I guess this is a fun way to sum up the year. 🙂 This app on Facebook called “My Year in Status” pulls random statuses from your page to sum up the year.
I’m chuckling a little at the first status on there. 🙂 Happy NYE everyone!
I might be a week late with these, but here’s proof that I did make Christmas cookies! 🙂
I excitedly drew up plans (which I did deviate from a bit) on my lunch break one day, and went to work the week before Christmas on these bad boys!
I was so excited to use pearl dust for the tree trunks. I mixed a little bit with some vodka, and just painted it on after the flood icing dried. It leaves a really pretty shimmery finish!
If you’re curious about the recipes and techniques that I use to make these happen, check out my tutorial here.
I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to cheesecake making. The first cheesecake I made was about a month ago for a potluck, and since then, I’ve been wanting to do this again! When the opportunity came up, I definitely knew which recipe to try. This time around I made this cheesecake, because I had heard so many raving reviews about Dorie Greenspan’s cheesecake recipe in Baking From My Home to Yours.
So, I made this cheesecake, simply plain and brought it to the potluck. People LOVED it, as did I. Unfortunately, this was my first water bath experience and somehow water got in there, so the crust was a little soggy. I did, however, make this again Christmas Day, wrapping more layers of foil very carefully, and the crust was perfect!
Tall and Creamy Cheesecake
Source: Baking From My Home to Yours
For the crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two (I used heavy cream)
To make the crust:
- Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
- Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides (I like to use a round glass to make it flat.). Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
- Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the cheesecake:
- Put a kettle of water on to boil (or microwave water in a bowl).
- Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
- Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
- Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
- After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
- When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a local nestie GTG to meet up with some gals that I “talk” to on the forums. There was so much food to be had there, and I made sure to try a little bit of everything. One of the nesties brought these little bars, and WOW are these bars just amazing! She insisted that they were super easy to make, and boy, were they! I made a batch of these to include in the family holiday tins, and of course, snuck a few bars for me as well. 🙂
Source: MrsSpell of the Baton Rouge Nestie Boards
- 1 c. sugar
- 1c. light corn syrup
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 c. peanut butter
- 6 c. rice krispies cereal
- 1 – 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 – 12 oz package butterscotch chips
- 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
- In a large pot cook sugar, corn syrup, and butter over med heat. Stir until completely dissolved and mixture comes to a low boil.
- Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until melted together. Add cereal and stir until coated.
- Spread mixture evenly into a greased 9 x 13 pan and pat down using slightly wet hands.
- Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips with the oil together in the microwave approx. 2 minutes stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Pour over the top of cereal treats and allow to cool for min. of one hour. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Ever since I found out that you could make your own marshmallows, I wanted to make them. The problem? I had a cheap hand mixer before our KA mixer. Now that we had the KA mixer, I had nothing holding me back from making these.
These are delicious, light and have a subtle peppermint flavor. I’m definitely putting the leftover ones from the gift tins in some hot chocolate ASAP.
Source: adapted from Alton Brown
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice cold water, divided
- 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- non-stick spray
- Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
- In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
- Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
- Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
- When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. To get red striping, add drops of red food coloring to the mixture in the pan and quickly swirl the coloring in. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Gingerbread is one of those cookies that is just a standard to have during the holidays. They are spicy, chewy and can be cut in cute holiday shapes! My siblings and I used to get the Little Debbie gingerbreads and fight over them at the house. 🙂
I decided to include these in my coworker’s baked goodies tins because they looked easy and it was something new to bake. Being that I’ve never worked with molasses, I have to admit, I thought it was going to smell like brown sugar or something similar. No way folks…this has a very different smell than imagined. In fact, I thought I had a batch of bad molasses, but I kept going with the recipe and it turns out that molasses do indeed smell unpleasant normally.
This recipe is easy to work with and yields a delicious gingerbread cookie. You will not be disappointed at all.
Rolled Gingerbread Cookies
Source: Cookie Craft
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda (if using this recipe to make a gingerbread house, omit the baking soda)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- zest of one orange
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup molasses
- Cream together the butter and sugar for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended.
- Put the flour, spices, baking soda, salt and orange zest in a medium bowl and whisk mixture together.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until the two are well blended.
- Put the dough in 3 even portions, formed into a rough disk and chill the dough in the fridge for a few hours.
