Sunday, December 25, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Eleven)

Okay, this is another super simple cookie, but they are soooooo delicious and easy to make that I had to whip out a batch for Santa!  I got this recipe from a fellow drama mama when we were working the concessions booth during the KLHS run of the production of Phantom of the Opera this past spring.  Her m&m cookies were so popular that we made her keep bringing them each night.  They were a huge seller!  Since the spring, I have probably made these cookies at least six or seven times!

m&m Cookies

1c shortening
1c brown sugar
½ c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 ¼ c flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag of m&m’s (recipe said 1 ½ cups but I used a lot more!) 
Blend shortening  & sugars.  Beat in vanilla & eggs.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Add sugar & egg mixture.  Stir in ½ c m&m’s.  Decorate with rest.  So here is the trick – you literally cover the entire blop of dough with m&m’s.  It looks like you could just put 5 or so on top and it will be fine, but the cookies spread when they cook so they look way better if you just cover them with the M&M’s.   Bake 375 degrees.  Normal size cookies I only do for about 8 or 9 minutes – we like them soft!  If you want them really big use ¼ cup of dough per cookie – the batch will only make about 12 or so this way.  If you make them smaller like I did the recipe will yield about 4 dozen.

Christmas Wishes...

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Ten)

Well, I told you that I had to get caught up on my cookies, so today in addition to making the swirl cookies, I through together another super simple favorite of mine.  I know that most everyone knows about these little gems already and I guess technically they aren't really a cookie, but I had to include them anyway!  I don't even know if they have a name!  I just call them the-pretzel-kiss-m&m treats!  Place a Hershey Kiss on top of a pretzel.  Put them in the oven @ 250 for about 4 minutes.  If you can squish an m&m all the way into the kiss then they're the right consistency.  Take them out of the oven and you're ready to go! 

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Nine)

These cookies were really fun to make.  I've never made anything like these before and I have to say, they took some time.  Definitely not a simple drop cookie!  Anyway, they weren't necessarily difficult to make, just time consuming.  The process was really fun though.  Taste-wise I would have to say that they were good... not fantastic, just good.  The recipe is from Our Italian Kitchen and I found them on Pinterest.  I just thought they screamed 'Christmas'.  The recipe says that you could play around with the flavors by adding different extracts.  I would definitely make these again because I enjoyed the process and the outcome, but I think I would make them red and green next time and try a tiny bit of peppermint extract.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hayley's Fifth Annual Cookie and Gift Exchange

Hayley's fifth annual Cookie and Ornament Exchange was on the 18th.  It was another fun event for the girls.  Twelve girls arrived bearing four dozen delicious cookies each.  I'm always impressed with their creativity!  The girls always start the party off with a quick game of Left, Right, Center... this year we didn't have quarters so they played with M&M's.  :)  They move right onto the gift exchange and then onto tasting and voting on their favorite cookies.  Fun times again this year!

Traditional LRC game.
Becky's darling cookies

Sarah called these 'Reindeer Droppings'

McKenna's delicious peanut-buttery cookie

Hailey made cute reindeer and some coconut snowballs.

Savannah made a different version of her cute reindeer.

Maddy A. made some supercute cookie pops.

Maddy P. made yummy Oreo Truffles.

Gabi made Harry Potter sugar cookies.  They were darling... she made all of the characters... Dobby, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Snape, Voldemort, Dumbledore, Sirius Black, etc.!  Gabi's cookies were voted (unanimously) as 'Most Creative'.

Sarah checking out Jordan's gift during the exchange.
Savannah is super excited about her gift!

Abby, Maddy & Hailey

Becky showing off her gift.

Maddy A. was hoping someone would steal her gift!

Gabi, McKenna, & Becky

Savannah & Maureen

Hayley and Mari modeling their cute gifts!

Mari won AGAIN! for 'Favorite Cookie' and Gabi won for 'Most Creative'.

Group shot of the girlies!

Crazy shot of the girlies!

