Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Cookies - Day 1 - Gingerbread Cookies

These made an appearance at Georgette and Chuck's Christmas gathering. It was here that I was endlessly ridiculed and tormented for my couponing.....I'm planning a get even post....stay tuned.

1 1/2 sticks lightly salted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 orange, zested
The dry ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup additional for rolling, if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 lemon, juiced
Easy Orange Frosting, recipe follows

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, add the butter, sugar and orange zest and beat until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk to blend. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses and lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the butter and sugar are integrated, lower the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Add the egg mixture and when blended, remove the bowl from the machine. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press the first half of the dough in between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the second half. This step will make it easier to finish rolling out the dough when it has chilled. It will also mean you only have half of the dough getting warm as you roll it.

Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the first half of the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly flour the cookie cutter(s) and cut the shapes, making as few scraps as possible. Use a metal spatula to gently transfer them, cookie by cookie, (the cookies should be similar size) to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough and transfer them to another baking sheet. A note about crowding the tray(s): these particular cookies can spread a little. Leave room between the cookies. Better to use 3 baking sheets with fewer cookies than to crowd them on 2 trays. Bake until brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.

Got scraps? Form the scraps into a ball, press it flat and chill in the refrigerator. These cookies may be a little more "tough" because the dough will have been worked a little more than the others.

Easy Orange Frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
In a medium bowl add all of the ingredients and whisk together to combine. If too thick in consistency, add a touch more orange juice or water to thin out.

Lessons Learned -
- cold dough is key - less likely to stick to the rolling pin
other than that it was a pretty basic recipe. and yummy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


So I've been couponing for about 4 months (Go ahead, make fun of me Lonnie and James!) and I usually count on sites such as Macomb Money Savers and Hip2Save to tell me the deals but today, ladies and gentlemen I discovered and matched up my very first deal!!!!!

Here we go -
Toys R Us has Connect 4 on sale for $7.99
They are offering a $3.00 rebate which brings the price to $4.00
Go here and print a $5.00 off Connect 4 coupon
Final price - FREE!

According to the fine print, the rebates are available at the stores!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12 Days of Cookies - Day 6

The second batch of cookies that I made for Capri's Christmas party.

Citrus Trio Butter Dipping Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, cool but not straight from the fridge
4 ounces cream cheese, cool but not straight from the fridge
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Dash salt
Finely grated zest from 1 lime
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. On the lowest speed, gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, just until blended. Divide the batter into 3 bowls, and gently stir in the different zests among the bowls, making 3 citrus flavored batters.

Scrape each batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch tip, or a sturdy plastic bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe 2-inch long strips, about 2 inches apart, on a cold unlined baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat with the other batches.

Remove from the oven, and let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing with a spatula to cool completely on baking rack. Serve with tea or coffee, or just nibble...addictive!

Cook's Note: To butter cookie purists: these are also delicious without the zest!

Lessons Learned

1. The recipe has changed since I made these. Instead of the pastry bag, I rolled them out like a rope and sliced them into pieces rather than piping them. Your choice.

2. These would be amazing dipped in coffee!

3. Another kitchen gadget I came to love after this recipe - Microplane grater/zester!

12 Days of Cookies - Day 5

Every year Food Network releases their 12 Days of Cookies newsletter. Every year, I am crazy enough to make them - ALL of them. I have a big, 3 sided family and now being married adds more sides so we have a lot of family Christmases. Add in getting together with friends, work parties and now baby showers (YAY Alyce and Dave!) it means I have to come up with a lot of dishes to bring. I found myself stressing about it until last year. I made up all of the cookies ahead of time and whenever I had a party to attend I would just pull out my platter and load it up with various cookies - AND DONE! The glitch to that system was living in an apartment made it really hard to store dozens of a dozen types of cookies. This year, even though we are in a house, I haven't had an entire day to devote to baking so I'm making them 2 at a time. My parent's hosted their annual Capri Bakery Christmas party for all of their employees on December 6th and that was the kickoff for the holiday season. I didn't go in order with these cookies so if the days don't make sense, you know why.

Cinnamon Spiced Hot Chocolate Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Mexican cocoa powder (or subsitute by adding 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Generous pinch ground black pepper
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/2 cup dulce de leche, optional
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped, optional

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and set aside. Combine the sugars in a small bowl and mix well with your fingers pressing out any lumps. (Combine in a food processor if lumps are stubborn.)

In a medium mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the butter and margarine until creamy. Add sugar mixture, cinnamon, peppers, and vanilla. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute. Beat in the egg white and until the mixture is smooth. Stop the mixer. Add the flour mixture, beating on the lowest speed, just until incorporated.

Gather the dough together with your hands and form it into a neat log, 9 to 10 inches long by 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Fold or twist ends of the paper without pinching or flatting the log. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes, or until needed.

Put the oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Use a sharp knife to slice rounds of chilled dough, a scant 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the cookies, 1-inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through. Cookies will puff and crackle on top, and then begin to settle down slightly when done.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing or stacking. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 2 months.

To spice things up, after the cookies are baked, let them cool on a wire rack, drizzle with dulce de leche and sprinkle chopped almonds on top.

Lessons Learned

I totally copied and pasted this recipe because I didn't feel like typing it out. Just putting that out there. However, here's what I learned when doing this.

1. It pays to have better tools! Last year, I was rocking dull knives and borrowed my mom's older stand mixer plus all my other stuff was college leftovers. Thanks to everyone who blessed us with amazing wedding gifts this past year, I have much better baking tools and it makes life easier! I am IN LOVE with my Kitchenaid and Nick was laughing at me as I talked to my knives and thanked them for staying so sharp.

2. Dulce de Leche - pretty much caramel.

3. These cookies were delish!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Product Review

I was somehow able to talk my AMAZING hubby into shopping with me on Black Friday. In keeping with his amazingness (yes it's a word - even if I made it up) he stood in line at Old Navy for me while I shopped around. That line lasted an hour and a half. See - amazing! Anyway, while I was shopping around, I found these slippers for half off. Down to 2.50 from 5.00. I wear them EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and absolutely love them. I am about to head back and pay *gasp* full price because they are so wonderful. They still allow your feet to breathe, which is my complaint about socks but they aren't as obnoxious as some of the slippers I've been seen sporting in my past.

ps - Old Navy paid me nada for this post. They didn't even throw in the slippers for free. I just love them that much that I had to share the news.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Centerpiece

Inspired by my couponing and general "I'm tired of spending money" attitude lately, I decided to hold off on purchasing most of my Christmas decorations for the house until after Christmas. I'm just gonna make due with what I have. By the way, what I have is a bunch of random decorations I've accumulated over the years - nothing matches, no complete sets. Needless to say, it's made decorating this year a little challenging. I still managed, however to put together a centerpiece.

Cost breakdown

bowl (it's red, you just can't see it) - previous life - FREE

green garland - previous life - FREE

candle and holder - wedding - FREE

red garland - Target - $5.99

Not too shabby, right?