Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies - Holiday Cupcakes

I know it's not technically a cookie but these holiday cupcakes were so much fun to make that I just had to share them with you! I absolutely loved the way they turned out. And how cute would these be on your holiday trays this year?



I just love the snowmen, so sparkly and fun!! The wreaths are super cute too. Oh wait, I love them all!! But today, I'm going to share how to make the snowman.

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe which made about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes. I made my favorite crusting buttercream recipe, try the Wilton Icing recipe, it's really good! Especially if you add a dash of almond extract. Yummy!

First, I did a small swirl with a Wilton number 12 tip and then smoothed it over with a Viva paper towel once the buttercream was set, about 2-3 minutes. And I went to work on the fun part, decorating!

To make the snowman, dip the cupcake into sanding sugar to give it that sparkly shine. Add two chocolate chip for the eyes, mini chocolate chips or sprinkles for the mouth, orange sprinkles or buttercream for the nose, and then make the earmuffs and band on the top of the cupcake. So easy and so darn cute!!

Thank you, Brenda @ Meal Planning Magic, for hosting this group this year. I had so much fun!!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ugly Sweater Party

Just a couple of pictures from our annual holiday party last night. We had a great time filled with lovely company, great food, and some ugly sweaters!




Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies- Chocolate Drop Cookies with Mint Chocolate Chips

My mom requests these cookies every year. In fact, I think she makes a full batch (9 dozen or so) and freezes them so she can have them anytime she wants. She just loves these, so does my husband so they are often on my holiday trays. This year, I wanted to put a different spin on the traditional chocolate drop cookies. I decided to add some of these dark chocolate and mint chocolate chips I got at my last trip to Target. I just love the mint and chocolate combination! I made these for my husband's division wide party today so I hope they all enjoy the cookies. I wonder what they would be like if had peppermint infused buttercream frosting on top. Hmm, maybe I'll add that to my to try list. But never fear, they are delicious without frosting. Soft with a light chocolate flavor and a hit of mint. Yum!!

Chocolate Drop Cookies
Recipe created by Tracy

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of Tollhouse Dark Chocolate and Mint Chocolate Chips

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Cream butter/margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs and mix until well incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Add vanilla to buttermilk.
  • Add the dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to the butter/sugar mixture. 
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Drop by teaspoonfuls to a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 325 for 10 -12 minutes.
  • Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.



Friday, December 2, 2011

12 weeks of Christmas cookies - Spritz Cookies

December has just sneaked up on me! Okay, to be honest, this fall has gone by so quickly that I feel like I can barely keep up at times. We went to visit our family for Thanksgiving and as we were leaving, we said we'll see you in a few weeks. A few weeks?!?!? Oh my goodness, I am not ready for the holidays at all. I started doing this blog hop in hopes of having cookies for my holiday trays ready to go but I can never seem to get the cookies in the freezer! Does that happen to anyone else?
I made these spritz cookies this week and basically told my hubby he could eat the broken ones but that is it! These babies went in the freezer for our holiday party next week. We are having an ugly holiday sweater party. I can't wait! 

Onto the cookies, this was the first time I tried using my cookie press. I am usually more of a roll out or drop cookie kind of gal. But these were surprising easy to make and turned out super cute! I used the Christmas tree and wreath plates and tinted the cookie dough green. Made me feel Christmasy. :) Plus, they taste like butter and melt in your mouth. The sprinkles give the cookies a little "crunch."

Spritz cookies
recipe from Joy of Baking

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a few squirts of food coloring of your choice (optional)

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350. 
  • Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  • Gradually add flour and salt to butter mixture and continue to mix until all flour is incorporated into the butter mixture.
  • Add food coloring (optional) to dough and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Following the instructions provided by your cookie press, fill the cookie press with the dough and pipe the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 6-9 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • Enjoy!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

12 Weeks of Cookies - Chocolate & Peppermint Bark Cookies

It's that time of the week again, the 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies. Yay! I had the worst disaster in the kitchen last week so my confidence has been a little weaker than usual. I tried to make pumpkin cake for my husband who is still raving about the pumpkin cake cookies I made two weeks ago and I failed. Monumentally failed. I read right over adding baking powder to the flour mixture. Whoops. That's what I get for trying to make a cake while basketball is on, hubby is installing new baseboards, and the cat is whining and meowing left and right.

