Saturday, December 24, 2011

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...Peanut Butter Blossoms

I want to end this journey with my favorite holiday treat which is the peanut butter blossom cookie.  Peanut butter cookies in general are my favorite cookie.  And then you throw in chocolate and YUMMO!


PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS
http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/5191/Peanut%20Butter%20Blossoms.aspx


  • 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown 
  • sugar

  • egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Granulated sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates. 

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each 
cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. 
About 4 dozen cookies.



FYI, I make my balls too big.  This recipe should make 48 cookies.  I made 24!  And I do that every year.  They're still delicious!  Also, I know some people prefer to use the Brach's chocolate star which is totally okay to use instead of the kiss but as a kiss lover, I don't know why anyone would want to do that.  ;p  

Summary of these 12 days

I had a lot of fun doing these recipes.  It definitely kept me focused, that's for sure.  I have learned you can never have too many measuring cups and spoons, storage tins or time!  I've also learned that I am my worst critic.  

My favorite recipe to make this year was the crock pot candy or as my friend Wendy called it "Crack Pipe Candy".    I was disappointed to hear this recipe didn't work out for some of you, with the complaint that the nuts got burnt.  The only thing I can think of is that perhaps your crock pot had a higher wattage than regular crock pots which would have cooked the ingredients instead of melting them.  Interesting fact about the crock pot.  The term "crock pot" is a licensed name that the Rival brand calls their slow cookers.  So all Crock Pots are slow cookers but not all slow cookers are Crock Pots.  Kind of like the name Kleenex.  Not all tissues are from the brand Kleenex but you sure do hear people calling all tissues that, even if they're referring to the roll of toilet paper they stole from the restroom at work.  

And I must say it felt pretty awesome to finally conquer not only peanut brittle but sugar cookies as well.  And to finally make gingerbread men since I've been putting them off for years for fear I would mess them up.  The gingerbread men still taste so good and are still super soft.  

I do think this will be the last time I make so many treats at once.  I enjoyed challenging myself but man, oh, man was that  a lot of work!   I'm looking forward to making a scrapbook of all my favorite holiday treat recipes and am happy to add some of the new ones to it to make every year.  

I hope you enjoyed this series.  I'm really excited about getting my kitchen back and making delicious dinners again and perhaps sharing a recipe or two with you.  I have a few crafty projects coming up as well.  See you then!  

Happy Holidays, 
Jules  

P.S.  My dad and his wife got me a new hand mixer for Christmas.  Yay!  And it looks like I'll be getting that Urban Decay Naked2 palette for Christmas after all thanks to Miss Anastasia Beaverhausen!  

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...Iced Sugar Cookies

Today I managed to scratch one thing off of my bucket list.  I've finally made a decent batch of sugar cookies!  I'm so happy and feel so accomplished.


I've always messed up sugar cookies.  I overcook them or I burn them.  I never seem to get them right.  Even when I buy the Pillsbury already made dough.  I just sucked at it.  My friend Courtney makes really good sugar cookies so I asked if she would give me her recipe.  And she did.


Courtney's Sugar Cookies 


1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar 
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups all purpose flour

Beat butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking powder and a dash of salt.  Beat til combined, scraping the bowl.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in remaining flour.  Divide the dough in half  Cover and chill for 3 hours or until easy to handle.  

On a slightly floured surface, roll half at a time to 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out with cookie cutters.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees  for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned.  Cool on rack.   Makes approximately 18 cookies.  


ICING:  

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp  light corn syrup
1/4 tsp almond extract
assorted food coloring 

In a small bowl stir together powdered sugar and milk until smooth.  You may need to stir in more milk to get smooth.  Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy.  If the icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.  

Divide into separate bowls and add food coloring to each desired intensity.  Dip cookies or paint them with a brush.  




I was so pleased to have finally made one decent batch of sugar cookies.  These cookies are not as soft as I'd like them to be but only because I rolled them on the thin side.  That's the great thing about sugar cookies.  If you're a fan of the thin, crispy cookie you can roll them on the thin side.  If you like them soft you can roll them to 1/2 inch thick. Now that I know this, I'll be sure to do the 1/2 inch cookies. 

And by the way, I still don't have a hand mixer so this was all stirred the old fashion way.  And boy, can my wrist tell it!  Seriously, I need to get a new hand mixer.  

TIP: You may want to leave the dough out for a bit before rolling.  The dough will be really firm once you take it out of the fridge.  

Stars tend to cut on the thin side, especially at the points.  Keep that in mind if you're wanting really soft cookies.  

Tomorrow:  Peanut Butter Blossoms  (my favorite!)

Thanks, 
Jules 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the Tenth Day of Christmas...Salted Nut Roll Bars

I couldn't find my recipe card for this tonight.  I looked through all of recipe books and other various places it could be but couldn't find it anywhere so I had to use Google to help me find another one.