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Eight)

These cookies were pretty good and very simple to whip up.  Not sure that they are a 'do-over', but still they were good.  I would've liked more of a toffee taste to them and the recipe didn't call for chocolate chips, but I thought they needed a little something so I added a half of a bag of Nestle Mini Chocolate Chips.  I got the recipe off of the Hershey's Heath Bar website.  The recipe is linked onto the cookie title if you'd like to check it out. 

50 Years

Wes' parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Thursday, December 15th.  In honor of this, we hosted a small dinner party at our house.  It ended up being a lovely, very low key evening... perfect for Mae and Glenn.  Wes put together a really sweet slide show with lots of family photos, Tiffany made a couple of special cakes and Nicole and I made the dinner.  I was actually in charge of making the Deti Family Spaghetti recipe.  I've eaten this delicious sauce plenty of times over the years, but I've never actually made it before.  I did not want to mess it up.  As I was preparing it in the morning, I called both of Wes' sisters a couple of times just to double check that I was doing certain things correctly.  Even with all of those phone calls, guess what?!  I still screwed it up!  Just as I threw in the last meatball into the sauce I realized that I had forgotten the cracker crumbs!  Aaaargh!  Needless to say, I was a little bugged with myself, but all turned out fine.  There's always next time...  Here's a few pictures of the evening.
Dylan was being helpful and tossing the salad.

Wes and Tiffany

Nicole and Wes

Travis and baby Madilyn

Cousin table... Dylan, Ashlie, Luke, and Cody

Lauren and Hayley

Glenn and Jean (Tiffany's wonderful Mother-in-Law)

Ryan and Gary (Tiffany's sweet Father-in-Law)

Ryan with his Grandma Bonnie.  We decided to celebrate her upcoming birthday... 94! 

Mae and Glenn with their kids Nicole, Tiffany, and Wes.

Congratulations on 50 Golden Years!

Had to include this cute pic of Mae with granddaughter, Ashlie.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Seven)

Chocolate Mint Cookies

These cookies were yummy!  They were given the thumbs up by everyone in my family, so I would definitely make them again.  They recipe called for decorating them with the chocolate drizzle, but I happened to have crushed candy canes on hand so I thought I'd try that as well.  I like how they both turned out equally well. 

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 squares (one ounce each) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Peppermint Frosting

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Chocolate Glaze

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375.  Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, egg and unsweetened chocolate.  Stir in flour and salt.    The dough is extremely soft, so I rolled them in sugar before I dropped the dough by rounded teaspoonsfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten each cookie with greased bottom of glass dipped in sugar.  Bake until set, about 8 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  Once cool, frost with Peppermint Frosting and then drizzle with chocolate glaze.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Six)

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

These cookies are amazing!  Probably one of my faves of all time.  This is another recipe from my good friend, Miss Gina.  She made these at my Cookie Exchange about seven years ago (surprisingly she didn't win that year... I think she was robbed!) and I've made them every Christmas since... Yum!  Another plus is that they could not be any easier to make.  Quick and few ingredients.  It's a Land O'Lakes Butter recipe.  Enjoy!

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam (I use seedless)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 to 3 teaspoons water 

1.  Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat until creamy.  Add flour; beat until well mixed.  Cover and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour).
2.  Heat oven to 350.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Place 2" apart onto ungreased cookie sheets (I always use my Silpat... love them!!).  Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb.  Fill with 1/4 teaspoon jam... do not be tempted to use more than 1/4 teaspoon... they'll spill over and be a mess!
3.  Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Let stand one minute; remove from cookie sheet and cool completely.
4.  Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract and enough water for desired glazing consistency until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Five)

Faux Turtles

Well, I've had a few busy days in a row at work, so I'm a little behind in my cookie posts. I'm playing 'catch up', so I'm going to give you an easy one today. They are so, so delicious and make a really easy neighbor gift. All you need for this recipe is a bag of Rolos candies, pretzels (I use the square shaped ones) and pecan halves. Place the pretzels on your cookie sheet. Put a rolo on top and pop them in the oven for about five minutes on 250 degrees. Once out of the oven push a pecan on top of the Rolo and chill in the fridge for a few minutes before you enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Four)

