Thursday, December 18, 2014

Beating The Pre-Christmas Plague: With Treat Recipes!

Photo courtesy of http://www.couriermail.com.au/
Here it is a week before Christmas and I haven't posted since Thanksgiving! While other food bloggers have been publishing post after post of Christmas treats and meals, I've been recovering from emergency oral surgery followed by the head cold (AKA the plague) from hell ripping its way through our family. So, here it is a week before Christmas and I'm just now feeling up to getting into the spirit of my favorite holiday.

I did manage to do some baking earlier last week, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. These recipes are perfect to use as gifts (as I do) or to have on hand while relatives and friends are in munching moods over the holiday.

Some of these have become traditions in our house, like Ina Garten's Ultimate Ginger Cookies and the ever-addicting Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn from Mel's Kitchen Cafe but I'm always looking for new recipes to try too. I have to say, this is the second year I've made the Peppermint Kiss Cookies and we might be hooked!

Our family has a busy week coming up, we're celebrating this weekend with my husband's family (including 6 kids age 5 and under), then my parents are coming into town on the 22nd and celebrating actual Christmas Day with us, so I'll be doing a big Christmas dinner for the first time. I'm so excited now that I actually feel well enough to start planning! Next weekend we head up to Baltimore to celebrate with my side of the family at my sister's new home and then...whew...holidays are over and we recover over New Years!

What are your family's favorite holiday dishes that are must-haves on the table this time of year? Below are links to some of our favorite sweets and treats, so enjoy!

The Easiest Peanut Brittle

Christmas Peppermint Fudge

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Fresh Cranberry Bars

Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn

Candy Cane Kiss Sugar Cookies

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Turkey Hand Cookies : A New Tradition


Now that my daughter is almost 2 1/2, I find myself focusing more on what traditions we want to start as a family. She's getting to the age where she'll start understanding more of what is fun and important during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons and I wanted to start off some fun traditions this year.

I found this perfect recipe for Turkey Hand Cookies in a Penzey's catalog months ago and hung onto it in anticipation. The cookie recipe itself is delicious and not too sweet, which I think balances the sugary frosting really well. You could sub in your own favorite sugar cookie recipe, of course, but I don't really have one of those yet so I was up for suggestions!

The easiest way to use "littles" handprints without a mess or injury!

I love baking cookies on my stoneware, they always turn out perfectly.

Golden brown yumminess!

For older children it might be safe enough to have them trace their own hands with a duller knife or have you trace around their hands (clean!!) directly into the dough with a small sharp knife, but knowing my daughter, I decided to give a nod to safety instead. I traced her hand on a piece of wax paper and then cut it out and used it as a stencil to cut out toddler-sized handprints in the dough with the tip of a paring knife. It worked really well this way! 

The recipe makes about 12-14 toddler-sized cookies, which are still pretty good sized cookies. The frosting is really adaptable, you can add vanilla to it, make it thinner or thicker according to your preference. I kept it sort of at a medium-thickness since I wanted my daughter to be able to "paint" it on the cookies using brushes.

Sometimes you just can't wait for the finished project, cookies are meant to be eaten!
She seemed a little befuddled that we were allowed to eat our art supplies, but otherwise had a great time and even got a little too into the process, munching on a cookie half-way through the decorating step!

What, doesn't everyone smoosh their face on their baking rack?

Happy delicious (vegetarian) turkeys!
What are some of your favorite food-based family traditions this time of year? I'm looking forward to incorporating these cute little turkey cookies into our annual Thanksgiving celebration. It can also be a great "craft" for kids to do while we all wait for the turkey to cook on Thanksgiving Day. Always good to keep those curious little hands busy!

Enjoy the season and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies
Barely adapted from Penzeys Spices


Ingredients for the Cookies
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter
3-5 tbsp. milk (depends on how thick or thin you like it - start with 2-3 and take it from there)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions
Sift flour and salt together and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for at least 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add in the egg and vanilla, beating well to incorporate. Add the flour in 3 batches, allowing it to completely mix into the dough after each addition. Divide the dough into 2 large balls and press each between 2 sheets of wax paper to make about a 1" thick disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 and generously flour a clean, smooth surface. Roll out the dough discs to about 1/2" thickness before cutting out your hand shapes (see method for tracing hands, etc. above). I used a sharp-edged metal spatula to gently lift the cookies onto prepared cookie sheets to avoid having them break apart.

These cookies don't spread, so don't worry too much about crowding them on a pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to get golden, not overly brown. Let cool completely before decorating with the frosting.

Mix the frosting by whisking together the sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Divide into different small bowls and add in desired food colorings to decorate. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Printable Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies Recipe

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Pie Day: Part 3


For this week's installment of Friday Pie Day I decided to go with something a little different. I often make fruit-based pies, but those one was just calling out to be tried and I couldn't resist. This Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie is absolutely amazing. It has a layer of chocolate in between the peanutty graham cracker crust which sends it right over the top flavor-wise.

I took this recipe right out of an issue of Food Network Magazine and honestly changed nothing. It was perfect just the way it was and the peanut butter filling was surprisingly light, it didn't feel overly rich like a cheesecake, but had a really delicious peanut flavor along with the dark chocolate layer on the crust.

YUM!

Unless you have a nut or dairy allergy, you have no excuse not to make this fabulous pie!

Click Here For The Recipe Courtesy of Food Network

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