So needless to say, I haven't been in the kitchen since then. But these chocolate bars brought back the confidence, the swag, and the desire to get creative again. Plus it didn't hurt when hubby told me one of his co-workers told him that I have spoiled her, she can't eat anyone else's baked goods! That made my day.

I was going through my cookbook folder and happened upon these cookies that were in my to-make list last year. I can't believe I never got around to making last year. Delicious!



Chocolate and Peppermint Bark Cookies
original recipe by Cookin Canuck

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppermint candies
  • 12 Andes mints, melted 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, making sure the parchment paper hangs over the sides of the pan.
  • Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside. 
  • Beat butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue to beat together for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape sides of bowl as needed.
  • Beat in vanilla extract and egg. 
  • Turn the mixer on low and gradually beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Scatter the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and gently press it, with slightly moistened fingers, to form a flat layer. Prick all over with a fork.
  • Bake at 350 for 25 -30 minutes until the cookie layer is golden brown and the edges are beginning to pull away from the side of the pan.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place on a wire cooling rack. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the cookie layer and let set for 3 minutes.
  • Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate chips into an even layer over the surface of the cookie. 
  • Immediately sprinkle the chopped peppermint candies on top of the chocolate layer.
  • Melt the Andes mint candies in a microwave safe bowl or a pastry bag until completely melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the peppermint candies. Chill for roughly 30 minutes.
  • Holding onto both edges of the parchment paper, lift the cookies out of the pan and place on a work surface. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the cookies into irregular size pieces. 
  • They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

12 Weeks of Cookies - M&M Cookies

I went to the store this week and happened upon the holiday candy aisle. OMG, that aisle is dangerous. :) I love m&m's, especially the holiday colored ones. It just gets me in the holiday spirit. I had to resist eating the entire bag.

I just knew what I wanted to make with the bag that somehow jumped into my cart, m&m cookies! These cookies didn't turn out the way I had envisioned, they fell flat when they came out of the oven and the m&m's stuck out of the dough. Hmm, anyone have any ideas on how to prevent that? But don't let the flatness of the cookie dissuade you, they are delicious! I love making m&m cookies for the holidays, they are just a nice simple cookie that add a bit of color to your holiday tray!


M&M Cookies
recipe adapted from Lovin' From the Oven

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup regular size m&m's
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Set aside
  • Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until light and creamy. 
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  • Gradually beat in flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
  • Stir in m&m's and chocolate chips. 
  • Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets.
  • Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. 
  • Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Enjoy!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

12 Weeks of Cookies - Pumpkin Cake Cookies

These cookies remind me of my childhood, when my mom made me pumpkin cake with buttercream frosting instead of pumpkin pie. I loved pumpkin cake as a child and I love these cookies too. The cookies have the same cakey taste and the buttercream frosting just like the cake my mom made.
When my husband came home and had one, he declared they were awesome. Later, he told me that these were one of the cookies he didn't want to take to work because he wanted them all to himself. I may have something to say about that. I want more of them too! These cookies have a sweet icing with a soft pumpkin cookie that just melt in your mouth. Excuse me while I grab another one. Mmm, delicious! Perfect for a holiday dessert! 


