This is probably going to be a short post because I still have a tiny bit of shopping left to do today!
Here are just a couple of little things I wanted to share with you because they’re simple, take practically no time to prepare, and they’re darned TASTY! They are: my great-grandmother’s gingerbread and quick and easy saltine toffees. So good!! So here we go!
These toffee squares are just about the easiest snack/dessert to make and they’re oh-my-gosh delicious to boot! Perfect for parties or homemade gifts! I had some unexpected company this weekend and decided to whip these up for a little snack and they were a huge hit! It took literally about 10 minutes to make. I know it sounds weird because you make it with saltine crackers, but I’m telling you, it works!
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar and butter until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer. Refrigerate to harden, then break into chunks for serving. (These are soooooooooo good!!)
Ok, next up is my Baba’s gingerbread – I had been searching everywhere for a good gingerbread recipe to make for hubby one night (and coming up sort of empty handed). I should’ve known that all it took was one phone call to my mother to fix everything! She gave me this recipe – my great-grandmother, Baba’s recipe; and it’s DELICIOUS! It has just the right amount of spice and molassess….it was so good served warm with a (big ‘ol) dollop of whipped cream on top! Hubby loved it! Thanks again Baba, for yet another perfect recipe!
(Unfortunately, I was in a big hurry and didn’t have time to take very good pictures of this – I would’ve liked to top it with a little powdered sugar and some whipped cream so you could get the real effect of how good this is…but you’ll just have to use your imagination!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molassess
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup boiling water
Mix together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molassess, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, soda and salt, then add to wet mixture. Stir to combine, then add the boiling water and mix. Pour batter into a greased square pan and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until springy.
I hope you enjoy these recipes….they’re perfect for the holidays! Merry Christmas and happy baking!
To me, one of the best things about the Christmas season is baking cookies…lots of them! These are slowly becoming my favorite Christmas cookie – you can make them in a flash and everybody always seems to love them. What cookie am I talking about? Why, Monster Cookies, of course!
Oatmeal, peanut butter, holiday M&M’s….these cookies are chock full of goodies! Normally I don’t really like peanut butter-y desserts, but I made these last year for the first time and fell in love! They’re chewy, not-too-sweet, and have a little crunch, thanks to the M&M’s. I made a huge batch of these the other night for a party (yeah, the same party that I made the buttery jam cookies for) and they were definitely everyone’s favorite – especially my good buddy Susan – she loves her some cookies!
These are flourless, which I always thought was kind of weird, but it really works out – I’m tellin’ ya, these are awesome cookies! Probably a great cookie to make with your kids…if you have any….I definitely don’t have any…..not really a “kid” person….there’s a bird that sleeps on our front porch every night….that’s about as close to having kids as I get…..I doubt the bird would want to make monster cookies with me, though………….um, right…well anyway – if you’ve got some peanut butter, oats and chocolate chips or M&M’s lying around in your pantry, you can definitely make these cookies TODAY! Do it!
-slightly adapted from allrecipes.com
2 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter
2 2/3 cups peanut butter
9 cups rolled oats
2 cups M&M’s candy (I use the holiday kind)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Cream butter and peanut butter together. Add the sugars and stir until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. Mix oatmeal and baking soda separately, then stir into batter. Add M&M’s last. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
*NOTE: the above recipe makes about 10 gazillion cookies…I was smart and cut the recipe in half and still got about 3 dozen or more
**There is an updated post on this recipe- if you’d like to see it, click here
I like to think of myself as sort of a “fancy” girl – I really love big, elaborate, overdone things….nothing gets me excited like getting a big fat present, or being on stage and getting one heck of an applause. Big, elaborate stuff is great…really; but honestly, it’s the simple little things that make me really happy. Simple things like my hubby getting home from work everyday (I get so excited when I hear the garage door opening); or having a fire going in my fireplace; my mom loading me up with all of her leftover Christmas decorations; watching my favorite Christmas movie with a mug of hot chocolate; the hot guy on Lost. It’s all about the simple things.
This cake is definitely one of those simple things that puts a big ‘ol smile on my face and a “mmmMMM!” on my lips. My mom’s Cinnamon Pound Cake.