This recipe came to me from my great friend, Gina.  She just won my cookie party with this bar.  My husband LOVED them and since last week when he first tried the cookie, he's asked me to make it at least five times!  I finally got around to it today and I have to say they were quite easy to put together.  I also have to say there are F-O-U-R sticks of butter in this recipe!  It's definitely a do-over!  Yum!  Click on the recipe title to get the recipe link.  You'll love them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Three)

These cookies/bars were very easy to make and very delicious.  I used to make the single layer version of this many, many times a few years ago.  My sisters and I call the single layer version "Christmas Crack" because once you take one bite we couldn't stop eating it!  We also had another name for it... White Trash Toffee because it does taste like toffee, but it's made with saltine crackers!  Anyway, these caramel crunch bars are similar to our Christmas Crack, but they're made with three layers of Club Crackers.  I would definitely say that this recipe is worth trying at least once.  They were yummy and they yield a ton of pieces.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day Two)

I had a Bunco Party/Cookie Exchange last week and I wanted to try something that I typically wouldn't make.  I got this recipe on Pinterest (have I mentioned how much I LOVE Pinterest?!!).  The actual photo on Pinterest looked quite different and way prettier than mine ended up turning out, but I have to say I thought they were delicious!  I've never made a shortbread cookie before, so I wasn't used to the dry texture of the dough.  I also misread the amount of shortening I was supposed to add to the white chocolate coating.  Rather than adding two teaspoons, I added two tablespoons, so the consistency of my white chocolate wasn't as thick as it should've been.  Once I realized my mistake I wasn't about to waste all that good white chocolate and start over, so I just went with what I already had.  Bottom line is Luke, my little guy, absolutely loved them and I enjoyed the flavor as well.  I think that these are a re-do and I would recommend for anyone to try them!  If you'd like to try this recipe click on the name of the cookie and it will take you to the Better Homes and Garden Website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (Day One)

I'm going to attempt to make a new and different cookie for the Twelve Day Countdown to Christmas.  I'm actually cheating just a little here because the first three I tried last week.  Anyway, I will give you the recipe along with my honest opinion/review of each cookie/sweet that I make.  Enjoy!

I love all things lemon, so I couldn't wait to try these cookies!  I found the recipe on Pinterest and if you click on the name of the cookie (above) it will take you to the blog, 'See Jane Cook' which has the recipe posted.  I loved these cookies so much that I baked them for my fourteenth annual cookie exchange!  I hate to say this, but I knew they wouldn't be the winning cookie, but I loved them and that's all that mattered!  :)  These cookies actually have a bag of those candy lemon drops (ground up, of course) in them which I thought was quite unique!  You should have heard the noise when I turned on the Quisinart... yikes, it was crazy loud!  The lemon taste is very subtle and I love how they were a bit crispy and a tiny bit chewy at the same time.  I think the only thing that I changed is instead of adding just lemon juice to the icing, I cut the tartness with a bit of milk and a little lemon zest.  I would definitely make these again.  This is a perfect cookie to enjoy with a hot cup of tea!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wes' Birthday Party

Wes turned 49 today and I didn't just want to do the usual family dinner at our house.  Sooooo, I thought if a kid could have a birthday party at the roller rink then why not a 49 year old?  It was a brilliant idea if I do say so myself!  I also knew that if Wes had his choice, he would not choose to celebrate in a roller rink.... that's why it was a surprise!  tee hee.  Anyway, it ended up being a really fun way to celebrate with family.  I think it will be a tradition to do something fun and interactive for family celebrations!  Hmmmmm, maybe next year the rock climbing gym?!!
It looks like Wes is helping little Lauren to skate, but in actuality, I think Lauren was helping to hold up Uncle Wes!

Luke and cousin Ashlie

Most of the fam

Couples dance... I think I'm actually skating backwards!

Nicole, Ryan, Cody and Dylan

Happy Birthday Wesley Dean!  I love you!