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Monday, December 19, 2011

Pattern Cookies





Making the cookies:

3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium size bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg together.  In a separate bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.  Roll dough out on a well-floured surface.  (I like to use a pastry cloth.)  Cut out dough with cookie cutter shapes.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.  Do not over bake.  Cool and decorate with icing and sprinkles.

(Note:  I never put my dough in the refrigerator.  I prefer to work with a soft dough.)

Icing:

4 cups powdered sugar
4-6 tbsp. milk or water
food coloring

Put the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and add water or milk slowly until you get a spreading consistency.

DELICIOUS!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pretzel Stars



From Megan's Kitchen

The Star is important this time of year,
It represents a scene we all hold most dear.
It watched over the Christ child that special night,
Guiding the Wisemen with it’s leading light.
THIS star is also special without a doubt,
But this star is going straight to my mouth! 
I have been wanting to make homemade pretzels for some time now and since everything has to be Christmas related this time of year, I made them into stars! Pretzel dough is super easy to make and these take no time at all. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put 1-1/2 cups warm water into your mixer and add 1 packet yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp). Add 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Slowly add 4 cups of flour making sure you don't let your dough get too stiff. I just dumped all four cups in and my dough was SUPER stiff. It was hard to work with but the pretzels tasted great. Next time I will definitely take my own advice and add it slow :). Once the dough has formed a ball remove it from your mixer. I divided the dough into 4 sections and made giant pretzels, you can always make more smaller ones. Roll the dough out and then twist into the shape of a star. Put it on a greased cookie sheet and then brush the tops with a beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt (or cinnamon sugar if you want a sweet pretzel!). Bake for 12-15 minutes.





 I made a cheesy sauce to dip our pretzels in and my husband was in Heaven! To do this melt 2 tbsp of butter in a sauce pan. Add 3 tbsp of flour and heat until bubbly while stirring constantly. Slowly add 1 cup of milk and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Add 1/2 tsp. paprika, red pepper OR cayenne pepper. Slowly add 1-1/2 sharp or mild cheddar cheese being careful to not let the mixture return to a boil. Serve hot with pretzels and enjoy!



Monday, December 12, 2011

Once there was a Snowman...

From Megan's Kitchen

Dear Winter, I love you, but I’ve had enough,
Of this fluffy, white, swirly, wet, icy stuff.
It’s Anchorage so I get it, you’re just doing your job,
But you’re doing it so well, you’re becoming a snob.
 Already three times the snow as last year!
And still more to come is the news that I hear.
That’s crazy, absurd and just down right rude,
Your slowly weighing down my Christmas-time mood.
Now I’m not a Grinch (though my husband might debate),
But I have my limits so let’s get this straight.
Outside you may have all rights to roam,
But don't think I don't see you sneaking into my home!


Ladies, it's time to make some snowmen cupcakes! I've been wanting to make snowmen for a little while but I hesitated because I didn't know if they would hold together when I dipped them. So first I decided NOT to make them out of cake pops. Instead, I took a packaged of Nutter Butters and 8 oz. of cream cheese and threw them in my mixer (be careful...the cookies might revolt and jump out of the mixer to attack you!). I let my mixer run until there were no more chunks.


 Then I started rolling the balls for my snowmen.


 I mounted them on toothpicks just so it took up less space in my fridge.


 Refrigerate them for a couple of hours (or over night) and then transfer them to a skewer...you can actually put them on the skewer in the first place but I found it easier once the balls were harder. Cut a piece off a tootsie roll and roll it into a hat. Stick it on the end of the skewer. This will also help keep your snowman in place when you dip him.


 Melt candy melt in a small deep cup or bowl. Dunk the snowman in covering him all the way to the skewer.


 Pull him out and tap your wrist while spinning him to get the excess candy melt off.


 Immediately decorate him while he is still wet. I used a chocolate covered sunflower seed for his nose, sprinkles for his buttons and I cut pretzels for his arms.


 Once he has dried you can finish decorating him. Melt some chocolate chips in a small measuring cup and dip his hat in. Then put that melted chocolate in a squeeze bottle and pipe a brim around his hat. I used black decorating gel for his eyes and mouth but you can also you an edible pen. I used tube frosted to make his scarf. Cut the skewer down, stick him in your favorite cupcake or leave him as is and you are done!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Christmas Tree



The kitchen's a mess, flour everywhere, 
And yes some dough even got in my hair.
But I'm in a rush, holiday cooking to do,
I don't even have a minute to think things through.
Watching the oven while the dishes pile up,
Oh shoot, that was only supposed to be half a cup!
Check the clock, guests soon to arrive,
Hopefully they find me still alive. 
So much effort, but not much to show, 
oh the woes of working with dough. 

From Megan's Kitchen

This is how I found myself feeling as I was trying to come up with the below Christmas treat. For weeks I had these brilliant ideas of how to turn bread into different Christmas trees...would it surprise you to know things didn't work out quite as I had envisioned? 2 of the 3 ideas were a flop and this one had so much potential, but I messed it up in the final hour. Never, I mean NEVER try to decorate anything when it is still warm. I know this...this is not a shock. But still, I was hurrying and then after all the effort that went into it, I just wanted to be done. And all my nice christmas tree decorations melted into a nice sugary puddle. The final picture is the tree redecorated over the melted decorations and it just isn't what I wanted it to be. My guests were still thrilled with it though and let's face it...cinnamon rolls in any shape are absolutely delectable. SO get creative and try this out. I will repost once I have a chance to recreate this and save face :).

First you are going to making the dough. We use this dough for almost everything and I LOVE it. In your mixer you are going to put 1/2 cup water, and 3 tbsp of yeast. You will then add 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp salt, 1 cup powdered milk, 1 cup instant potatoes, 1 slightly beaten egg, 1/2 cup oil, and 1/2 cup honey. Let mix for a second and then add 2-1/3 cups water. You will then gradually add 6-8 cups of flour. You have added enough flour once the dough begins to pull away from the sides. Let dough continue to mix for 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a greased bowl and spray the top with cooking spray. This is a VERY sticky dough.
 Cover with a moist towel and let rise till triple the size.
 Divide this dough into three - this batch will make 3 Christmas trees. 
 Divide one of these dough sections into 6 balls, each getting smaller in size. The tiny one on the end is for the trunk. If I were to do this again I would probably divide it into more sections because my tree turned out pretty short and squat!
 Roll out each section and cover with butter (I used 1/2 a stick between all layers) and brown sugar and cinnamon.
 Roll each section up and place it on your cookie sheet to make a tree.
 Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Watch it though, you want to make sure that the middle isn't too doughy.
Now is supposed to be the fun part...especially if you have kids. Decorate your tree however you want and if you do make the three trees with the dough you can always have a competition...just wait till they cool to decorate! Merry Christmas.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


What You Will Need:

2/3 cup sugar
1 lemon (grated for lemon zest)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Making the muffins:

In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl whisk the sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently fold the two together.  Don't worry about a few lumps.  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.  Immediately move the muffins to your serving platter and glaze the muffins.

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Whisk all together until smooth.  If the glaze is too runny add more powdered sugar.  Glaze the muffins while they are still warm.

These melt in your mouth!