Pumpkin Cake Cookies
Recipe from Benton Elementary School Cookbook 2001

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter, cool not quite room temperature (room temp butter will cause the cookies to spread more)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
Directions:
  • Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  • Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture and blend well until light and creamy.
  • Mix in dry ingredients until well blended.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack and then frost with frosting.
  • Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day of the Dead Sugar Skull

Happy Day of the Dead, everyone! According to Wikipedia, the Day of the Dead (in Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. I have never really done anything for the Day of Dead until I moved to Texas and taught in a small school with a wonderful Spanish program. Our Spanish teacher taught both the faculty and students all about the Day of the Dead each year.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to decorate a sugar skull for the Day of the Dead. The sugar skull was made from a mold and the two pieces were glued together using royal icing. The skull was decorated with fondant and royal icing decorations.The more colorful the better! I am donating the skull to my friend for her Spanish classes and altar. I hope the kids enjoy it!



Monday, October 31, 2011

Monster Eye Cookies

Monster or Alien Cookies? Who knows but they are delicious!
I had a bunch of extra royal icing left over from the mini Halloween cookies I made this past weekend and I remembered a tip Callye from SweetSugarBelle's: use leftover royal icing to make eyes so you'll always have some on hand. I love that idea! And with Halloween almost here, I thought I could make some scary orange and black monster eyes. My monster eyes decided to pop up on some round cookies I made this morning. OMG, I love the black cocoa cookies. They are so rich and dark in flavor. Yummy!! Perfect for Halloween night. :) You can find the recipe for the black cocoa cookies here. I've been snacking on these in between the trick or treaters. We got a few big waves of kiddos but nothing like in years past. We have a lot of candy left! Between the candy and the cookies, we'll be in a sugar high for weeks! How was your Halloween night?



Scary, huh? :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini Halloween Cookies

I found this darling little mini Halloween cookie cutters from Wilton at the bake shop last week.
Aren't they just adorable?

I was so excited to make some cookies this weekend. In the end, I decided to use just three cookie cutters: pumpkin, skull, and cat.

I used my cut out sugar cookie recipe with royal icing. Here are the designs I came up with:
The skulls are my favorite, they are so cool.

The jack o'lanterns were decorated using my new favorite tool, the Americolor Food Color Pens. I need more colors! Guess what's going on my Christmas list? :)

Happy Halloween Eve! I'll be back tomorrow with Monster Eye Cookies inspired by Callye over at SweetSugarBelle's.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas - Sticky bread

So this isn't necessarily a treat for your holiday tray but it is one of my absolute holiday favorites. This sticky bread has been a staple as our Christmas breakfast for years and years. My MIL's friend makes this for our family to eat on Christmas morning. She brings it over Christmas Eve and then we let it sit overnight. The first one up puts it in the oven to help wake up the rest of the family. :) It's a wonderful tradition that I want to keep up whether or not we travel back to home or not. Do you have any Christmas morning traditions that you make each yr?



Sticky Bread
recipe from Joy P.

Ingredients:
  • 2 (1 pound) loaves frozen bread dough, slightly thawed so that you can slice
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 (3 5/8 oz) package butterscotch pudding and pie filling mix (NOT INSTANT)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Directions:
  • Grease a 12 cup bundt pan; set aside
  • Cut each loaf into 8 slices.  
  • In small bowl, combine nuts, sugar and cinnamon.  Dip each slice of dough into melted butter, then coat with nut mixture.  Stand slices upright in prepared pan; sprinkle with any remaining nut mixture. 
  • Sprinkle with dry pudding mix.  Stir brown sugar into remaining melted butter; drizzle over rolls.
  • Cover lightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Rolls should rise to top of pan.
  • Remove plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature for just 10-15 minutes.  
  • Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven 35-40 minutes. 
  • Invert onto serving dish. Serve warm. Enjoy!!
Yield:  16 slices
 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Candy Corn Cookies

It's that time again...another week of the 12 weeks of Christmas cookies.:)  I took a little liberty here and made some Halloween candy corn but wouldn't these be cute in red, green, and white for the holiday season?
I have seen candy corn cookies around the blogsphere for a little bit now, both in my Google Reader and on Pinterest, I knew I just had to make some for our upcoming Halloween party this weekend (if they make it that long....). And on a side note, don't you just love Pinterest? It's so addicting!!! I have found so many great ideas from a bunch of new blogs. I can't stay away. Is there a Pinterest support group anywhere? :) Okay, back to the cookies...



