whee!

Nothing Says Christmas Like….StarWars Cookies?

December 24, 2010 - Written by Deb Ng

So Mr. Ng and I are browsing the cookie cutters at Williams Sonoma a couple of weeks ago, and what to my wandering eye should appear, but a box of Star Wars cookie cutters:

We have a standard set of holiday cookie cutters at home. You know, the usual Christmas trees, snowmen and bells and stuff. However, as a geek, this called to me. Plus The Boy is just winding down from a major (and I mean major) StarWars phase.

I’m not an impulsive girl and there’s no way I’d spend $20 for 4 cookie cutters, but these called for me. They even called to Mr. Ng whose wallet is sealed tighter than the Declaration of Independence. So, we left William Sonoma with a box of overpriced cookie cutters.

The Boy loved them and last Saturday we got down to business.


The cookie cutters have lots of nooks and crannies, but thankfully they have those press things on the back to make dough removal easier. However, we did find it easier to dust the cookie cutters with flour a bit. (They’re a bit of a pain to wash, though.)

Oh, wait. You should have a recipe in case you want to play the home game:

Deb’s Sugar Cookies:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The Nitty Gritty:

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar . Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the everything else. Chill for a couple of hours. (I usually leave it overnight which makes for a very impatient 8 year old).
  2. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out dough and cut with your favorite cookie cutters. Place about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.
Now, where was I.

Oh yes, StarWars cookies….

So this recipe makes a lot of cookies and by the time we cut the second dozen The Boy was over it so I was on my own for the rest of the day.
Cut, the cookies looked like this:
And baked, they look like this:
Now, these taste well enough on their own, but we all know Christmas cookies must be decorated.
Warning: What you see here may be disturbing. I’m not an artist, I didn’t have the right colors, and well, I go outside the lines sometime. But The Boy and The Friend thinks they eat just fine:
And lest you think I have no Christmas spirit at all, I did make the other kind too:

Mexican Wedding Cookies from Crazy About Cookies

December 4, 2010 - Written by Diana

This is the Mexican Wedding Cookie recipe from Krystina Castella’s book , Crazy About Cookies- 300 Scrumptious Recipes for Every Occasion & Craving. I picked this out with my daughter for her to make to bring to the birthday potluck.  We tripled the recipe which turned out to be way too many.  We shared everyone else’s food, but I’m embarrassed to say my kids took our cookies and stashed them in the car without asking if anyone wanted the leftovers.   I guess that means they were really delicious – yes, I can say that they were, but also that my kids have bad manners.  Sorry about that.  Makes 3 dozen hand shaped cookies.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter 2 cookie sheets (I used parchment paper on the cookie sheet)
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and 1/2 cup confectioners sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until blended.  Stir in the pecans and vanilla.
  5. Shape the dough into 11/2- inch balls on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until light brown. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pans.
  6. Put the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners sugar on a small plate.  Roll the cookies in the sugar while still warm. When ready to serve, freshen the cookies with more sugar.

No Bake Cookies for a Birthday Potluck

November 29, 2010 - Written by Diana

Saturday was more than the family Thanksgiving gathering, it was also a grand birthday party for my mother in law who will be turning 80 in a few days. My contribution was a vegetable platter with dip, Cinnamon apples, No Bake cookies, mexican wedding cookies and various crockpots, roaster, water and tea jugs (and water), etc. Instead of catering, the cooking was split among the families, and we all made big batches of a couple of things to feed about 85 people.   I did change up the cinnamon apples by cooking them in a crockpot, and by using apple pie spice instead of just cinnamon. We also doubled the recipe for the No Bake Cookies though there weren’t many left when we went home.  I have to mention that my daughter did most of the baking, and my son and husband did most of the apples and vegetables.  I mostly cleaned, lined pans with parchment, added seasoning to the apples, and ran around but not actually fully making anything.  Sometimes being the kitchen help so that everyone can keep on with what they are doing is more important for me since I know where everything is and can give oversight and directions.  Or it could be that I’m just bossy.