I didn’t really have that much of an appreciation for this cake when I was a little younger. My mom would make it (usually around Christmas, or in the winter) and everybody just scarfed it up (um, yeah, ‘scarfed’ is a word) and went on and on about how good it was. I personally didn’t think it was all that great- I mean, I liked it alright…I just didn’t get the “wow” factor. Don’t know why. I was in high school…I had to be difficult – otherwise everybody would’ve been bored. It wasn’t until after I was married, and was having my parents and in-laws over for a nice dinner before Christmas that I ever made this cake on my own. I was searching for a really good dessert – something that would make everybody know in their heart of hearts that I was the best little wife and cook there ever was (I don’t think such a dessert exists…) and I kept coming up empty handed. Either it was too difficult or too simple. Finally I somehow decided on the cinnamon pound cake, and as it turned out, that cake was the perfect end to a mediocre dinner (I had only been married like, 2 months…I was still working on the whole “company over for dinner” thing. I think I served a casserole…hehe). It was so delicious with a big cup of strong coffee – everybody loved it. Including me! Somehow, my tastes had changed and I grew to love that cake in just one evening! Now I make it every single year….and it’s SOOOOOO good! And SOOOOOO simple!! And the best thing is, it tastes best in the morning with your coffee…I love cake for breakfast. This cake always gets rave reviews, no matter where I take it. I sent some to work with hubby and he said his coworkers went nuts over it. Try it! I promise you’ll love it!
Cinnamon Pound Cake
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 yellow butter cake mix (don’t use white cake mix – it has to be butter!)
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup canola oil
1 – 8 oz. container sour cream (you can use reduced fat, but in my opinion, it doesn’t taste the same)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle half of the mixture in the greased bundt pan – shake it all around to coat the entire pan. Mix cake mix with pudding, oil, sour cream, eggs and other half of cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour into pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes until springy. Cool for 20 minutes before taking out of pan.
Well, I’d be lying if I said I had baked my cookies this week like a good little TWD baker – I didn’t. In fact, I was so busy making those 12 batches of cookies for my mother-in-law, I didn’t even get around to thinking about this weeks’ recipe! I know….bad Amy, bad! BUT– the good news is, I’ve made these cookies before, so I can at least say that I’ve tried them and they’re the most perfect sugar cookies I’ve ever eaten!
This week, Ulrike of Kuchenlatein chose Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Coookies, and let me tell you – these are awesome sugar cookies! They’re my go-to sugar cookie recipe from now on. I made them when my nephew came to visit for a few days and we made these together – he said they were the best cookies he’d ever had!
Go check out Ulrike’s blog for the recipe! Sorry I sort of “cheated” this week and posted re-run pictures! Happy baking!
First, let me clarify – before I got married, the extent of my baking (besides helping my mom in the kitchen every now and then) was break and bake cookies or a boxed cake mix of some sort. In college, I baked a few things from time to time for Tyler and Seth, the boys who lived across the way from my roommate and me; but really, when it came to “real” baking – not using boxed mixes or slice-n-bake cookies- I didn’t do much of it at all! Then I started dating my hubby and somehow, my affections came out through baking…who ever saw that coming! I would send him boxes of cookies in the mail (he was at one college, and I was at another) and bake him special cakes when he’d come to visit for the weekend. So now, after two years of marriage, somehow my baking abilities have gone from store bought cookie dough to making up my own kinds of cookie recipes, homemade frostings, ganache, and all kinds of other things! Yay me! I totally found my niche…baking is what I love doing now (besides opera) and I’m getting better and better everyday! (I still have a LONG way to go, however!)
So since I’ve started this food blog, my friends and family have started seeing me as more of a serious cook/baker. They ask for recipes and call with cooking questions, which is amazingly flattering; and most recently, my mother-in-law asked if I would make cookies for her work Christmas party! How exciting! Can I call myself a professional caterer now?? No? Ok fine….worth a try….
She said I could make any kinds I wanted, but the only request she had was for me to make the oatmeal with golden raisins, pecans and coconut that I had made for them recently. No problem! So…without further ado, here are the heaps and mounds of cookies I made yesterday!
First up, Jan’s favorite. Essentially, an oatmeal raisin cookie, jazzed up a bit…Amy style! (I’m also sending these particular cookies into Joelen’s Holiday Cookie Swap blogging event, by the way!)
Oatmeal with Golden Raisins, Coconut and Pecans
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 – 1 cup (however much you want, really) shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream both sugars and butter until light and fluffy and smooth. Add egg, half and half and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the oat mixture, walnuts, raisins and coconut. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in rounded spoonfuls (or you can use a cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 13 -15 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Second: the chocolate mint cookies (which I have appropriately re-named, “Chocolate Mint Puddles”). A full recipe makes about a TON of these cookies…but they’re so amazingly good!! My favorite Christmas cookie, as a matter of fact! How can you go wrong with chocolate and Andes mints??