Candy Corn Cookies
recipe adapted from Sue @Munchkin Munchies

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
  • Orange gel food color
  • Yellow gel food color
  • *1/2 cup sugar (optional, if you want to cover the cookies with sugar immediately after baking)

Directions:
  • Line bottom and sides of 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment or wax paper.  Set aside.
  • Combine the butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. 
  • Add egg, orange juice, lemon zest and salt. Continue beating until well mixed. 
  • With the mixer on low, add flour and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.
  • Divide dough into thirds. Press one-third of white dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. 
  • Place another one-third of dough back into same bowl. Add small amount of orange food color; mix until color is well blended. 
  • Press orange dough evenly over white dough in pan. 
  • Place remaining one-third of dough into another medium bowl. Add small amount of yellow food color; mix until color is well blended. Press yellow dough evenly over orange dough in pan. 
  •  Cover with plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours or overnight).
After chilling:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Slice the dough into about 1/4 inch thick slices and then cut them into triangle shapes to resemble candy corn. I know that some of them will have the wrong tops but you could always coat the top with melted white chocolate to cover up the yellow.
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes our until the edges turn light golden brown. 
  • Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

12 Weeks of Cookies - Puff Pastry Bites

So these did not turn exactly how I had planned but they are still delicious. Somehow, the puff pastry did not get my memo that they were supposed to be little pinwheel pastries and decided to unravel in the oven. So I decided to improvise and drizzle some melted chocolate on top to make them more festive. Melted chocolate makes everything better.

They are super easy to make and absolutely beautiful to put on your holiday tray. I used store bought puff pastry, jam, and melted chocolate to make these. I love making goodies like this!

Puff Pastry Bites
created by Tracy of Midwestern Girl with a Tx Address

Ingredients:
  • A box of Puff Pastry
  • Jam of your choice (I used Strawberry)
  • Chocolate Chips, melted

Directions:
  • Thaw the puff pastry according to the directions.
  • Roll out the puff pastry to your desired thickness. I rolled them out to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Using a square cookie cutter, cut the pastry into squares.
  • Put a small amount of jam in the center of the pastry square and fold each edge up to the middle. Make sure to pinch the dough closed or the dough will open up on you when they are in the oven.
  • Bake in an 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let cool and then drizzle melted chocolate on top of each puff pastry.
  • Enjoy!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Musical Cake

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, I have been busy making my first half sheet cake for my friend and her son. I hope he and his friends enjoy the cake tomorrow at school. :-)


The design and actual construction of the design took me a bit of time and I just ran out of time for a new cookie recipe today but I'll be back tomorrow with a new recipe to share with you all.

See ya tomorrow!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

12 Weeks of Cookies - Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


It's week two of the 12 Weeks of Christmas cookies and I can't believe it. September just flew by and October is looking crazy busy but that's a good thing :). The weather has turned cooler (yay!!), cake orders are coming in (double yay!!), and three rooms have new wood flooring and are freshly painted (triple yay!!!). We have two more rooms to go and I finished painting our master bedroom yesterday. Every time I walk in there, I have to stop. It's such a wonderful change from the light blue color it used to be. I absolutely love it. Here is a picture of the new color. It's Renoir Bisque from Behr. So pretty. :)



And now that's you've heard all about my weeks of painting, putting in new floors, and making cakes, I'll get to the cookies. Ah, the cookies. The ones my husband loves. He'll eat every cookie I make but these are his favorite cookies of all time. They are always a staple on my holiday cookie tray, you can't go wrong with a simple yet delicious cookie. Trust me, they won't last long if you make these. They never last long at our house.



The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies
Betty Crocker Cookie Book

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups quick cooking or old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Beat brown sugar, butter, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla salt, and eggs in a mixer on medium speed.
  • Stir in flour, oats, and raisins.
  • Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. 
  • Bake 9-11 minutes or until brown. Immediately remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 



 

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