There was plenty of food to be had by all and it was a lot of fun to be together.  My daughter would like a special shout out to an aunt and uncle who gave her all the leftover cookies they brought, plus anyone who let her take some leftovers to bring back to college.  She thinks she has enough to last the next two weeks until she comes home.  All of my husband’s siblings were there, all of the grandchildren were there, plus most of the great grandchildren and most of the spouses.  I don’t think we’ve had that since a funeral about 8 years ago so this was a real celebration.

I’m going to share the recipes for the No Bake Cookies and the Mexican Wedding Cookies.  They were great treats, a little different from the usual chocolate chip which is what I was aiming for.  My husband and I had our hair cut on Friday, and my stylist actually suggested the no bakes.  When I mentioned it to my daughter, she was all for it.  We didn’t have anyplace to cool and harden the no bakes since the fridge was stuffed full, so we put them on the grill with the lid down, which worked better than fine. Don’t underestimate a grill’s usefulness in the winter.  Extra temporary cold storage where the critters can’t see it, is  a good thing.

No Bake Cookies (from the Food Channel Online)

Ingredients:

Directions

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.

These were very drippy when they were mixed, but after they hardened, they were perfect and stayed perfect.

Win a Copy of the Everything Cookies and Browies Cookbook (& Bonus Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe)

October 25, 2009 - Written by Deb Ng

Cherry chocolate chip cookies

I have in my hot little hands, Marye Audet’s new “Everything Cookes and Brownies” cookbook. While I hesitate to call it the cookie Bible, it comes close. This is no mere recipe book. Included are tips, tricks and hints for bakers of all levels.  And the recipes? They rock hard.

Yesterday my son and I whipped up a batch of Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies. I picked these cookies because I’m not a fan of almond extract flavoring. I figured it Marye’s recipe could produce a cookie that wasn’t overpowered by phony almond, the book would be a winner.

I’m happy to report that the cookies were delicious and not too almondy extract-y at all. In fact, they didn’t last. They were simple to make, perfect for a 7 year old and his mom on a rainy day.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients – Yields 48 Cookies

Instructions.

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease cookie pans.
  2. Cream together oil, butter, egg, sugars, almond extract and vanilla
  3. Stir together dry ingredients, beat into butter mixture
  4. Fold in nuts, chips and cherries
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Think you’d like to try this recipe and others? Here’s your chance to win Marye Audet’s “Everything Cookies and Brownies” Cookbook. Simply tell us your top 3 reasons to send you the cookbook. One word comments or comments that indicate you haven’t read this post at all won’t be included.

Contest ends Sunday, November 1st.

Apple Pie Spice Oatmeal Cookies

July 24, 2009 - Written by Diana

Apple Pie Spice Oatmeal cookies Here’s the recipe without all the talk!

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and baking soda and set aside. Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat into creamed mixture the eggs, vanilla and apple pie spice.  On low speed add the flour mixture.  Stir in the oats. On lightly greased cookie sheet drop 1/4 cup of batter per cookie.  Gently press the dough down so it’s not a rounded ball (I left mine kind of ball like).  Bake 14 minutes or until firm lightly browned.  YUM!!

Fruit Pizza

June 5, 2009 - Written by Diana

This week we had our track awards picnic.  We needed something easy to make, but also easy to handle.  From previous experience, I knew there might not be plates or plastic ware to eat with. The coach doesn’t assign, just says bring something.  The coaches provide pizza.  My son received  an award  for each of the records his relay teams were responsible for setting.  He also received the Coaches Award.  he didn’t have the most points, but he was up there and also worked hard at every practice and showed up for every meet.  He  was one of the four kids on the team to go to Regionals.  Anyway, we made this quick and easy treat – my son started it, and my daughter and I helped to slice and throw the fruit on before we left.  fruit pizza_thumb

Ingredients:

Directions:

Spread the cookie dough out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until almost done.  A little soft is good.  My son made it darker than I wanted it, but it still worked out.  With a beater, mix the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff together.  Cool the cookie in the pan.  Spread the mixture on top, slice fruit and lay on top of the cream cheese mixture.  Slice.  We didn’t overload it with fruit, like we would normally since it needed to be clean finger food. 

