Monday, December 24, 2012

st. nick is coming...(recipe: gingerbread cookies & red velvet cookie link)

St. Nick is coming to town

Spicy, warm & crunchy-Santa will appreciate these idyllic holiday cookies.  When rolling out cookie dough, make sure you roll them 1/4" thick.  This will ensure you that your cookies will hold together nicely.

Gingerbread Cookies
yield:  18 cookies (depending on your cookie cutters)
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
Royal Icing
Sugar Sprinkles, Sanding sugar for decoration
  1. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper & salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium speed until fluffy.  Add egg and molasses to the cream butter/sugar mixture, mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until dough is formed.
  3. Shape dough into a disc and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured board to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.  Space 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets, refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm.  Bake cookies for 12 minutes, until cookies are crisp, but not dark.  Cool on sheets resting on wire racks.
  5. Pipe designs on cookies and sprinkle with sugar immediately.  Let stand for a few minutes before tapping excess sugar off of cookies.  Let icing dry for at least an hour.  Store in an airtight container for 5 days.
***To pipe designs, I use a mini squeeze bottle, available at craft supply stores.  I love squeeze bottle because they are reusable and the tip is fine enough to get by drawing designs.

Royal Icing (Quick & No Raw Eggs)
yield:  1 1/4 cup
1/2 pound confectioners sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
  1. Put sugar, meringue powder & scant 1/4 cup water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix on low until smooth, about 7 minutes.  If icing is too thick, add water, a teaspoon at a time; if too thin, mix icing a few minutes more and add more sugar if needed.
Link to Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies here.  Doesn't this color just scream Christmas!  So easy to make.  I wanted to use white chocolate chips, but didn't have any, so I followed the recipe exact.  Either way, I think Santa would approve.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

handmade-homemade (repurposing Christmas Cards & wrapping remnants)

 My front door wreath I literally threw together in 30 minutes before a holiday party

Teacher gifts of homemade marshmallows, hot chocolate mix & a mug.  Notice the mason jar covers match the mug.  I bought a coordinating napkin and cut the rounds to decorate the jars.

I've been stitching away the cutest felt ornaments for Eli's classmates.  Instructions found here

Baby's 1st Christmas.  Knitting needles clinked up this cute merino wool hat w/ felt flower applique.  I also made this cute woodland monogram.

I've been re-purposing last year's Christmas cards as well.  Using a 2" punch, I cut out scalloped circles of old cards.  I use them as gift tags and made a garland to hang in the kitchen.
To make the garland, attach punched out cards to bakers twine with color coded dot stickers (available at office supply stores).  Secure with craft glue.  String on a tree, hang in windows or drape them elsewhere for a festive look.

Don't throw your wrapping paper remnants away!  Glue paper onto clothespins and use the decorative pins to clip your Christmas cards onto ribbon or garland.  

How to:  Brush craft glue onto clothespins and lay clothespins, glue side down onto wrapping paper remnants (right side facing down).  Allow to dry.  Using an craft knife, cut paper to fit.  Repeat on other side.  Once both sides are dry, apply craft glue for a nice satin like finish.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

a silent moment (recipe: hot chocolate mix)

I rarely have a silent moment.  Those moments are so few that when I do experience absolute quiet I stop and immediately acknowledge it.  I meditate.  I exhale.  I cherish it.  I suppose I had taken silence for granted for so long that I never knew how beautiful silence could be.  Until now.

I sit here writing this post in quiet.  Just me, my fingers tapping the keys and the sound of a fan spinning overhead.  I've wrapped presents, vacuumed the stairs and rug, swept and polished Eli's floor and now I sit in the still, silent calm for a moment.

A few nights back my family took a stroll through our neighborhood000. admiring the lights.  The air was cool, the kind of coolness that seems to push the heft & weight of hot air far away, leaving the wind cleansed and pure.  And for a moment, just a hint of time, there was absolute silence.  It was a dream.  I breathed it in.  I recharged.  I exhaled.  I cherished that split second of time.

We returned home, laid Eli to bed and I poured myself a mug of Hot Chocolate.

Chocolate Chaud (Hot Chocolate Mix)
I've already packaged some of this hot chocolate mix into jam jars and will be giving them as gifts this year.  It will go great with homemade marshmallows.  It is not too sweet, dense & chocolaty.

yield:  10 cups of Hot Chocolate
6 ½ ounces dark chocolate (55-65%)
3 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder  
1 oz brown sugar
6 ½ ounces granulated sugar
1 oz cornstarch
Optional:  vanilla stick

  1. Finely grate the dark chocolate using a food processor (though be careful of it getting too hot and melting) or by hand using a fine grater.
  2. Mix the sugar, brown sugar and cornstarch into a bowl.  Rub the mixture with your fingers to ensure the cornstarch is incorporated throughout and has no lumps.
  3. Add finely grated chocolate & cocoa into the bowl with the sugar and cornstarch.  Mix until combined.
  4. Place into storage jars and store in a cool, dry place.
To make Hot Chocolate
  1. Place 3 tablespoons of hot chocolate mix into a mug.
  2. Heat 2/3 cup milk until hot, but not scalding.
  3. Pour milk into mug and stir until chocolate in dissolved.
  4. Add marshmallow or sweetened whipped cream.