I make these every year, especially since my sister in law Jill loves them.  They taste pretty much like the Salted Nut Roll candy bar you buy at the store.


SALTED NUT ROLL BARS
http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1610,152165-244202,00.html
 
1 1/2 (16 oz.) jars dry roasted peanuts
1 (12 oz.) pkg. peanut butter chips
1 (10 1/2 oz.) pkg. mini marshmallows
3 tbsp. butter
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter and chips. Add sweetened condensed milk. Cook for 2 minutes. Put in 1/2 of marshmallows. Let them melt, then add other half. Grease pan, cover bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan with half of the peanuts. Add cooked mixture; spread. Then add rest of peanuts.




You can substitute the peanut butter chips for peanut butter, which is what I did tonight.  I don't recommend it.  The peanut butter chips melt more smoothly  which will make your recipe easier.  I only did it because I forgot the peanut butter chips the last time I went to the store and I was too lazy to go back.

I have never tried this before but I don't see why you couldn't put some sort of chocolate over the top of it to make it taste like a Payday candy bar.  I bet that would be delicious.

Tomorrow I will be attempting frosted sugar cookies.  Wish me luck because I will surely need it.

Thanks,
Jules 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...Puppy Chow

I'm going to make this short and sweet.  I think most people know what puppy chow is.  Or you may know it as the Chex Muddy Buddies.  Okay, so both names are not the greatest.   Dog food and I'm not even going to tell you what I think of when I hear "muddy buddies".  

Puppy Chow

9 cups of Chex (rice, chocolate or corn)
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 1/2 cups of powder sugar 

Measure cereal into large bowl and set aside.  


In 1 quart microwaveable bowl,  microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until very coated.  


Pour into 2 gallon resealable food storage plastic bag.  I used the Tupperware big ass huge bowl.  


Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag and shake the ever loving shit out of it.  Spread on waxed paper to cool.  Store in airtight container in fridge.  




Note: The original recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I use milk chocolate.  Makes it sweeter.  Also, I never put this on wax paper.  I just keep it right in the bowl and I don't even put it in the fridge.  


I make this every year but for some reason, this batch sucked donkey balls.  It didn't want to coat very well.  The recipe calls for 9 cups of cereal but the box had 12 cups so I tried to add more of the other ingredients as well.  I may have not had enough which is why it didn't coat well.  So stick with the recipe and you'll be a-ok.  


Tomorrow's treat: Salted Nut Rolls  


Thanks, 
Jules 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Mmmm,  gooey chocolate crinkle cookies.  I've had the pleasure of eating these things over the years but have never made them myself.  It's one of those recipes that seemed easy enough.  As I mentioned in my last blog, my hand mixer is broken so I did all of this by hand.  Go me!  


Chocolate Crinkle Cookies


Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 stick Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Beat brown sugar, shortening and vanilla in large bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill 3 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar to coat completely. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.  Make approximately 3 cookies.  

Not quite what I expected them to look like.  I thought they would be flatter.

These babies may not be flat but look at the ooey gooeyness!  

These get a high rating from me on taste.  They're a bit crispy on the outside and soft & gooey on the inside.  Perfect taste.  The appearance was not that great or at the very least, not what I expected.  As I mentioned, I thought these would be more flat.  Another thing I noticed was the powdered sugar took on a pasty texture, rather than a powdery one.  Now mind you, the paste was delicious, kind of like icing.  But I'm not sure that this is what they were supposed to look like.  If I make these cookies again, I may try a different recipe to see if I get other results.  

Thanks, 
Jules 

Stay tuned for puppy chow! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...Gingerbread Men

Guess what!  Today is my mom's birthday!  She is 62 years young and is happy to be collecting social security. Woo hoo!  I took the day off work to spend time with her and she was gracious enough to help me make some gingerbread men.  


Moms, all ready to bake.  Doesn't she look so cute?




Gingerbread Men
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mccormick-gingerbread-men-cookies-2/detail.aspx
Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons  Ground Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon  Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon  Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses (I chose the mild molasses)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.





I cheated and used a Wilton's white frosting tube with a round tip.  


Something you need to know about my mom was that she was not the "baking cookies" kind of mom.  She made bars and cakes and other assorted treats but did not have the patience for the cookie, especially if there was rolling involved.  And now I see why.  Rolling cookies is hard!  


Tips:  We originally laid flour out on wax paper and attempted to roll out the dough.  That didn't work because the paper kept moving with the roller.  We eventually put flour right on the counter top and started rolling away.  Also, quick, short rolls work best.  Something else to keep in mind, rather than cutting out several "men", do a few at a time, then re-roll and cut more men until you have no more dough left.  And when you cut into the dough, wiggle your cookie cutter around to make sure you're cutting through all of the dough.  You'll find that as you keep rolling, the dough will be more workable.  