- When you are ready to bake the dough, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the dough into desired shapes and place on a parchment/Silpat lined cookie sheet. ( I dipped one side of the cookie in sprinkles before placing on the cookie sheet.)
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 12-16 minutes for larger cookies; 7-9 minutes for smaller cookies or until the dough darkens a little along the edges.
- Cool cookies completely for decorating.
Makes about 36 3″ sized cookies, which equates to almost one double batch of sugar cookies.
Coworkers are typically difficult to buy for. In college, I would really only buy for fellow female student coworkers. It was easy…Starbucks gift cards, bath stuff, etc. When I graduated and got thrown into the real world, I was introduced to working in a primarily male field. I can’t shop for males, at all. I have enough trouble shopping for my husband, father and brother! So, I started making edible gifts.
Last year, I bought cute Christmas chinese take-out boxes and put decorated sugar cookies, oreo truffles and chocolate covered pretzels in them. This year, I branched out from those ideas just a little bit.
I had my first adventures of making homemade peppermint marshmallows. The KA definitely was put to use here! I couldn’t have even fathomed making these last year with a $10 hand mixer.
Another recipe from Cookie Craft that I’ve been wanting to try is their rolled gingerbread cookies. These did not disappoint.
Of course, the oreo truffles made an appearance, and this time, instead of putting a bunch in one bag, I bought cutesy Christmas foils to wrap them in!
Adorable right? I love you Hobby Lobby.
Of course, here is a small picture of the packaging in action. I will say my kitchen was a big ol’ mess after this, but it was worth it! My coworkers seemed to love the goodies. Of course, the easiest recipe (oreo truffles) became the hit of the gifts!
This past weekend, I made red velvet cupcakes for a local nestie GTG. I was so excited to make these from scratch for the first time, and so, I enlisted the help from another southern gal, Paula Deen. Sadly, Paula Deen let me down with some dry, flavorless red velvet cupcakes. I was a little embarrassed to bring these, since I hate presenting flop recipes to anyone, but I didn’t have time or ingredients to try again! So, what’s a girl to do? Make them look pretty!
I decided to make a simple cream cheese frosting (block of cream cheese, stick of butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until you get the right texture). Then, I colored the batch red and green. You know where this is going…
Yep, I wanted to swirl colors. Let me tell you..the pastry bag and I usually have a good fight over getting icing in the bag without getting it all over the top of the bag, my hands, etc. So, I found this tip on Cake Central’s forums about how to swirl with wayy less mess! Let me tell you…get your saran wrap ready, because you will want to make everything swirl colors after seeing how easy this is!
First, place a good sized sheet of saran wrap on your counter and plop icing in the center.
Roll the saran wrap into a thin log, cutting off excess wrap on the ends.
Slip the two colors (or three if you so dare) in the pastry bag, and squeeze icing out until the colors all appear.
Easy peasy swirl colors without the mess! 🙂
For the last day of the shop palooza, I’m going to feature My Three Blind Mice. My Three Blind Mice features handmade crocheted accessories, like scarfs, hats, purses and brooches! Look at some of her work below!
Her work is so beautiful and creative. The items in her shop are so cute, and it almost makes me want to fork out the needles and yarn again to get to work on making cute things. Unfortunately, time is not in my favor right now, so those things will have to wait.
My Three Blind Mice is offering all readers 10% off anything in her shop if you mention the code “nifty” in an Etsy conversation. She’ll then give you the discount via Paypal! Awesome!
And, even though there is no giveaway for this shop, you **might** want to leave some comments about what you like from her shop, because there **might** be a surprise from me next week for those who do. 🙂 I just like to keep things interesting and sneaky…
Have a good weekend!
Another classic that just screams Thanksgiving for my family is my mom’s sweet potato casserole. I made it a little lighter by using products from Splenda, and wow, was it delicious!
Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole
- 7 large sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup of butter (used 1 tbsp. of smart balance)
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (used 1/4 cup splenda br. sugar)
- 1/2 cup gran sugar (used 1/4 cup splenda blend)
- 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 bag mini marshmallows
- Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender. Allow potatoes to cool.
- Peel sweet potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Mash using a hand or stand mixer.
- Cream butter, milk in with the potatoes. Add the sugars, eggs, spices and vanilla extract and mix until well blended.
- Bake at 425 in a 9×13 pan for 15 minutes, or until brown.
- Sprinkle mini marshmallows on top, turn on the broiler and bake with the oven door open until they brown.