Ginger Molasses Men

For Christmas, my brother gave me all the items seen above: Ginger Molasses Cookie Mix, a gingerbread man cookie cutter, and christmas baking spatulas.  It was clear what this gift was for.  I was to make gingerbread men!  He loves ginger cookies so I made them on Christmas day when I would still be home at my mom’s house (hence why this kitchen may look different than where I usually cook) with him. This was a very easy mix which only required the addition of some unsalted butter and one egg.

So I set to work right after cleaning my new tools and getting the “factory” off of them- you never know what weird stuff might be on new items!  You can also see another of my new tools in the top right of the photo above- my new mixer (which I mentioned in my last post)!! After mixing the egg, butter, and mixture together as the box instructed, the dough had to refrigerate for a half hour while I relaxed and watched Bridesmaids with my family (if you haven’t seen it you need to).

In this photo you can see one of the really neat things about this mix- it contains actual pieces of crystallized ginger which I thought added a nice touch.  After a half hour of chilling out, I set to cutting out little gingerbread men.  Funnily enough, these things really expand when they are in the oven, and we ended up having Gingerbread Sumo Men instead of regular ones! HAHA!

But regardless of their silly size they were absolutely yummy, and I usually don’t even like gingerbread so I think that says a lot.  I would highly recommend this mix which is available at your local Williams Sonoma, and likely other places I don’t know of.

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I am thankful, lucky, and loved.

My entire life I have been fortunate enough to have merry and generous Christmases, year after year.  The greatest Christmas was 10 years ago when I was given my pet cat, and this year was just as special, but in a different way.

This year I asked for kitchen and baking items that would be both pretty and practical, and my wonderful family more than came through.  I take a lot of pride in giving good gifts, but this year everyone beat me at my own game.

Thank you to my wonderful mom who got me a KitchenAid stand mixer.  It is not only beautiful, but it is a heavy duty machine that I never dreamed I would own so early on in life, but thanks to mom I do, and my baking will be easier and better!  I hope to collect various attachments over the year, the first on my list is the ice cream maker, and to eventually make anything and everything with my amazing new mixer!!  I have been calling it “My Machine” which will likely stick and become its life-long nickname.  This was such a generous and exciting gift to receive, but it makes sense to come from the person who has inspired my love for baking.

Thank you to my awesome Dad who diligently monitors Woot! on a daily basis, where he found a great Pyrex Bakeware set which was then shipped, wrapped, and placed under the tree for me.  Pyrex is amazing and an incredible upgrade from the horrible old pans I have been using that burn everything and are odd shapes, and I am thrilled to use this set.

Thank you to my big sister whose creativity is unchallenged for a new set of home-made place-mats to make my kitchen table more hilarious and aesthetically appealing, as well as my new measuring cups which have feet, a tail, and a cat face/head on them! These could not be more appropriate for my kitchen in any possible way.

Thank you to my little brother who is secretly a total sweetheart for a beautifully wrapped perfectly appropriate Christmas gift- a gingerbread cookie mix, gingerbread man cookie cutter, gingerbread man rubber spatula as well as mini holiday spatulas from Williams Sonoma where he works.  Williams Sonoma stuff is great quality and these new holiday items will probably last more Christmases than me!  We made the gingerbread men on Christmas night for dessert (watch for post about this) and they were delicious and he enjoyed a few of them which couldn’t have made me happier.

Thank you from my boyfriend and I to our next door neighbor who surprised us with a gift that had my name written all over it- cat salt and pepper shakers.  These things are freaking adorable and useful, and just by chance happen to match my new cat measuring cups.  Amazing!!

Thank you to my various relatives and boyfriend’s family who were all very generous and thoughtful as well.

And last but certainly not least, thank you to my boyfriend, my best friend and biggest fan for a new purple laptop case (which I have wanted for three years), and a Nintendo 3DS so that I can have fun outside of the kitchen too!

I hope you all also had a great holiday, and I am sorry this post is photo-less, I am too tired to do that much work but wanted to get this up while it is still relevant.  You will surely be seeing all of my new kitchen items in future posts!

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Okay, it has been WAY too long since my last post and I’m sorry!  But this post should be worth the wait!

I don’t know if I have said this yet, but I get my love for baking from my mom.  My whole life my siblings and I have been spoiled with delicious home made treats and as a kid I loved to help her and as I got older learned from her and became the baker and cook I am today.

My mom is a great baker, and an even better mom!  I told her I was feeling like making Christmas sugar cookies, so of course she mailed me a box of cookie cutters so I wouldn’t have to go buy some.