Chocolate Mint Puddles
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (4.5 ounce) packages chocolate covered thin mints (Andes mints)
In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips until melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, be careful not to overbake. When cookies come out of the oven, Press one mint wafer into the top of each cookie and let sit for 1 minute. When the mint is softened, swirl with the back of a spoon or toothpick to make a pattern with the green filling of the mint wafer. For smaller cookies, break mints in half.
Third on the list, my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie – the “BFCCC” (big, fat, chocolate chip cookies…I think chewy is supposed to go in there somewhere, too…). I made these not long after hubby and I were married and they became an instant hit with my entire family!
And in the haste of my cookie-making….this happened: A prime example of what NOT to do when you’re making cookies for your mother-in-law:
UGH. Just don’t ask…..its the spatula’s fault! That’s all I’m going to say about it!
Big, Fat, Chocolate Chip Cookies (the BEST!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use almost an entire package of chips…)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted (If you’re making smaller cookies like mine, bake them for about 12 minutes). Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
And last but not least, last week’s Tuesdays with Dorie cookie – the Linzer Sable (except that I didn’t make them into sandwich cookies, so I guess they’re just Sables…)
1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
2 teaspoons water
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Using a fork, stir the egg and water together in a small bowl.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. If the dough comes together but some dry crumbs remain in the bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a rubber spatula or your hands.
Divide the dough in half. Working ,,~th one half at a time, put the dough between two large sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk, then grab a rolling pin and roll out the dough, turning it over frequently so that the paper doesn’t cut into it, until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Leave the dough in the paper and repeat with the second piece of dough. Transfer the wrapped dough to a baking sheet or cutting board (to keep it flat) and refrigerate or freeze it until it is very firm, about 2 hours in the refrigerator or about 45 minutes in the freezer. The rolled-out dough can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just thaw the dough enough to cut out the cookies and go on from there.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Peel off the top sheet of wax paper from one piece of dough and, using a 2-inch round cookie cutter-a scalloped cutter is nice for these-cut out as many cookies as you can. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheets, leaving a little space between the cookies. Set the scraps aside-you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk and roll and cut more cookies.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden, dry and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the second disk of dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches. Gather the scraps of dough together, press them into a disk, roll them between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, then cut and bake.
So there you have it – the plethora of cookies (12 batches in all) I’ve been busy making. This has really been a lot of fun, though… I couldn’t justify making all these different kinds of cookies for just hubby and me – so this gave me an excuse to get in the kitchen and bake my little heart out! 🙂 Happy baking and Merry Christmas!!
How exciting!! I am so giddy about being a member of TWD during the Christmas season!! And not only that, but to actually have a food blog during all this wonderful holiday baking (Sing For Your Supper is only 8 months old, so holiday blogging is a new experience for me!)! I love baking Christmas cookies – like every cook/baker, my love for holiday baking started when my sister and I were kids and my mom would let us help her make all kinds of Christmas cookies. One particular kind I can remember making the most were called Santa’s Whiskers- sugar cookies that had a rim of coconut and maybe a few other things, I can’t quite remember. I actually never ate those cookies – I didn’t like them (it’s a coconut thing), but really enjoyed making them with my mom. So, naturally, I was super excited to see all the cookies chosen for TWD’s December line-up! Linzer Sables, Sugar Cookies, Buttery Jam Cookies….all kinds of fun stuff, and perfect for the holidays!
This week’s recipe was Linzer Sables, chosen by Noskos of Living the Life. Crisp, buttery cookies cut into cute shapes and filled with jam (or in my case, Nutella…genius!). These were great…I actually misread the recipe, as I so often do, and added 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt instead of 1/4 teaspoon (JEEZ, Amy!!), but they were still really good – you didn’t even notice the extra bit of salt! The Nutella was DELICIOUS all smushed up between these little cookies….sheer bliss!
A little tip: these cookies are perfect with some steaming hot chocolate on a cold night….especially after you’ve just been out in the cold all night trying to hang Christmas lights on the dang house. Just a suggestion.
Go check out Noskos’ blog if you would like Dorie’s recipe for Linzer Sables…..these are perfect for your next Christmas party!