I've found that with gingerbread men, you either like them or you don't.  I happen to like them so I would say this is a pretty easy recipe to make.  My hand mixer took a shit on me so I mixed these by hand and it still was pretty easy.  Not only was the recipe simple, it was a good recipe.  It had nice flavoring.  I was very impressed and glad that I didn't run into any problems.  




Join me tomorrow when I attempt Chocolate Crinkle Cookies


Thanks, 
Jules  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...Chocolate Pretzels

So I had planned on blogging about almond bark pretzels tonight.  But the white chocolate was being a butthole and not melting so I pulled out my plan B...Chocolate Pretzels.

Chocolate Pretzels
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-pretzels/detail.aspx

24 circular pretzels
24 Hershey Kisses
24 M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pretzels on baking sheet.  Do NOT place parchment paper.  Unwrap kisses and place in the center of the pretzel.  Put the cookie sheet in the oven for 1-2 minutes.  It's very important to not cook any longer than that as you will burn the kisses.  The kisses will still be in "kiss" form when you pull the sheet out.  Place an M&M on each kiss and push down.  Put baking sheet in the fridge to set.  




Well, the first batch didn't turn out so hot.  I stupidly put parchment paper down and the kiss wasn't that melted.  So I even more stupidly put the sheet back in the oven.  I ended up with burnt kisses.  Since my almond bark pretzels didn't turn out, I was really feeling like a failure.  I put in another batch and these turned out okay.  It's kind of messy putting those M&Ms in.  They're not as "pretty" as I would like them to be.  I guess next time I make them I'll place the M&M on the kiss and mash it in with a spoon.  


Warning:  These are highly addictive.  


In regards to the almond bark pretzels, I will be making these.  I make these every year which is why I'm surprised they didn't turn out.   I used white chocolate chips, which I've used before.  It's quite possible these chips may have been older but next time I will use almond bark.  


Tomorrow is my mom's birthday and she will be coming over to my house to help me make gingerbread men.  I personally haven't made gingerbread men since the 5th grade.  This oughtta be good.  


Thanks, 
Jules 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...Peanut Butter Balls

My next recipe is one that I've made a few times over the years although it's been awhile since the last time I made them.  One of my favorite non-homemade treats are the Reese's Peanut Butter Trees.  The recipe I have for my peanut butter balls is kind of similar to those.

PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

Ingredients:
3 cups of peanut butter
1 cup of butter
Powdered sugar (3 cups or more)
1 package chocolate almond bark

Melt peanut butter and butter on low heat.  After melted, stir in powdered sugar.  I suggest doing 1 cup at a time and keep stirring until it has enough consistency to roll into balls but isn't sticky.  I ended up using 4 cups but after tasting, I think 3 or 3 1/2 might have been better.  Let cool before you roll them into balls.


Melt the almond bark in separate pan.  Once the peanut butter mix is not hot, roll into balls and dip in the almond bark.  I use tongs for the dipping process.  Place the chocolate balls on waxed paper.  Let the chocolate harden.  This should make about 50 balls.

*Tip: Remember, you're not cooking the almond bark, you're melting it.  Keep the heat low.  I say this because I scorched mine and now I have little chunkies in my chocolate.





Do you know how hard it is not to crack some jokes on this particular blog?  I was about ready to type "I think I made my balls too big".   Oh, how I love the double entendre!  But seriously, in the case of peanut butter balls (and most other balls), you don't want them to be too big.  You want to be able to taste the chocolate.  


Tomorrow:  Almond bark pretzels

Friday, December 16, 2011

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...Pretzel Turtles

My next recipe is truly a no-brainer.   It took less than 15 minutes to prepare and "bake".  It only has 3 ingredients and it's a perfect kid friendly treat to make.  

Pretzel Turtles
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pretzel-turtles/detail.aspx

Ingredients: 
20 small mini pretzels
20 chocolate covered caramel candies
20 pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 
Arrange pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel. 
Bake for 4 minutes.  While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzels.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  



These were like little drops of heaven in my mouth.  So yummy!  It kind of tasted like a Take 5 candy bar.  Just to clarify the ingredients, I used the circle pretzels by Rold Gold and Hy-Vee brand chocolate covered caramel candies that were in the candy section.  I felt like this variation needed more pretzel.  The chocolate covered caramel candy was a little big.  If you use the circle pretzels, I would recommend using Rolos for your candy.  I think you would get more of an even amount of pretzel and chocolate in each bite.  Now if you choose to use the bigger chocolate caramels, I would recommend using a mini twisted pretzel or even one of those waffle looking ones.  Any way you make it, this is good and you can't really mess it up.  And it stores nicely in a Ziploc bag.  


What's up for tomorrow?  Peanut  Butter Balls

Thanks, 
Jules