermint tray, again using a little chocolate glue to hold in place!

Peppermint Tray Instructions:

 Line a parchment -lined baking sheet with peppermints placed about 1/4 of an inch apart. I made 10 rows of eight(about 18 oz.). Place in a 350 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes until they melt and are touching. remove from the oven. If edges are uneven, wait 30 seconds, then trim carefully with a sharp knife(candy is super hot)! Let cool for about 15 minutes, then use as a base for the cottage, or as a serving tray for desserts. Just remember not to place anything hot on top, because the candy will melt!

 Here it is wrapped and ready to go( a bit hard to see through the cellophane)!
   Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Cookie Garland

   Here is a fun  decorating/food project for you and your children. Using your favorite gingerbread, or sugar cookie recipe, turn miniature cookies into garland for your family tree,or a smaller decorative tree in your home, or even a mantle.  I made this one today with three of my boys, and they enjoyed mixing, rolling and decorating the cookies. Here is the Martha Stewart gingerbread recipe we used, and directions for making the garland. This dough is different that the gingerbread I posted last December, and has just the right consistency for making ornaments and garland.Have fun!!

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsulphured molasses
1 stick of butter, softened
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 c. milk
5-1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder

   In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the sugar, molasses and butter. Add the spices and baking powder. Add the flour and milk, mixing just until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
    When ready, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Using a straw or a round decorating tip, cut a small hole in the center of each cookie. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool, then decorate.

 For the icing, I used about 2 cups of powdered sugar, one Tbsp of light corn syrup(for shine,you can also skip this), and added water slowly, and a little at a time ,until I had the right spreading consistency. The icing should not be too thick or too thin.If it is too thick, add a bit more water...too thin, add a bit more sugar. Color as desired, and either dip the cookies into the icing, or use pastry bags to decorate. Adorn with added sprinkles or decorations if desired.

   When the cookies are dry, carefully slide a thin string or ribbon through each one until all of the cookies are used! Make small bows on the ends and display on your tree, mantle or kitchen! Your house will smell delicious!!

*** You can also use a ready-made cookie dough...the fun is really in making the project together with your children!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown for Thanksgiving, I made a turkey out of many cookies using a leaf cookie cutter( a great idea from Sweet Sugarbelle). So today, I figured why not do the same and make a Christmas tree? I also added some beloved characters that we all know. Here is the finished product...right before my children demolished it.Just wanted to share with you!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Troubles

     Well, remember my Thanksgiving countdown list to help you have a stress-free holiday? Let me share a little of my life from the past two days...first, my oven is dying a slow death.It sounds like an old lawn mower. Heaven knows I have worked that thing to death. Yet, I am still baking, and praying that it makes it until tomorrow.
   One of my boys sat on my kitchen table today, and it cracked in I watched half of the bread cubes for my stuffing go flying across my kitchen, I have to admit, I laughed. It wasn't funny, but it was know what I mean? I just thought about all that has gone on here on LI the past month, and what happened in my kitchen was really nothing to be sad or angry was funny.
    So, in the spirit of the season, I ask you to please keep those with real problems and misfortune in your prayers. Depending on how my oven fares, we may or may not roast a turkey tomorrow, but at least we'll be together.
  I am posting some pictures of some turkey treats I managed to make for my children's class parties in the midst of all of this chaos. The turkey cookie idea comes from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, an amazing cookie artist who never fails to inspire me!Check out her blog at

   Have  a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't sweat the small stuff!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pie Dough

 Making pie dough really is not as complicated as it sounds.If you have a food processor, then it really becomes a quick process. This particular dough is made with butter and shortening.  The most important thing is for the ingredients to be super cold! If they are not, you will wind up with soggy dough.I like this dough around the holidays, because it is light and flaky.The following recipe will give you enough dough for two single crust pies, or one double crust pie. It is a great idea to make a few batches,then wrap and freeze them, this way making a pie will be, well, as easy as pie (corny, I know, but I had to do it).

10 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
6 Tbsp. shortening, cold , cut into cubes
pinch of salt
1 tsp. sugar
2-1/4 c. flour
1/3 (possibly a touch more), ice cold water

   In the bowl of your food processor, mix the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter and shortening,and pulse only a few short times. The butter and shortening should be the size of peas. With the processor running, slowly add the water through the opening,until the dough comes together in a ball- like shape. DO NOT add all of the water at may end up with mushy dough. A little more water can always be added if it is too dry, but once you add too much water, you cannot take it away!

  Pour the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper.Form it into a round, then cut it in half. Form each piece into a round, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, or place in a plastic storage bag. Refrigerate for at least one hour, then roll out onto a generously floured surface, and place into your pie plate as follows.

How To Roll Out Pie Dough:
   Place the dough on a floured surface. Roll from the middle out, turning the dough a half -turn each time, until it is the desired size.

  Roll the dough around the rolling pin, then carefully unroll it over the pie plate. Gently ease the dough into the plate so it fits( this prevents it from shrinking while baking). Cut off the excess dough around the edge, leaving about one inch. Fold the extra inch under, all the way around the pie plate. Then using your thumb and two fingers on your other hand, crimp the edges if desired( I tried to have my kids take this pic, but it did not work out too well).Freeze the dough in the plate until ready to use.

***Save the scraps to make decorative edges as shown here.Just brush the crust with a little water, then add the mini shapes. I used a pie dough/cookie cutter from .

***I also make mini pies by cutting out circles with a biscuit cutter,and placing in a mini tart pan.Be on the lookout for the end result this week!
  Have fun making your pies!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Leaf Tuille Cookies

 This is a Martha recipe from many years ago. Originally, I had bought the stencils she had offered to make the cookies with, but it has long since disappeared. Ideally, a leaf stencil from the craft store would be the thing to use, but hey, it is Thanksgiving, and who really has the time or the inclination to run out and get one? So , we improvise! I printed out a leaf template from her site on cardstock, cut it out, and that is what I used. You can also trace a leaf cookie cutter.
  Martha also had an entirely different recipe for the chocolate version....again, who has time to make two different versions? I had some leftover batter, so I added a tsp. of cocoa, and ta-da....chocolate tuilles!

1 egg white
1/4 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. cream
4tsp. butter, melted( half stick)
1/4 c. flour

In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the egg white and the sugar. Add the salt, butter and the almond extract. Blend in the flour.

   Lay your template on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Carefully spread out about 1 tbsp. of batter across the leaf pattern.Be sure to spread thinly. Carefully lift up the stencil. Bake the cookies at 350 for about 6-8 minutes until the edges are golden.
   As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, Using a flat spatula, carefully drape them over a rolling pin to give them a wavy appearance. Let cool. Serve alone, or as a garnish for ice-cream and other desserts.

*** To add sprinkles  or sugar to the rim of your glasses, simply dip the rim into light corn syrup, then into the desired color of sprinkles or sugar! A nice decorative touch!