 

I used my Mario Batalli Pizza Cutter to slice it into the right size.  It’s great for cookie bars as well as pizza.

This would make a great side dish for a graduation or birthday party, it went quickly.

Let the holiday baking begin!

December 18, 2008 - Written by Robin

 chocolate caramel kiss stuffed brownies

While I love complicated and time consuming recipes as much as the next person, at this time of the year I whip out my collection of super easy holiday cookies.  I had seen the Pioneer Woman’s two step recipe for candy cookies a while back and immediately bookmarked it, knowing it would fit perfectly into my repretoire.  Basically it goes like this:

Step One: open refrigerated premade dough of cookie of your choice and bake in chunks in a mini muffin pan

Step Two:  insert candy of your choice

Optional Holiday Step Three: add red or green sprinkles!

I used brownie dough and Hershey’s chocolate caramel kisses.  Pioneer Woman advises to insert candy into the dough immediately upon removal from the oven, but I found that giving the cookies about 10 minutes to cool kept the candy from melting into oblivion.  Refridgerating the candy helped as well.

These came out so good I have a feeling they will mysteriously disappear before the Christmas party!

Holiday Recipes from Earth Balance

December 12, 2008 - Written by Diana

image Earth Balance sent us some recipes to use for our holiday gatherings. Earth Balance® is the perfect replacement to traditional alternatives in favorite recipes this holiday season. Made with a proprietary blend of expeller-pressed oils shown to raise good (HDL) cholesterol and lower bad (LDL), all of Earth Balance®’s spreads are a good source of important Omega 3s. Available in both tub and stick forms, Earth Balance® Natural Spreads are non-GMO, and are free of gluten, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and artificial ingredients of any kind.

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Gingerbread Cookies
Most associated with gingerbread men, these delicious cookies cry out to be shaped into handsome little people wearing button-down coats. If that’s not your style, simply shape into round circles.

Ingredients:

Baking Instructions:

IN A BOWL, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with an electric hand mixer) beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3- 4 minutes. Add the egg replacer powder and molasses and beat for another minute. Finally, add the flour mixture and beat
until you have a smooth dough. Add a little more water-1-2 tablespoons (13-30ml)- as needed to get the right consistency. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one-half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch (6mm). Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter. If the dough gets too warm (from handling it), making it hard for the cut out cookies to keep their shape, simply refrigerate it again for about 10 minutes. Cut out the cookies using cookie cutters and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on size), or until they begin to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Serving Suggestions and Variations:
*Frost with icing, if desired. Store frosted cookies between layers of parchment paper or waked paper.
Recipe provided by :Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Founder & Director of Compassionate Cooks

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Cranberry Nut Bread
While this is the perfect fall/winter/holiday treat, it can be made any time of the year, particularly if you freeze fresh cranberries when they’re in season. Though you can certainly serve this bread right away, it’s even better a day or two later when the flavors have had time to mingle.

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Which is Better? Depends on Your Mother. Kate’s Pure Butter & Smart Balance Butter Blend

November 12, 2008 - Written by Diana

My mother came to visit.  My son asked if she wanted butter for her toast.  She said,"No one should eat butter, it’s bad for your cholesterol."  My mother in law came to a family function.  Her son(not my husband) was about to pick up the butter blend and she shoved real butter under his nose and said,"We prefer the real butter for our bread." GAH! Neither of them is really ever at the same table with the other, so they aren’t confronting each other, they are just both opinionated when it comes to butter.  I have both in my refrigerator.  I use them both equally or maybe not – you can’t make butter cookies without real butter. However, I do use them both when I feel the need. So which is better? Depends on which mother is visiting.

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