 

 

 

Now, before this , I never even actually really liked sugar cookies and mostly wanted to make them for the nostalgia- my siblings and I used to always make and decorate them at the holidays.  I also was feeling very much in the Christmas spirit, I even pulled out my holiday oven mitts, which I never got around to doing last year.

I got even more excited when I found this recipe at Fork vs. Spoon because they actually sounded yummy to me- a first with sugar cookies.  So, I got to work, and with two days off from my real work, I was able to really take time with these, and the result was DELICIOUS.  I actually like sugar cookies now…well at least these ones!  The next day I brought about half of them to work and they all got eaten that same day-that’s how good they are.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies (recipe makes about 2 dozen)

Ingredients (for cookies)

    • 1 Cup Butter ( 2 sticks), room temperature
    • 3 Ounces Cream Cheese, room temperature (they make cute little blocks in the 3 ounce size, amazing)
    • 1 Cup White Sugar
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
    • 2 + 1/4 Cup Flour

Icing Ingredients  (makes about 2 cups)

  • 1 Stick Butter, softened
  • 4 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together  butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add sugar and continue to cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla extract, and salt.  Beat until well mixed.
  4. With mixer on low, slowly add flour and mix until flour is completely incorporated – scrape down the sides of the bowl and bottom of the bowl half way through mixing so everything gets incorporated.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil/plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hour or overnight.

After the dough has chilled for at least 8 hours:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the cookie dough out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch and with cookie cutters, cut out shapes to your desire
  3. Place cut outs onto ungreased/parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, just until the bottoms begin to brown.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for about 3 to 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.
  5. Once completly cool you can ice them if you like, but they are also good plain! BUT DO NOT ice until they are completely cool, or your icing will melt.
For icing:
  1. In a medium bowl, cream butter.
  2. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar and beat until combined.
  3. With mixer still on low, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time and then add vanilla.
  4. Increase mixer spead and beat until desired consistency is met, the more it is whipped the more airy it will be.
  5. Divide icing into bowls and add food coloring.
  6. Ice cookies.
  7. Allow icing to dry completely and then place in an air-tight container to keep them fresh.

I made…

Brown Sugar Rudolphs

Stockings

 

Trees

 

Stars

And Snowmen!!

 

 

They were cute and delicious. Happy Holidays Everyone!

My little tree

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toll House chocolate chip cookies will forever be one of my favorites, even if only for nostalgia.  I made these for my friend Leslie, who helped me out BIG TIME with a paper I had to write, she and her roommates finished them the same night I gave them to her which just proves their deliciousness!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2 .Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
5. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
6. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

An Easy Night: Dessert

I generally prefer not to use box mixes, but this is one I love- Dr. Oetker’s Organic Chocolate Chip Cookie mix.  They are fantastic fresh out of the oven, and if you take them out at the right time, they stay soft for days.

All you need aside from the mix is 1/3 cup of butter, and an egg- blend them together.

Then gradually add the mix in.

Then place 1 inch balls onto cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 and Voile! Yummy goodness.

An Easy Night: Dinner

This is an easy chicken I make relatively frequently.  You can pair a number of sides with it depending on what you’re in the mood for, tonight we had broccoli and Near East’s Wild Mushroom Pilaf (hence it being an easy dinner!).  It is helpful to thaw your chicken ahead of time, I usually take it out of the freezer in the morning.  I don’t use distinct measurements though, you kind of just have to guestimate how much of each you want.  I use a loaf pan, because it is the perfect size to make two servings.  Place the chicken in the pan, then add a bit of olive oil and red wine, and then fill with chicken broth so that there is liquid up to the top of the chicken breasts.  I then add a few cloves of garlic and some onions around the breasts and top with salt and pepper.  Cook for about twenty-five minutes at 350, turning over once in between.  The result is a very tender, juicy, and flavorful roasted chicken.

Near East is probably the best rice mix company on the market.  They have a variety of flavors without all of the chemicals you find in most rice mixes.  When I last went grocery shopping I picked this up because I knew I was going to have a busy week and wanted some easy options.  I would have liked to add some fresh veggies to it, but sadly all I had was the broccoli and I chose to make that separately.  The rice is still very yummy though!

I tend not to steam my vegetables, but saute them, except in the case of broccoli.  However, I don’t do a traditional steam.  I chop up a head of broccoli and put it into the smallest sauce pan I have.  Then I pour in chicken broth, wine, olive oil, salt and pepper so that the broccoli is only about 1/4th in liquid with the rest exposed to the air.  This creates a steam environment that is much more flavorful than just a water steam.  You have to be sure to stir/turn your broccoli frequently   though in order to get an even cook.

So there’s a delicious, light, easy, and healthy dinner for you to try out!